Alan’s Tea Towel Story

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I ‘met’ Alan (@Spacexecadet) via Twitter, when I offered Twitterers the exciting opportunity of being part of #TheGreatTeaTowelSharing. On the first day of Lockdown Number 3, I was poorly, and flung out a Tweet asking people to send me pictures of their tea towels. And so #TheGreatTeaTowelSharing was born. This offer was accompanied by a promise that those photographed tea towels would find their way into the Virtual Tea Towel Museum. What I hadn’t expected was (a) there would be so many (b) they would virtually all be different, unique (c) some would have some great stories attached to them. Initially, I imagined they would be slotted into the existing ‘Collections’ in the Museum, but there were too many so I created #TheGreatTeaTowelSharing Collection. In addition, quite a number of people have been invited to be a Guest Tea Towel, as @Spacexecadet has. He submitted, amongst other tea towels, ‘Lifeboats Through the Ages’. Here is his story:

“This dates from around 1970, as the Arun Class, bottom right, has the prototype stern and hull. When I was in Orkney, during the period 1972-74, I met a lifeboat ‘Test Pilot’ who was putting the prototype in very challenging waters between Wick and Thurso at the top of Scotland and the Orkneys. This stretch is the roughest around the UK and is called the Pentland Firth.

The Arun Class, now retired from RNLI service, served very effectively and paved the way to the modern class of fast vessels. I had a trip lined up on my day off but the ‘Test Pilot’ bent the hull before our trip, and headed back south to Poole.”

It’s great story, but a sad end since you never got your trip. It’s good to hear from someone who knows about his tea towels. Thank you @Spacexecadet for sharing your tea towel.

Catherine’s Diary (45): 6 to 18 March 2021

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It seems a long time since I ‘typed’ a ‘Catherine’s Diary’. I wondered if she had ‘writer’s block’ or was just bored with doing it. On thinking about it, I am surprised that (a) she’s still ‘talking’ to me and (b) that she would ever write another Diary for the Virtual Tea Towel Museum. Why? I forgot her birthday. I didn’t send a card, not even a virtual one, I didn’t send a present, I didn’t even send a text. What sort of niece are you when, in no way, do you acknowledge your Aunt’s birthday, an Aunt you are in contact with every day. I have apologised but apologies don’t really ‘do it’. But I have now publicly admitted it. For me, birthdays are difficult; I never remember dates and if occasionally I do, I never get things planned well enough in time. In my family, on both sides, there were always people my parents weren’t talking to, at one time or another, so I never got into a routine of who was on the ‘Birthday List’ so I just got out of the habit. That’s my excuse but it doesn’t excuse bad manners.

Catherine’s note to me, on the back of the envelope was “My dates are all over the place” and she’s right. Today’s Diary is without dates because otherwise it really wouldn’t make sense.

“I got up too early, time is going slowly. It’s 12.30pm and I’ve had my dinner already. I think Tinker is feeling it as well. The last ‘F’ today (this is the Alphabet Challenge that Catherine has set for everyone. First text of the day should consist of words beginning with a particular letter of the Alphabet. This week was ‘F’, moving on to ‘G’. It’s all in Alphabetical order), no more felines and finches, probably it will be goats and gorillas. Mary and I are doing the crossword in the Mail Magazine, I’ve had FaceTime with Amanda, nice seeing her ‘live’. I’m going to see her on Mother’s Day for a roast dinner, looking forward to it.

I’ve gone into a long lapse with the Diary, looking in my other two diaries to see what I’ve been doing. I was in Boots to spend some money on my Boots Card (plus pick up my pills). I spotted a ‘Cake Cup’, the writing on it said “Come on Brucie, you can make it!” And seeing Bruce’s name is the only reason I bought it. It’s from the film ‘Matilda’. Amanda said I’d seen the film but I don’t recall it. I will have to watch it now.

Results of blood tests: I’m healthy. No further action. Prescription form says I should phone the GP for a review of pills so I have a Phone Appointment on 23 March 2021. I made a chicken casserole, never made one before. In this never-ending Lockdown, I’ve made a lot of ‘first timers’. And, yes, it was delicious and, yes, I will do it again.

Boots eye test at last. I was supposed to have it on 25 January but that was a Phone Appointment from the ‘Screening Nurse’ for my colonoscopy, so had to cancel eye test. The next available appointment was 8 march. Ended up with getting stronger reading glasses. The optician suggested I get distance glasses as well but I can’t see the point. I don’t drive and I can see the bus coming. Next Wednesday, I was due to go for a check up, at the Eye Unit in the hospital, for my glaucoma. Yesterday, I had a text telling me not to go to the hospital, then half an hour later I had a phone call. Nurse saying not to come in, I would receive a call from the Consultant. I asked her how can the Consultant test the pressures behind the eye over the phone. No answer.

Terrific winds, my front side fence really rocking. Went mad yesterday, dug up four yellow primroses, replanted them in the back garden. Wade is hopefully tomorrow going to dig up my Peony, also for the back garden. The mud out the front is hard and claggy. Because I only have half a fence on the front garden, people keep walking across it, to get to my front door, plus getting a lot of dog mess. Putting down onion and garlic bits.

Amanda and Wade came with two bags of litter; Wade dug up my peony. I had more lessons on taking photos with my phone. Amanda got a bit stressed. I have now got it! Taken nearly 200 photographs, really enjoying the experience, and, as Mary said, to think I was nervous of using the phone. Another thing I can do is delete messages. Still can’t text with two hands (nor can I, nor can any of my friends, must be an age thing).

More picture taking, cat ornaments to start with. Made a vegetable soup. washed cat trays and all had fresh litter. Really stumped tonight, thinking of ‘H’ words and putting them together. I’ve managed something but it’s a bit basic, off to bed.

Amanda picked me up at 12.30pm and I spent Mother’s Day with her and Wade. I had superb roast dinner, no cooking or washing up. Went around photographing Amanda’s cats. Liquorice, Rocky and Lyric are hard to distinguish. Also had another lesson on the phone. My problem with photographs is that I’m heavy-fingered, press too hard and I get ten pictures of the same photo. I deleted over 200, went mad. Now I’m sending pictures of old LPs, Bruce and I collected over the years.

Eye Consultant phoned, only on the phone 8 minutes. The outcome is ‘keep taking the drops’ (have been taking them for 21 years) and I should get an appointment in six to eight weeks to actually go to the Eye Unit. Good day today, I received cards, flowers, chocolates and birthday texts. I went to town this morning and I treated myself to some Duct tape. It’s to stick the blanket back on the glass door, to keep the cold out. I’m no good at hitting drawing pins into the door, through the the blanket. So far, so good, the Duct Tape hasn’t come off the door. And I got myself some Tippex for mistakes. Could have done with it when I started doing this. Diary is nearly one year old.

