16 December 2003

Milnthorpe Stainton Beck

Stainton Beck held a number of memories for me mostly all good. It was the beck I now suddenly realise that I occasionally dream of but although I see it in the same place it looks different. The one I see in my dream is not fast flowing but it is with a lazy flow through stony pools of eddying water and lazy fish. I do dream a lot don't I?

Stainton Beck was too large really to be called a beck; it was really a small river and flowed through Kidside House paddock near the road. It is the place of the large hollow tree where I found a tree creeper's nest. I saw this small bird running up and down the trunk of a large tree pecking here and there for small insects. Although I had never seen this small bird before but I recognised it immediately from drawings. I watched for a while and then saw the tree creeper disappear into a hole in the trunk. I climbed the tree and found the nest with 4 eggs present behind the loose bark and I took one.

During my days at Sharrow Bay I never came across a robin's nest but when we came to Kidside I quickly found one. Yes, it was along Stainton Beck in the boundary wall of a house upstream from us. I like robin's with their cheerful cheeky chatter, hopping close to see if you have dislodged any insect life as you move along. In 2003 during our visit to Vicky and Ian's Wiltshire home, they had a resident robin in their garden and it its antics took me back to the days of my youth.

Sometimes after heavy prolonged rain I used to go down to Stainton Beck by the Kidside farm lane bridge fishing. Here just down stream of the bridge was an old holly tree with its trunk bent over the water and its roots partly blocking the current, this forming a slowly swirling eddy and a small deep backwater pool. I used to get my fishing rod out, dig some worms from our compost heap and go fishing. The trout in the river were hungry for worms in the deep swollen swiftly flowing brown water from the rain and I could always count on a bite in the holly pool. Sure enough not long after popping my line in the brown water there would be a bite and out I would pull out a trout, and then another and another. When I had sufficient I would head home to the frying pan with the fish.

John used to fish Stainton Beck too but that was really at the confluence really of Stainton Beck and Peasey Beck where they joined to form the River Bela that was at the end of Kidside Farm land. John’s method of fishing was by swimming, he was a good swimmer and much better than I. John would dive into the deep water and swim towards the weed bent over with swift flowing current, dive and run his hands along the horizontal weed strands until he felt a resting fish. Then he would grab it by the gills and toss it onto the bank. Quite a party trick, really.

We weren't really allowed to fish in the Stainton Beck, not even if it flowed through your land. The fishing rights belonged to the local fishing club with yearly right of renewal. Strange, your land and you couldn't fish in your part of the river! But that was England in the 1940s and probably long before that.

I had a friend called Tom Wilson. He was much older man than I and I met him in the mid 1950s through our mutual interest of amateur radio. Tom was a keen fly fisherman and the Stainton Beck flowed through his back garden in the village of Stainton about 5 miles from our home. Tom belonged the angling club so he could fish as he pleased but worms were illegal bait. I never told him of my fishing exploits. More about Tom later.

One day I went down to the beck to find an otter hunt in progress by the local Otter Hunt Club. The large shaggy coated long-legged hounds were following fast, the scent all over up and down the banks of the stream but left after a while empty handed to try their luck further down stream. I was glad, Otters were not a problem here decimating the river fish stocks and I don't like hunting too much purely for the sport of it.

But, I'll tell you of fox hunting later.

15 December 2003

Ullswater: A Frowned on Hobby.
One of my favourite hobbies is, by a large number of people today, very much frowned on. I was first introduced when I was at Sharrow Bay and continued with it when I came to Kidside.

Well I suppose I must let the secret out and tell you it was bird’s egg collecting a popular hobby by boys and adults sometimes, going back many generations. Today birds egg collecting is a dirty word as far as environmentalists are concerned and some ordinary people too. But in those days it was not so, endangered birds of today were common in the 1940s.

I used to travel all around the district both at Sharrow Bay and later Kidside on my bike seeking breeding sites for species I did not have. My total of various species was miserably short on the list of possible types but I enjoyed what I did find. When at Sharrow Bay I heard that some of the seagull species and water birds nested on the Penrith sewage works land so a friend and I biked to Penrith, found the sewage works but we were on the opposite bank of a river, most probably the River Eamont or it could have been the River Lowther. Fortunately the riverbed was wide and the river shallow and we waded across. On reaching the far side we found scores of nests of both gull and wader species that I was short of for my collection. We quickly collected samples of the different kinds and proceeded to explore further. Suddenly there was a distant shout and a figure waving his arms headed for us. It was time to leave we thought for it was the works caretaker and he looked angry.

We picked up our booty, collected our shoes and socks and waded back across the river. Drying our feet we didn't rush, the angry man wouldn't cross the river after us and risk getting wet, he knew we would be gone on our bikes in a trice before he could reach us.

Returning to Pooley Bridge, the evening was late and when we reached my friends house I found my father waiting for me, anxiously wondering what had happened to me. The time was close to 9 p.m. and I had been gone since early morning. He didn't chastise me at all, no sharp words or even “don't do it again”, but then my father left all the discipline to Mum.

A Second Story

Arriving at Kidside I found that different species of birds were present in the area. One I remember vividly was finding a magpie’s nest over the rear high hedge of a house across the paddocks from Kidside. I had never seen a magpie's nest before but I did know they could be a vicious bird. I climbed the apple tree and eyed the nest and waited a while, noticing no activity from the big round mass of twigs before me, I noted the entrance hole and wondered, should I? I plucked up courage and slowly put my hand in the nest hole ready to jerk it back but no magpie was present, but I did feel the roundness of 2 eggs present and I took 1 for my collection.

Another new species I found was near Kidside House in the paddock by the Stainton Beck was a tree creeper. I saw this small bird running up and down the trunk of a large tree pecking here and there for small insects. Although I had never seen this small bird before I recognised it immediately. I watched for a while and then saw the tree creeper disappear into a hole in the trunk. I climbed the tree and found the nest with 4 eggs present behind the loose bark and I took 1 egg.

After I left home I think my egg collection was taking up valuable space and a few years later Mum took the opportunity to dispose of it to one of the sons of the farm worker living in the workers house attached to Kidside Farm. I was a bit miffed at the time but I realised later the collection had gone to a good home.

13 December 2003

Milnthorpe: Gyp into the Sunset Years
For the next decade I spent a good part of my time away from home, first at South Shields Marine and Technical College and then following my profession coming home during holidays and leave. Gyp would always greet me with his usual wag of his tail and a fuss.

When on leave I often used to be at a loose end during the day, old friends were busy working during the week. I sometimes used to go down the fields of Kidside Farm and have a look at my old haunts. Gyp would be overjoyed when he realized were we were going. One day walking along the banks of the Stainton Stream I heard a splash, Gyp heard it too and we went to investigate. There swimming slowly at an angle across the stream was an otter, this long sleek animal was a lovely graceful sight. Gyp was exited, to him it was prey to be hunted but I commanded him to stay but he couldn't help himself but to edge forward and I again said “no” to him. As I've said previously Lakeland terriers were bred to hunt and Gyp was no exception, the urge to hunt had been bred into him.

As the years passed, on one of my periodic visits home to Kidside I noticed Gyp seemed to spend more time around home, not going out as much with Dad down to the gardens or on his periodic wanderings around the countryside as he used to. I started to notice a touch of grey around his jaw line; he was starting to age a little. I mentioned the fact in conversation with Mum and Dad and they told me he seemed to be a little stiff in the mornings too and used to drink more frequently from his water bowl. They said it would be his kidneys starting to fail him, he was past 10 years old and it was to be expected.

It must have been in the year 1958-59 or thereabouts, Pat said it was before our marriage in 1960. Mum had Dad had gone down to Morecambe for their annual holiday and I was living at home alone. One morning I got up, it must have been Saturday to find Gyp lying on his side raising his head to look at me. He was very obviously sick, I offered him a drink of water, which he sipped and lay down on his side again. Things are a little hazy from now on but I must have contacted a vet and I next remember finding myself in a vet's waiting room, the one who was down Stricklandgate in Kendal, with other people and sick animals.

Our turn came and I carried Gyp into the surgery, the vet asked me the usual questions and then examined Gyp. After a short while he returned to his desk and told me Gyp was in a bad way, he had kidney failure and there was nothing he could do for him long term. He paused and continuing said to me that the kindest thing to do for Gyp was to put him down. Sensing my indecision as I told him my parents were on holiday he said to think it over for a few minutes and he went away to tidy up. Returning he must have noticed my intense distress and he suggested that he would be more than willing to look after everything and I could leave by a side door opening to an alleyway. I said goodbye to Gyp and left him in the hands of the vet. In the alleyway I remember leaning against the wall for sometime as I gained control and tided myself up. I didn’t tell anyone except Pat that Gyp had to be put down until my parents returned home and I had broke the sad news to them. They listened quietly as I told them the story of Gyp, the house was a quiet place for quite a while afterwards, and they probably missed him even more than I did.

I sometimes, even now think of Gyp, that cheerful small dog and wish now that I taken him home to Kidside and buried him in the garden.

