A nod to the past…

Just to say that this week’s post has taken more effort than any other of its hundreds of predecessors 1000’s of blogs I have written, the reason for which will become clear.

Because it drew such a large reaction last week, I thought to continue with my bird theme.

Still with me?

In the many comments posted last week (thank you), mention was made of the film “Tweet” – which was heartening and depressing for me in equal measure.

Depressing because I had clean forgotten about Tweet and I made no connection to it when writing last week – a worrying sign that I’m moving beyond Life’s Phase 2 and even skipping out Phase 3 altogether!

But heartening because this short film evokes such happy memories for me and our whole family – and is an invaluable record and memory of Grandad Bob.

During lockdown – no doubt, many of us have completed chores/projects that would ordinarily remain marked ‘tomorrow’ projects and in many cases, never. But in lockdown,  garages have been cleared. Socks are paired. Drawers are sorted and compartmentalised.  Tee-shirts to the left…

All worthy and cathartic exercises. Good for our mental health, general well-being and very often, for our marriages, too.

Personally, I have done some sanding down and painting of various woodwork in the house. Low down stuff mainly (no ladders) and more painting than sanding to be fair and as such, the results are to be expected – fair – but still an improvement and a big win for a man with time on his hands.

Like many urbanites, we have a garden room. A room built as a cinema but now functions as a Brothers Trust store room and a more general house spill-over facility. Visiting it this week to retrieve some books to dispatch – something caught my eye – Grandad’s bird-table and immediately, a thought occurred.

Tweet, remains on Harry’s YT channel (for those interested) and watching it back this week, I noted that the film has fared much better than the bird table that features in Tom’s film – which after so many London winters, is in a rather sorry state. And no way to treat a piece of important film memorabilia.

Especially something so lovingly made by Paddy and his Grandad Bob.

Nikki’s dad is a dying breed. A generation of highly capable men. A type of man who can just do things. Electrics, plumbing, carpentry; no problem. Capabilities that they have just acquired over time.

But this is not my experience of life. As yet, I have picked up no such skills. If I attempted any electrics beyond changing a fuse, there is every likelihood that I wouldn’t be here now to write this blog.

With no training in woodworking at all, on Bob’s retirement from textile manufacturing, he built himself a workshop (as you do) kitted it out with noisy and angry sounding machines and proceeded to fill our house with furniture – including our kitchen!

So to have a film showcasing his skills – not to mention his various grandsons who each had a hand in Tweet is a lovely thing to have – and why you’d think I might have remembered the bloody thing when writing about birds.

But no matter because more pressing is that this noble bird table deserves a little care and attention.

So, step forward that man again.

No, not Bob.


The unemployed dad with time on his hands. A man with an impossibly narrow skill range but it does include rudimentary sanding and painting.

Decluttering my garage remains on my to-do list – and so I prised open the door and forced my way inside with some trepidation – in the search varnish because popping to the shop is not an option.

“Is this an essential purchase, sir?”

And do you know what?

There in my garage, I find a tin of varnish. The whole thing is fated. I am going to bring Grandad Bob’s bird table back to life.

I mean, we are!

Because such things are best done together, right?

A great chance to share the load and bond with my son. And even more apposite when this particular son happens to be the star of Tweet and even claims in the film that he made the bird table.

Paddy though, does not share my enthusiasm.

I probably phrased it wrong when I exclaimed that I had a ‘great’ idea. He looked at me hopefully, as we enter the second week of his PS4 being in the boot of my car.

“Why don’t we sand down grandad’s bird table. Then we can paint it.”

His lower jaw practically dislocated.

“Why don’t we…” is how I began this sentence and his look answered – ‘Where do I begin?’

But I got going and slowly his interest was kindled and with his efforts, we really began to motor along. And we did do some bonding – but with his PS4 still in my car-boot, he was always going to be keep something back.

And now the table’s rebirth is complete – and here it is in most of its former glory.