Amanda came this afternoon with a lovely card and flowers, stayed a couple of hours which was nice. Another lesson, this time ‘Doing Emojis’. I’m getting to be an expert, or aim to, jumping the gun. Getting praise from Barbara, Amanda and Christopher on how well I’m doing. Tomorrow, pick up new glasses and medication.

I’ve enjoyed doing ‘H’ this week. I think I will miss it when Saturday comes and it’s the last day.

I just have to say that Catherine is the only person I know, who I communicate by text with, that uses a wide variety of Emojis, rather than just one, two or three thumbs up (or down). She is creative and imaginative and it makes a text very beautiful. You should have seen the one describing soup, Emojis for every ingredient.

Choice of tea towel today is tricky. I’ve already used the ‘Text’ one so I decided a Calendar one would be appropriate since we will soon be celebrating the First Birthday of Catherine’s Diary. Must be 2020.

PS: Please date your Diary entries!!!

Catherine’s Diary (44): 24 February to 3 March 2021

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Two envelopes this week. The first is addressed to ‘Isabella (for your eyes only)’ and on the back is a message ‘If you look sharpish Isabella, you can go online and go in for the competition and win a cookery book’. Bearing in mind that Isabella is the cat and the competition is a crossword, this is an interesting idea. However, Liz has helped Isabella with the crossword and entered the competition. Neither are sure about the cookery book though. On the front of the envelope the word ‘Grove’ is circled with the question “Do olives grow there?”. I suspect the Postal Worker thinks we’re bonkers in this house.

The second envelope (with Diary) has on the back “Can you and Liz text with two hands? I tried but it’s so difficult. Thank you Postal People”. And so to the Diary:

24 February 2021

Last meal at 7pm, drinking plenty of water, that fills you up, ready for blood test tomorrow. I was struggling with the ‘E’ at the beginning of the week (first text of the day has to use as many words as possible beginning with ‘E’) but now I’m doing really well. I think I will miss them. This evening I had a text message from Pam. I thought it was my sister-in-law but it was a friend of Amanda’s. On my part it’s slow going, can’t text fast on this new phone, nor able to use two hands. Pam said I can text anytime, practice makes perfect.

25 February 2021

Amanda texted me at 5.30am, didn’t want to oversleep. Switched heating on, fed cats, drinking more water, curbs the hunger. Arrived at the hospital at 10am, new booking-in system, all computerised now. Luck was in, the nurse booked me in. On the wall is a screen, your name goes on it in orange. When it turns green, it’s your turn to have the blood test. All clever stuff you know! Even though I told them I was on a blood thinner, it still bled a bit. Taxi home, had my cereal plus tea by 11.30am. Very happy to be home, especially as I got myself in a tizz this morning about it. Silly me. Two friends texted and asked how I got on. Before it was dark I fed the birds and strolled round the garden. New life is emerging, daffodils, hellebore, cyclamen.

28 February 2021

Sue phoned for a chat. She mentioned a neighbour, who lived up the road, had passed away today. I thought I must tell Bruce and Christine but, of course, I can’t. I felt a ‘loss’ about it. We all knew John, he used to work at Hayters (they make lawn mowers). Bruce had an agency job there, as a cleaner. I phoned Amanda to tell her though she didn’t know John. Amanda said “you can tell Bruce and Christine in your mind” which is true but I wanted to tell someone ‘live’.

1 March 2021

I’ve been watching the Food Channel, Jamie Oliver, that’s why I sent Barbara some cooking questions! I did something today, that I’ve only done once in my life, it was nerve racking. I renewed my Garden Service Collection, had to give my card details over the phone. Luckily the gentleman had a calming voice. He said we will help you through it. Afterwards I thought, how easy was that! Amanda sent a “Well done x”, made me happy.

2 March 2021

Out of sync this morning. Should have kept to my system and stayed up. Instead, after cat feeding, I took my tea upstairs to drink. I put the heater on in the bathroom then laid on the bed. I didn’t sleep but I was reminiscing to myself about the things hanging on my bedroom walls. My memories. Pictures of my first dog Peppy, one of Tinker, Amanda in her wedding dress, two ‘Stargate’ prints. I love the series ‘Stargate’ si-fi. The ornament hanging was an angel from Christine with my name on it, a key ring with a cycle from Amanda. A long time ago, I did ‘spinning’. We had race days once a month. Amanda set me a target of 10.5km, took an hour but I got there. The camaraderie in Amanda’s classes is fantastic.

Amanda and I went by coach to Ireland one year. The crossing was horrific. A man told us to sit in the middle of the ship and suck Barley Sugar; that would help with the sea sickness. To cut a long story short, Amanda and I visited Waterford. I bought an angel and Amanda a sea horse. They live above my door. As long as her pictures and sea horse are here, I still feel Amanda is around. Off to bed, eyes are tired, written my ‘F’ text for tomorrow and back to my system.

3 March 2021

Up at 7am, back in my system, fed the cats and made tea for myself. I couldn’t understand why Tilly and Tinker weren’t tucking into their breakfast. I thought they were being picky again. It wasn’t until I opened the curtains I realised I had given them the wrong food. Let’s face it, in the dark, all cat food looks the same. I swopped them over and they tucked into their plates at top speed.

Texted my alphabet messages, wait in anticipation to see what the replies would be. Other people I text good morning to are Sue, Brian, Ambrose (Linda’s cat), Pam, Amanda’s friend and, of course, Amanda. It brings me happiness to hear the ‘ping’ of the phone.”

It seemed a somewhat abrupt end to the Diary so I don’t know if she forgot to put in the last page or whether that’s it‽ The tea towel today is from Ireland in reference to the story about Ireland (And it has Waterford on it).

Catherine’s Diary (43): 15 to 24 February 2021

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Two envelopes from Catherine arrived last Friday. The first made the Postman laugh. It was addressed to Isabella (for your eyes only). Isabella is the cat. Inside was a ‘Chinese New Year of the Ox’ quiz (Trivia Questions). On the back of the envelope was a message “No answers for you Isabella, you’re a genius” Isabella did very well without any help from humans. The second envelope had a message on the back “Whenever I write the word ‘Grove’, I think of romance. I can imagine a couple meeting for a tryst, in the not so distant past. Thank you to the Postal Workers, Wheelie and Food Bin people, doctors and nurses, for all your work that you do for us. And Sainsbury, Tesco, Wilko, Boots and Iceland”. Personally, I think Catherine has an amazing imagination if she sees a tryst going on in my street.