But then in those days we weren't supposed to get sentimental over animals as we sometimes do now. It was only an animal we were told

During our 2003 visit to the UK we visited Kidside Cottage and as I looked over the hedge to the garden gate and where the compost heap still was and thought that undisturbed place in the corner would have been ideal to inter Gyp.

12 December 2003

Milnthorpe: Gyp's Life continued
Both at Sharrow Bay and as well at Kidside Gyp used to be able to run free, but he chose to spend most of his time in the vicinity of home often accompanying Dad during his duties. Now and then he would disappear overnight and then turn up next day, we had no idea where he had been. Occasionally a neighbour mentioned in passing, of Gyp on his "rounds". Sometimes quite a way from home, there were no complaints of him so we didn't worry too much.

When at Kidside during the breeding season it was a different matter, Gyp would disappear for days at a time and we would worry. Eventually days later he would again appear often looking sorry for himself and hungry. His smart black and tan coat would be dirty, matted and sometimes bloody and one time torn ears. We knew he had been fighting. He was well known for visiting the "ladies" in the district when in season and the surrounding farms, too. His biggest problem was the farm dogs, they were usually bigger and heavier than Gyp but their size did not deter him, which we learnt from stories that filtered back of his escapades. Lakeland Fox terriers were renowned for the fearless disposition. They were bred to tackle marauding foxes in their holes and kill if need be, never turning tail on their enemy.

Gyp would sometimes arrive home from his expeditions a little worse for wear, bloody and battered. His first port of call would be Mum. He would quietly wait whist she scolded him with words like "where have you been?" and "just look at the state of you" and such like phrases. Then she would get some hot water and sponge of the mud and the blood and examine Gyp's wounds. Next would come the iodine and Gyp would flinch but sit tight as Mum applied it to the wounds, then would come the antiseptic ointment. When Gyp was patched up then Mum would feed him, Gyp was ravenous after 2 or 3 days or more away from home on the battlefield, his appetite sated he would then settle down on the mat in front of the fire and go to sleep, dreaming I guess doggy dreams as he twitched and growled in his sleep.

As Gyp ran free around Kidside and sometimes farther afield through the hedgerows and undergrowth he tended to pick up ticks on his coat, nasty beasts. Usually these were around his head and neck were his coat was thinnest and the hair finer and easy for the ticks to reach skin level. The ticks would burrow into the skin and extract blood into an ugly white sac attached to the tic's body which turned a dark colour as the sac filled.

Dad used to spend time de-ticking Gyp when he saw him scratching, he would grasp the tick at the base of the sac with his thumbnail and first fingernail and pull the ticks off. By using this method the whole of the tick was removed. If the sac pulled away without the head the head would fester and cause a sore to form. John and I would sometimes de-tick Gyp but it was not one of my favourite jobs. Many animals picked up ticks from undergrowth and greenery.

Lakeland Terriers are happy dogs by nature and have all the attributes one could wish for in a dog. They are also fearless, in fact they were bred for their fearlessness, their job with the hunt was to go down the rocky holes on the Lakeland fells to flush out foxes when they went to "ground" during the hunt. If necessary they were required to kill the fox underground and a dog had to be fearless to face a big strong "dog" fox with his needle sharp teeth.

Todays show Lakeland terrier looks much different to the working Lakeland terrier of the hunt that I remember. Visually the show one looks a different dog, the coat is longer and curlier to allow clipping and trimming, I suppose. The colour seems sandier and the rich back and tan of the working dog seems to be absent. To this end I was relying on pictures on the Internet that invariably were show dogs only.

8 December 2003

Ullswater: A Dog named Gyp.
Well he wasn't really "our" dog he started life as John's dog at Sharrow Bay as a birthday present when John was about 7 years old. Or was it Christmas?

Gyp was a Lakeland terrier, he came as a pup from the Ullswater Foxhound pack kennels situated at Patterdale. He was what I would term a real or proper Lakeland Terrier, not looking like one of those show dogs we see today, in the year 2003 from breeding kennels, with a pedigree as long as your arm.  Gyp was black and tan and was not a show dog, he was what was called, a working dog and as he grew, he was a handsome dog to boot.

When we first got him we were living at Sharrow Lodge and we kept him hidden in an outhouse at the bottom of the backdoor steps until the special day. Mum used to feed him in the evenings and it was my job to keep my eyes open for John and divert him if need be, from the backdoor area.

As he quickly grew he endeared himself to everyone. One day he blotted his copybook unfortunately. We had got 2 tame rabbits complete with a wooden tongue and groove custom built "A" frame combined hutch, and run. We used to keep it on a rough piece grassed ground at the rear of the house. One evening when I went to feed the rabbits and wheel the rabbit pen to a new piece of grass, there lying in the run was a dead rabbit, and a hole dug under the run. There was no sign of the other rabbit so I opened the rear door of the shelter and peered in, there was Gyp lying in the hutch and the other rabbit lying dead between his front paws with Gyp looking at me and wagging his tail.

I raced back to the house, Dad had just arrived home and we rushed back to the rabbit run. Dad reached into the hutch grabbed Gyp by the scruff of the neck and hauled him out. By this time Gyp's tail had stopped wagging as Dad shouted at him. Dad commanded me with "hold him". He reached into the hutch; pulled out the warm dead rabbit then tipped the hutch on its sideband retrieved the other rabbit. Dad laid the 2 rabbits on the ground together and he took Gyp from me by the scruff of his neck looked him in the eye and shouted then he took Gyp and buried his nose in the dead rabbits. I then saw Dad had his folded belt in his hand and he gave the dog 3 or 4 good wallops then he took Gyp and again stuck his nose in the rabbits. He then took the dog and looked him directly in the eye and again shouted then put him down on the ground. Gyp slunk away to the house where all evening he lay quietly in the corner.

Dad told me later that was the way of the huntsman to punish an offending dog except the huntsman instead of using a belt he bit the dog in its most tender place while shouting at it and looking the dog in the eye, he bit the  dogs nose sudden and hard.

Years later there was a sequel to this incident, at Kidside. We were out rabbiting and we had missed netting a bolthole and a rabbit shot out. Gyp shot across its track to cut it off and grab the rabbit. He suddenly came to a skidding stop, the rabbit was a light sandy colour, and he ran away from the rabbit and lay down. Although the sandy rabbit was a different colour from the wild rabbits it was not at all like in colour of our tame rabbits... dark chocolate brown. Gyp had remembered his lesson of a few years ago.

As Gyp grew from a pup to an adult dog he became a friend to all the family. One day we had a knock at the door and there stood Mr. Platt, a rather pompous man from Sharrow Cottages a way up the road towards Howtown. He said, "Your dog is lying on the road, could you please remove him? He snarls when I try to do so and I can't drive around him". There was Gyp when we arrived, stretched out, dead centre in the middle of the narrow road. As he raised his head I'm sure he smiled as we picked him up, or was it just a quiver of his upper lip? I don't think he cared for Mr Platt either.

The black tar seal was always warm even on a dull day and Gyp enjoyed the warmth, usually he lay on the edge of the road. One day we saw Gyp limping holding up one back leg, we thought a vehicle had probably hit him. Initially he flinched when we examined the leg but after a while he seemed better. Although not sore he still limped. Years later he limped... sometimes. He would still run normally and trot along at a fast clip and then as though he had forgot he would start to limp, running on 3 legs. I used to think it was habit only, something would catch his attention and he would run again normally.

3 December 2003

Rationing and Us

Arriving at Kidside in 1948, 3 years after the end of WW2 many food items including milk was still rationed and the meagre quantities of WW2 were in the main still maintained.

Our family during the wartime years and later managed to live and eat better than most people. Our primary advantage was our location in the country and a close-knit community. We grew all our vegetables and our fruit requirements were taken care of; we grew lots of carrots and turnips and buried the surplus in a shed of dry sand for winter use, apples, well with surpluses we laid them out on paper in a cool darkened shed and they lasted through most of the winter. Tomatoes too and even gourmet artichokes if we wanted them.

We caught fish in Lake Ullswater and the river at Kidside. Meat from local farmer friends and Uncle John Brough, also from shot, snared and caught rabbits; rabbit meat from sweet pasture was very tasty, especially in rabbit pie. Our hens provided us with chicken meat also and any amount of eggs. Dad used to incubate fertile eggs each year and Mum too to secure new stock. We kept a cockerel to do his duty.

At Christmas we always managed a turkey to dress the table, most farmers produced a few extra and gave to friends although one year I had to bike past Howtown to buy one from a farmer who dispatched the bird on the spot and tying its leg together, hung it on the handle bars of my bike. Yes, we lived quite well.