With lockdown, Grandad Bob can’t visit – so I sent him a picture on WhatsApp – which means he won’t see it. A heavy irony that he can use a lathe to make beautiful furniture but he can’t use an app.

Something else then I have to look forward as I fast track to Phase 4.

So to close, on behalf of the birds of Kingston, London – Nikki, myself, Tom, Sam, Harry and Paddy.

This blog is for you.

Thank you, Grandad Bob.



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28 thoughts on “A nod to the past…

  1. Salaria says:

    It’s always good to see content like this, it’s refreshing in all honesty with what you did and the wind got knocked out of me when I saw the photo of the bird table. It’s a nice to see it back in its former glory.

    • Daisy says:

      This is so lovely. My dad just built a small picnic bench for the one squirrel in our garden, after my mum nagged him for it. At first we thought it would look ridiculous, but now we wait for the one squirrel to visit each day. Isolation is getting to us.

    • Julie says:

      Growing up with my dad being a graphics designer, carpenter and artist I always appreciate things like this. Beautiful job!

  2. Annalise says:

    That was really interesting to read especially because I want to fix some old family frames and stuff, might actually do it now

  3. Jo says:

    This blog made me remember my grandpa, he seems to good at everything, its amazing. But technology is also his weakness, I always try to talk to him through whatsapp, but his response is always calling me. Though I won’t complain, I love our chats. I always feel like im learning something from him.
    Loved this blog, thank you for sharing!

  4. Lorraine says:

    What a lovely blog today Dom. It has brought back so many memories of my dad. He taught my son to do all things hands on when my son was younger. Sadly my dad is no longer with us, but like Grandad Bob, he had all the tools and was able to turn his hand to many things around the house. Grandad Pad and my son had a very special bond. Thank you for the lovely memories you made me think of today. Have a good week and stay safe ☺️

  5. Cherval Royster says:

    That’s so sweet!! My poppop is no longer with us but he left me and my sister’s a painting that we framed. Hope the birds love the table!

  6. Amna says:

    I hope u can answer my question about tweet, the more I watch it the more I am confused of y paddy needed a gun in the lat bit or clip of the movie, it is just a question I ask my slef alot when I rewatch the film.
    Hope yall are safe and doing well.

  7. Carla says:

    It’s a lovely blog!
    I didn’t know that you guys used WhatsApp haha, it’s a great app You all stay safe, lots of love! ❤️

  8. Márcia Malaquias says:

    I watch the movie “Tweet” in 2019
    The birdhouse is very beautiful and I hope that a couple of birds will nest in the house and that Nikki will be enchanted by the birdsong.
    Grandpa Bob is as cute as Disney fairy tales with happy endings forever ❤️

  9. Paula C. says:

    Hi Mr. Holland
    Thank you for this blog while I was reading I was reminded of my father, he taught me skills that according to my mother a girl should not learn, things like carpentry, plumbing, electricity, and even a little construction.
    Now that he is gone, I am very grateful that now that I live alone I realize how necessary these skills are.
    I hope you can learn many things from Mr. Frost.
    Greetings from Colombia.

  10. MJ says:

    Aw, what a sweet tribute blog. Great work, Don and Paddy! I hope Grandad Bob will see it soon and also be reminded of those precious memories.
    Stay well Holland fam!

  11. Vicky says:

    What a lovely project though, sometimes the best memories are made when the technology is away and it’s one on one time doing something simple. My grandad made all kids of wonderful contraptions to make life easier and his ability to whip just about anything up with his tool box and his ‘grandad shed’ never failed to blow my mind. I mentioned about the squirrel proof bird feeder he made on your last post which still sits in the garden today, despite many years passing and my nannas still hangs bird food out on it, I’m sure the squirrels have mastered the art of tightroping at this point though. Lovely blog again, thank you!

