My Beautiful Niece

Twenty one and a half years ago, Pete and I started dating. A few months later, I went down to Beckenham to meet my future in-laws. Of course, I had no reason to be, but I was pretty nervous all the same. Not only was I meeting his parents but three of his siblings and two of their offspring too. *gulp*

Baby Sam was about 6 weeks old. I remember how pleased I was when this tiny crying bundle calmed down and stopped crying as soon as I took him into my arms. That felt like a welcome, right there! Of course, the entire family was enormously welcoming and it was a lovely day. But the person who calmed me down the most was little Rosie. She was a two year old whirlwind of excitement and affection and from the first time we met, we were firm friends.

KaveyRosie1994 (1 of 1)

Here she is (with me) a couple of years later, at our wedding. That’s the date she and Sam (and a few months later, their younger sister Jennifer) officially became my nieces and nephews and I have loved being Aunty Kavey ever since.

Rosie has always been an active partner in keeping the relationship close, sending us cards and letters and calling on the phone. As soon as she was old enough, she came to stay with us for the weekend every few months. At first, Rosie’s mum Kate (Pete’s middle sister) would come with her on the train to Waterloo, I’d meet them at the platform for a handover and Rosie and I would hop onto the tube to our place. As she got older, she’d do the train journey on her own, mum dropping her off at one end and me meeting her off the train at the other.

We spent the weekends cooking together at home; eating out, introducing her to some of our favourite foods; talking about books all three of us had enjoyed reading – she’s a bookworm, like us, and loves science-fiction too; taking her clothes shopping, which was such a pleasure because she’s the complete opposite to the “me me me I want I want” generation.

I think she was about 13 when we took her to Paris. She’s a warm, friendly girl but rather shy, so I pushed her just a tiny bit into using her basic French skills to order her meals and ask for a carafe of water, in restaurants. I can still remember her genuine pride and delight when she did so, and the restaurant staff nodding in understanding and smiling encouragement.

These days, we share a fondness for trawling through charity shops, giggling at some of the outfits she tries on in her hunt for potential LARPing costumes and congratulating each other on our fabulous bargains.

She’s very clever too, did I mention that? All grown up now, she studied at Imperial College London for her bachelors degree in Biology and went on to do a Masters of Science in Ecological Applications. She’s also kind, generous, friendly, loyal and cares for the world around her.

The reason I’m telling you about my lovely niece is that Thorntons approached me recently with an offer I couldn’t refuse. They asked if I’d like to send a gift box of chocolates to someone who deserved them. Did I know someone who needed cheering up and spoiling? Well, yes I did, actually.

These last two years have been hard for Rosie. Last year, after a period of remission, her mum’s cancer came back and this time it was terminal. Rosie moved back home to help and spend time with her mum and younger sister. It wasn’t an easy few months. Kate wanted to die at home, so a bed was set up in the living room; she used the time to put everything in order, to organise her funeral, to sort out her will and decide what would happen to her various animals. This time was bittersweet too – we visited every week that Kate remained with us and enjoyed some of the best conversations we’d ever had, full of reminiscence and laughter and frankness and occasional seriousness. How unfair to lose her at the peak of her life! The months after losing Kate were difficult for everyone, her three children most of all, of course.

Rosie’s had a lot of other tough things to deal with too, since then. I won’t talk about them here, because you don’t need to know. What I do want to do is send a message to Rosie and let her know that everything will turn out OK, she will land on her feet and she will have a good and happy life, even though things feel like a struggle at the moment.

Rosie, my lovely niece, I hope this little parcel from Thortons put a smile on your face. I love you and I’m so proud of you. Chin up!


With thanks to Thortons for inviting me to take part in their Christmas Hero campaign.

Here’s a snap Rosie sent me of the goodies she was sent.


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32 Comments to "My Beautiful Niece"

  1. Jeanne @ Cooksister

    Oh Kavey – now you have me tearing up too! What a beautiful post and what a wonderful aunt you are. There is tremendous comfort in just hearing the words “you are going to be OK” – so much more so when backed up with a box of chocolates. I really wish my nephews lived closer to us – I also adore being an aunt. Also – va va voom!! What a gorgeous bride – lucky Pete ;o)


    Aaw, it’s a bit mushy for a food blog but I don’t care, I wanted to say it.
    And ha, thanks for the kind compliment! Look at my giant specs!!!

  2. Kathy

    Kavey, your tribute to Rosie is lovely. (And how very sweet that you posted that photo of the two of you together. That’s really a great pic!) But how very like you, Kavey, to think of someone who needed something sweet in her life, just for a moment, and to provide it for her. No wonder she adores her Aunt Kavey!


  3. Alicia (foodycat)

    Oh how sweet! And well done to Kate for bringing up such a wonderful daughter, how awful that she’s been taken from her family. I think aunts are awesome, well done Aunty Kavita!


    Oh we would rail at Kate about a million things, she drove us all crazy, but she was also strong and unique and full of energy and she raised wonderful kids!

  4. sandi

    I cried reading this, your niece losing her mum, she is so lucky to have you though, a wonderful female role model who she can trust and rely on. Also, you looked absolutely beautiful on your wedding day.


    Rosie has many great role models including another of Pete’s sisters, Mary-Ann and also her maternal grandmother, Terry.
    Thank you, Sandi!

  5. Mandy Adler

    What a lovely lovely post but you have made me feel extremely old. I don’t understand how this was 21 years ago when I am only 28 😉 xx

  6. Shereen T

    Food’s a huge part of community and family life, so sharing a beautifully-written, moving tribute to your lovely niece feels like it fits right in here.

  7. Deena

    Kavey, you write so beautiful and your post is bursting with love. I love it when people write without focus on gain, but write in a very real and open way. Huge hugs to you xx

  8. Mamta Gupta

    What a beautifully written piece for Rosie Kav, so heart warming!
    I had the fortune to meet Rosie on a few occasions when she was in her early teens. My abiding memory is how sweet and unassuming she was, a lovely girl. I lost touch with her when she grew up, but I heard about her successes from Kavita. I often think of her and wish her the very best. There is a saying in Hindi, “gold comes out purer through every fire it passes through”. I have no doubt that it will be same for you Rosie, in case you are reading this. Lots of love from us. Please do come and see us sometimes, perhaps with aunty Kavey and uncle Pete. Lots of love, always.

  9. Freddie

    Hi, I’m Rosie’s housemate! Thank you for sending chocolates, because Rosie insisted on sharing them. She’s pretty great 🙂

  10. earthmaiden

    What a deserving recipient! I wish Rosie well for a wonderful life ahead.

    What a beautiful bride too!

  11. Mamta Gupta

    I just saw Rosie’s picture on her facebook, she is as beautiful as I remember her, with same shy smile!


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