Tea, sugar, soap, etc. was a different matter we had the rationed amounts only. With sugar, Mum used to empty the sugar from the bag into a container and then proceed to carefully dissect the paper bag and extract the sugar granules from its folds, a teaspoonful at the most. For extra butter we had a small hand churn and used cream from the farm. Mum knew all about salting butter to taste from her years on the family farm. Tea was not too much of a problem, we boys did not drink it very often, and milk was preferred. Dad liked his big regular mug of tea and mum liked her share too no doubt. Bread, well Mum baked her own another legacy from the farm; we seemed to always have enough flour. Fat was precious with the small sorry ration, bacon fat found its way into the fry pan as did fat from pork and beef. Soap, well you never let it stay in the water, you used it and put back into the holder promptly. Soap powder again the very minimum was used for washing and the wash was always a full load.

And so it went on, carefulness and common sense was the order of the day. As I pen this, I think of those townspeople who were not so lucky as us with our facilities, having to rely much more on the rationed goods

When we were at Sharrow Bay a wood known as Barton Park was not too far away and full of hazel nut trees. We used to pick the hazel nuts in autumn and store them for winter treats.


Ah, I here you wonder, what is a Spiv? Well the picture of a Spiv in those days of the 1940s and 50s was a flashy suited "gentleman", loud tie, pointy-toed shoes, light camel-hair overcoat all topped with an American style Fedora hat over slicked Bryllcreamed hair. This "gentleman" was a wheeler-dealer, he could get you anything... petrol, butter, meat, in fact anything that was rationed, a luxury or in short supply in austerity Britain but at a price. He had plenty of customers clammering for his goods, be it food, nylons for the girls or petrol for a visit to relatives.

He operated the local black market and knew all the sources of illegal goods. Some farmers would sell him meat, poultry or eggs. Some people sold him their surplus produce. If he could not find sellers of these sources
He would not think twice of stealing them if he had to without getting caught. There were always sellers of illegal goods if the price was right and buyers of rationed goods at inflated prices. He was the middleman.

His name stemmed from the word VIPs... Very Important Persons spelt in reverse according the most popular explanation of the era. I tend to believe this explanation, there are other suggested ones.

In many peoples eyes a Spiv was a necessary evil, for he did bring a little sparkle into the lives of people of dull, austerity-ridden Britain.

1 December 2003


Rationing started at the beginning of WW2 and continued for 14 years... it was 1953 before the last item, meat was released from rationing.

1940-1945 Random facts

Typical examples per person per week:-
1 egg per week per ration book!
Icing sugar banned.

Tiered wedding cakes were frequently made from cardboard and were hired from bakers.
Paper was in such short supply that wrapping of shopping items were forbidden.
In 1941 cheese was down to 1oz... 28 gms.
In 1942 you were asked to use no more than 5 ins. of water in your bath to save fuel.
Between 1939 and 1945 80,000 civilian adult men, women and children were killed on the home front by enemy action.

Just about every food item and shopping items were rationed. Queues at shops were an everyday occurrence and when your turn came it did not guarantee the food items were still available, most were in short supply. Every person, baby to adult had a ration book with tear out stamps for your quota. Many items disappeared off the shelves altogether.

Clothing coupons were issued each year. An overcoat would cost almost a years issue of coupons. That is if you could find one for sale. It would be made from poor utility cloth.

Grow your own was encouraged. It was illegal, carrying a heavy penalty to sell your surplus. Flower beds and front gardens in the towns were turned over to vegetables and back gardens... if you had one, to hens and even pigs and goats if you had scraps to feed them.

Certain items as extras were available to babies and children essential to their growth. Their special ration books containing stamps for cod liver oil and orange juice. Eggs were also increased.

After WW2 in the late 1940s some items were slowly released from rationing and some of the rationed allowances were increased.

Research in later years showed that the population of the UK was the most healthy ever during and after WW2

An interesting website to visit for WW2 and the home front can be found HERE

I was 14 years old before I saw and tasted my first banana.

30 November 2003

Milnthorpe The Scholarship Conditions

The Scholarship conditions were very generous.

1. The scholarship applied to South Shields Marine College only.
2. All College fees would be paid in full.
3. All holiday travelling fees to and from College would be paid in full. Holidays would be term holidays and public holidays only.
4. All boarding fees including meals would be paid in full. Any change of boarding address to be approved.
5. Pocket money to be paid by the applicant at a suggested rate of 10 shillings a week.

Well it was not Colwyn Bay in Wales, a private institution and I didn't mind in the least. South Shields Marine College came under the Education Department umbrella.

Travelling was stipulated to be by bus only. Looking on a map, South Shields was on the East coast of England near Newcastle and Kendal/Milnthorpe area was on the west side of the country. To go by train one had to travel north to Carlisle then change and travel east to Newcastle and then on to South Shields, an expensive journey, and time consuming.

To travel by express bus across country was the alternative from Kendal to South Shields. Again looking at a map the bus travelled across from Kendal to the A66, then A67 via Brough, Barnard Castle and Bishop Auckland then the bus swung north up to Newcastle and South Shields. A boring trip for a 15/16 year old boy picking up and dropping off passengers on the way.

28 November 2003

Milnthorpe 1948 A Turning Point in my Life

Within 12 months of arriving at Kidside I was getting close to, my 15th birthday and decisions would soon need to be made. What was to be my career path? One day I saw an advert in a magazine that aroused my interest and set me daydreaming... it seemed somehow to bring all my dreams together.

As a boy at Sharrow Bay, the Nelson’s had whetted my appetite for travel. In addition, when at Sharrow Bay we had gone into Penrith one day to pick up our radio that was in the repair shop for a volume fault. The owner took us up to his workshop to show us our radio on test and to tell us why he could not find the intermittent fault. The insides were hanging out and I was fascinated with the glowing valves, coloured parts and the mass of wires. I can today remember my words when the man noticing my interest said to me would I like to learn to fix radios. My answer was "yes, I want to know where every wire goes and what every part does". I remember he smiled.

The advert in the magazine seemed bring everything together. It was Colwyn Bay Marine Radio College, which trained sea-going Radio Officers, and I thought, that is what I wanted to do, go to sea.

I have only a vague memory of the next sequence of events but I must have mentioned it to my mother and she must have contacted Joe Cookson the headmaster at Milnthorpe School to explore the possibilities. The next thing I remember was an interview for my mother and I at the Education Department at the County Hall in Kendal. I remember a long conversation between the official and my mother then he turned to me with a number of questions.

I was informed that this interview was to discuss an application for a scholarship, which had not been applied for before, and they were considering using my application as a test run.

I remember the official smiled and said that the application would be considered and we would be advised in due course.

We went home and we waited. Eventually we were informed of the decision. Apparently, the scholarship would be conditional on me sitting and passing an examination in written English and Mathematics. Joe Cookson also had been informed. My English would be no problem said Mr. Cookson but Mathematics would be a problem. At that time, algebra was not in the syllabus of a non Grammar school education and as he explained algebra with some higher mathematics was very necessary in my proposed training.

One day shortly afterwards Mr. Cookson said to me "call at my house directly after school and wait for me". I did as he directed and soon he came puffing into the house. He directed me into his lounge, sat me down and said "I'm going to teach you algebra, can you come each day at this time?” I indicated yes.

I went each day after School and he taught me algebra. Gone was the short-tempered angry old Joe of the classroom and I saw a different old Joe. This one was a patient, quietly spoken old Joe who, in the more difficult parts would patiently explain and show me until I had mastered the particular problem. At the end, he said to me "well, you will not have much trouble passing that exam".

I sat the exam, again the venue was at the Kendal County Hall, written English in the morning and Maths in the afternoon and as Mr. Cookson forecast, I did not have much trouble passing the exam.

I do remember thanking him for his help after the final tuition period but I do sometimes wish I had gone back at a later stage in life and shown him the results of his voluntary coaching efforts.

It was a turning point in my life and, it was the start, although I did not know it, of 2 very trying years for me.

27 November 2003

Milnthorpe Kidside The Kenyon's

Myles Noel Kenyon was a retired woollen mill owner from Bury in Lancashire, always known as Mr. Kenyon, at least to us. He was of course Dad's new employer and lived at Kidside House which he leased from the estate company who owned Kidside. His lease consisted of the whole of Kidside with the exception of Kidside Farm and the farm buildings. His lease also included the paddock in front of Kidside House and the paddock between the house drive and the farm lane.

He was in his younger days captain of Lancashire County Cricket Club and for cricket enthusiasts regularly play cricket at Old Trafford. When we came to Kidside in 1948 he would have been 62 years old, he was born on Christmas Day at Walshaw Hall, Bury in 1886. In the eyes of an 14 year old boy, I remember him as an old man and towards the end of his days, in his dotage and could no longer shave himself Dad had to attend to it. Dad did become quite an accomplished barber. He passed away in 1960 at his daughters home in Birdham, Surrey at the age of 74.

He appeared to me at this time to be an old, old man at 74 and he probably was in those days. I look around today in the year 2003 and 74 is a common age for spritley people going about tending to their business. In fact spritley people in their 80s abound and some even older. Much has to be said for the magic of modern medicine. In the days of Myles Noel Kenyon and our parents, they aged more quickly.