Week Beginning 15 February 2021

New system this week. Up at 6.30am, feed ‘The Gang’ priority, then tea, breakfast, pills, text messages to four people. Clean the cat trays, take recycling outside. Back to bed for two hours. Though the mist around my head is now clearing, the new pills still make me very tired.

Monday, walked to the post box and posted the Diary, nice sunny day. Monday night I had a surprise present from Amanda, a Sherpa blanket, purple and white, my favourite colours and so warm. I reckon the Sherpas must have used them, when they camped out on Everest. Well, it would have been cold there. I put it away every night; don’t want the cats clawing at it. Over the weekend I received a new Egg Slicer, three new Sieves and a Knife Sharpener (ready for my joint of beef, thin slices here I come) It’s only two days ago and I can’t remember what I did Tuesday, diary entry empty. The only thing I knew I must have done is think of ‘D’ words. It’s consuming my life, this Alphabet Game. Wednesday, Wheelie Bin day, also a walk to the local shop for a paper and some shopping.

Going mad, thought I would reset my pendulum clock, felt pleased with myself that I had done it, till I sat down and realised it’s an hour behind!! Ah well, it’s bound to stop again then I’ll have another go. Went to town with Sue today, visited Iceland (not the country)!, Savers and Boots, nice break from the house. Now back to thinking of my last ‘Ds’.

21 February 2021

A miracle happened, no one witnessed but me, a new potato rolled off an egg box, along the Formica and straight into the front pocket of my cardigan. Today, I had a Big Pensioner Moment. I had convinced myself it was Monday, thinking I had to charge my phone for the 3.40pm appointment with the GP. Jennie texted to see if she could pop round (outside) for a chat. Odd, I thought, she would be at work. I even told her she was wrong about the date, till I checked the phone. Jennie said I had gained a day, as it was Sunday. I was frightened I was going mad. I said to Amanda, should I go back to bed, and start again. Amanda did a quiz, asking me what I had done on certain days of the week, what items were in my delivery, what I watched on TV last night. I passed the test, not quite mad yet!

Part 2 of the Phone Saga: Saturday, I took some photos, mostly of soft toys and cat food, under Amanda’s tutelage, she managed to stay calm most of the time. Barbara texted and asked if there was a photo coming. I could feel her anticipation of something about to happen!! Amanda said I was to take more, when I was on my own, not confident yet. Wade said if anything goes wrong, turn the phone right off and it will be ok. Second thing that happened, I got up from my chair, holding my phone and it turned sideways. Panic. How was I going to turn it back? As I stood up straight, it turned back automatically, thank goodness. Getting on well with punctuation, and I now know how to do capital letters. Don’t know how to delete messages yet. I can do FaceTime, Barbara. Your face was a picture. When I did it to you, you looked shocked! Ha ha

23 February 2021

Last night no sleep between 2 and 5am. When I did manage some sleep, I dreamt I was being injected in the head! Today, down to the doctors to get blood test forms, bussed into town, bought a card and paper in Tescos. I miss the card shops, might have to resort to notelets, if I can find them. Home at 12pm, Tilly and Tinker waiting for lunch, then it’s upstairs for their afternoon siesta. My next hurdle was making my first phone call with code and numbers. I needed to book an appointment at the hospital for blood tests. Gingerly pressed the keypad sign, up the numbers came and I got through straight away. Thursday 10.25am. Happy I had done it alright, really nervous about doing it. Off to bed now, hope to get a better night’s sleep.

24 February 2021

At long last Christopher, you have got the gist of the Alphabet game. It’s about describing your day, the weather, good morning with one letter, which this week is ‘E’. No more fantasy (and, yes, I have been guilty of that in the past), I think we all have.

I’m following Amanda’s advice for a change, I’m drinking a lot more water to help my digestive system and it’s working brilliantly. Bruce used to call Amanda ‘Doctor W….’, as she knows a lot!

It’s a beautiful sunny day here, still a chilly wind. In the garden, the little cyclamen have gone mad, even stretching to the lawn.

I have had to resort to sticking a notice on the glass door, asking if I have locked the front door. It happened again last Tuesday, left it unlocked from 9am to 11pm, good job I checked it as I went up to bed. Tinker’s developed another habit, jumping on the toilet lid and on to the shelf above it. I hope one day she doesn’t do it, when the lid is up. There will be an almighty splash and a dishevelled looking cat!

Well, I’m off to post this Diary, a birthday card and a quiz for the genius cat Isabella. Home to think up some more ‘E’s. Bye for now.

Today’s tea towel reflects Catherine’s love of purple, in the form of a poem, my favourite poem.

Jane’s Tea Towel Story

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I met Jane at work in 2001. We worked for the same organisation, for 14 years, until I retired. I remember the day her son was born, the day I discovered she was a Paul Young fan (and remember thinking ‘who is Paul Young?’), I remember admiring her skills in sewing and craft work and giving her my friend Jean’s sewing box which just appeared to be full of buttons. On my retirement, she gave me a hand-embroidered acrostic R (relax), E (entertain), T (travel), I (indulge), R (read), E (enjoy) which has always hung from a cupboard door in my kitchen. I still have the plant she gave me, as a ‘Thank You’, after I had to tell her work team about the death of their manager. It sits on my window sill beneath the picture of a Rainbow, (drawn by Lyra, and celebrating the NHS) and adjacent to the Teddy Bear, wishing Michael Rosen best wishes for his recovery (We’re Going on a Bear Hunt). After retirement, we have kept in touch via email and text (and I have found out, and appreciated, who Paul Young is). She reads some of my Tea Towel Blogs.

These two tea towels are a present from Jane but it the story behind those tea towels that is amazing, and makes it Jane’s Tea Towel Story: she calls it ‘Helping the Planet’.

“Hi Barbara. A little background information for the two tea towels I sent you. Before Lockdown, one of my favourite things was to spend time, on my one day off in the week, with my very good friend Amanda. Amanda is someone who enjoys browsing Charity Shops for a good bargain. Browsing Charity Shops is something, I confess, I had not done a lot, prior to becoming friends with Amanda. I had been into Charity Shops but only ever for a brief visit and generally to donate or to buy packs of Christmas cards. My Mum having been a hoarder, I think the idea of buying more things from a Charity Shop had never appealed. My brain tells me ‘don’t get in bad habits’. However, what my friend taught me was a visit to a Charity Shop can actually be very rewarding in other ways.

