Lady Ashcombe: Being a Grandmother

PUBLISHED: 11:50 20 December 2010 | UPDATED: 08:57 21 February 2013

Enjoying life

Enjoying life

Grandmothers of the world unite! Lady Ashcombe believes this privileged group of women have much to offer the younger generations.

As the proud Grandmother of five it is difficult not to refer to some recent anecdote which involves one or more of the above.

Becoming a Grandmother, especially for the first time, is a miraculous and awe-inspiring event. Grandchildren are different from one's own as they can be loved and enjoyed more objectively and at the same time deliver the delight, warmth and the unique joys of discovery which babies and young children bring into a family. The role of Grannies (and Grandpas) in family life is privileged and vital, because we can, and sometimes must, do things for our grandchildren that parents cannot do.

Elders hold knowledge and wisdom to share with younger generations. I'm not sure I would qualify in this category as I have been accused of being soft on some of the rules: the forbidden fruits of chocolate biscuits before bedtime (proven to cause a sugar rush and burst of energy); another story or game after official lights out (bad mood next morning); pillow fights, bed jumping, water fights and the like - all non-conducive to an easy transition into dreamland. In the spirit of not disturbing tired and busy mummy and daddy with unimportant details, these small deceptions can create a friendly conspiratorial bond between the parties concerned.

My friend and renowned garden authority, Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, who with me designed the Queen's Rose Garden at Sudeley, has embraced grannyhood in a major way. Her popular published books, The Good Granny Guide and Good Granny Cookbook are an invaluable help in ways to creatively amuse, entertain, and feed the little treasures in parental-approving ways. It also advises how not to interfere, and hold one's tongue when longing to speak out with what might be unwelcome wisdom to daughter or daughter-in-law.

Jane has very generously offered a donation from the sale of her latest publication The Good Granny Companion to a charity campaign close to my heart.....Grannies United for ASAP. We are both founder members of a group of grandmothers in this country who have united to raise awareness and funds for the 'Gogos' - severely impoverished Grandmothers in South Africa who have courageously taken responsibility for their AIDS orphans and vulnerable grandchildren. This initiative was started by another remarkable friend, Pricilla Higham, who seven years ago formed African Solution to African Problems of which Grandmothers United is a part. We raise funds which go directly to the Gogos. within the ASAP communities.

It is worth looking at to see the amazing success and progress of this charity now supporting 12,000 children and over 1000 carers. Grandmothers United for ASAP (GU) is inviting grandmothers from all parts of the UK to join us in giving small tea parties or other gatherings to raise funds to support our struggling sister grandmothers in SA. Our policy is no minimum or maximum donation and the tea parties are a great way to see ones friends, enjoy sharing stories about our own grandchildren and to give back something of our good fortune.

I hope some of the readers of this column might join us in hosting a 'tea party'. For more details please contact Camilla Corbett, who will supply you will all the information and a CD to show the work of ASAP to your guests....or send her your name if you might like to attend a GU tea party planned to be held at Sudeley Castle later this year.

While writing this I became aware of a commotion coming from just outside my sitting room window. Upon investigation I found two of my grandchildren, who live in another part of the castle, in an accelerating altercation over whose turn it was to throw the ball for the dog. This opportunity to restore peace and forgiveness with a few kindly grandma words however got me embroiled in angry accusations of the crimes and character faults between the two disagreeing factions. Wisdom and experience to the rescue, and with a swift suggestion of a chocolate biscuit, calm again reigned.

Uh oh, the lunch gong has just been sounded from their quarters, and so with a quick wipe of tell-tale smudges around the gills, and a wink, I hurried my charges off in that direction.

Sudeley opens for the 2009 season on March 30 and admission prices remain the same as 2008 - check the website for more details We are also offering season tickets with a huge saving on entry to the gardens, exhibitions, play area, coffee shop and pheasantry for the entire season. Contact Jenny Hartree on 01242 602308 for details.

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