A treasure-chest of memories in one photo


Aunt Nell and one of my younger twin cousins (I don't know which!).

Aunt Nell and one (I don’t know which!) of my younger twin cousins.

The theme of Nostalgia given in the latest Photo Challenge made me think of a photo I found the other day in an old, battered bible which had belonged to my mother.  My scanner won’t talk to the computer at present, so the only way I could reproduce it was by taking another photo of that tiny print.

The picture shows my Aunt Nell (actual first names Helen Kate Winton), who endeared herself to myself and a number of my cousins by being a wise and unfailingly entertaining second mother to us. I wish I had another photo I once saw of her as a young girl — long-haired and stunningly good-looking, but with a sort of wild independence about her.  I was hardly surprised she had been known as a tomboy, and had outdone the boys in almost everything one could think of.  She was a crack shot with rifle or catapult, which discouraged predators from decimating her beloved birds that would flock to her garden.

Anyway, Knysna Heads was either the home for all of us, or a magnet for those who had needed to move away like myself and my parents.  Aunt Nell often had one or another of the kids, or several at once, foisted upon her during school holidays or when parents were tied up.   Over the years, she encouraged both my adventurous spirit and my passion for reading, and gave me a love of wildlife and nature.

Aunt Nell lost a lung and a sister to TB, but in spite of frequent shortage of breath her spirit was undaunted.  She was eccentric — like many members of the family! — but in a wonderful way.

She provided a bed in the little lounge of her flat at The Heads for my (then) fiancée, while I stayed in my parents’ half-completed house there (we had been brought up to behave like that, and we also took separate rooms at B & Bs on the journey) and she enthusiastically accompanied us on expeditions in the little open MG TC we had boldly travelled down in from Germiston.  My fiancée was a bit doubtful when told that a large snake would probably go across her bed during the night, but not to worry because it was harmless.  I assured Fiancée  that any dangerous ones didn’t live long with Aunt Nell around!

It is rather ironical that I have now taken the nature thing a stage further by being quite happy with ‘dangerous’ ones as well.

Synchronistically enough,  I saw Aunt Nell mentioned recently on FB, with great fondness, by some of my cousins.

© October 2016 Colonialist (WordPress)

About colonialist

Active septic geranium who plays with words writing fantasy novels and professionally editing, with notes writing classical music, and with riding a mountain bike, horses and dinghies.
This entry was posted in Africa, Challenge, inspiration, Personal Journal, Photography, Weekly Photo Challenge and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to A treasure-chest of memories in one photo

  1. Now there’s a person that lived life and encouraged others to do so, too. A reader and an adventurous outdoors person. And pretty. What a jewel. How lucky were those who knew her

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  2. Merwyn Wright says:

    I would hazard a guess that we are beholding young Helen in Nell’s protective care, based on facial features and male intuition. I never had the privilege of meeting Aunt Nell, nor Hyla or even Bertie, but the whole Noble tribe were fascinating and unique folk. Definitely a credit to humanity and, after being married to Irene for 40 years I still enjoy her stories of growing up amongst the Nells, Cyrils and co. Bertie, a wonderfully skilled boats-man, would take the twins out through the Heads in a little rowing boat, Nell would have them picking wild grapes for jam making, teaching them to feed sugar birds and wagtails by hand. The sad day Nell was taken to hospital, all the birds left. The previous day they had flocked to visit her.
    I got Irene to study the picture and she can’t say who it is, but I stick to my first impression, Helen has a longer nose than Irene. They are not identical twins, but dizygotic (two placentas). By the way, these twins turn 60 this month!
    Thank you for the effort taken in reproducing this precious photo. It has given me my first sighting of the famed Aunty Nell in all these years. She obviously did not rate the dreaded camera highly.
    Well done Leslie!

    Liked by 1 person

    • colonialist says:

      My mother was usually specific in writing on the backs of pictures, but this one only says ‘Nell with one of Lewis’s and Helga’s twin daughters’. Interesting to see what Helen’s take on it will be.
      I was so delighted to find and be able to capture this precious photo.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Nostalgia: Paris 2 | What's (in) the picture?

  4. Pussycat44 says:

    By the looks of your Aunt Nell she also flaunted the dress code for ladies at the time by wearing trousers! I can see myself in the cousin: same clothing, same hairstyle!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Stephanie Haahjem says:

    I met Aunt Nell once when I was about 10 years old, Les, and she made a HUGE impression on me! She was so knowledgeable and entertaining-Was living in half a garage on the Head and seemed to know everything about all the nature around her. I wanted to grow up to be just like her! Wonderful lady she was!!

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  6. de Wets Wild says:

    She must have had a heart as big as a barn!

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  7. dunelight says:

    This is a lovely post, but I could have ‘liked’ and moved on but as I sail with a lot of older sailors, all with a life time of information, stories, and experience to share I was drawn up short by your “About”….I think Septic Geranium is going to be rolling around in my head for the next 12 hours at least through morning coffee.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve reblogged this, hope that’s okay with you.

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  9. Reblogged this on LordBeariOfBow and commented:
    This is a lovely post I thought I’d share it with those of you who don’t follow this fellow blgger

    Like

  10. What a lovely post, Thanks for sharing those memories.

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  11. disperser says:

    Lovely memories.

    Like

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