Last week was a strange week. It saw the passing of our wonderful Granny Stretton, who reached the amazing age of 101 years old.

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It took me a few days to absorb what had happened and I can’t seem to get my head around the fact that she is no longer here. Granny Stretton start out life surrounded by difficult circumstances, her father killed in the first world war and her mother passed while she was still an infant with the influenza.  Luckily she was taken in by her Aunt and quickly became part of her new adopted family with Leo, Nora, Mary and Edie.

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After marrying my grandpa, she moved to Swalcliffe in Oxfordshire, where she helped manage the phone switchboard for the village. Grandpa Joe was a carpenter and worked hard to buy and repair their house in Bodicote and they kept small farm animals and Gran helped out at the school. After all her boys grew up my grandpa was taken from her just as they should be really enjoying life.

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Not that you would know any history of sadness by my Gran’s demeanor. She exuded happiness, even when she said she was angry I found it hard to be really convinced.

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She made the best sponge cakes and a great cup of tea with an enormous tea pot. Her house was always a haven for visitors and she joked that she should come up with a name for her “Guest House”.  She was always singing a little ditty as she pottered around the kitchen making tea for her guests. When really she was softening you up so she could wipe you clean of your pennies at Canasta or Whist.

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Gran believed in simple things, church on Sunday, treating everyone politely, things like eating out were a luxury. It was bad luck not to have a new outfit for Easter service at church, similarly you must eat 12 mince pie from different bakers in order to have a happy and fulfilling new year.

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Even with all of her life challenges, she faced the world with unparalleled hope and optimism, which is a lesson many of us could learn. She spread joy on her journey and we will all miss her very much, our Granny Stretton. So here is one of her favourite poems.

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I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
 –
William Wordsworth 1807
Granny Stretton