As a hobby, I make fabric gift bags, mainly with a Christmas theme, and sell them on eBay. I like to line the gift bags with fabric, as I feel it gives them more stability. However, I soon realised, as it was a lining, then really any fabric could be used, so I started to use scraps from my own stash. In the Charity Shop, whilst my friend enjoyed browsing the clothes rails, I realised there was usually a corner full of second-hand curtains, some of which were very good quality fabric, and hardly used. So a large amount of fabric for very little money.

This then led me, in Lockdown with the Charity Shops closed, to start to look on eBay for remnants of fabric. It was whilst browsing for some tartan fabric, for main fabric for my gift bags, that I came across the seller also selling some ‘Make Your Own Tea Towels’. Well, what a bargain to be had and there was a whole bundle to be won. I liked the idea of using my sewing skills to assist these tea towels to become usable and to take a place in the @myteatowels Collection. So slowly, but surely, the tea towels are being sewn and sent to Barbara.

Another nice thing of note is my friend gave me a whole set of Sylko threads, in a rainbow of colours, that belonged to her late Mum. So it is lovely to be picking from these the right co-ordinating colour to match the tea towel. It is also very nice to think that my friend’s Mum’s threads are continuing to be put to use and going towards helping our planet. I think this makes me realise that not only are we helping the planet by donating to a Charity Shop , we are also helping when we purchase items from it and upcycle rather than buy something new”

Thank you to Jane for both the tea towels and the back-story. I love the Panasonic Panacruch one. It’s bonkers. A trip to a Charity Shop has often resulted in me finding a snappy little tea towel but considering how many tea towels there are in the world, I am always surprised at how few end up in a Charity Shop. My theory is that families who are clearing out the homes of relatives know what it is good to go to a Charity Shop like clothes, china, books, DVDs, pictures…. but they think that tea towels are not suitable, especially if they are old or used. If you, Dear Reader, are thinking like this STOP because I’ll take them!!

PS: Jane gave me one of her Christmas Bags about two or three years ago. She said that if I wanted to, she would be happy for me to pass it on to someone else. I kept it, hanging from my wardrobe cupboard, with some bits of jewellery in it. It was going to have to be someone very special to pass that bag on to. In December 2020, my First Cousin Once Removed (I know this because I have The Cousin Explainer tea towel) had a baby on the same day as her Grandma (my aunt) died. Now I had found the right person to pass the Christmas bag on to, with the present for Haydn. In the bag is the story of the Christmas bag.

Debbie’s Tea Towel Story

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#TheGreatTeaTowelSharing that I stated off on Twitter produced a magnificent range of tea towels. Sometimes I spot one and think “This has a story to tell”. It’s difficult to say what it is that sparks that train of thought. It’s a combination of (a) a very unusual tea towel (b) with a story to tell, because as this website boasts, ‘EveryTea Towel Tells a Story’ (c) having an owner who is willing to write a bit about the tea towel and (d) you can sense an emotional attachment because of memories…..

@BitThing has ‘offered’ many tea towels to #TheGreatTeaTowelSharing project, some really beautiful ones but it was this one that caught my eye. Before this Project, I’d never ‘met’ Debbie, nor did I ‘follow’ her but now she has introduced me to a whole new world. And that’s what this is all about. This is Debbie’s Tea Towel Story”

“I was delighted to find Barbara and her Virtual Tea Towel Museum, because up until now I thought I was alone in my enjoyment of the utilitarian tea towel. I’ve a boxful, unused, pristine and loved. It turns out there are lots of people just like me.

Pulling this bread cloth out of the cupboard at the weekend took me back to 1978, when I did a solo bus tour around the USA on Greyhound Buses, staying with some friends, and many strangers. I started in Washington, Virginia and went north to New York, Vermont and Chicago, and all the way across to Seattle. I saw Giant Redwoods on the West Coast, paddled in the Pacific and slept on a water bed in California. I had a twirl in a giant teacup in the original Disneyland and couldn’t see Mount Rushmore because it was engulfed in mist. I tried on Stetson hats in Texas and listened to jazz in New Orleans. 

San Francisco was hip, and cool, like nowhere I’d been before. The Fisherman’s Wharf area was becoming developed and I tasted Sourdough Bread from the Boudin Bakery for the first time. I’ve loved it ever since. I never dreamed then that it would be easy to get here now. I’ve never managed to make my own starter and bake my own.

In 2013, I returned to San Francisco and visited the now highly stylised bakery, but the bread still tasted as delicious as it was. I bought this tea towel and it will always remind me of a trip of a lifetime for me, a girl looking for adventure at the age of 22″.

She added, when I asked about the tea towel in more detail, and if it was a ‘Flour Sack’ one “The towel is big, so full size it doesn’t show much detail. I’ve attached three photos“. It’s square, so typically American. Querying the tea towel, I had pushed Debbie down the ‘Rabbit Warren’ of tea towels “I’ve just looked at their website. It’s just called a tea towel”. She sent me the link. I, too, went down that same ‘Rabbit Warren’. It says “Our signature Medallion kitchen flour tea towel with decorative fleur de lys pattern. 100% cotton, machine washable”. It’s a Flour Sack tea towel!!!

I loved this story. San Francisco (oh, and Seattle) is one of those places I’ve always wanted to go to, to see the bridge and the tramcars, to pretend I was in the world of Ironside, to remember the days of ‘Flower Power’. Debbie’s description is such that I could feel myself there, both in 1978 and 2013. Thank you Debbie for such an evocative story.

David’s Tea Towel Story

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Back on the first day of Lockdown Number 3, in Britain, I was feeling a bit poorly. Laying on my chair, with feet raised, I decided to send off a tweet, to the World of Twitter. I was asking for people to send pictures of their own tea towels, which could then be put in the Virtual Tea Towel Museum. It didn’t quite go as I expected. There were certainly more tea towels coming in than I expected, and those tea towels were, in the main, not the very traditional tea towels with scenes of small villages on them. Very few had recipes or were from Christmas. I think people went to great lengths to find ‘arty’ tea towels or maybe what could be more unusual ones. It didn’t make any difference to me, I can safely say, loudly, “I am a Tea Towel Lover”.

