Friday, January 04, 2013

Childhood Re-visited

As we were going to be away for Christmas (for the first time in over 40 years), early in December, my brother and I arranged to meet for lunch in the town where we grew up. In fact he still lives less than five miles  away and I only live about 15 miles away but I must confess I rarely return.

Since my mother died it has made think that I would actually like to take a walk down memory lane and see how things have changed over the years.

When my father returned home after the war, we went to live in his home town, I was just a toddler at the time. One of my earliest memories is walking from the back of my granny's house, with the 1947 snow as high as the wall ( way over my head) to wave to my mother in the hospital opposite. Of course I didn't really know what was happening, but she was in there for the birth of my brother.

The first house we lived in was a very small end of terrace with an outside loo and a pump for water. Even now I can still visulise parts of that house and the garden. It's funny the things that make a lasting impression!

Well this is it, and it has been enlarged by knocking two houses into one. I must say it could still do with a lot of TLC; it was really quite sad looking. I would have loved to take a peep inside!
Things I remember from this house is being bathed in a tin bath by the fire; my brother throwing my mum's jewelry out of the window (she had to buy it back from the person who picked it up); a local farmer brought milk around and we bought it by the jug; he also collected some of the sewage (different cart!!); my mother cooked on an oil stove, which must have been quite difficult with a couple of small children running about.
My granny hired a car and took us for a picnic once a year and one of the times we returned  to find that the cat had produced kittens in brother's pram- I never knew what happened to them!

When I was 8yrs old we moved to a shop; this was to be my mother's venture as my dad had a job. Again it was quite sad seeing the old shop, we left when I was 16yrs old and the person who bought it lived there until a few months ago. The shop (newsagent and confectionery) closed down many years ago, as have most of the shops in the High Street. When we were there if was a very busy street with every shop imaginable, including a fish and chip shop, co-op, two grocery shops, draper, antique butcher another sweet shop, chemist and doctors surgery.
We had a dog who used to regularly jump this back wall, but the garage door is an addition. It certainly doesn't look as though it has been modernised since we moved from there in 1960. It's actually quite deceptive  because it doesn't look that big but it had 4 bedrooms (+attic room), 4 rooms downstairs (plus shop area) a butler's pantry but only a small back yard with an under cover area and large coal shed.

Church Lane runs up the side of the shop and not surprisingly leads to the Church.
 Some restoration work is being undertaken and we didn't have time to go into the Church. My grandfather was the choir master and he played the organ. He was also Headmaster of the Junior school until he retired. (This was a definite disadvantage for me).

In the middle of this picture is The Jester's Tomb which is quite famous.

This is an old part of the Churchyard that used to be gated and overgrown and I'd never been in it. It was quite interesting looking at some of the tombs.

By looking over the wall I managed to take a snap of Jenners Hut. This is in the garden of what used to be the vicarage, (now Jenner Museum), when I was a child. In those days you could freely access the quaint little hut and we often to used to play in it (not sure if the vicar knew!). He also had a tennis court marked out on his lawn that he would allow us to play on. The only problem being, my friends were not tennis mad like me so I could rarely get anyone to practice with me. Instead I had to make do with measuring a net height on the wall of the Co-op (across the lane from our shop) and by hitting the ball against myself (not ideal but better than nothing)!

We had lunch in The Berkeley Arms Hotel, which was originally an old coaching inn. It still has some of the old cobbles at the back and there is even an old apple press (I guess they used to make their own cider). What a pity it's spoiled by these modern kegs and gas bottles!
By the time we had finished lunch it was beginning to get dusky and the sun had disappeared, so I didn't get to wander around anymore. I may well go back because I want to take pictures of my granny's house and my old school, just so there are some records for my children and grandchildren if they are interested. 
It was only towards the end of my mother's life, when she couldn't remember a lot of the detail about her own, or my father's family, that I realised how important it is to have more than spoken memories!
I enjoyed my trip down memory lane and I hope anyone who reads this has enjoyed sharing it with me.

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