Sara Baker was born in 1950, the eldest of a family of four children. Her father was a journalist, and the family travelled a lot, so she spent part of her early years in Paris, in the ‘cheap’ area frequented by artists and writers. They then settled in the Kings Road, Chelsea – also full of artists, writers, beatniks and later, hippies.
Colourful people like Quentin Crisp and Joyce Grenfell were an everyday part of her life and the Swinging Sixties pretty much started at her front door. Granny Takes a Trip was a few hundred yards one way and Mary Quant’s Bazaar the other. Sara grew up believing everyone was as fascinating.
She had an excellent education, but it was cut short in 1967 when she discovered she was pregnant. That was the year that terminations became legal, but Sara decided to keep her daughter and marry her young man. The marriage didn’t survive but they had a second lovely daughter and remained close friends for the rest of his life.
Sara later had a third daughter and raised stepchildren too. To make ends meet, she became a childminder for a special Barnardo’s project and was encouraged to go to university and train as a social worker. This was a lot easier in the Eighties!
Sara then spent 20 years in social work before doing a complete about-turn and buying a little antique and book shop in the Scottish Highlands. It was great fun but didn’t make a lot of money. She met her current husband there, before taking another giant leap and moving to France together, where they bought a huge house with a shop stuffed full of old things including linen armoires and cupboards full of China and kitchenalia.
They opened a shop together and worked very hard, while enjoying hunting for stock at junk shops and flea markets. They eventually moved again to an idyllic little water mill with woodland – Sara’s happy place.
After 15 years in France, they returned to Scotland. Both Sara and her husband had been ill with long-term, life-changing conditions and knew that they would not cope with the woodlands and the management of the water mill. They once again took a leap and moved to Wigtown, Scotland’s Book Town. There, they ran a curiosity shop for four years and eventually Sara’s husband got his state pension, and they could retire.
They now live with their beloved little dachshund Wolfie and beautiful cat William Webster in a sweet little house near Linlithgow where they love having time for exhibitions, wanders about with no rush, reading, music, sewing and most important of all, spending time with their fourteen grandchildren and great grandchildren.
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Tell us 4 important facts about yourself:
- I grew up on the Kings Road in Chelsea in the 1950s and 60s
- I lived in France for 15 years before returning to Scotland in 2018
- I am proud to be a granny and great granny to 14 children
- I am scared of heights, but I climbed a climbing wall for charity
What is your favourite age that you’ve been so far in life, and why?
My favourite age, if I had to choose, would be my thirties. I finally escaped from a very bad relationship, went to university, had control of my own finances and was able to protect my daughters and raise them well. I became a social worker and enjoyed a great social life in London under the wonderful GLC led by Ken Livingston. Happy times!
Who is your favourite fictional character or famous person over 60?
I think it’s got to be Grayson Perry.
You are alone in your house (no pets). You have three minutes to get out before the house collapses and burns to the ground. What one possession would you grab and take with you?
This is very difficult because I am a collector and a bit of a hoarder so almost everything I have has a story, especially vintage textiles and fabric scraps. I have a beautiful blue studio pottery tea pot that was given to me by my eldest daughter. She bought it with her first weeks wages – it is so precious to me, and I think it would have to be the thing I would save from a burning house.
What’s your favourite creative pastime?
I love singing, sewing and swimming. I also love listening to audio books. Can’t choose between them!
Tell us something about yourself that’s surprising or unexpected.
For the 1990 Magellan mission to Venus, NASA asked for suggestions for naming of geological features of the planet Venus. I submitted two names. Sara (my own name) but as the wife of Abraham, Sarah, who bore a child at the age of 100 and became beautiful to all who beheld her. I loved the idea of an ancient lady (such as the planet Venus herself) revealing her beauty to all. Then, Anastasia – at that time there was a lot of glasnost between USA and USSR and Anastasia as empress of all the Russias seemed appropriate. Also, it was my code name when I was involved in the poll tax resistance movement so felt secret and slightly subversive. NASA accepted my suggestions so some of the valleys and craters on Venus are named by ME!
Annual Poetry Competition
Theme: ‘The Environment’
Deadline: 31st October 2022 – Entries now closed