During the early years at Kidside the Kenyon's daughter and family would come to stay in the summer. Two of the grandchildren were twin boys a little older than I, I think and who used to enjoy cricket. We would be invited down for a game on the Kenyon's front lawn. Often David Bell would also be on holiday at our house and he was invited too. As we played Mr Kenyon would coach us and point out any errors in our play and give us tips on batting. I don't think there were too many boys who could say that they were coached by a famous ex captain of Lancashire County Cricket Club.

Later, when after my marine training and went to sea at the age of almost 18 the Kenyon's presented me with an expandable suit case which I used for many years, in fact it came to NZ with us in 1966 and I had it for many years after that, it always reminded me of the Kenyon's. It also reminded me of the reluctance at that time to go down, receive the present and thank them forit. Shyness or what I don't know. After much bullying by Mum and Dad I went down after a few days and ever afterwards I felt ashamed of my rude actions of that time.

As far as I know Mum and Dad enjoyed working for the Kenyon's, at least I never heard them complain. Dad as I remember was left to his own devices and as long as work flowed smoothly he was his own man. Mum used to go down part time to help Mrs. Kenyon and they used to get on well together. With visiting guests Mum would prepare the food and Mrs. Kenyon would cook.

I remember one incident with John. In our later years some of the younger grandchildren from the Kenyon's came up to our house looking for Dad. Mr. Kenyon always called Dad "Irving", never Frank or Mr. Irving, just "Irving". The children asked where's Irving and John being present let rip into them and said " to you it is Mr. Irving, not Irving". I remember feeling quite proud of my brother.

In those days in schools it was common for a pupil to be addressed by a teacher by his surname only, it certainly was at my school in Penrith and so it was often the same in a employer/employee relationship.

Dad and Mum stayed with the Kenyon's for 12 years until the death of Mr. Kenyon in 1960. Mr Kenyon left Dad 100 pounds for each year of service. This sum as a percentage of his wage would be possibly 20%. With slow inflation this reduced. Mrs. Kenyon doubled the sum.

26 November 2003

Milnthorpe Kidside Rabbits and Ferrets

Not long after we arrived at Kidside, one day Dad was talking to Uncle John Brough and he was complaining about the infestation of rabbits on the farm. They were eating the grass and damaging the hedgerow banks with their warrens. Dad said that he would cull them out and John Brough said the carcases would be Dad's to sell. Wild rabbit meat was popular for stews and pies in England, also rationing was still in force from the recently finished WW2 and so was popular to eke out the weekly meat ration.

Dad asked if I would be interested and I jumped at the chance to earn some pocket money. So Dad bought a creamy yellow female ferret and later a polecat cross ferret, a much larger dark coloured male. Then some 2nd hand and new nets to cover the rabbit holes. Dad also made a carry box with 2 compartments for the ferrets, which could be slung over a shoulder. We were in the rabbit business.

The first weekend out we caught 34 rabbits and it took all of our time, Dad, John and I to carry them back across the paddocks. Dad had phoned to make arrangements for a van to call on Sunday night to pick up the rabbits. The van came from Blackpool on a regular circuit of the area and paid out on the spot. That first weekend, I remember calculating was more than the average man's weekly wage.

I had never been rabbiting before but Dad taught us all the tricks. When putting a net over a hole to weigh down the edges of the net with only enough tension to pull the drawstring tight as the rabbit hits the net. Another trick was to be able to recognize boltholes. These were secret exit holes from the warren in case of invaders, stoats, weasels flooding and... ferrets. All the regular holes had mounds of dug out earth but boltholes were clear and the hole entrances were only large enough in diameter for a rabbit to squeeze through. When the hole was constructed the rabbit would push and weave the undergrowth over the hole to camouflage the hole entrance. The holes would be difficult to find sometimes especially on flat ground where the hole came up vertically and grasses were woven over, just a clump of grass to the eye.

A companion during rabbiting was our dog Gyp our Lakeland terrier. He loved rabbiting and used to shiver with excitement when we put the ferret down into the warren and he could hear the rabbits using their alarm signal by thumping the ground with their back paws to warn the rest of the rabbits that danger was at hand. But Gyp is worth a story or two of his own.

Occasionally a ferret would get trapped down a hole especially if the ferret had made a kill down in the warren, listening by an ear to the ground we would, hopefully locate the ferret and have to dig it out. Sometimes we could not locate the ferret because after the kill and hungry it would have a feed and go to sleep. All we could do was to leave the open box at the hole entrance and block up as many holes as possible and hope the ferret would come out at the selected hole and go into the warm hay covered interior. To tempt the ferret we would leave food in the box. Usually the ferret would be in the box next morning curled up asleep.

Eventually we cleaned out the rabbit population and John Brough was pleased with our progress. We were down to getting only 6 or 7 rabbits during the weekend and as those numbers dwindled even further we called it a day. Of the few rabbits left they will continue to again multiply but their breeding will be slowed as with the dearth of rabbits the local predators will be hungry and will keep the rabbit population in check. Kidside Farm was between the junction of 2 small rivers, which then formed the River Bela. Thus there was only one boundary on the farm for rabbits to migrate from other areas, rabbits can swim if need be but with the rich pastures of the area they would not be tempted to swim across to Kidside Farm fields.

So our rabbit enterprise faded out but we had more than covered our expenses and earned us a good income. John Brough cleaned up his hedgerow damage and open warrens in the fields and resowed the damaged areas with grass seed.

22 November 2003

Milnthorpe Kidside A Story by Surmise?

During our visit to my brother John and Edith in 2003, John asked me a curious question. He asked Dad and me if I remembered a conversation immediately on our arrival at Kidside between Dad’s new employers Mr. Kenyon.

John remembers that a wage negotiation took place between Mr. Kenyon and Dad. In essence, Mr Kenyon offered Dad a sum of money as wages and Dad replied that he received "more than that at his last place". A sum must have been negotiated we did stay at Kidside.

Now John obviously found this curious and after telling me, I found it curious too. John posed the question in June 2003 and I write this in November 2003. During those 5 months, my mind has periodically gone to John's question. Why were wages not discussed before accepting the job during the interview?

I have only faint glimmerings of the time just before leaving Sharrow Bay to come to Kidside so I will relate them.

I do remember Uncle John Brough contacting our parents and telling them that a job was available at Kidside. I do remember a feeling of worry in the air before leaving Sharrow Bay, which would be natural in the circumstances whilst looking for a new job. I do remember that when Sharrow Bay was sold we had to be out by a certain time and I seem to remember our parents continually talking about it and this undercurrent of worry.

I do not remember Dad going for any interviews for jobs before leaving Sharrow Bay. We did not have a car and unless a job interview was in the immediate vicinity, a car would be needed for travelling to an interview. I am sure I would have remembered if Dad had borrowed a car.

This what I surmise might have happened.

There were no interviews; there were no jobs on offer. The reason why? Like the Nelson's most other employers of estate staffs were also hit by the Labour government's iniquitous tax of 19/6 in the pound over a certain income level. They were firing not hiring staff (as the saying goes) to stay afloat. As the final vacation date approached I believe Dad took the job at Kidside sight unseen and the Kenyon’s at Kidside took Dad sight unseen too, relying on Uncle John Brough's recommendation of Dad being a good reliable man well suited for the work.

So I believe there was no interview and so no prior wage negotiations. The decision to take the Kidside job was a last minute decision. The telephone was not generally available in those times, it was a luxury and most people did not have one unless by necessity. To go from Sharrow Bay to Kidside there were buses but with two changes and a long walk at either end so not very practical for interviews.

Why did I not remember the wages conversation? As a boy of 13/14 years, I liked to explore and that is what I probably did immediately on our arrival. I still like to explore even now when I arrive at a new location.

I do not suppose we will ever know for sure if this is the correct explanation or even if it is true in parts only. I do not suppose it is of any real interest to anyone else but John and I and then only because of our mutual curiosity.

Our parents stayed 12 years at Kidside and only left on the death of Mr. Kenyon, Mrs. Kenyon moving to her daughter’s home. They liked the location. However, the Kenyon’s are another story.

16 November 2003

Milnthorpe Kidside The Cottage

The Cottage was small; in fact the smallest house I remember that we lived in. 2 bedrooms upstairs, a sitting room and a living room/dining downstairs. A single story lean-to had been added at some stage one half of which comprised of a tiny kitchen only able to hold a bench- top cooker and the other half a small bathroom. A cellar leads off the living room.

The cooker had only one element and a griller below. To roast or bake the living room open fire had an attached oven, which was tricky to bake with, but Mum took it in her stride and still produced good food. The living room was not too big either, a dining table and chairs, a 2-seated settee, Dad's armchair and Mum's treadle sewing machine, and they filled the room. Attached to the ceiling was the pulley operated pull-up clothes rack.

I was delighted to see when we visited my brother John and Edith in Morecambe in 2003 that they had retained the old clothes rack and were using it in their kitchen. The sitting room was smaller than the living room, it managed to hold a bed-settee, an armchair, a large set of drawers and not much else but we did not use this room too often, only if we had guests and of course Christmas. Before Pat and I were married Pat used to often visit on Sunday's and Mum, early in the morning would put on the sitting room open fire for us.

