I was lucky enough recently to receive an extra special parcel through the mail. A lovely relation of mine sent through two old magazines which collectively house a treasure trove of old photographs and advertisements from my home town of Thornton-Cleveleys. As I sat with my girls and we carefully leafed through the pages, I was struck by a wave of love for the familiar places outlined in the grainy black and white print: the old familiar windmill, images of the beach front, high street shops and our old church built in 1899.
I tried to explain to the children how each of the photographs relate to their own memories of our hometown which after 6 years living on the other side of the world are becoming distant and patchy. It helps that so many of the buildings in the old photographs are still standing- testament to the high quality, sustainable construction of the Victorian era, although so much is of course quite different now. Looking at pictures from the late 19th and early 20th Century it is fascinating to see the different fashions and styles that characterized the time. Children in their bonnets, gentleman wearing their hats and ladies wearing ankle length dresses and skirts all feature prominently in this treasured collection.
I am sure I will look at these two magazines again and again in the years to come as they represent an important part of my history and the history of our little family. Wherever we live in the future and whatever further adventures we enjoy here on the other side of the world, Thornton-Cleveleys will always mean home and I am incredibly grateful to now have this permanent physical reminder to prompt my memory and bring me joy.
Leafing through the magazines and taking the time to read the various articles and news items, also reminds me that one day my life will be a piece of history too. Just as the lives of those shown in the old black and white images of more than a century ago surely came to an end, so will my life. I wonder what lessons each person learned along the way and I wonder what they would think of those same streets and spaces today.
I also wonder whether in 100 years or so, snapshots of my family will evoke these same feelings in those who see them and will encourage them to remember that this life is to be treasured because the time we are blessed with is finite and will surely and inexorably pass by.