Sunday, 26 June 2011

A Ramble With Aunt Rose

Aunt Rose used to come in summer. Dressed in a floral dress and a straw hat. She would sit drinking tea and eating sweet biscuits while we played with our cars on the floor.

She spoke in an old country accent with a soft and slightly quavering voice, telling the latest news of various relations unknown to me, of her husband Uncle Charlie's garden and the terrible price of things in the village shop. It was the straw hat that impressed me most; I'd only ever seen straw used for bedding for pigs and couldn't work out how you might go about making hats out of it.

Sometimes we would go to visit Aunt Rose too. Her house smelled strange, as all houses seem to when you're young. She would ply us with home-made cake and glasses of lemonade. There were no toys in Aunt Roses house as she had no children, but soon Uncle Charlie would come in and fill the room with gentle good-humour. He'd always contrive to find something to amuse us - making paper aeroplanes out of last year's Christmas cards, showing us his collection of foreign coins and old military buttons, telling unlikely and often hilarious tales.

And then Aunt Rose might suggest "a nice walk". She led us slowly through the lanes and along secret paths pausing every few yards to point out some favourite wildflower that, "I used to pick when I was a little girl".

 I was cycling through the by-roads of Cambridgeshire recently and couldn't help thinking about Aunt Rose as the waysides are once again filled with wild flowers as the council have resisted the urge to mow everything into oblivion.

Meadow Brown on Knapweed

A lot of the flowers seen then are no longer common, not because we picked them all but due to modern farming practices. Some flowers would have been dismissed by Aunt Rose as "nothing but old weeds"......


....but Ox-Eye Daisies would certainly have met with her approval....

.....a simple enough shot to take; just set the self-timer device and lay the camera on the ground. She would also have been delighted at the profusion of flowers which sometimes appears after the earth-moving associated with modern road-works.....


....and just occasionally, if you keep looking at the side of the road, you'll get a pleasant surprise...

Some sort of orchid.

(Any help with more accurate identification of the broomrape and orchid would be much appreciated.)

Take care.


  1. Your Aunt Rose and Uncle Charlie sound really nice. I've been struck by the profusion of wild flowers this summer especially oxe-eye daisies and pink campion. I'm not sure if it's just that the cold winter suited them or whether there is a general move away from mowing, spraying and generally 'tidying up'.
    Hopefully it's the latter!

  2. Makes me wish I had known Aunt Rose too :) Love the shot from below.

  3. Wow John, I wonder if it's the same Aunt Rose my mom spoke of a long time ago. I wish I could remember more about the stories mom use to tell. I do remember her telling me that I was alot like her "Aunt Rose", but not many of us can pinpoint her on the family tree. Pretty cool pictures, again! Love your blog, John!!!

  4. Hello, Rowan - Yes, I like a certain amount of untidiness and unruliness too. Maybe the flowers have done so well as they have not been shaded out by the grass which has really struggled this year.
    Hello, Tipper - nice to hear from you.
    Hello, Liz - if you want to know how Aunt Rose fits in to the family tree you need to contact your cousin Julie. Aunt Rose was actually some sort of great aunt to me so was probably your mum's Aunt Rose.
    Thanks for all comments.

  5. Such a nice essay on the memories of a visiting aunt. It makes me think that many of us remember such relatives--who perhaps were not quite as old as seemed from our childish perspective.
    Roadsides were mowed here about three weeks ago--summer growth is so rampant that kudzu vine in particular can take over and throttle other vegetation, including trees. I think wildflowers often have an appeal that is lessened when they are hybridized and turned into more formal border flowers.

  6. I remember mom talking about aunt Rose and Uncle Charlie too. She must have been a special person to be so fondly recalled.

    The flower photos are so neat--can't help with identification, though, since these are strangers to me :)

  7. An aptly named lady, I think. Love the daisy photo - they're my favorites.

  8. Thanks for further comments. Isn't it odd though that after all these years I can't see a flowery verge (or a straw hat) without thoughts turning to Aunt Rose. Wonder what we might be remembered by?

  9. That's a good question. I hope it's something as peaceful as your memories of Aunt Rose.


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