Early on David sent in a tea towel from the Falkland Islands. I knew the Falkland Islands were near Argentina (because i knew about the Falklands War). I knew when Margaret Thatcher decided to protect the Falkland Islands from invasion, it took the Royal Navy weeks to get there. I knew the Falkland Islands were described as an archipelago: West Falkland, East Falkland and 776 smaller islands. I knew not many people lived there and I never knew they had any tea towels. Who was visiting there collecting souvenirs? Well, let me tell you, in the early days of #TheGreatTeaTowelSharing, I received four Falkland island tea towels! Four!! That’s more than the collection of London, Edinburgh and Glasgow tea towels altogether. Here is David’s Tea Towel Story.

“As regards the Falkland Island tea towel – I have had it for years (a robust wee tea towel for sure). So, I’ll try to keep it brief. I acquired the tea towel from a trip down to the Falkland Islands way back in 1989 when I was serving on the ship HMS NEWCASTLE.  I’d joined her at a bit of a rush under less than celebrious conditions.  I had joined the Royal Navy in 1983, straight from school, and after basic training, and some sea time that took me to the Caribbean and the United States of America, I was sent to gain a degree from university.  Being a Scottish university, my BSc Hons was a 4 year course and, whilst I spent time at sea (heading off to Norway, Denmark, Bahrain, Oman, UAE, USA, Canada and Hong Kong), I did forget much of the detail from my basic training.  From summer 1988, I went back to the fleet to recover my training.  Being sent off to Hong Kong again (joining HMS STARLING, conducting counter-smuggling operations). I learned a huge amount about navigation, boarding operations, seamanship and ship handling – but I also had a great time enjoying the night life there.  After 4 months of fun, I was sent to my next ship on anti-submarine patrol in the North Atlantic.  HMS ARETHUSA was a grand old lady of the fleet and was on her last series of patrols, so between chasing Soviet submarines in the huge winter seas off Norway, I also spent time making sure that the ship didn’t pay off with lots of spare booze in the store.  So, at my Fleet Board exam, just before Easter in 1989, I managed to fail three subjects (out of about 12 subjects).  It didn’t matter that I was great at navigation, etc.., failing three subject was often a quick route to being chucked out of the Navy.  But after 6 years of time done, and some other good results, they decided I should have a second chance – or “go around the buoy” as they call it.

So late on a Sunday night, I turned up on the flight deck of HMS NEWCASTLE, with all my kit (after about 48 hours’ notice to join).  I thought that I would get a chance to settle in over the next few days – find out what the ship was up to, etc.. and then pass my exams by the summer.  It was a wee shock when I found out we were sailing at 8am on Monday 17 April, for the Falkland Islands, and that we wouldn’t return until late September the same year.  By way of Gibraltar, Dakar and Ascension Island, we arrived in Mare Harbour (the Naval base in the Falkland Islands) some time at the beginning of June – in mid-South Atlantic winter.

When I was there, the days were very short and the night dominated – and the weather was quite horrid, mostly.  That said, we saw an amazing amount of wildlife with whales, dolphins, killer whales, albatross, penguins, elephant seals and striated caracaras (a local scavenging bird of prey – akin to a large buzzard).  I recall amazing visits to Port Albemarle (where I bought a jumper made from local wool – which I still have to this day), Fox Bay Inlet, Port San Carlos (the site of the landings to recover the Falkland Islands some 7 years previously), Mount Tumbledown (where we toured the battlefield and picked carefully past the minefields that were still there) and Port Stanley (the capital).  The Falkland Islands reminded me a little of the wind-blasted Orkney Islands, blended with the moor-like landscape of Dartmoor.  I loved the place.

As to where I bought the tea towel – I had thought it was in Port Stanley but on checking I found it was actually in the NAAFI at RAF Mount Pleasant – the major airbase there.  I worked this out as I also bought some Falkland Island table mats (still use them today) and some quirky toy penguins (which ended up being played with by my children some 14 years later). One of the table mats still had the original NAAFI price tag on it (£3.95).  I bought a couple of tea towels – and gave them to my parents.  When I eventually moved into my own place, my folks gave me them back to start up my flat with.  Here I am some 32 years later and still use them.

I enjoyed one of my most memorable moments in my long Naval career there – a visit to the majestic island of South Georgia.  A marvellous trip and a place I would go back to like a shot if the chance came up.  I managed to visit the gravesite of Sir Ernest Shackleton and walk a little around the island (mainly from stops at Grytviken and Stromness).  It was quite an extraordinary place.  Visiting the old whaling stations was quite sobering and the wildlife was impressive (reindeer – brought there by Norwegian whalers – and elephant seals).  It was my first time amongst icebergs (not that they are common in a South Atlantic winter season).    

I may have travelled widely around the world since then, with the Royal Navy, but I didn’t get any other memorable tea towels from those visits.  We came back from the South Atlantic via the west coast of SouthAtlantic America and then through the Panama Canal.  I believe we arrived back in Portsmouth in late September 1989 and I then went off to complete my Officer of the Watch training (having passed my exams in the UK on a flying 3 day visit late July 1989).  Sadly, I’ve seen my share of conflict, though nothing like those folk in 1982 saw, having been part of Gulf Wars 1 and 2, Operation Veritas (supporting operations in Afghanistan – from sea) and then in post-revolution Libya in 2012-13 and then again 2018-2020.  Now that I know of your virtual museum, I will have to travel back to a few of my favourite places and gather tea towels from them.  Libya is a wonderful, if troubled, place.  Perhaps I’ll contribute a tea towel from there one day.”

David’s Story is a vivid description of his time in the Falkland Islands, really interesting and i look forward to receiving one from Libya, sometime in the future. Thank you David for taking the time to send me your story.

Margaret’s Tea Towel Story

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The project I started, on the first day of Lockdown Number 3, has confused people somewhat. I had asked for pictures of people’s own tea towels which I promised to put in the Virtual Tea Towel Museum. I never realised that I would get so many tea towels, or so many interesting tea towels. As we emerge out of Lockdown Number 3, I hope to have the time to just insert them all in the Museum; in the meantime, I have incorporated them into Tea Towel Blogs and have invited a few people to become Guest Tea Towels 2021, because of the uniqueness of their tea towels.

Let me introduce you to Margaret. Margaret listens to BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester, to the Malcolm Boyden Show. I know that because she heard the short interview I had with Malcolm and Nicky (who owns a tea towel from Feckenham School). Margaret was one of the people who responded to my request for pictures of tea towels. Margaret doesn’t use Twitter (where #TheGreatTeaTowelSharing project started) so sent her two tea towels in by email. I was astonished; these were two tea towels from the Falkland Islands. The Falkland Islands? Where Margaret Thatcher was involved in a war around some islands very few people had heard of? Hardly a tourist hotspot, not on everyone’s list of places to visit when Lockdown is over. The Falkland Islands (East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 other smaller islands) currently has a population of just over 3000, why did they have a tea towel (or two)? A print run would mean everyone needed to buy one. This is a great Guest Tea Towel 2021 Story, without a doubt. So here is Margaret’s Story:

“This is just a bit of information on the Falkland Islands tea towel. My son sailed out to the Falkland Islands in 1984, on HMS Southampton. It was after the conflict there. All he can say about it was that it was very barren, more like a farming environment. I think that the tea towels came on the scene after the conflict, as they were getting visitors to see the Islands, to see what it was like, as people didn’t really know they existed.

