Monday, 9 December 2013

A 50 Year Love Story? Part 1!

After people meet Jacob and me, and get to know us a little, one of the first questions they ask is how and where we met.

Annikki in Sweden in 1963
In Sweden in 1963
In this blog post I hope to give you an account of part of our 50 Year Love Story, which in real life has been even more exciting that "The Titanic" and the major difference is that it is not fiction.

Finland was decimated during the war and right through the 1950s life here was very hard. My sister Aino and I left for Sweden in search of jobs.

We were working at a Hospiz in Hultafors in Sweden when a friend told me that it was better to study nursing in London. So my sister and I set off for London. To join nursing I had to study English so we both took jobs as au pairs with English families to study the language.

I first met Jacob in December 1963. We liked each other and fell in love. I used to attend English and Art evening classes during the week as I worked as an au pair in Streatham, London with the Weston family who had one daughter. It was easy work and I had plenty of time to study the language. And as Jacob spoke excellent English, this was one added advantage of being his girl friend!

Jacob and I used to meet on Saturdays and go to a movie or a restaurant. We would take the last bus back from West Hampstead to Streatham, a journey of about 40 minutes. He would say goodbye to me and then as there were no more buses and he was a student with not much money, he would walk back to his home, almost 15 km away, reaching home well after 3 or 4 am!

As four friends were staying in this house, I used to clean the house during my Saturday visits. I also cooked for them occasionally, Finnish meat balls! I was considered part of their family.

In June 1964 Jacob went with his friends to St. Tropez in France. He gave me permission to stay in his apartment. I was planning to move to Germany as an au pair in Dusseldorf and had left my job in Streatham.
7 Woodchurch Road, West Hampstead, London by Annikki Matthan, 1964
7 Woodchurch Road, West Hampstead, London
by Annikki Matthan, 1964

This painting was done in the summer of June 1964 when I was living in 7 Woodchurch Road, and it has been a symbol of our love which is now almost 50 years.

I returned to England in 1966 to be reunited with Jacob, after my stay in Germany and then my return to Finland. I worked at the Marie Curie Hospiz in Hampstead in London till Jacob graduated in June 1966.

Jacob & Annikki, Shrewsbury Wedding
Shrewsbury Wedding
Then we moved to Shrewsbury, a lovely town in Shropshire, and got married.

Jacob was working in a research centre in Shawbury, a small village near Shrewsbury. The company gave him a semi-detached cottage where we lived with our two children, Susanna and Jaakko, who were born during that time in England.

In 1969, Jacob returned to India with us. We travelled, by sea around the Cape, as the Suez was closed,  to start our life in India.

But that is another episode of our Love Story for another time.

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