The cellar made a good storeroom and a place to keep Mum's homemade wine and store the surplus of eggs in a bath of waterglass liquid to preserve them for when eggs for baking were in short supply.

Outside by the kitchen backdoor was the laundry (washhouse) with its copper boiler built into the corner and a fire grate below to heat the water on Monday washdays. Later we had the forerunner to the modern washer, a squarish box shape on legs into which was poured buckets of hot water and powder, the lid put on and through the lid centre was a shaft which you operated by hand to activate the agitator. When the washing was agitated enough the washing was put through the mangle to squeeze out the soapy water then the washing was rinsed and put through the mangle again to squeeze out the surplus rinse. Monday washday was a long busy day and hard work. How the housewives of yesterday took to automatic washers with great gusto when they eventually arrived in the shops for sale!

Here at Kidside we had our first family car UNA989, a Hillman van with windows fitted in the sides and a backseat fitted. Commercial vehicles could be bought tax free, a considerable cost saving. Both John and Edith and Pat and I went on our honeymoons in UNA98, but I get ahead of my story!

A second backdoor lead from the living room l on to a concrete yard outside across which was a large 2-story building. Garage and stables were below and a large open barn above with rotted holes in the floor, but a good storage area. Dad used to smoke a pipe and he used to grow his own tobacco plants then when ripe would harvest them, the barn was the ideal drying room. When ready to process he would paint the leaves with his secret concoction of honey, molasses and other ingredients leaving them again to dry, turning the leaves over periodically.

The tobacco when ready and smoked used to smell a bit strong but he must have enjoyed it, he kept growing it!

Between Kidside Cottage and Kidside House was the orchard. This was a pain to look after. The grass would grow long and had to be hand cut with a scythe, a hard job. It could not be mowed and kept short as the mowing took the goodness out of the soil. Dad decided to get some Chinese Geese whose diet was grass and the dropping would fertilize the fruit trees. These were slim rather elegant birds, not squat and heavy like the domestic white variety. They did their job efficiently. They also had another advantage, if strangers were about the geese honked loudly, and we knew well in advance that strangers were coming. In China the Chinese used them as watchdogs. We also had a good supply of eggs from them but I don't remember eating any of them. Did Mum use them for cooking?

Mum's pride and joy was her cottage style garden, all grown from cuttings and it used to always look lovely. Even the base of the walled hawthorn hedge separating us from the paddock was used and planted with rockery plants spilling over the wall.

Mum and Dad stayed here for 12 years before moving on. Yet another story for later.

15 November 2003

Milnthorpe First Days and School

Strange, I don't remember our move to Kidside, near Milnthorpe. Neither do I remember much of the first few weeks, I don't understand it.

Talking to my brother John, although younger than I by over 3 years, he remembers much more than I.

John and I were sent to Milnthorpe Boys School another 2-teacher school, John 10 went into the junior room and I at 14 into the senior classes. I quickly made friends, particularly with Keith Butcher and Grier Edmeade along with Dennis Hutchinson and Keith Almond and a few more. The headmaster was Joe Cookson and his assistant was Ferdy Casson a quiet dark-haired man. I didn't stay too long at Milnthorpe School, I was quickly heading for 15, the official leaving age but during my short stay there I enjoyed the school very much and its idyllic setting alongside the River Bela, the same waters which passed through our new home at Kidside.

John's stay there also was short, he was coming up to the age of the 11+ exam which when it arrived he passed with flying colours. John transferred to Heversham Grammar School for his secondary school years, an old and much respected establishment in the field of education, not far from Milnthorpe.

Joe Cookson, known as Old Joe to generations of pupils was a pale skinned red-faced beefy man with sandy-red hair and freckles. His hair, parted down one side never seemed to lie down to his scalp, but usually sticking up at angles. Old Joe had a quick temper, he tried hard to drum education into his pupils and his pupils mainly 11+ rejects had no interest in learning, it was a battle. Soon his frustration would boil over, he would roar and shout and his face would go redder with rage, then he would hit the nearest desk with his cane or pointer, an all mighty whack. At this point everyone used to sit up straight and wonder what next? He would stand there, glaring and slowly he would simmer down and bring himself under control. As far as I remember he never used the cane, he just emphasised a point with it.

There was another side to Joe Cookson but that tale will follower later.

12 November 2003

Ullswater Life Story Note

During the 3 years, 1945 to 1948 nothing really momentous happened so I am moving on to the next major turning point in my life.

There are still some stories to be told of Ullswater but these can be slotted in later. I find in my writings I sometimes feel a little bogged down in writing a subject especially if it is sad or I feel down . The stories and tales yet to be told of Ullswater are all happy or humerous stories. So I will slot them in when I have the urge to do so, when I want a change of subject.

11 November 2003

Ullswater Sharrow Bay Final Days

All good things have to come to an end and life on Ullswater was no exception. The year was 1948; I was 14 years old and the Nelson's, the owners of Sharrow Bay estate decided reluctantly, to sell Sharrow Bay.

The wartime government of the Conservatives was ousted in 1946 and the people, tired of rationing and austerity elected Labour to govern the country. One of the policies of Labour was to reduce the incomes of the rich and one of the ways by savage taxation. Income tax of all people over a certain level of income was set at 19/6 in the pound. People like the Nelson's were badly hit. Their lifestyle began to suffer and they were forced by these circumstances to consider selling Sharrow Bay and retiring to the warm south coast of England.

By 1948 the wheels were in motion, Sharrow Bay was advertised and the auctioneers moved in to catalogue the contents and prepare the sale. I cannot be certain, but I have a strong feeling that the Nelson's moved away to their new home it Budleigh Salterton, Devon leaving Dad in charge of the day to day running of Sharrow Bay as they did when they went overseas on extended cruises to warmer climes during the British winter. The sale of Sharrow Bay was left to the real estate people and the sale of effects to the auction people. Often in Britain these were from the same firm.

As my mind meanders back to 1948 I think of the wrench it must have been for the Nelson's to leave this beautiful place. It was more beautiful then than it is now as a hotel. I'm not, I hope being critical of the present owners but the condition of the gardens, grounds and woods where much higher on the list of requirements then than now. They were there to give personal pleasure to the Nelson's and we took pleasure of the beauty too.

I remember the day the auction took place; it covered more than a single day to complete. The auctioneers had been busy for days cataloguing everything and then issuing a printed catalogue. As I said everything had to go, from the overseas walking stick collection of Mr Nelson and the valuable worldwide doll collection of Mrs. Nelson, the floor to ceiling book collection from the library, beautiful furniture and silver, down to the large wine cellar contents. There were Persian rugs and Japanese porcelain to go, down to the lowly furnishings of the servants’ quarters and cutlery, estate tools, the 2 luxury cars and the boat sitting in the boathouse.

The only things the Nelson's were able to take were a few smaller items and mementoes. They were going to Budleigh Salterton to live in a suite of rooms at a resident ional hotel, which was furnished.

Now that Sharrow Bay was sold we had to move of course and Dad had to find new employment. At this period of time, 1948 Dad was 41 and Mum was a year younger at 40. I sit here now and contemplate; they were a similar age to Gillian and Ian.

One-day Mum's eldest brother, John Brough wrote to say that a job was on offer near to where he lived. John was the farm manager of Kidside Farm and a man by the name of Kenyon resident at Kidside House was looking for someone. It was a much smaller place than Dad was used to and Dad did not reply immediately. However time was marching on towards sale completion of Sharrow Bay and Dad and Mum with some urging of John and I decided to take the position. So we moved south to Milnthorpe, still in Westmorland, but only just.

I was delighted we were going. John and Jessie Brough's children, Norman, older than I, Vera and I similar in age, we had spent considerable time together in the past. And, Milnthorpe had its own Cinema, just a mile and a half from Kidside and unlike Sharrow and Pooley Bridge; Milnthorpe had lots of young people, too. I was really keen to leave Ullswater, the beauty of Ullswater was not very important to a boy of 14.

So we left Sharrow Bay and so began the start of another phase of my life in the year of 1948.

8 November 2003

Ullswater Sharrow Bay Lodge

In late 1945 we moved from Sharrow Cottage to the Lodge at the entrance to Sharrow Bay. The Lodge was quite a large house with 3 double bedrooms and all modern facilities. The kitchen was large and we lived mostly in the also large adjoining living room/dining room. The Lodge was double story with a spacious hall and stairway. We didn't have enough furniture to furnish the 3rd downstairs room, the sitting room nor the 3rd bedroom.

From the outside the Lodge was built in mock Tudor style with the beautiful Lakeland stone with its green tinge and looked very smart indeed. In fact our 2000/2003 visits to England it still looked very smart. I do believe the Lodge was sold from the estate and now belongs to a UK Government cabinet-minister as a holiday home.