I have kept the tea towels as memories of my son while serving in the Royal Navy, and where he visited in the world. I’ve never used them!”

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Certainly, some very poignant memories. Thank you Margaret.

Rachel’s Tea Towel Story

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In a family where you have no siblings and no children, it is still possible to have a lot of cousins. I love the term ‘Cousin’ because it is the only gender-neutral relationship that there is around. So let me introduce you to Rachel, my cousin. The last time I saw her was on her father’s 70th birthday and before that she was about 10 years old (and I have the photos to prove it).

In December 2019, I had this great idea. When I sent out my Christmas cards I sent a ‘formal’, written invitation, offering people the opportunity to be a Guest Tea Towel 2020. I wasn’t expecting a big take-up from this exciting opportunity but it was much better than I thought, mainly friends, no relatives.

And then, on 7 February 2021, I had an email from my Cousin Rachel with her Tea Towel Story plus four photos. It may be a bit later than I had expected but I think the idea that she had kept that invitation for more than a year, with a belief that she would send her Tea Towel Story to me, is both amazing and touching. So here is her Tea Towel Story:


I am taking this opportunity to attach a couple of photos of my favourite tea towel… it’s been on my list to send you details for over a year. I still have the note you put in your Christmas card just over a year ago, but as you may be able to tell from this, I’m not my mother’s daughter, with regards to being organised! 

This is not my favourite tea towel because I particularly like the picture, or have any affinity to the place pictured, but because it used to belong to my Granny, so when I use it, I think of her.  My Granny was not a stereotypical grandmother; she didn’t spoil us, give us lots of treats or allow us to do whatever we wanted. There was always a list of jobs to do, especially for me. My brother always seemed to get the better deal, as he was allowed to go outside and “help” my Grandpa.  Helping Grandpa entailed playing in the woods, collecting branches and leaves for burning and tending the fire, which Grandpa had alight every day in the woods which formed part of their garden.  I had to help Granny in the kitchen and do fiddly jobs like peeling tomatoes before I was allowed to escape and join them!  But she was an incredible lady, so kind and generous, always doing things for other people. She was a real force of nature, full of energy and life, and so resourceful. She never wasted anything, and she loved all her grandchildren very much and was always so proud of all our achievements.  She died in 2003 from cancer and at the end of her life she was very weak and had to spent most of her time at home resting. I was fortunate that, at the time, I was living with my parents so my Mum and I would go and visit her and I got to spend some very special time with her as an adult, appreciating how amazing she was. I still had to do jobs, of course, but it was different and she would be telling us stories about her life and family and friends and as always be so interested in what all her family were doing in their lives.  After she died I inherited some of the contents of her kitchen, as I was the grandchild most in need of those things at the time, and I still have most of them, including this tea towel. I know how very happy it would make her that her things are still being used so many years later, and it makes me happy as it means she is often in my thoughts.

 
On a side note, the person who did spoil us was your mum, Aunty Bea. I have such happy memories of the times we spent at her house.  There was always a bowl of Quality Street, ready to be attacked, and we were allowed to race around on her footstools, repeatedly doing the circuit from her living room, through the dining room, into the kitchen, then through to the hall via the bead curtain and back into the living room!”

Now that is what I call a proper Tea Towel Story. Someone I know has referred to tea towels as a ‘Memory Bank’, a place where memories are stored on a thin piece of material, could be very personal family memories, memories of holidays or even just as a memory jogger to other things, in the case of Rachel being able to conjure up memories of my mother who died over 30 years ago. One of the things that I have always found sad is that after 30 years people do stop talking about people like my mother. I am touched that a tea towel of her Granny has brought those memories forward.

  
“Anyway apologies it has taken me so long to both thank you for the tea towel (The Cousin Explainer) and to send you a picture of one of mine.  I hope you are keeping well. I have read various posts on your Blog, some of the ones from Catherine and some of the other tea towel related ones. My favourite, that I often go back and read again, is the one you wrote about my Dad for his 70th birthday”.

I think a couple more photos of Rachel’s tea towel makes a fitting end. Thank you so much, Rachel, for your Tea Towel Story and I will send your son the pictures of you, on my Mum’s footstools, more than 30 years ago!!

PS: you’ve looked after that tea towel very carefully and I do believe your son will make a very good Tea Towel Model (I’ll remember that for the future)

Stephen’s Tea Towel Story

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How do you get to ‘meet’ people when you are in Lockdown? Virtually, it’s obvious. For me, I’ve met a lot of people after I posted a random, maybe weird, Tweet, at the beginning of Lockdown Number 3 (England) asking people if they would like to post a picture, or pictures, of their tea towels (with the promise that the tea towels would appear in the Virtual Tea Towel Museum). Being furloughed, boredom, loneliness or just wanting to do something daft, meant there were loads of pictures. Stephen posted many. While you never get to fully know about someone’s life, and there are always questions you have at the back of your mind, or stories of their life you may want to invent, you do find out what people are happy for you to know. And that’s good enough for me.

From the start, I noted that Stephen had some very unusual, and stylish, tea towels and it crossed my mind that he would probably make an excellent Guest Tea Towel 2021. I had to put that idea on the ‘back burner’ for a week or so because of the quantity of tea towels that were coming in.

I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer when this ‘conversation’ happened:

“If you can get BBC Scotland on Catch-Up, you might like to watch Neil Oliver’s delightful programme on the ‘Hector’, which sailed from Lochbroom to Nova Scotia in 1773. Our museum @UllapoolMuseum has interesting material. When this is over…..”

Two things struck me: ‘our museum’ in Ullapool. Did Stephen live in Ullapool? Ullapool is one of my favourite places in the whole wide world so I replied. “I’ve got an Ullapool tea towel. From 1998”. Secondly, of course, was the burning question of whether or not Stephen had a tea towel of Ullapool. The answer came quickly:

“Yay. That’s more than I’ve got and I live here” (Two questions answered in one).

