Memories I have of you…
I remember at Nutfield, how I slipped over on the gravel on the drive and scraped my right knee. You patched me up and although the “wounds” stung, I don’t think I cried.
You were the first person to introduce me to cold baked beans! I had supper one night by myself at Nutfield and you gave me salad which I wasn’t keen on. But what made the meal for me was that you gave me a generous helping of cold baked beans. I’d never tasted anything so wonderful before!
I remember what seemed to be long, long walks with you and Sam through St Helen’s Woods. Though really the walks couldn’t have been that long because I was quite little when I first came to stay with you and Grandpa by myself. But to me they seemed wonderfully endless. I must have stayed with you in the summertime for my memories are crowded with leafy trees and the scent of leaf mould. I’m sure it probably rained but I just remember the sunlight through the trees and Sam trying to chase rabbits. There was a stone building somewhere in St Helen’s Woods and we used to play hide and seek there. For some reason I thought the building was a temple to pagan gods!
I recall sitting in Blacklands Church with you and Grandpa one Sunday morning and watching the choir walk in wearing white robes. I remember feeling quite awed and then, when they started singing I was convinced they were angels. I even asked you where the angels had gone when the service was over and they had processed out. You had to explain to me that they weren’t angels, just the choir. I wasn’t convinced though.
I can remember helping you to feed the chickens. I didn’t mind the chickens because they didn’t peck me and they weren’t scary like the geese. I was terrified of the way the geese hissed and pecked and flapped their wings. I felt quite scared watching you go into the bird pens and fearlessly feed the geese. I thought something dreadful would happen, but you always came out unscathed!
I loved staying with you and Grandpa when you lived at Ranscombe Cottages. The idea of waking up and seeing Mount Caburn out of the window was one thing that kept me going at school for weeks! Then there would be breakfast—the muesli or porridge that you’d make followed by toast from homemade bread. The slices were small but I was allowed to eat as much as I wanted!
You let me hold the lead, first of Sam and then of Lassie when we went for walks on the hills in the morning. That made me feel very grown up and responsible! I used get the dog to help me up the steep parts of the hill!
We used to go walking with your neighbour Beryl and her golden retriever. There were always lots of rabbits around but I don’t really remember the dogs chasing them. The dogs preferred to find the rabbit droppings and eat as many as they could before us humans realised what they were doing! Beryl used to say they were after chocolate drops!
The routine I had when I stayed with you was wonderful. Two walks a day, lots of homemade food and lots of games too! Do you remember that we used to play Chinese Chequers or that other board game that I’ve forgotten the name of? (Sorry?) We’d play these games when we returned from the morning walk and had a cup of cocoa and a biscuit. Then you’d get on with housework or whatever needed doing and I would maybe do homework (if I felt like it) or read. You had a huge hardback book for children with stories, puzzles and games in it. I never tired of it, no matter how many times I read it. The puzzle I will never forget was: - YY U R, YY U B, I C U R YY 4 ME! Took me ages to get it until either you or Grandpa read it out loud to me!
You also let me feed all the animals which was a big responsibility for me. Though the smell of the tinned meat for the dog and the cats was revolting. And you let me feed the chickens. At one time you and Grandpa only had 3 chickens and 2 kept picking on the other one so you had to separate them. I called the lonely one Grace and the other two were Flat and Sharp!
Thank you for everything. I will never forget you.