I noticed on our visit that the chestnut tree is still standing to the right of the drive entrance where I used to have my tree hut. It has grown somewhat in the last 58 years but not as much as I had expected. But I intrude on my two 2000/2003 trip journals writings.

We moved all our furniture and belongings with a large trailer and discussing this my brother John prompted me in regard to one load on the trailer. We had to turn a sharp corner near the Cottage and the driver turned a little to quickly and cut the corner, the trailer wheel went up the bank, the trailer tipped over and the load of our belongings ended up in a heap on the drive. I'm unable to remember how much damage was done to our belongings, there would be quite a bit of damage if furniture were involved.

I think my parents were pleased to transfer to the Lodge with its roomy interior, outhouses and garden area, with enough extra room for a hen run. I think also Dad was pleased for me to leave the Cottage if only to stop my bad habit. Every boy, by the time he was 10 and worth his salt in those days had a pocketknife and I was no exception. I was always carving my name or initials on the mature trees surrounding the cottage and the smooth barked beech tree's surrounding the Cottage was my favourite ones. He used to get angry with me as the newly carving stood starkly out and he was in charge of the estate and responsible for any damage. On his estate inspections he used spend time darkening the carvings and plastering in some concoction to disguise the carving. It seemed I couldn't help myself and I use to do my carving on the exposed roots instead then pull the grass or undergrowth over the carvings to disguise them.

There was only one mature tree near the Lodge, the chestnut tree; the rest was large foliage shrubs.

7 November 2003

Ullswater WW2 The War is Over

Hostilities ceased in Europe in 8th May 1945 and was called VE day. Japan surrendered August 1945 and was designated VJ Day.

I was 11 years old and I remembered VE Day distinctly. The news on the radio and the newspapers was full of of it. The newsreels at the movies also, where street parties and the celebrations were shown. Later when VJ Day occurred again it was celebration time, this was the finish of the war. Governments and the press declared it was called the war to end all wars. Peace would reign we were told.

I remember VJ Day, I was on my own up Barton Fell and I was coming down to-wards the Corletts home at Sharrow Cottages and I was thinking of VE Day and its implications, my Father would be coming home, there would be no more killing and no more wars and I remember most distinctly a feeling of exhilaration coming over me, there was to be peace now and a future to look forward to. I felt on top of the world. On our trip to England in 2003 I visited Ullswater again and walked up through the Bluebell Wood ( my name) to the fell access gate and looked up to wards Hadley's cave and my eye tracked down to the track where I walked that day and I again remembered VJ Day and, although in company, I privately remembered the thoughts of that far off day.

Although I have had this memory all my life, I have never thought about it much, but as I write this, I wonder did other children have these types of thoughts? If I felt like this, shielded by our remote location, how did children who were in the danger zone feel when the hostilities ended?

I'm not sure when Dad arrived home, it was probably by the end of 1945, there would be no more tanks to build now. We did not know that within 5 years another major war would erupt, the Korean War in 1950 backed by the might of China lasting 3 years and almost 30,000 to die in battle.

5 November 2003

Ullswater WW2 Convoy

This a tale of a lost army convoy but a little history first. You may need a map to appreciate this.

Today the main highway from Penrith and the motorway to Pooley Bridge and Ullswater is the A592 road. In the 1940s the main road from Penrith and the A6 main highway to Ullswater and Pooley Bridge is the road now designated B5320. There was no motorway then and the A6 was the main highway.

In the early 1940s on dark night a long army convoy came from the Penrith direction to head along the western shores of Ullswater in the Patterdale direction and then to goodness knows where. Unfortunately they misread their maps and turned off at Mains Farm just before Pooley Bridge and along the eastern shores of Ullswater, along the narrow road leading to where we lived towards Howtown.

It was about 8 p.m. in the evening and dark, we heard the rumble of engines, thought it was the Commandos on manoeuvres and thought no more of it. About 10 p.m. we heard shouts and the heavy revving of engines and we then realized it was something unusual. The convoy leader had reached Howtown over a mile past our home and realized his mistake. The leader halted the convoy and returned on a motorbike to access the situation, he was on a no exit road and the large lorries and many of the other vehicles were too large to turn in the road. He decided to use Thwaite Hill Farm opposite us as a giant car park and reform the convoy from there. So the vehicles, which had not passed the farm gate, drove into the field but the vehicles, which had passed the gate, had to reverse, the ones, which were at the head of the column needed to reverse for over 1 mile. It was a slow exercise!

This went on all night until daylight next morning before the convoy reformed and slowly drove away. How did the convoy get lost? Well the navigator had to do his best in a darkened cab with a shielded torch. There were no road signs to guide him, all road signs had been removed at the start of the war to make it difficult for enemy agents.

Not only that, all vehicle headlights were dimmed and their light shielded from the air in case of prowling enemy aircraft. This shield was a round/oval black disk fitted over the headlight face with narrow horizontal slits to let some light through. Each slit had a light deflector above it forcing the light from each slit downwards. It was very difficult to see ahead when driving in the dark. The most difficult task of the evening was the reversing lorry drivers in the dark, their only guide the drivers mate holding a dim shielded torch.

This was just one more of the everyday trials and tribulations of wartime.

30 October 2003

Ullswater WW2 Chilwell

I do not remember too much of our first trip to Chilwell, it must have been in 1943, it could not have been earlier due to the dangerous situation from the bombing. The Chilwell area was full of factories converted to producing arms for the war effort and a prime target for an enemy raid.

By 1944 the tide had turned against the Germans and the Allied firepower was superior and the Germans were finding it difficult against the Russian armies. So the Germans concentrated on firing their V1 and V2 rockets with a range only as far as London and the surrounding areas. The air raids to the Midlands were stopped; the Allies were in control of the skies.

The only thing that stood out in our first visit to Dad was a semi-detached house in a quiet tree-lined street with shops and a cinema just up the road, a magnet for a small country boy like me. There were children around who I would go to the movies with and cowboy films were all the rage with Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger and his sidekick, was it Tonto? Wartime theme movies were popular too, but these were more for adults.

Later Dad changed his lodgings, again to a semi-detached house to be nearer to his work. There were a lot of children here and a nearby common and the river Trent not too far away. The road here was concrete and wide, the first concrete road I had ever seen. I think I liked Chilwell because of the company and the amenities, on Ullswater the nearest shop was 2 miles away and shops plural were another 7 miles away.

At the armaments factory were Dad worked making and assembling tanks there were fully equipped machine tool workshops and the engineers often made toys on the night shifts. Dad bought John and I a sheath knife each and mock Tommy gun made out of wood but to us it looked real painted up in gunmetal colours. These everyday articles were not obtainable during the war so trade was brisk for the engineers.

During WW2 it was difficult to get chocolate and sweets (Lollies) in NZ talk. Sugar was rationed and so sweets were scarce. Dad used to get his tobacco always at the same little shop and after a while became friends with the owners. Learning that he had 2 children they used to let Dad have sweets and occasionally chocolate, their ration, neither ate sweets. He used to take John and I round to see them when we came to Chilwell.

29 October 2003

Ullswater: WW2. Latter Years. 1944-1945.

The latter years of WWII arrived, in 1944 I was 10 years old and I started to take an interest in the war, not just in the proliferation of war movies but also in the actual battles being fought. In June 1944 D-Day was to arrive, the Germans held most of Europe but the war was starting to turn in the favour of the Allies. The Germans were being pushed back in North Africa and the strength of the Allies was building with the help of the USA industrial machine. Saturation bombing was beginning to take place by the Allies of Germany and the occupied Western European countries. The armies of the Allies were rapidly building up in southern England to that secret day which was to be later known as D-Day, the day when the Allies invaded occupied Europe.

I remember most distinctly following the progress of the war, looking at the daily newspaper front page each day on which invariably there was a war map giving the allies progress in retaking France, Belgium, then Holland, Denmark and all the other countries occupied by Germany. Then on another front, the invasion of Italy and the slow, difficult progress up the boot of Italy.

Then later came the crossing of the Rhine into Germany itself. I remember reading of the battles; the bombings of the industrial might of Germany and the crippling of its war machine, the casualties, and the deaths of civilians by the thousand from the bombings and the battles. I followed them all each day in the newspapers.

On one of our school holiday visits to Chilwell where Dad was posted during the war I shall never forget the waves of Allied planes one afternoon. This I learnt later was a major bombing raid of Germany, the biggest. The land around Chilwell, Nottinghamshire was flat and we could see from horizon to horizon in all directions, it was black with planes, bombers, fighters and fighter bombers, the might of the Allies, wave after wave of them all heading for Germany.

The Midlands of England was the collection point for the planes from all the airfields throughout the British Isles for the bombing mission and we were situated in the middle of it. Words can hardly describe the awesome sight as I, turning round and round looked and saw planes close packed in every direction, wave after wave of them.

As children we all seemed to take everything in our stride. I find it hard to put into words how I felt, I think we as small children, standing safely on the side lines saw it more as a game played by adults, our side were the winners and they were the losers.

