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Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Book of Me - Happiness in Hobbies

This  post was prompted by Julie at Anglers Rest  and  her  series " Book of Me - Written by You", where she asks us here to describe our memories of Hobbies.   

History, music, reading, collecting, crafts and scrapbooks - all hobbies from my childhood and ones I still follow today.  You'll note that sport does not feature.  At school I enjoyed netball and tennis, and have been qn avid TV follower of Wimbledon since I was 12 years old  - but that is where my ability and activity  finished! 

 As a geneablogger, History, of course has to come top of my hobbies list.  I can remember the first library book I borrowed which had a colourful drawing of Queen Elizabeth I in all her finery - and I   became hooked.   Can anyone remember the I Spy Books - the historical themes were my favourites - castles,  churches, monuments etc.  to tick off on holidays.  I moved onto historical fiction and of course family history. Setting up my family history blog then led to a growing interest in Photography for featuring in my posts. 

illustration of a girl and a...An Open Book:  I have always loved reading  and took this one step further by becoming a librarian.  My tastes are not particularly " literary" - historical novels, family sagas, and relationship-based story lines and occasionally biographies. Science fiction, fantasy, crime and detection  and not for me.

The Good Reads website I came across by accident and it is now firmly "bookmarked", as it lets me to have my own page where I can keep a list of my own reading, write a review and share it with others.  I recommend it. 

The Collecting Bug   "Squirreling" has been a favourite  occupation  throughout my life.  I was introduced to Stamp Collecting by my uncle  and remember my first album and stamps around the time of the  Queen's Coronation in 1953 when so many new stamps were being issued by Britain and the Commonwealth.  I later went onto concentrate on thematic collections e.g. on Music, Animals, Famous People.   I still have albums in the loft but this hobby has largely gone by the board.

I loved Dolls and had the best dressed dolls in the street thanks to my mother's skill as a dressmaker.  I later collected costume dolls - both historic e.g. the Tudor queens and in national dress, until I ran out of space in my bedroom and they did become dust gatherers. Unfortunately neither my daughter nor granddaughter have  bothered much with dolls.  

Nowadays my main collecting focuses on Postcards - this is what I spend my money on on holiday.  I have compiled postcard albums not only of places,  but also of themes, mainly cards bought in galleries & museums - art, costume,  early advertisements etc. A  great hobby - cheap to buy, easy to fit in a case, and lovely to look through.  Likewise Bookmarks

It is just as well I do not have more space in the home, or else it would become a veritable junkyard of bits  and pieces.   I restrict myself to Blue and White China collection. I don't quite know why is has such an appeal, but it does.  

Scrapbooks - I was an avid scrapbook creator from an early age.  The first one I remember was again in 1953 of the Queen's Coronation and I still have  ones I compiled in my teens of ballet pictures, and historic costumes.  The one I created from pictures of my favourite TV stars and actors in "The Radio Times"  bit the dust at some point. My mother also encouraged me to create holiday scrapbooks and I used to cut out pictures that appealed from  "Girl" and other magazines, ranging from cute & cuddly animals,  picturesque views, dancers, the Royal Family and then eventually actors and singers.     My latest scrapbook efforts have featured Christmas cards - see my posting Creating Christmas Scrapbooks  - and of course using computers has  had a huge impact on the look of them.

Crafts - I come from a family of crafters on my mother's side, so I grew up encouraged to make little gifts for relations and followed  this through with my own daughter and now my  granddaughter. It began with making Christmas cards (be prepared for glitter all over the place!)  and then went onto calendars, bookmarks and decorated felt mats.

One of my earliest memories is sitting on the kitchen drainer whilst Mum showed me how to knit - of all things  - a dishcloth out of string!  I did graduate later to pixie hoods and scarves. 

 I do not have my mother's talent, but she introduced me to  basket weaving, collage pictures, embroidery where I could just about manage lazy daisy stitch, but was hopeless at satin stitch;  patchwork - currently working on a bed throw (downgraded from a more ambitious quilt!),   cross-stitch which I still enjoy (see right)  and crocheting wool throws  where working with different kaleidoscope colours appeals to me so much. 

Oct. Unchallenge 20My evenings at present are spent  knitting and crocheting squares for a great charity I discovered online Knit A Square (KAS) which asks us to create 8 inch squares to be sent to Soweto, South Africa and sewn up locally into  blanket for AIDS orphans. I  am a great enthusiast of  the KAS Forum which offers monthly challenges and a place  where contributors can share photographs of their efforts, plus receive advice, and encouragement.  

Musical Notes  My mother was determined I was going to learn to play the piano.  As the middle daughter  she felt a bit hard done by  in  missing  out on the opportunity,  when both her older sister ( who went on to be a teacher)  and much younger sister learned.   I only got as far as grade 3 exams, before we moved across country and I did not resume lessons.  

I did  have a try at playing the guitar - after all it looked so easy when pop musicians  and folk singers played it on TV.  Not quite the case with me, I struggled with the tuning and the fingering and soon gave it up.  In my more mature years,  I took up the recorder - after all if 7 year olds could play, surely I could?   I also lived in the same town as  international recorder player and composer Brian Bonsor, so there was a local recorder group I could join.  Just one problem - our dog hated it when I practiced and howled all the time.   

My mother and aunt introduced me to ballet and opera. I loved The Gypsy Baron and wanted  a gypsy costume and  headdress with long coloured ribbons  - the nearest I got was full skirt  trimmed with rows of  ric rac.  My first ballet was Coppelia - an ideal choice for a little girl with the feisty heroine in a lovely pale blue tutu,  the handsome hero - and more gypsy dances.  

In my teens, I saw the ballet  "Sleeping Beauty" and I was mesmerized by the magic of it - from the orchestral overture,  the transforming scenery, the costumes and of course the dancing.  "La Boheme" was the first grand opera I saw and my hanky was well and truly soaked as I wept at the death of Mimi.  Ditto seeing Carmen and La Traviata. More recently  I ticked off an item on my "bucket list" by  going to  the Royal Opera House in London for a performance  of "Swan Lake" by the Royal Ballet - unforgettable!  

The love of music has stayed with me and Classic FM is my favourite radio station (on as I type)   and I am still involved with my local music society.  Likewise I have been a choir member since my school days until I recently decided to retire my "voice". One  highlight of singing was taking part in Gilbert & Sullivan Operas in my 20's.   I loved  the dressing up (the girls made their own costumes), the singing and some dancing, plus the camaraderie and friendships built up over intensive rehearsals.   We thought we were great! 

And my latest hobby that I took up recently  - something  that combines all of the above  - Pinterest of course.  where you will find my  boards on books, music, crochet, quilts, costume, travel and history. 

More mature  pastimes are part of my life now - such as Gardening and Walking (in the cause of healthy living), but  who do I have to thank for introducing me. as a child  to such  engrossing hobbies?  My mother.  Thank You.  


  1. What an interesting story! Your hobby career looks like mine!

  2. Can't find you on Pinterest. Where are you?

    1. If you click on PInterest, highlighted in red in my text above (not the white red image on the right of the screen), it immediately links to my page at http://www.pinterest.com/susanpdonaldson/ Hope this works.

    2. I've found you! Thank you!


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