Sunday, 1 February 2015

Thanks for the memories Uncle Noel

January has been a sad month as the extended family heard of Uncle Noel's passing away and many of us came together to bid him farewell this week.  From a family of twelve, brought up on the shores of the Humber, Uncle Noel was a very much loved husband, father, grand father and uncle to his many nieces and nephews. He had a great many local friends too, who turned up and filled the church for his memorial service.

I remember visiting Uncle Noel and Aunty Pat for the first time when I was quite young on a big family trip when we were on one of our overseas visits back to the UK.  Whenever I was in England, Uncle Noel used to visit too.  He was a great communicator keeping in touch with my mum through airmails, in which he used to send many of his mini photographs of his garden, even though it was printed on the outside that nothing was to be included.  His always got through!  They also travelled out to Mauritius.  He often phoned his brothers and sisters in England, and visited them too.  Since moving to Warwickshire our visits have been more frequent and we have traveled together in more recent years to visit his brother and sister in Lincolnshire.  Enroute we of course had to stop at his favourite Fish and Chip Restaurant....He showed me around the family haunts in Lincolnshire, including the Great Grandparents Farmhouse and now restored windmill.

I took a few old family photographs and after the touching remembrance service at St David's close by their home, showed them around family members, and was also very happy to pass photographs of one of my aunts to my cousin.  I shall of course have digital copies, but it is quite right that nice studio quality photographs and original snapshots stay with the immediate relatives.

Uncle Noel and Aunty Pat paid us visits too and he was always eager to share in and encourage my love of gardening, and other interests.  Visits to Leamington Gardens and the Museum, walks around the Abbey fields were just part of the few hours when they came over for lunch.  Once I arranged for us to meet up at Tyseley Train Depot where we had a great time together.  He loved to sit up in the Engine and explain to youngsters how the train worked...his first job was on the railways, and he worked as fireman for some time.  Later he trained as an engineer and traveled widely to many firms advising on 'fixing metal bits together', my words!  He used to tell us the number of miles he had traveled , and the number of cars he had 'worn out', his words.

Some of the family are great walkers, and like my Grandmother, Uncle Noel would almost daily go out for long walks, keeping his eye out for plums growing in hedgerows, and mushrooms in fields.   One of his regular jaunts was round the reservoirs near Frankley. Aunty Pat had the job of making jams and chutneys with the results of his foraging.   He won so many prizes for his back garden that he was barred from entering one year, and he continued to grow vegetables, fruit and flowers to the end, with only a small strip of grass just wide enough for a deck chair sideways.  We would always go out exploring when we visited Uncle Noel.  This picture was taken a couple of years back near Bournville Village.

We loved to hear him playing the piano, and he would add his little trills having annotated his piles of sheet music.  He played almost every day to the end.

Uncle Noel used to turn up and take part in many civic occasions, as can be testified by this newspaper article.

Just a few days before he passed away he was on the phone asking for his next consignment of honey, which he enjoyed every day.  Since first tasting Kenilworth Honey about seven years ago, he regularly ordered a dozen or so jars, each time we visited!

They say you never know a person completely.  I learnt that Uncle Noel loved poetry, reading, reciting, and even writing his own.  He and Aunty Pat were a great team, and cherished their family.

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