I find it difficult to write this piece, back then I thought with the feelings of a child and now I think with the feelings of an adult, the two thoughts seem to conflict.

I may end up re-writing this piece.

28 October 2003

Ullswater WW2 Note

I will now return to finish the latter years of WW2 and then our time up to 1948 when we left Ullswater to live at Kidside, Milnthorpe.

18 October 2003

Ullswater Secondary School Conclusion

I attended Penrith Secondary Modern for just over 3 years, possibly 3.5 years from the age of 11 until I was 14 then we moved to Kidside, Milnthorpe in the then county of Westmorland now amalgamated into the new county of Cumbria.

In the main I enjoyed my time at Penrith Secondary Modern. Although a very strict school and non-compromising of wrongdoers or laziness, in fact sometimes cruel in its strictness, it was my saviour. If after failing the 11+ examination I had continued at the 2 teacher Barton School the best I could have hoped for was a semi-skilled job without adult futher education.

Now I realize I was lucky that I was transfered to Penrith Secondary Modern. It was many years before I realized this. For much of the early years I used to envy those who attended Grammer School and their higher education. I used to think I was not bright enough having failed to pass the 11+, not bright enough for a Grammar education. As the years passed I slowly realized I was probably more than capable of a Grammer education.

17 October 2003

Ullswater Secondary School Our School

Our school was a one storey L shaped building and relatively new when I started there in the mid-forties. All classrooms had large full wall outside facing windows and was very modern for its time. Down one end of the L arm was a purpose built dining room big enough to hold both senior and junior pupils sitting down to a hot 2 course meal daily. This same dining room also quickly converted to an assembly hall.

The school's situation was on rising ground next door to Penrith Park containing the ruins of Kendal Castle. Down the road was Penrith Grammar School and just up the road was Penrith railway station. A nice edge of town location.

The only problem we had no playing fields or recreation area other than the tarsealed playgrounds front and rear, it was as if they had been forgotten in the design of the school, especially when I view our well endowed New Zealand schools. Attached also to the school was the garden where horticulture was taught.

This then comprised our school. Recently in 2000 almost 60 years later I returned to have a look at "our school". The spick and span new school I remember on my first day looked decidedly sad now after almost 60 years, as I walked in the gates the place was silent , no noisy chattering of boys at play or teachers voices echoing across the playground. I enquired of a nearby workman and he told me the building was a no longer a secondary school but used as over flow classrooms for the various educational facilities when needed.

5 October 2003

Ullswater Secondary School A Biology Story

Biology was a subject I enjoyed and when I think of Penrith Secondary Modern and Biology I always think of the day when the subject was environmental and the decline of insects thus leading to rarity and specialised habitats. The teacher... I forget his name now mentioned a rare water beetle found only in Ullswater now and my ears pricked up. Being a local rarity he used it as his example and drew it out on the blackboard in colour and giving the reasons for its rarity.

That weekend wandering along the shores of Ullswater with the water beetle in the back of my mind, I took along a jam-jar... who knows I might be lucky! I remembered the teacher's description of the beetles’ habitat and decided to try just passed Lowis's farm where the lake had a small pebbly bottom and no weed. I was lucky, there was no wind and the surface was like glass. As I moved along the shore edge I periodically got down on my stomach on the grassy edge and peered into the water. After a few tries my eye caught a movement and I thought it was a Caddis fly lava moving among the sand and pebbles, but it then came to the surface for air and realized it probably was a water beetle.

There are many water beetle species and they all need to come to the surface for a gulp of air. I moved to get a better look for I knew the beetle would surface again so I patiently waited. The water beetle surfaced again and I got a good look at him this time, I think my eyes must have bugged out, for it was just as the teacher had drawn it on the blackboard. I swiftly opened my bag and took out the jam jar with a cord round its neck and immersed the jar in the water near where the beetle disappeared in the pebbles. Again I waited and up came the beetle and as it rose to the surface I positioned the jar vertically and eased the jar beneath the beetle's upward path knowing it would descend more or less again vertically. The beetle after its gulp of air started its downward path and I gently adjusted the jar and, at the precise moment when the beetle was about 2 inches away I whipped the jar up-wards by its string and I had the beetle. I was an expert at this game for this is how we boys often caught the fast minnows and other aquatic life abundant in the lake.

I then gently popped sand and pebbles in the bottom of the jar and fastened on the top then returned home with my prize. I now just needed a few air holes in the lid.

Next Biology class I took the water beetle with me in my bag. The biggest problem was wedging the jar in an upright position, but I managed to get the jar to school with no spills from the air holes. I gave the specimen to the Biology teacher and to say he was flabbergasted would be an understatement, after his initial excitement and queries of the water beetle's source, he asked if he could keep the beetle, I had no hesitation in saying yes, for that was my intention all along, I knew he was deeply interested in Botany as a hobby and collected specimens which he sometimes brought to school to show us.

As I re-read this piece trying to correct the grammar I idly wonder if the Biology teacher used the specimen I gave him to show future classes and if he told the story how he obtained it. I like to think he did.

4 October 2003

Ullswater Secondary School Subjects

Well I hear you think, a dull piece to read, but there is a tale or two in places.

Miss. Browne took us for English and for the most part enjoyed it. I've mentioned poetry, which I came to like, and the lack of the classics. The syllabus was geared really for good written and spoken English with plenty of use of verb, adjectives, nouns and pronouns with adverbs and correct usage.

Sparse really by today’s standards but then differential calculus and the like was not needed then in most work except for scientific posts. We did not go much beyond fractions and the like. The form teacher taught maths to us in this area.

We were able to take as an extra subject of bookkeeping and shorthand. The bookkeeping was the basics only, 3-column bookkeeping and I applied to take this extra subject. I quite liked it, with its clean tidy layout. Shorthand was included in this part of the syllabus and I had to take this subject also. I didn’t like it very much and I was not very good at it either. I asked to drop this voluntary subject but the master taking these basic business studies was not too happy for me to drop this subject. He stressed the importance of it, if I went into an office environment but I was determined to drop shorthand. He relented but allowed me to continue with bookkeeping. The class was not very large 8 or 10 boys only.

Science, Biology Chemistry etc
These were lumped together and I found them interesting. We touched briefly on Chemistry but we had no labs. The teacher for this wide area majored in Biology I think, or at least it was his passion out of school. Demonstrations or experiments were brought to the classroom, written descriptions and notes were copied from the blackboard into our notebooks, the blackboard that almost covered the entire wall and was in a dull green... a colour thought to be good for the eyes in that era.

A tale or two to follow.

Well I've written of the history master. At this period of my life I found history at best dull, it seemed to be a continual jumble of dates and names and wars. Mainly I did well in history with the feared threat of punishment. I did at times get more than "3 red marks excluding the tick" and lined up in front of the class with the rest. I never really came to grips with history until my later years and an interest in Genealogy and from that my interest in history grew. I don't think the history master was the cause at all; I more inclined to think it was my makeup. I've always tended to be forward looking person, what is round the next corner, and even today I look forward to the new technologies to be discovered or waiting in the wings to be developed.

A different geography was taught in the 1940s than it is today. Geography was the British Colonies and the Commonwealth plus other major countries. We studied our own country of the time, the U.K. its landmass and its industry. I do not remember much of this subject nor how I liked the subject. I am certain I didn’t dislike it.

Woodwork was a core subject too; at most secondary modern schools it was woodwork or metallurgy. Our school it was woodwork, which I quite liked: the working with tools and constructing things. How to make and using dove tailed joints was the order of the day. I made a nice wooden tray but it had one dovetailed corner joint out of line so the tray had a gap at the bottom at one corner. But, I was still proud of my “master piece”! Planing the timber and getting everything straight with a set-square was the order of the day. We did not have to pay for our materials used in those days. In fact all materials for all subjects were free.

A story later.

Art, Physical Education, Horticulture
These were afterthought subjects. There was no gym, just the tar sealed schoolyard for PE. Yes, hotuculture was gardening, I didn't take it, probably i was taking something else.

I may redo this piece later. Doesn't seem to gel somehow

30 September 2003

Ullswater Poems 1

I sometimes wonder if these two poems helped me to choose my early life at sea. I am unable to pin point just when the initial desire to a want to travel started or indeed, even when I made up my mind.

I think the desire cumulated over time; the National Geographic magazines of Mrs. Nelson, the trophies they brought home from their trips abroad and the postcards she gave me. The John Masefield poem "Cargoes" used to send shivers down my spine, did the pictorial stamps I collected help me on my way? Who knows now? Did my desire to learn "radio" weld all my desires together and eventually to become a sea-going Radio Officer?

Anyway, here are another 2 of my favourite poems. 1st, my favouite of the two. Three verses, three different ages.


Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amethysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with salt caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rail, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship, and a star to steer her by ;
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sails shaking,
And the grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the sea again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied ;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the seagulls crying.

I must go down to the sea again,to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the winds like a whetted knife ;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow rover,
And a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long tricks over.

