Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

Family bus outing and picnic, 1958.

Ramsay family bus outing and picnic, 1958. Somewhere in Fife, Scotland.

My mother comes from a large family; and one which has traditionally been very close. She has memories of family outings that encompassed so many people they needed a bus – as in the photo above.

Of course, this was in part because fewer people owned cars in Britain in the 1950s and 60s, but even so, I find it remarkable that a family could be large enough – and enjoy each others company enough – to go to the trouble of hiring a bus to convey them to a picnic spot.

I recognise many of the faces in the photo, but unfortunately my mum hasn’t written names on the back so I’m unsure of many others.

My gran is at the back in a dark jumper – peeking out from behind her sister-in-law, Ella Cruden. My grandad’s the only adult male in the shot – his face shadowed by his “bunnet.” I can see three (or possibly all four) of my mum’s sisters – Cathie, May and Sandra (and maybe Margaret),  and her sister-in-law, Betty. I recognise three of my cousins – Rob and Elaine both bonneted toddlers on their mother’s laps. The only other person I’m sure of is my great grandmother, Cathrine Cruden, in the checked jacket and beret – looking, I have to say, a bit underwhelmed and also a bit like an extra from ‘Allo ‘Allo.

Looking closely, I can see men in the background – turned away from the camera. The one with the bald spot could be my uncle Bill, but I don’t recognise the others’ backs. So where were the men? They can’t all have been taking the photo?

Like most family historians, I have a treasured collection of family photos – from stiff studio portraits to the latest Christmas shots snapped on a smart phone. But it is this picture that best represents the idea of “family” for me. It contains at least four generations of my close family, plus others to whom I am almost certainly related in some way. They are casually dressed, sitting in a field surrounded by the debris of a picnic, posing for a snapshot rather than a portrait.  They aren’t gathered for some formal occasion demanding family presence – like a wedding or christening – but brought together simply to enjoy a day out. It isn’t a great photo – but it’s a great picture of what family can be like.

This post was written in response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge. You can find out more about it here.

Here are some other “family photo” posts I’ve enjoyed:

















31 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

  1. When I was a child far too many years ago, it was common that families and church groups went out to picnic together. The kids were organized to play games, swim, and eat so much food we could hardly move afterwards, and then everyone listened to live music, as presented by a town orchestra or the town’s marching band. All of these people were volunteers, of course. They played the music because they loved performing on their instruments. We listened and appreciated their efforts. And then afterward, the children would all run around like yahoos and tire themselves out playing tag ….

    We don’t have communities like this anymore. If we ever wondered what has happened to our society, this could be it.

    • Maybe not so long ago! I remember before my family left Scotland being taken on “bus drives”, which seemed to involve large numbers of people from the extended family or church, a picnic (or more often – because it was Scotland and raining – eating sandwiches in the bus), games, and lots of laughter. I mourn the loss of this community spirit too and think we could solve a whole lot of social problems if our communities were closer. I feel very fortunate to have been able to bring my own son up in a small “village” on the edge of the city, where we still know and interact with our neighbours; where kids go to the local school and parents look out for everyone’s kids. I’m sure the boy-child has had a lot more freedom because I knew that if he needed help he could knock on pretty much anyone’s door – and conversely, if he got himself into trouble, I’d hear about it (probably before he even got home)! It’s meant that he has learned to take responsibility for his actions and to take risks in a relatively safe environment. I notice too, that most of the vandalism and bad behaviour amongst the young people comes from those whose families don’t have the strong connections to our community. I hope it’s not too late for people to notice what’s happening and try to rebuild these strong community and family ties.

    • Thanks; they do look happy. I’m not sure about Fife today – 4 degrees Celsius and about to rain. Brrr. I love Scotland; thoroughly enjoyed my time there a few months ago and am busy plotting how to go back!

    • I was in Scotland last September (autumn) and it was glorious. Bit of rain in the mornings, but generally nice afternoons and a few really stunning days. I also prefer cold – which is why I’d like to escape NZ for Britain this coming Christmas. Auckland gets very humid and I feel drained of all energy and enthusiasm 🙂

  2. What a wonderful post about family. I agree that the casual shots are the best, so much more relaxed and show personalities better. I love your underwhelmed great grandmother! That is so great that they piled into a bus…

    • Thank you Meghan. It is a lovely shot – although technically awful since most of the faces are in shadow, etc. But it’s quite a typical photo of my great gran – she was an amazing character and the more I learn about her life, the more I love, respect and admire her. I feel very lucky I got to meet her – even though she terrified me as a small child.

  3. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Family | A mom's blog

  4. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Families | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist)

  5. I love the old family picnic photos. I have a few of them but not with so many in the group. Imagine the organisation it took to get everyone together. Wonder if the men were out the back somewhere having a smoko?

  6. My family was so small, a lot of only children in my tree; so I’ve always been interested in what a large family was like. Don’t get me wrong – I had a great childhood.

    • I know what you mean. I grew up with just immediate family around; all the rest were back in Scotland. My partner has a larger family but they aren’t close and my son’s an only child, so I’m also fascinated by large families. I’ve really enjoyed as an adult getting to know my Scottish cousins and hope that my son connects with cousins when he’s older. I think I always felt I’d missed out on something in childhood – mainly because most of my friends came from large families that seemed to spend a lot of time together.

  7. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge-Family | WoollyMuses

  8. Pingback: weekly photo challenge: family | Musings of a Random Mind

  9. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: family (More Lensbaby 4) | What's (in) the picture?

  10. Pingback: Family… | Words 'n Pics...

  11. I have pictures that I too wonder who they are as there is no description. Now I, like many others I suppose, wish they had taken the time to talk to their grandparents. But we were too busy.Now I look at some of these pictures and make up stories about them and how they came to be in that particular picture.


    • What a great idea! Some of the expressions on people’s faces in those old photos are just crying out for stories to be made about them. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Much appreciated.

  12. You couldn’t have found a better family photo to approach the theme !!! It includes four generations as you mentioned above which makes it more valuable ! Besides,it’s a wonderful image in monochrome with a lovely vintage look !

  13. Four generations! Wow… Indeed, a wonderful family portrait. Are you pursuing the identities of the others? I hope you do find out! And as Mustang said, outings such as this are not common anymore…at least here in the States. Families split up with today’s ease of getting about. Perhaps the “bus” approach was a wonderful thought. And may I ask? “Bunnet” is the same as beret?

    • Thanks. I am trying to find out who the other people are; I’ve asked my mother but she is struggling a bit and there is no one else to ask, although one of my cousins had a couple of suggestions that I’ll explore by looking at other photos to see if the same people are in them. I think the bus was probably because most of the people didn’t have cars, but it would have made for a wonderful atmosphere, with lots of laughing and chatter. “Bunnet” is literally bonnet in Scots, and usually means a man’s flat cap – very commonly worn by working-class men 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s