It’s been a hectic couple of weeks in the blogosphere. No sooner had I been tagged than two other lovely bloggers nominated me for blog awards – JoAnna for Versatile Blogger and Pauline Barclay – herself one of the sunniest bloggers on the planet – for Friendly Blogger. I am grateful to both of these great writers and networkers for thinking of me but not sure I can actually accept as I will struggle right now to find bloggers to nominate who haven’t already held the prize or one that’s similar. I’m hoping if I give away a few family secrets, I’ll be forgiven and allowed to retain my friendly and versatile status!
Family secrets? My daughter, enthused by a certain TV programme, has started to investigate our family history and I’m being reminded of people and stories that had faded from my mind for a while, in particular our Victorian ancestor Charles Lowe, who was a writer.
He lived for many years in Berlin where he was correspondent to The Times and later wrote romantic adventures, one of which sits on my bookshelf and is decribed by contemporary reviewers in glowing terms: ‘surprisingly vivid and exciting,‘ ‘will delight all lovers of adventure‘ etc. etc.! Sadly I have never read it all the way through. Now that I’m involved in my own Victorian investigation, maybe it’s time to put that right.
Charles was actually my maternal Granmother’s uncle, not exactly a close relative, so I suppose it’s unlikely I have inherited his writing gene, but I think it must have been passed on to his daughter. Brought up in Germany (where she claimed to have been dandled on the Kaiser’s knee!) and later settled in Sussex, Blanche Lowe had no family of her own and became for us the ultimate eccentric aunt, renowned for her prolific letter-writing and occasional holidays in Edinburgh. Arriving on the Flying Scotsman, she employed a driver to take her (and sometimes us) on trips around the country she regarded as her home, providing us with lots of memorable treats like afternoon tea in the North British Hotel . (Now called The Balmoral, its clock tower still dominates the Edinburgh skyline).
As she got older and perhaps lonelier, Auntie Blanche’s letters became more frequent until they arrived almost daily. I have one she wrote to me in 1970 when I had a holiday job in a hotel in Glenshee. ‘I am writing to you,’ she says, ‘in your mountain fastness’. As far as I know she never wrote a book, but I’m sure she had more than one novel in her.