Welcome St. Joseph’s Primary School

A few days ago the children of years 3 and 4 of St. Joseph’s Primary School in Maida Vale were introduced to Our Stories.

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As always, when I go into the schools myself to speak to the children, I was fascinated and very pleased to see how quickly they grasped the idea and how excited and keen they were to get started, no matter how far away their grandparents might be.

Welcome St. Joseph’s-I cannot wait to hear your stories!

A Merry Christmas from OUR STORIES/£50 raised for CHILDREN IN NEED by Maple Walk School

IMG_1596First of all a big thank you to Maple Walk School’s headteacher Sarah Gillam, reception teachers Mrs Brooksbank and Ms Dancey as well as Francoise Romand and last but not least parent Jo Dymond for making another Our Stories project happen. It’s always wonderful to see what we can achieve when everyone pulls together and I want to thank everyone, including the parents and grandparents, for being so forthcoming with their stories and photographs. We have at the same time also managed to raise £50 for CHILDREN IN NEED through the book sale, which is absolutely fantastic!

Putting the book together was once again a reminder of the richness of each single child’s background and how London, especially, is the most incredible melting pot of ethnicities and histories. There were stories from as far away as India, Australia, America, Kenya, Poland, China, Morocco, Iran and New Zealand. As with the children who have partaken in the Our Stories project previously, these Maple Walk grandparents and great grandparents represent a whole spectrum of human endeavour from those who had to flee war or persecution and came to England to start new lives to those who bravely defended their country and some of whom were even rewarded with the highest honours. There were fascinating encounters with such varied subjects as a rock star, a king and a deadly poisonous snake. And last but certainly not least there were some wonderful insights into how different the lives of those grandparents or great grand parents were from that of their grand- and great grandchildren. Great stuff!

A Cookbook by Grandmothers

 

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To mark a recent visit, an old friend from my native Berlin gave me a newly published cook book featuring traditional German dishes called “Wir haben einfach gekocht” (Umschau, 2015), which basically means: we just cooked, meaning: in a simple fashion. Those who cooked are a group of elderly, but very lively women interviewed for this book, most of them well into their eighth decade.

The team behind the project, Jörg Reuter, Manuela Rehn, Cathrin Brandes and Caro Hoenes, went off on a journey across Germany with the mission to visit a number of care homes and to quiz the residents about their favourite recipes as well the memories associated with those. They cooked, shared the odd trick, and ate together.  In the absence of steady companionship or the opportunity to cook for themselves anymore, these senior citizens clearly enjoyed the chance to make themselves useful and to be sociable.

“Wir haben einfach gekocht” goes straight to the roots of the kind of cooking we associate with family and all things homely. It harks back to a fuss-free and regional cuisine that was supposed to nourish and sustain you, and most importantly, was always enjoyed en famille, at the table. As a result, such wonderful classics as “Sauerbraten”, liver with apple rings, onions and mashed potato, potato dumplings, pea soup and “Streuselkuchen” are getting the proper treatment here, not a make-over.

It is obvious why this idea appeals to Our Stories and why I should mention it here: housewives or not, these women had to cook for themselves and their families, day in, day out, the dishes often passed on to them by their own mothers and grandmothers and perfected over time. Sharing these recipes means sharing a piece of their history if not their identity.

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Much like Our Stories sees itself as an incentive for others to engage with the elders in their families, the authors behind this book want to encourage readers to visit care homes for the elderly, perhaps get acquainted with an elderly person, listen to them, cook for them.

How about a British version of this book…anyone?

 

 

The website and Facebook pages are in German:

http://wir-haben-einfach-gekocht.de

https://www.facebook.com/wirhabeneinfachgekocht/?fref=ts

An Irish School’s Request To Its Pupils: Bring your Grandparents in!

I came across this whilst researching documentaries on the subject and was touched listening to this short piece about a  school in Sligo, which in order to celebrate its 50th anniversary, asked pupils to bring in their grandparents to share their stories with them. Here is what happened.

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/2012/0717/647165-documentary-podcast-bring-your-grandparents-to-school-day-sligo-ireland/

Maple Walk a Go!

Thank you to Maple Walk Primary School in Harlesden and Mrs Gillam, the headteacher, as well as Miss Dancey for inviting Our Stories. The Reception class children are now busy collecting stories from their grandparents and I look forward to hearing them all after half-term.

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Back To School, Back to Our Stories

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A new school year has begun. The autumn term is a fantastic time to get cosy and share Our Stories, so let’s get to it!

This coming term Our Stories is looking forward to be working with Maple Walk School, who are very enthusiastic about the idea.

The latest edition of story books, which is looking beautiful, was delivered to Salusbury Primary School this morning and I hope parents, children and grandparents will enjoy them for many years to come. Thank you all for sharing your family stories. (see pics above!)

If you would like to suggest introducing the project at your child’s primary school, please get in touch via the website and spread the word. There is not much work involved and not only the kids, but the whole family gets something out of it.

See you soon!

This Weekend 15th/16th August-“Dirty Stop Outs”- Youth Music Theatre UK Stages a Musical about Grandparents in Halifax

Youth Music Theatre UK has created a verbatim play/musical based on the teenage lives of grandparents. It is based on anecdotes told in interviews, which the teenage actors conducted with their grandparents or older relatives. Please read this article and if you are anywhere near Halifax: go and see the play at The Square Chapel, 2.30pm 15th & 16th August 2015. Let’s hope it transfers to London soon!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-33839479

http://www.youthmusictheatreuk.org/DirtyStopOuts