Here with my folks, newborn brother Solos, first cousin Solos and Grandad Solomon who the boys are named after!
There’s nothing I love more than looking at old photos from my childhood (bar the 10 year old school pictures that is- my eyebrows aka Carpet World samples were let’s say, ahead of their time when it came to brow trends, and most of those scary shots have found their way into the bin-eek!
My eldest son innocently tried to frame of those said pictures which actually made me cry with laughter! Oliver is clearly a fan of the ‘big brow’!
Seriously though, flicking through these goldie oldies (when the brows were smaller) have seen me re-live some of the happiest times of my life, and twice over too, as I share them with my own kids, ‘Is that you Mama?’ they ask me in disbelief! ‘Yep, I was 5 one day too, boys’!
So here we go again, this time for you guys- a trip down memory lane-
How big is my brother’s hair and how similar is he to my youngest, Alexander? Here we are in Rhodes. My first #proudinmybikini pic!
And HELLO? What is my Dad wearing?!
…I was actually spurred on to write this post, with the recent birth of my first nephew, my brother’s beautiful newborn son, Zachary. Looking back at these faded snapshots, I can clearly see him, and my own young children, Oliver, 5 and Xander, 3 in both mine and my brother’s faces.
I can detect their expressions in our own and can visibly trace the family line from my grandparents down to them. How wonderful is that?!
Can you handle the cuteness, though?!
I only wish my grandparents, both my Papous (Grandads) and Yiayia Annetta had met my own children. They adored my brother and I and our bond was unbreakable. They live on through us and our children.
Here is Papou Solomon, a gifted intellectual who spoke 7 languages and loved to wind his grandkids up whenever he could. He’d take Solos and I for walks and hide, jumping out at us and I always remember him buying me fake sets of plastic nails for kids, that would drive my feminist Mum up the wall! I loved them though!
Two Solomons together!
…My Grandma Vikentia, my Dad’s mother had in fact met, and loved Oliver when we took a trip to Cyprus when he was 6 months old but sadly she never got to meet Xander, the one who looks so like her.
I was always close to my grandmothers-they taught me how to be a mother, as did my own, they lovingly handed down Greek recipes to me, my Grandma Annetta’s famous marble cake for one- and really instilled confidence in me and I always felt so loved by them.
They inspired me hugely and still do today. They selflessly lived for their families- I’ll never forget my Grandma Vikentia telling me it was her, ‘ job to worry’ about us all! I definitely feel that way about my own kids.
We were also lucky to have another Grandma in Grandma Hilda far left who we loved like our own, a neighbour and family friend she never missed a party and she was a huge part of our lives.
…In many respects, my brother Solos and I had an idyllic childhood, we grew up in the pretty, picturesque and tiny town of Ilkley, an Enid Blyton upbringing of sorts, we lived on a private, secluded road in a beautiful house which luckily had a swimming pool in the basement (which was a huge ground floor the size of the lounge) and lots of space to play…Our pool parties were always so much fun for birthdays-Dad in the sauna, we lot splashing around.
It actually made my brother and I weep when we moved to Leeds and returned to visit our old house and the new, elderly owners had boarded up our beloved pool.
We were lucky kids.
Other parties were hosted in their Greek restaurant ‘The Olive Tree‘, their first ever branch (no longer there) in Ilkley.
My Mum left her job as a university lecturer, my Dad as a manager, to set up a restaurant in a town that knew nothing of Greek food. They were a total success and now own 4 thriving restaurants across Leeds, a city we moved to when I turned 7.
Here we are in the Ilkley branch on my third birthday.
Not sure I got the memo about umbrellas indoors!
…I also remember attending the now defunct, local primary school ‘All Saints’ as it it was yesterday.
Aged 4, I had two boyfriends, not one (!)- twins, whom I believe were called Jonathan and James (hi! if you’re reading boys-as if). I dated them both as I literally couldn’t decide between them! Decisions hey?!
To this day, I remember feeling a little judged walking around the playground hand in hand with those cute boys. Hilarious now. The start of rule-breaking had begun!
Here’s a primary school photo from when we moved to Leeds-
And here we are from when we attended a Prep School a few years later. Another cute photo alert!
And some jazz hands for good measure!
