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Lorna & Auntie Nellie.jpg

Lorna and Auntie Nellie

Well my object is a wooden nut cracker, which I believe came from Italy (from erm Venice probably), and I inherited it from my Great Aunt. It was just passed down to my Mother and then on to me and . . . that’s how I came to get it really, from my Mother’s things when she died and we cleared the house.

It’s something that is always, I always remember as a child; playing with it and being fascinated by it. And then my children were again fascinated by it, loved playing with it. And now the grandchildren are doing the same. So it’s very much something that’s been in the family, part of the family.

Erm I can’t say that I specifically knew I was going to own it at one time but it was just one of those things that fell into my lap really.

When I think about my Great Aunt, I think about her with a lot of affection because I spent a lot of time with her as a child. I grew up with her, we lived with her . . . and it always reminds me of times with her.

I don’t use the object now because as a nut cracker it’s pretty useless, but I use it with the children as a toy.

I value the object because of the memories it holds and erm, it reminds me very much of the life that my Aunt had; she travelled a lot and she’s got a lot of things that were picked up on her travels really, mainly in Italy.

I like it. I like the nut cracker because it’s totally different. I’ve never seen anything else like it and erm, I always like things that are unusual.

She was very kind . . . she spoilt me rotten when I was young.

Erm as far as sensory things go, it’s very smooth. It’s nice. Nice feel to it, like all wood is. Anything wood I love.

We’re quite practising religious. We’re Catholics, and yes that does always help when you lose somebody I think.

I spent a lot of my childhood with her because my Mother and I lived with her. She was er, she was born as one of a family with five brothers. I think she was very close to her Father who valued education, even for girls. And in those days, I mean she was born in the 1870s, so that, at that time girls were not expected to be educated. She went to the school in Dorchester that was run by Thomas Hardy’s sister and erm, she loved it. But at twelve she had to leave and go into service because that was more or less what girls did at those, in those days. But she always knew that if she got education she could better her life. And she did, because eventually she married a student electrical engineer, who went on later to become the secretary of The Institute of Electrical Engineers. So, her life changed totally over the years and because of that she did a lot of travel. Because he erm, he travelled a lot with his work and of course she accompanied him. We’ve got cases upstairs: the White Star Line, they used to travel on The Queen Mary . . . erm, and that’s how she came to get things like this. And those pictures were from Italy and erm, all sorts of things from all, all over the world where she travelled. Which was quite, you know people didn’t travel a lot in those days. So, she had a very interesting life. They always travelled . . . they were always very spoilt in their travel, you know. I mean they were given gifts and I’ve got boxes and things that were given to her engraved, or given to her husband anyway because he was, because of his position really. He used to travel to erm . . . very great connections with Paris, cos that’s where a lot of the electrical development was taking place I think.

My Great Uncle spoke fluent French because he was born in Mauritius and was bilingual really. But he came to England for his education. I don’t know how she met him but erm, I know he was still a student when she met him. But erm, he went places afterwards. In those days I mean they, they didn’t think that girls needed educating because they were going to get married and sit at home and embroider and do things like that.

I think in Venice they have a lot of theatrical masks and this sort of thing, don’t they? I, I’ve seen a lot of things when I’ve been to Venice that have been sort of this type of similar, similar . . . thing. But erm, I don’t know exactly what it is. It’s obviously some sort of a pixie or a gnome or . . . I was trying to work out what he’s riding on, but I don’t know. Bit like the erm Irish Leprechaun, that sort of thing.

When she started travelling, would have been around the 1900s, so I would think sort of about 1915, 1920.

I was looking with my husband, to see how it’s pinned but everything is sort of hand made. It’s not like brass rivets and that sort of thing that you find nowadays. And it hasn’t broken yet!

*Clack! Clack! Clack!*

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