I replied with “You’re not looking hard enough”

“Tbh, I’m not looking at all. Very happy with my unused gorgeous Scandi ones”. I realised this could be a good Tea Towel Story, not about one particular one but about a style. So is Stephen’s love of Scandinavian tea towels to do with his heritage?

Someone on Twitter asked him how he saw himself:

“I’m English, European and would love it if the King of Sweden would grant me honorary nationality there too. I’m Northern when it suits. I’ve been a self-declared honorary Swede for almost half a century. Hoping to publish a book about it in 2022. Scandi design has massive appeal to me for clean lines, bold colours and natural references. Also if you are a poetry reader, check out my @nine_pens poems ‘out of…’ Sweden – ‘They Spoke No English’ – published later this year”.

So is there more to know about Stephen, other than his amazing tea towels? If you read the Scottish Poetry Library information, you will know he is an award-winning poet, widely published in magazines, journals and online and who received a Scottish Book Trust New Writing Award in 2015. Thank you to Stephen to being a Guest Tea Towel and for sharing his amazing, and well-ironed, tea towels.

Geoff’s Tea Towel Story

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For anyone who has looked at #TheGreatTeaTowelSharing on Twitter, this might be a familiar tea towel. I simply love it. I’m not a Carry On…. fan, nor even a true Kenneth Williams fan, but I think this tea towel is absolutely charming. It was shown on @myteatowels on 21 January 2021 in a Blog called ‘Tea Towels and Lockdown (9)’. I didn’t give it ‘Headliner’ status because I really wanted Geoff to write his Tea Towel Story.

So, how did I get to know Geoff? Through Twitter, of course. At the beginning of Lockdown Number 3, I posted a Tweet asking people to share pictures of their tea towels for inclusion in Virtual Tea Towel Museum. Geoff came forward, very early on, with a tea towel or two, plus number tweeted comments, retweeted Tweets, engaging with the much wider circle of people he knows on Twitter. He took on board the meaning behind #TheGreatTeaTowelSharing and I knew he would be a great Guest Tea Towel. Here is his story:

“With apologies for the extreme delay in getting this across to you. Here are some details about the Kenneth Williams tea towel you asked for.

The tea towel was a birthday present in 2018, from an old and very dear friend of mine, Queenie. Suffice it to say, we met around 1997/1998, through a mutual friend. We struck up an immediate friendship, based on a shared love of coarse, lavatorial and saucily ‘camp’ British humour, as exemplified by the ‘Carry On…’ and ‘On The Buses’ films. For that reason, she refers to me as ‘Arthur’ (as in Arthur Mullard) and I refer to her as ‘Queenie’ (as in Queenie Watts). Over the years, she has always given me Christmas and birthday gifts which refer in some way to ‘Carry On…’ films, ‘On The Buses’ or ‘Miffy’ (but that’s another story).

I love the tea towel for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it reminds me of Queenie. Secondly, it reminds me of saucy and ‘camp’ British humour and makes me smile every time I see it and use it. Thirdly, it reminds me of Kenneth Williams, a true comic genius. The photograph of him is particularly good, as it looks lifelike and natural, and I can imagine him messing about as I look at it. Given what a tragic private life he led, it’s nice to think of him in a happy frame of mind. When Queenie first gave me the tea towel, I thought it was too nice to use and kept it for best. I then decided to start using it about a year or so ago, and it has become an everyday tea towel. This explains why it looks a little worn round the edges these days from being washed and ironed regularly. It is a much-loved possession. When I use it, I make sure Kenneth’s face is on the side which faces away from what’s being dried”.

Thank you, Geoff, for a great Tea Towel Story. The best tea towels should always be used for wiping up, gives you the opportunity to reminisce.

Catherine’s Diary (41): Starting 21 January 2021

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Seems like a long while since I received one of Catherine’s Diaries. Was the post bad? Hadn’t she written one?….. Today, it arrived. The note on the back of the envelope offered some explanation: “I’m sorry, Barbara, this letter is a long time coming. Thought I had nothing to say. All of a sudden my brain exploded, probably why there is so many crossings out and inserts. Down to you to decipher it. Thank you Postal Workers, Doctors, Nurses and Wheelie Bin Men and Women for all you are doing”

17 January 2021

Catastrophe tonight. Doing a crossword with Isabella, online shopping with Amanda, knock at the door, parcel from Amazon! Two towels and five boxes of fixative for false teeth. (I have no idea if Catherine wears false teeth!!)

18 January 2021

Emerged at 7am, fed two cats, back to bed for an hour, shower, dressed, out to post box to post our competitions and my Diary. Quite nice outside, at least it’s dry. Breakfast and tea watching Jeremy Vine. At some point fell asleep, must be all that fresh air I had earlier. Tidied up, fed the birds. I told Blackie that it’s getting cold outside. Must be dinner time because Tinker has come down and is sitting by my feet. This afternoon, sitting on the settee, Tilly jumped onto my lap, laid down while I stroked her head. I thought it weird being on my lap for so long, then I realised it was Blackie. His head is bigger than Tilly’s which should have given it away. Amanda said I must have been asleep!

Good news, I found my pen of many colours. In a panic to get to the front door last night, I dropped it. Found it as it was going down the back of the settee. What a relief! (Readers will not appreciate the fact that Catherine has now written every other line in red then green. It is somewhat dazzling). Over the last few days, I’ve lapsed writing the Diary. All my days seem the same; I’m told to keep writing. What about? Are my ‘Readers’ getting bored hearing about cats, feeding birds etc? Though 21st January was exciting, as I received the vaccine, I wasn’t worried about it. The thing that worried me most was finding the entrance to the building. How silly was that?. Plenty of volunteers to show you where to go, all very polite. As I wasn’t allergic to anything with no underlying health conditions, I didn’t have to do the ’15 minute wait’ after the injection and I had a lift there and back. On Friday, I slept most of the day, as I had a lack of sleep during the previous night. Arm was sore for two days, but now it is just tender to touch.

Saturday, paper day, came home and for some reason started crying. I don’t know if it was losing Christine and Bruce, or not going out. I did think after half-term in February, restrictions might be lifted but Wade told me it might now be after Easter, so that probably finished me off. Amanda said because you can’t go out, you want to go out, and anyway the weather is too cold for the seaside! Amanda kept phoning during the day, checking on me. At one point she asked if I’d flooded the house with my tears! I said to Amanda “Stop ringing, I’m ok now”. I had perked myself up. I have to admit, each day, I text quite a few people good morning, and include the weather forecast! But Saturday, they texted me first and I didn’t feel like replying. In the end I had to reply to two people as they were getting worried.