…Anyway back to the boys, I always loved them-I would force the young chap who literally ‘lived down the lane’ from us, Richard, to marry me most days, he in my Dad’s jacket and oversized shoes, me in my favourite peach frilly dress and silver princess T-bar shoes.
I’ve spared him (and you) the photos here 😉
…Like many other girls my age, boys were not my only obsession-Cabbage Patch Kids were also great loves of mine too.
I distinctly remember being desperate for baby one like the doll my friend Jo had brought back from holiday in America.
Alas no toy shop in the land, aka Ilkley stocked baby Cabbage Patch Kids (it’s a hard life when you’re 4, right?)… I loved the baby powder smell of the boy doll’s head, and desperately wanted to mother it. It seems I was clearly always the maternal type, even then.
Can you tell Solos and I loved dress-up too?! Just look at that TV!
…Another memory clear as day from primary school, was crafting a small, sparkly box from a matchstick box, covered in shiny wrapping paper and tiny sequins. Again, it makes me laugh we were encouraged to play with matchstick boxes as kid at school. It was the 80’s though!
My cute clown brother!
Reflecting on those early years, what a wonderful whirlwind it was- of children’s fancy dress parties, magicians in top hats and magic rabbits, sugared mice and fairy cakes, walks on the Yorkshire moors in wellies, woodlands filled with bluebells, candy floss trees as we called them, in the spring-and the freedom to play on our road with other children our age, inventing games, building tree houses and simply feeling free to be ourselves.
Some of those childhood friends of ours (now in their 30’s too) are still our mates today.
I feel so lucky to have enjoyed the childhood I did.
…Here are some more cute shots-
Baby blogger in the making! I loved writing from an early age. I actually said my first word, ‘Look’ at six months and haven’t stopped talking since!
I would create storybooks particularly when they went on holiday, drawing and writing an online diary-see I really was a baby blogger!
As a teen I would beg my father to hire a VHS camera and made my first ever ‘vlogs’! Later I became a TV director and filmmaker. The seeds were sown from a young age.
We loved our local park in Ilkley, and today, I take my own kids there, by the river overlooking the open countryside- it’s the sweetest park I know.
…My brother was my first baby boy before my own. According to my Mum, he would look up in awe at me, I was his second Mama.
Here are my brother and I with my nanny Mandy’s Father.
Whenever he was asked his name, he’d look up to me to answer.
We each had our own bedroom but were so close, we opted to share a room together, and with only 22 months between us, he and I, simply don’t remember a time without one another!
Sneaking into neighbour’s gardens to pick roses for perfume I concocted, putting on plays and inviting all the neighbours to watch-waking up early and pushing apples and oranges into wine glasses, pretending we were hosting dinner parties-these are the memories of crazy times with my brother and sidekick Sol.
…We are also part of a wider Big Fat Greek Family, many of whom live in Manchester from my Mother’s side, and we’re all as thick as thieves- when I think of why I feel so confident, grounded and content, so much is thanks to them-my own immediate family and knowing I have the love and support of so many cousins, aunts and uncles.
Here with my Auntie Zak
A childhood picture here with my cousins Solos and Vasos and my gun-yielding brother.
It truly counts for a lot.
Any problem, big or small is met with kindness and support.
You really can’t ask for more than that in life, can you?!
We’re all collectively LOUD as can be too, and full of life, there’s never a dull moment when we get together-we watch TV with the subtitles on because EVERYONE talks over one another, we love a party and a dance (how we love a dance-Opa!) and it’s safe to say we’re all obsessed with the finer things in life, food taking centre stage of course!
I must say too, it often surprises me when readers kindly remark they think I’m a glam mama as all the ladies in my family seem to be just that- I wonder if it’s the default mode for us.
Big hair: check, red lips: check, Jackie O shades all year round: check!
And here’s my glamorous mama in her heyday!
And here’s my Dad smoking just for the photo (he never actually smoked)-Papa G cracks me up!
And here’s a few more of yours truly!
I can’t wait to show the boys this post tonight, a family archive of lots of photos in one place we’ll no doubt always look back on with a smile (and I’ve saved one big brow photo of me for posterity too)-and the laughs!
Now look at me pouting!
And what a poser, check out that strut!
Some things indeed, never do change!
Have you looked through your old family photos recently?
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