Tag Archives: Grandparents

Hygge Feature #28: Grandparents

In 2016, I became a grandmother for the first time. My darling mum and dad didn’t live long enough to meet my children, nor did I ever meet my maternal grandparents, and only one of my paternal ones. I am so thankful that at 62, I am still young enough to relish being a grandma and that my gorgeous granddaughter not only has 4 doting grandparents, but three great-grandmothers as well. That relationship with grandparents is so important to a growing child. Grandparents are a physical embodiment of hygge, as we have already seen in this blog feature. Sarah Dixon shares her grandparents with us in these two recipe poems and a photograph.

How to build a Nanna

Take a lavender smile
laced with floral cachous.

Add Accolade cream,
a dusting of face powder.

Spray the wrists sparingly
with White Linen.

Add natural tights
and an excellent taste in scarves.

Stir in the promise
of banana and sugar sandwiches,

and the gentle threat
of no biscuit at tea-time.

How to build a Pop

Take a smile constructed
from cardboard TVs

Add hair as errant
as waves.

A stilton craving
as veined as thin skin.

The polished scent
of carpet boules.

Then oil with emotion
he will never show.

Sarah Dixon






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Hygge Feature #7 The love of children

What could be more hygge that cuddling up with small children, especially grandchildren? All of the pleasure and none of the work, plus all the happy memories of being a parent, relived. And the love children offer is so unconditional. Photo by Ken Patterson and sent to me by Colin Will.


Holding pattern

Some kind of delay before take-off,
an under-estimate of landing rigmaroles,
passport control – the barriers politicians
put between people – baggage reclaim
and the obligatory airside toiletings,
mean we’re far too early for the family.

I’m wondering, since it’s a couple of years
between visits, how much the children
have changed, how they’ll react.
And then they come through,
son pushing overloaded trolley,
daughter-in-law smiling, grandson shy.

But my granddaughter sees us, shouts
and starts to run. She leaps into my arms
snuggles her head into my neck,
breathes against me. As I turn her
to and fro I see smiles and moist eyes
on the faces of bystanders,
little ripples of remembered joys.

Colin Will

First published in Every Day Poems

Arms full

This door is always open,
no need for keys, or bell.
I untangle my bunny slippers
from where they wait with
the pink-glitter wellies. Squeals
of delight run into the kitchen
to hug my knees. Then a cuppa
and ginger biscuit from the shelf
set aside for my special treats.
Chubby bodies clamber to my lap
demand silly stories, tickles and
disco dancing. Other folk might
want candles, log fires and soft rugs.
Cuddles with these wee astronaut-
mermaids are enough for me.

Finola Scott


for Ziyad

The first letter he has known for months
in zig-zag lines getting nowhere.

Turned on its side and crayoned blue
he can stretch it out like a river;

or if he changes colour can make
a mountain, some grass, a fire.

Cut back to its simplest form
and laid out in rows like ghosts,

he follows the dots over and over
before he does it on his own.

When he learns its sound is a buzz
he likes, he hears it and sees it again

in the stripes of zebra,
in the bars of a place called zoo.

 He has five shapes to master.
They stand above or hang below

a line that’s always there –
even if you think it’s vanished.

But when it all comes together
in a final downward stroke

– staunch and straight as he will be –
it tells him who he is,

this name he has always heard
ever since he’s been here.

David Cooke


 First published in Cortland Review (US)






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The Pram in the Hall #1

girls on hill

girls on hill

I’ve been thinking about the notion of the ‘pram in the hall’ since I read at The Breastfeeding Festival in Manchester on 25 June. Perhaps in the past, this notion was true. The idea behind it is that women had to choose between motherhood and writing; doing both was impossible. Now, that might have been the case before effective contraception, but I believe motherhood can unlock writing, particularly poetry.

When I was 26, I had been writing poetry seriously for 12 years, but working in an office had not been conducive to that pursuit. Had I mentioned to anyone there that I wrote poetry, I’d have been ridiculed. So I kept quiet. I’d lost both my parents during those years too, and I’d become pregnant with my first child, just after my mother’s death. Being pregnant with a longed-for child and mourning a mum I’d been very close to, was a strange time.

I booked myself onto an Arvon course, at Lumb Bank. One of the tutors was Liz Lochhead. I showed her my scared little poems in our tutorial, and she did something very powerful. She gave me permission. What she actually said was ‘Angela, you are a born poet and you HAVE to do this’. She could have had no idea of the importance of those words. They cancelled out everything which had knocked me back. They drove me forward, they made me take myself seriously.

We had saved up so I could be a stay-at-home mum. I’d never really fitted into the office job, and had never been career-minded. All I ever wanted to be was a writer. I’d been told over and over again I couldn’t be one. The careers woman at school suggested I should be a secretary if I wanted to write. I walked out of that interview. But being a mum gave me headspace. It freed me up. When you are a baby-wearing, breastfeeding, attachment parenting mother, like I was, you are rooted, emotionally intelligent and very much in touch with all things tactile and playful.

I’d imagined I’d write about being a mum, but in fact, my little girls took me back to my own childhood, and I began to be able to explore the treasured memories I had of growing up as the baby in a family of four, growing closer to my parents as each of my siblings left home. My poems then were often a way of speaking to the beloved people I wished I still had round me. I wanted my children to have known them.

Eventually, I was able to write about my own experiences of motherhood. But I think I had to work through my grief first. I learned the art of parenting from my mum, unconsciously, and being in tune with my babies showed me how she must have responded to me, and how her mother had responded to her. Now I have just become a grandmother myself, I expect I will have to write even more about my own daughters before I write about the new family member, a granddaughter. At least she will know her grandparents. I never did, not on my mum’s side at least.

I wrote this poem about my mum’s mum, and how the stories about her I was always told made her real to me. This poem is included in Letting Go (Mother’s Milk Books).

Granny Coyne

My granny’s a whispering woman,

her stories follow me down the hall;

hang, half-told, in the corners of the kitchen

above a tut-tut of metal knitting pins.


My granny’s a soothing woman,

smoother of brows with a cool palm;

polisher of brasses; igniter of fires;

she picks up babies before they cry.


My granny’s a loving woman,

shoes clucking on tiles when I call.

her eyes laugh at me in photographs.

“She’d have loved you” my mother says.


Angela Topping



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