As dusk fell Saturday night, the dark grey clouds had a hint of the sun on them, an unusual sight. Sunday was the best to come, I got up at 7.30am, as the sun was coming through the clouds, the sky glowed red. It was beautiful but by 8am it had disappeared, but I can still see it in my mind. About 11am, the snow came, started light, then came thick, not enough for ‘Snow Angels’ or a Snowperson. Barbara and Christopher had deep snow, lucky devils!

I also went to Amanda’s for dinner. A nice treat to go out. No cooking, no washing up. February, Amanda is getting a new phone and I’m having the phone she uses now. (Whoopee! will it take photos and also receive them?). So on Sunday I was having ‘phone lessons’. I will probably need a lot more. I press too hard or too light, the keyboard will take some getting used to. But it’s clever, after you’ve pressed two letters, it knows the word you want!! (I can see that both Chris and I will get some weird messages as a result of predictive text. Good fun, eh what‽). And I can see the person when I ring them, plus small squares that people send as pictures (which at the moment I can’t receive). Amanda managed to keep calm with the lessons!!!

I received another card from Barbara and Liz, the picture was the cakes that Liz cooks with her grandchildren online. Clever cooks are Hamish and Lyra. You could almost smell them, a nice dollop of cream with it would go a treat. Isabella was on the stamp again, forearms and paws crossed, and the franking lines passed over her nose. She looked as if she had glasses on; she looked like a homely Grandma.

Two Sundays ago, late at night, I had a brainwave. Using a letter of the alphabet, for a whole week, try and use as many words beginning with that letter in the ‘Good Morning’ text. We started with ‘A’. We would describe our ‘Good Morning’ and ‘Weather Forecast’ and ‘How are you?’ with as many ‘A’s’ as possible. It’s been good fun and we are using our brains. I didn’t know the letter ‘A’ could describe so much. Taking part are: myself, Barbara (niece), Christopher (brother), Mary and Michael (good friends). (Do you mean Amanda and Wade are exempt? That’s not right!!). This week (31.1.21) we are on ‘B’. (I have an advantage here as long as I remember to sign my name).

Closing my letter with Amanda. She was having a Teddy Bear made with her Daddy’s clothes: cardigan, dressing gown and check shirt. Well, her Teddy has arrived. On the sole of one foot is ‘Daddy’ and on the other ‘Bruce’. Amanda said she could smell her Daddy on the Teddy, and it’s true, I could smell Bruce. He is still here!

Today’s tea towel was a gift from a friend of mine, a very recent gift, and it seems appropriate because ‘Wheelie Bin Men and Women’ are a feature of Catherine’s Diary. Next time, however, I do hope she dates each entry but reading this one, I can understand why she didn’t. I think there will be very few people who don’t recognise that feeling of ‘Lockdown Despair’, even if you recover from it quickly! Thank you Catherine.

Nicky’s Tea Towel Story

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Feckenham Church of England First School Millennium Tea Towel. On ‘loan’ from @Griffiths4Nicky

I ‘met’ Nicky on Twitter very recently, when, feeling unwell, I put out a random Tweet asking for people, who might be bored in Lockdown Number 3, to share a photograph of their tea towel(s), with a promise that it would then be put into the Virtual Tea Towel Museum. “That’s not what I expected” I said as the pictures came flooding in, and they still are. For a Tea Towel Collector, and the Curator of the Virtual Tea Towel Museum, this process has been a joy, as well as being hilarious.

“That’s not what I expected” was my comment when BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester rang to ask me to come on the Malcom Bowden Morning Show. They had discovered Nicky’s tea towel that she had posted, when searching Twitter for some interesting local stories. It was from Feckenham First School, Feckenham being in Worcestershire. They like a local ‘good news story’ and thought it would be a good idea to have this tea towel officially inaugurated into the Virtual Tea Towel Museum, on air. We all spotted the irony of this inauguration, taking place a few hours before Joe Biden was inaugurated as President of the United States (but that wouldn’t be a local story). So there we were, my speech prepared, Nicky telling the background story of the tea towel and probably all thinking that this was bonkers. I haven’t enjoyed myself so much in ages.

Two listeners contacted the Museum: “Have been listening to BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester, what a super idea, very uplifting at this time” said Eirlys and Ruth said “I think this is a fantastic idea. First heard about it on my local radio station yesterday… It really made my day. Thanks” and, let’s face it, that is what #TheGreatTeaTowelSharing project is all about.

Besides “That’s not what I expected”, three thoughts occurred to me: firstly, I already have a very distant ‘connection’ with Nicky because she works at the Primary School that Lyra attends, and Hamish did attend; secondly, that this was the school where I created two ‘Sunflower’ tea towels from the drawings of one class who were copying the style of Van Gogh and lastly, Nicky would make a great Guest Tea Towel 2021. And that is where we are today, because Nicky agreed to take part. Here is her story:

“My Dad, Peter Masters, can be seen on this tea towel. In the year 2000, he was working as the School Caretaker, after taking retirement as a tool maker at the Longbridge Car factory in Birmingham.

Feckenham is a small village in Worcestershire and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. It’s famous as being the site of King John’s Hunting Lodge, and more recently, Barrett’s of Feckenham, famous for sheepskin coats!

My Dad was born, and brought up, in Feckenham, by his grandparents, after his Mom sadly died when he was a few days old. He was born in March 1938. At the age of 5, he joined Feckenham School. He left at the age of 14 to attend nearby Redditch Technical School.

The school was first opened in 1859 as Feckenham National School with 120 pupils attending. The school faced closure during the 1980s, as pupil numbers fell. Parents joined together to campaign to keep it open. It is a First School, and teaches pupils up to Year 4. Pupils then transfer to a Middle School and then move up again to a High School. The 3-Tier system is quite unusual.

When my Dad retired from work, he was still very active and looking for part-time employment so the role of Caretaker for the school was an ideal opportunity. He was working in the school in 2000 when the school, like many others, commemorated the new Millenium.

Dad isn’t sure which pupil drew his likeness for the tea towel but it is a very good likeness. However, his beard is a little greyer now!

As a family, finding out the tea towel was to join the Virtual Tea Towel Museum has given us the opportunity to chat, and reminisce, and to wonder about the paths the young people featured have followed over the 20 years after it’s printing”

I had been wondering what a ‘First’ school was, and now I know. Thank you, Nicky, for taking part and for a great Tea Towel Story. Tea towels can be part of that ‘family archive’ that we all need, especially at this time when seeing family, in the flesh, can be difficult.