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Family life

Readers' favourite photographs, songs and recipes

Snapshot: Honeymoon in Scarborough

There's someone missing from this photograph – the second groom, Great Uncle Jack. He's probably on the other side of the camera capturing this image on Scarborough beach. This is a honeymoon snap of my nanna, Olive – she's the one on the right in the smart top, with her neat hair pulled back and white underskirt tucked between her knees, with her new husband, my grandad Stan, a proud Yorkshireman resplendent in flat cap.

On the left is Olive's sister Nora in billowing knickerbockers – Great Uncle Jack's new bride. It was August 1931 and there wasn't much money about. To save costs, Olive and Nora had a joint wedding in their village of Rillington, north Yorkshire. They carried matching bouquets and dresses to the church – no veils, just hats. The grooms also had hats – smart black bowlers.

The joint honeymoon in Scarborough would have been quite an occasion. Olive was one of 10 children, and day trips to the coast were limited to one a year when they were growing up. Olive left school at 14 to go into service with a wealthy family, cooking and cleaning. My grandad was a gardener at the same house. That's how they met. I love this photo – I especially like the way Stan, a massive grin on his face, has rolled his suit trousers up so high to protect them from the chilly North Sea. He was 30 when he finally tied the knot.

Sadly, I don't really remember Stan – I was only four when he died. But my dad, Richard, says Stan – his dad – was a kind, gentle, patient man, and he loved taking photographs, so the camera he's holding in his hand is probably his pride and joy.

You can't tell from this picture, but Olive was a very strong woman. She was quite formidable in later life, and fiercely independent – as children we grew up nearby and often stayed with her, and we knew she was not to be messed with! She lived alone for most of the two decades after Stan died and never remarried. I remember her sitting in her favourite armchair near the fire in her creaking old house, the Aga on in the kitchen and telling stories about the past. In true Yorkshire style, these always included some point about the value of money – how it was easily spent but hard earned. She only left that house when her mind started to fail towards the end of her life, and Alzheimer's took these memories away from her. When Olive died in 2001, aged 91, I was a student in Cardiff and there was an exam on the day of the funeral. In the end, I took the emotional decision to stay for the exam.

Missing Olive's funeral is one of the biggest regrets of my life. If I could turn back the clock, it's one of the first things I would change. I wish I could tell her how sorry I am.

Linda Harrison

Playlist: I wanted to hold Mum's hand

I Want To Hold Your Hand by the Beatles

"Oh yeah, I'll tell you something / I think you'll understand"

This record by the Beatles takes me back to spring 1964 and my second term at boarding school after the Christmas holidays, when I was 11.

On Saturday mornings after prep, we girls were permitted to play 45rpm vinyl records on a Dansette player in the small, unheated wooden hut that served as our assembly hall. Someone had a copy of I Want to Hold your Hand from home, and it was played over and over again.

"Oh yeah, I'll tell you something / I think you'll understand / When I say that something / I want to hold your hand."

Some of the older girls mooned about miserably, thinking of a boy they had liked over the holidays, but I knew nothing of such romantic pain. All I knew was how I desperately missed my mother and wanted to be with her and to hold her hand again.

"And when I touch you I feel happy inside / It's such a feeling that my love / I can't hide, I can't hide, I can't hide, I can't hide."

There was no one to hold your hand at boarding school in 1964. If you admitted to wanting your mother, you were considered a complete sissy. Homesickness and emotional pain were not mentioned in those days.

I invented a "boy" I had a crush on in case anyone noticed a tear on my cheek. It was infinitely more acceptable than saying I missed my mother and wanted to hold her hand. Perhaps I wasn't the only one.

Eve Morris

We love to eat: Beef and Guinness casserole


900g lean stewing beef, diced

3 tbsp oil

2 tbsp flour

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 large onions, coarsely chopped

1 large clove garlic, crushed (optional)

2 tbsp tomato puree, dissolved in 4 tbsp water

¾ can Guinness

Sprig of thyme

Fry the onions and garlic in olive oil then transfer to a bowl. Coat the meat in seasoned flour and brown in the pan. Add the Guinness, followed by the rest of the ingredients and cook in a slow oven for three hours.

I've been pretty much a vegetarian since the early 80s, only suffering the occasional lapse when too inebriated to resist the lure of a late-night kebab. It's primarily for political reasons – initially health, too – and hasn't always gone down well. A boyfriend once called me a fascist vegetarian because I wouldn't let him eat his fish supper in my flat.

Since then, in the 18 years I've been married, I've seldom cooked as my loved one's culinary skills are absolutely outstanding. Pete can turn his hand to anything and is a legend among friends and family for his cooking, so I have just let him get on with it. Anything I attempted turned out poisonous, bland or burned, and I have always drawn the line at cooking any of his favourite meat dishes, so eventually I stopped trying. He has always been happy to cook for me, and has done so most nights during the years we have lived together.

Times change. He recently got a job on a farm and is out all day in all weathers, often coming home tired, freezing and starving. As I work at home a lot I have been happy to go out and buy meat for him, but never considered cooking it. However, on a particularly horrid afternoon recently, I envisioned Pete coming home cold and hungry. I knew he'd kept a recipe he liked the look of for beef and Guinness stew, which had come in a free booklet in the newspaper. So I decided to make the first meal I had made for 17 years. And with meat as the main ingredient.

It went well until I opened the packet of meat and laid the wobbly red slab on a chopping board. The texture was soft but firm and the fat on the side was sinewy – I couldn't believe I was doing this. With a mixture of fascination and horror I stripped the fat away, and began to chop the meat into chunks. But as the knife slid through the blood red steak I realised I didn't feel the slightest twinge of guilt, and was almost enjoying this new experience.

I coated the chunks in seasoned flour by hand and then fried them in the olive oil, browning as directed. Then it was time to add the Guinness, which sizzled and frothed. I obviously couldn't do a taste test, so considering the sorry-looking blobs of meat in their liquid bath, I began to wonder if I had done it right. Then it was into a slow oven for three hours.

I checked anxiously every hour or so, and after a while something began to change. The Guinness reduced until it reinvented itself as thick gravy. I began to feel quite excited and hoped it would taste as good as it looked.

When Pete arrived home, his first words were, "What is that amazing smell?"

When I presented the casserole from the oven, his jaw dropped. As he flaked a piece of molten beef on to a fork and into his mouth, his eyes closed and he said, "This is absolutely delicious. I can't believe you did this for me."

He gave me a huge hug.

Later, wiping his mouth, he said: "The other meal I really love is chicken in red wine with shallots and mushrooms."

Oh dear … I seem to have started something! Jeanie Lynch

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