Christmas Home Videos

Christmas is the time of year when families gather together  get drunk, fight and remember why they don’t bother keeping touch the rest of the year  get merry, fatten themselves of turkey and sausage meat and go through photo albums and old video movies. Or cine movies, if I were writing this blog thirty years ago. To be honest, we don’t always do the photos and videos bit. But this year we did. I’ve cut away considerably at the 25 or so minutes of the original.

Some of the video is really just family stuff. But if you’ve been following along with me awhile, maybe you’d like to join me on a trip down memory lane. Other parts of the video might interest you for other reasons. Let’s see. Take a seat and get yourself comfortable. I may have cut the video, but it’s still over five minutes…

We start off one summer at least 30 years ago. Probably in Bayhurst Woods, north London. We often went there for a picnic. This clip features mum, brother, sister, aunts and cousins. And grandad. I’m wearing the grey top with a big red stripe down the middle. Just after the 45 second mark we jump to our back garden. It’s shot on another day, but with the same cast. Plus two new members. Sadie, our German Shepherd. She didn’t take any nonsense. A true GSD. With her younger buddy, a collie called Charno. He and I were good buddies. But he died of a broken heart just weeks after Sadie departed for Dog Heaven.

At the 1 minute 40 second mark we jump back in time. A long way back. I was minus 4 years at this stage, or somewhere thereabouts. Meet my grandfather, grandmother and uncle. My mum was about 18 and cooking up dinner. The dinner table still exists. I’m using it now, as my computer workstation. On to the 2 minutes 40 seconds, and another collie dog. I always assumed that our dog Charno was named after our house, Charnwood. I have now discovered that this wasn’t the case. Here is the original Charno, who lived in Italy.

Now the video gets a little more interesting. It is the late sixties and my grandfather is blazing a trail. Package holidays by air had started in the 1950s, but remained prohibitively expensive for most people until the 70s and 80s. Only the wealthy took package holidays by air in the 60s. The wealthy and employees of British Airways. Or British Overseas Airways Corporation as it was at the time.

He worked for them for more than thirty years. The benefits were great by todays standards. Generous pension and lots of free flights. Alas, my grandmother had a terrible fear of flying, and despite some early trips to Italy and Prague and elsewhere, he never got to make the most of those flights. Shame. Still, how does Pisa look to you?

I know the quality of the video isn’t too spectacular. But there really isn’t much in the way of amateur tourist video from the 60s, so don’t grumble. Grandad has on a shirt and tie. You can’t see his shoes, but you can bet they were polished good enough to use as a mirror. He was in the army in WW2. Some habits die hard. Straight tie, check. Starched shirt collar, check. Polished boots, check. Fly into fascist country and start shooting, check. Luckily, it was just video this time…

On to 4 minutes and 17 seconds. Who hasn’t been through London Heathrow? Seriously. If you haven’t landed at LHR, then your credentials as a traveller are laughable. Maybe. It’s long been the worlds busiest international airport. But you probably won’t recognise this Heathrow. This Heathrow has an awful lot of green and much less grey concrete than you’re used to. It wasn’t even in London proper back in the day. Of course, it wasn’t long before it was swallowed up by the growing metropolis.

Finally, we approach the end of this video. Are you still watching? Excellent! This is the best bit. We are back to a family shot. I can give you a fairly precise date for these few seconds. This video was shot on the 29th October 1972 by my grandmother. She records my grandfather pulling his car up the driveway. He jumps out and goes to open the back door, to let the lady out. It was how things were done back then. Out gets my mum, after a 10 day stay in Perivale hospital. And, for just a fleeting second or two, is me. The reason for her hospital stay.


12 thoughts on “Christmas Home Videos

  1. And thus, a blogger was born!

    Cool video. My dad shot bunch of 8 mm movies of us when we were young, mostly family camping trips, a few Easter-egg hunts, and other events. We got a lot of laughs out of playing the films in reverse, watching people un-dive out of rivers to land backwards, perfectly dry on the surrounding rocks, and other such things that were hilarious (to the pre-teen mind) in reverse.

    Unfortunately, during a burglary during the 70’s, both the movie camera and projector were stolen. Thankfully the films were left behind, but we haven’t seen them in years.

    Now your post inspired me to see if I could find such a projector on eBay. And alas! There it is! A beautiful, Swiss-made piece of fine machinery from the 1960’s that can be had for a mere $99 USD. I think I’ll buy it and send it to my dad.


    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where we’re surprised at how inexpensively we might exercise our nostalgia.


    • I’m still wondering how best to approach the boxes and boxes of slides of my grandfathers. I’ve looked into it a little, and it hasn’t helped. I don;t know where to begin! Perhaps I won’t…


      • You know, I just bought a Nikon Coolscan IV on eBay, and I’m horrified at how much time it takes to scan each negative or slide. I think it (more than anything else) has persuaded me to send the lot out to a service. For ~$0.30 USD per slide, it seems much more reasonable than doing it myself.

        So the slide scanner will probably find itself back on eBay in short order.


  2. NORM says:

    My grandfather died this past week, we found cases of 8mm movie stock that he shot in his younger days. My brother is going to load them to disk, it should be interesting.


    • I did see you post a thing or two on FB….my commiserations amigo.

      This older film probably has a shelf life. It the film doesn’t decay, the machinery that is left which will play it will. The more of it that is saved to more modern formats, the better.

      I’m thinking that the abundance of old film and other fancy forms of media that is slowly becoming obsolete is a reminder of what truly wonderful stuff paper is.


      • NORM says:

        The frontier photos from the late 1800s that my grandparents saved from their grandparents are just too cool. I’ll post them when I get back from Guate in the spring.


  3. Andean says:

    Thanks for sharing your home videos. They are always fun to watch especially after so many years. I have started to try to video a few clips here and there when I spend time with my kids. The one of me kayaking down a river in Oregon recently is quite memorable… 😀


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