    • Pamela says:

      Very enjoyable blog! I watch the video Tweet! The birds in my yard are busy building nests in the two maples we have! The robins do get quite vicious once the eggs hatch! They will chase you if we get to close to the trees! Makes for mowing the yard interesting! They are not a fan! My brothers all had to take woodworking in high school. They made some lovely pieces that are still in my mom’s house! The time Paddy spent with Grandad Bob will be treasured! Glad to see you were able to bring back the bird feeder to its former glory!!

  12. Leen says:

    He reminds me of my dad, who actually is a woodworker but knows how to do pretty much everything in construction. And of course he has his own workshop in the backyard. He helped built our house, made our kitchen from scratch,… I always felt a bit sorry for him because me and my sister showed little to no interest in his skills and I know he would’ve loved to have a son (if only to help with the heavy lifting). But now he has my twin boys following him around in his workshop, and grandchildren seem to be more special than your own children, so I guess everything’s worked out for the best.

  13. Jess says:

    My grandad used to be very effiecient at building prettu much everything! After almost 50 years, threre still exists the workout dumbbells he carved from wood. I never met him, unfortunately, but the stories I have heard never fail to amaze me.

  14. Jennie says:

    My Grandpa had all those important skills! Ive just had a little walk down memory lane. Thank you. What a lovely tribute to Nikki’s dad. Hopefully he’ll be able to see the table soon, even if he didn’t actually see the photo.

  15. Jane Nova says:

    Oh, thank you for this heartwarming post, it really made me smile and remember my talented grandfather who unfortunately is no longer with us. A lucky coincidence happened to me because yesterday was the first time I watched Tweet and today I read this blog and find out the fate of the table!
    Best wishes to Bob, hope he’ll live as long as possible and as happy as possible! Stay home, stay safe and sound.

  16. Sydnee Coleman says:

    This is so sweet, and lovely as usual Mr. Holland. My dad is not from that generation, but he did learn all the skills from that generation. My dad is Mr. fix it, anything electricity, plumbing, cars, broken toys and carpentry. He could do it all, and lucky for my siblings and I, he taught us a lot of things. Painting was the first and one of the thing I’m the best at, second is changing car brakes. Until next time

  17. Beth says:

    I have been thinking about the last blog for the past week. It made me realise how significant the birds actually are in my life. My Grandad used to have budgies that we would go feed everyday, but now he delivers food scraps to the crows and magpies in his birdbath. I’ve tried rescuing a cockatoo (unfortunately it died that day) and Dad may or may not get rid of some unwanted pests that eat our topsoil…
    And now the significance of carpentry. My Pop does backyard carpentry- always has and it has always been so interesting. In the past I have helped Dad build a cubby house (but it’s been 9 years and it’s still a frame so that’s saying something) and did basic woodwork at school for 2 years.
    It is blogs like these that are really significant and make us think about the small things we may take for granted
    Another beautiful blog Dom

  18. Victoria says:

    It’s so cool to see the birdhouse back in its glory again. And even if Paddy didn’t think much of it, the story will be good to tell in the future. Maybe, if the birdhouse fades, Paddy will be able to fix it up with his kids or grandkids and tell the story of the birdhouse.

    (sorry if that sounds deep, I’m a writer.)

  19. Audrey says:

    That was so lovely! The bird house ( that’s what we call them here in America) looks fantastic and I am impressed by the job you and Paddy did to refurbish it…so, going to carpentry school isn’t a Holland legacy from father to sons???
    Be safe and remember to use Lysol, but never internally!

  20. Mia says:

    This blog was so heart warming and brought back memories of my gandad, I can’t thank you enough for these blogs, i am still yet to persuade my mum to become a patron for more access but also because i know the money will help you and everyone could use an extra bit of money in their pockets especially in these times. I have seen ‘Tweet’ many times and it makes me feel so happy but also makes me realize that all your boys were much more successful than me at my age, at my age your boys were in movies and the greatest thing i have accomplished is reading eclipsed 4 times in 3 months. Your blogs keep me from completely loosing my mind and i find all my joy in them. I hope you all well and safe and i cant wait for what you’ve got coming.

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