I love poppies, I always have. I read a book a long long time ago called Mr God this is Anna by Fynn. If you haven’t read it give it a go. I’ve read it several times, and to my children. I can never get through it without crying, it is a great book. Anna collected poppy seeds, and without realising I was emulating her, I started doing it a few years ago. This year seeing these particular poppies reminded me to sow them, hopefully in good time for next summer.
These poppies remind me of the Book Mr God this is Anna, because they remind me of our next door neighbours Gordon and Doris. Here is a photo of them on their wedding day, around about the time my parents and Al were born
We moved here in August 2001 and by that time Gordon was 81 and Doris was a spring chicken at 77. They got together when Doris was just 14!! Gordon could talk for England, and regularly did. His stories always involved the sentence ‘during the war….’ and he regularly repeated his tales over and over. Often when Peter came home from work I would hear him pull up, and expect to see him coming through the door, but nothing would happen. 20 minutes later I would have a look through the door and there he was ‘stuck’ with Gordon chatting about motorbikes, camper-vans, the local area, and of course the war. Peter, born in 1962 doesn’t remember the war, but Gordon used to conveniently forget this!
In preparation for remembrance Sunday every year, Gordon used to sell red poppy pins with his friend Doug. Here’s a photo of the two of them together ready to go to sell some poppy pins. (You can see one on Doug’s jacket above his medals).
Gordon was a keen gardener and had run a greengrocers after the war, so was always out in his garden. Every year he would come in with bags bursting with courgettes & rhubarb. He used to grow great courgettes but give away all of them as he hated them! His back garden was a huge vegetable garden (apart from the sheds full of motorbike parts)
Gordon and Doris were keen bikers and used to go all over the country on motorbikes when they were younger. Every time Peter got his motorbike out Doris used to come out to talk about their holidays on motorbikes, and their many mishaps! Gordon was also a speedway rider so had more metal in him than bones due to his numerous accidents!
Doris used to look at Peter’s bike & say ‘Oh how I miss being on the back of a bike’, so one day we got a little step ladder out & got her on the back of his bike.
Doris treasured this photo & kept it beside her chair all the time. When her son saw it on a visit from Canada he asked me to scan it and email it to him, and the next year their grandchildren and great grandchildren sent Gordon and Doris a photo calendar with this photo on the front cover 🙂
Gordon’s friend Doug (above) who lived at the end of the road and was about the same age had the most beautiful garden of flowers on the road, he was always out there weeding and pruning, the garden was a mass of multicoloured flowers. Gordon & Doris’ front garden was fronted by a low brick wall, and on the top of the wall was a bed of yellow Californian Poppies. Every year the front of their house would be overflowing with bright yellow golden poppies spilling over the wall.
When Gordon died last year, Doris got put in a home as she was getting forgetful and wasn’t able to look after herself alone. The house they lived in, like ours is a Housing Trust House, so the housing trust came to sort out the house for the new tenants. They put in a new kitchen and bathroom, and got rid of all the sheds in the back garden, but they also got rid of the vegetable patch and the lovely red brick wall at the front of the garden. Instead they put up a horrid wire fence.
I was so happy when I went out a few weeks ago & saw this sight growing through the fence 🙂
Some poppies survived to remind us every year of our lovely lovely neighbours
I guess this post also fits well into this week’s ‘Weekly Photo Challenge; Nostalgic‘.
What a nice story Barbara….when I see the photo of the two vets, it makes me think of my Dad.. He passed 2005 at 90. He never spoke of the war for years and then once he started, we gots lots of stories….Even though he was Canadian, he served for England on loan from Canada when England needed officers. Thanks for the memories……
Thank you. Gordon & Doris were great neighbours. One time during heavy snow Doris (probably about 80 at this time) came in to ask me if i needed anything from the shops!! I said no and offered to walk round with her, but she wouldn’t have it, she was very stubborn!!
The stories that Gordon had from the war were hilarious, as he was not the most well behaved soldier, and when he was looking after a POW camp in Southern Europe they seem to have spent more time swimming & playing music than anything else 🙂
How wonderful Barbara, that “Poppies” can remind us of special people and the memories they bring.
blessings ~ maxi
Yes, I’ve been meaning to write about Gordon & Doris for ages now, but when I saw their poppies I got spurred into action! I will collect the seeds this year & make sure they are all over my garden next summer!
Yes I remember there camper van next door,lovely couple what a shame they have gone.Great story,hope new neighbours are good fun..
Hi Neil! Welcome to my blog 🙂 New neighbours are nice, and quiet, but not Gordon & Doris…. They were something special!!
Sweet story about a lovely couple. I really like those old wedding pictures….something about them stirs my belief that maybe, just maybe, life back then was not quite as complicated. I think the blessings they provided you were amply reciprocated by you and Peter. Your analogy of how the flowers breaking through the fence shows they live on in your life is just perfect.
By the way, Peter rocks on that bike! It looks like it’s got enough technology to double as a Mars Rover.
Doris used to tell me that on their wedding night there was an air raid, and Gordon refused to go to the air raid shelter.. Bombs were exploding all around them apparently….. Although that might have been a bit of poetic license! Maybe the earth really did move 🙂
That bike was amazing, SO comfortable, too comfortable maybe, on long journeys I used to fall asleep! It was a Yamaha FJR1300. It was a touring bike. He now has an XJR1200, it has no faring so theoretically he rides it more slowly (LOL)
What a lovely story Barbara – I’ll buy a coffee in ‘Poppies’ in the village tomorrow and salute all the ‘Gordon & Doris’ of the world (and you too) . Greetings from a very sunny Enniskerry.
Thank you 🙂 I forgot about Poppies! They do such great home made food too! Yummy. Dublin is wonderful when it is hot…. It never gets ‘too hot’ or humid. On days like these we remember why we lived there!! Pity they’re not a bit more common!!!
I loved this, Barbara. From your friendship to their long union to the poppies smiling through the fence. Thanks for sharing.
They were so funny as a couple, they obviously were besotted with each other as they had stayed together all this time, but they used to bicker constantly! When we went in to visit they would compete for our attention, talking over each other & every so often telling each other off! In the end I used to talk to Doris & Peter would talk to Gordon. Doris used to love telling me about all the holidays that they used to go on in their camper van and on their various motorbikes 🙂
Whenever they would see us getting ready to go away for a few days on our bike or in our camper they would be out reminiscing, and Doris would always say…. Go go! Have fun… I wish we could do that again!
Lots of long time couples seem to do that . . . with true affection under the flickering bickering.
Yes, it’s true. Any time Gordon went into hospital Doris used to pine for him. Thankfully by the time he died her memory was failing so she wasn’t as aware of him not being there, but it is so sad to think of her without him
Oh what a lovely post. I would have been dancing with joy to see the poppies growing through the wire fence, how marvellous!
I was, I was so excited… And then we had a string of cloudy days so I couldn’t capture them at their best. Every day I would worry that they would be finished, but they lasted for ages. 🙂
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