29 September 2003

Ullswater Poems of OldEric

The Daffodils.

Almost everyone is familiar with Wordsworth's famous poem whilst at school and have nostalgic feelings for its beautiful simplistic prose. I too have those same feelings for this beautifully simple poem, but for me it has an extra special significance. For I have walked and stood in the very same spot where Wordsworth stood and walked and I've seen those the self-same short stemmed wild daffodils. We lived on the opposite shore of Lake Ullswater to Wordsworth's daffodils.

Each year when the daffodils flower they take me back in mind to beautiful Ullswater, and then my heart too, with pleasure fills and dances with the daffodils. It is indeed, without doubt my favourite poem.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way.
They stretched in never ending line
Along the margin of a bay :
Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee :
A poet could not be but gay
Among such jocund company !
I gazed---and gazed---but little thought
What wealth to me the show had brought ;

When oft, upon my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude ;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Wordsworth wrote many poems prior to and after penning The Daffodils, about 30 in total, I believe, but none of his other works rose to the prominence of the simple "The Daffodils".

27 September 2003

Ullswater Secondary School Mr Baines

In 1946 and 12 years old we were now in Year 8. We now had a new Form master. His name was Mr Baines and he had not been long de-mobbed from the RAF. He was a large man both in height and breadth, he had sandy, curly hair and a sandy moustache.

From the start we liked him, he was an easygoing, humorous man, his favourite party trick was when there was repeated inattention in class by someone, was to pick up the long window opening pole, walk up the row of the offending boy with the pole horizontal, each boy in the row ducking until he reached the boy in question. At that point he stopped, held the pole still and bellowed the boys name. The offending boy would swing round or looked up and his head would hit the pole with a wack. All the boys thought this was hilarious and would roar with laughter.

Unfortunately Mr Baines had a down side in class. He had a short temper. When everything was going to plan Mr Baines was fun to be with but unfortunately this was not always the case. Most of the class escaped Mr Baines's wrath but the few laggards were his problem and he would, starting with raised voice increasing progressively to a bellow, I've told you before... do I have to repeat myself, Can I not get it through your thick skull, etc., etc. "Out here Bamber, Warwick, you too and we'll have you as well Ostle". "I'm going to tell you once more" he would bellow and he would proceed to explain in detail some point or other. "Repeat what I said, Bamber" and Henry would in all probability just stand and look dumb irrespective whether or not he knew the answer. Lol wouldn't know if it was Monday or Sunday and he would just stand looking terrified.

By this time Mr Baines's face would be brick red, even his ears and with sweat on his brow, breathing heavily, he would return his enemies to their seats.

Enviably, one day everything came to a head. Mr Baines completely lost his temper. Henry was out in front of the class facing Mr Baines with his usual stubborn attitude with Mr Baines bellowing in his usual way. Mr Baines took a deep breath, opened his mouth and as though lost for words, nothing came out, he was purple in the face. Mr Baines reached forward, lifted Henry up by his shirt and jacket front and flung him into the empty corner by the classroom door. Henry, a big boy for his age just sailed through the air. Mr Baines was very large and powerful.

All during this confrontation we sat wide-eyed and completely focused on this battle of wills and its outcome. I can still see Henry flying through the air. Mr Bains stood just staring at Henry in the corner saying nothing, doing nothing. Henry just lay there. After what seemed an age, Mr Baines seemed to come to his senses and in the silence of the room spoke and asked Henry if he was alright. Henry said "yes" and slowly got up on to his feet but did not move from the corner. Mr Baines quietly told Henry to return to his seat and again asked if anything hurt and Henry retorted with a "No". Mr Baines then walked to the classroom door, opened it and walked out closing the door behind him. We all just quietly sat and no one spoke, we were each in our thoughts. We were 12 years old and I think we were in shock.

Sometime later a relief teacher came to our classroom and told us quietly to open our books and read from the last exercise, Which we did.


Mr Baines did return to our classroom after a few days but he seemed different. Gone was his humorous ways and also gone was his short temper. He taught us quietly and probably efficiently, he still asked questions of us but there was no berating of any student.

A little later we learnt Mr Baines was leaving the school and under a cloud. Whether or not he was going to another post or not, no one seemed to know.

Sometime later we were going to woodwork classes. These were held outside of the school premises about 400 yards down the road. A late student came bursting in breathlessly with the news that Mr Baines was leaving today at 3 o'clock, it was just past 2 p.m. now. Henry at a nearby bench looked up and after a moments thought looked around for the woodwork teacher and saw he was in the back inside the wood store. Henry walked to the outside door and disappeared. Half an hour later Henry reappeared , the woodwork teacher looked at him and asked where he had been. Henry said simply "to say goodbye to Mr Bains" I think most of us was stunned including the woodwork teacher, for even he had heard of the classroom problems.

Later I asked Henry why he had gone to says his good byes to his foe and Henry said "I liked Mr. Baines, it was my fault he had to leave" and he left it at that. I thought awhile about his answer, andI left it at that, too.

In the following 2 school years I knew him Henry worked much better in class and he never mentioned Mr Baines as far as I can recollect. I've thought of Henry many times since and from the beginning I've never thought it was Henry's fault even for a moment. I too liked Mr Baines.

26 September 2003

Ullswater Secondary School Discipline 2

Of all the teaching staff at Penrith Secondary Modern, I can bring only 2 names to mind, and one was the Headmaster, Mr. Peake. Of the other 2 schools I attended during my education, I can remember their names clearly.

Back to Mr. Peake, He was a short man with glasses who stood very straight; he had a short crew cut hairstyle that also stood up very straight. He expected discipline in his school and left his staff to enforce it. Which they did. We did not see too much of him except as an occasional relief teacher.

There was only 1 female teacher on the staff and her name was Miss Browne. As the History Master ruled by the cane, Miss Browne ruled by her personality. Before she arrived at the school, the grape vine went into full swing. She was 21... she was straight from training college... she was very pretty, ... would she measure up? Miss Browne arrived and was viewed by many curious boys and I think, probably staff alike.

Miss Browne was very pretty and she did look young, even to us. She was a little taller than average and slim; she had a short pageboy hairstyle that curled up at the ends.

It seemed strange to have a young female teacher before us in class. The day of the first lesson went very smoothly and, although I don't remember now I think we were probably warned to be on our best behaviour in class with Miss Browne. As the days and weeks progressed when Miss Browne taught us most if not all of us enjoyed her lesson. Everyone behaved himself and as the weeks progressed, we all were attentive in class. She never raised her voice; she didn't need to, most of the class tried and took more notice in class.

As I look backwoods I can see Miss Browne and our class and I realise now why we tried harder than usual. For everyone was in love with the earnest Miss Browne. She was so earnest, she never castigated anyone making them look foolish, boys who never raised their hands to a general question started to raise their hands, even Henry. A retort to a wrong answer was "good try, Henry, but not quite", with a smile. The threat of punishment was removed when Miss Browne taught, the cane a vague memory, lines or detention were a distant memory. She always prefaced her remarks to an answered question with a complement irrespective whether the answer was right or wrong. The boys like Lol who never answered questions, Miss Browne would address directly. Lol would look around dumbly searching for words which never seem to come and she would patiently explain to Lol dropping a little hint on the way and the answer would rise slowly to Lol's lips and the answer would pop out, much to Lol's astonishment and ours too! And, Lol would grin with pleasure when she complemented him, a red-letter day for him. How she could be so patient day after day with so many dunderheads I don't know. As I pen this piece I wonder now if she was able to maintain her earnest sunny nature as the years rolled away and as I ponder I have a suspicion she did, for I now realize Miss Browne saw the good in everyone waiting to get out.

Miss Browne will be an old lady now of circa 80 years but I still picture her as that earnest 21 year old who arrived at our school and made an impression on so many of us both teachers and boys, even Henry. If a rarity like Miss Browne comes your way consider yourself privileged

20 September 2003

Ullswater: Penrith Secondary Modern: Discipline.

Discipline at Penrith Secondary Modern was very strict, even for the 1940s. The cane was the order of the day and used frequently for both mis-endeavours' and class work mistakes. The most feared master was the History Master, he was a tall man of perhaps 45 with dark straight hair parted one side and plastered down to his scalp. He would come into class always the same, schoolbooks under one arm and his cane under the other. The moment he entered the classroom door silence reigned in class and the drop of a pin would sound loud, he would stand for a moment looking round the class and the put the schoolbooks and cane down on his desk, still not uttering a word. The whole class would sit with eyes riveted on him. He would then walk across to the wall blackboard, turn round and face the class and his first words would delegate a boy to distribute the class work books. Returning to his desk all boys still silent, with eyes still glued to the history master they sat waiting for the dreaded same words "Please open your books to the last exercise. All boys with more than 3 red marks on the last exercise......excluding the tick, come out here". Always the same words. A group of perhaps 8 to 10 boys would slowly rise and form a line, backs to the blackboard. He would silently eye each boy, whilst toying with his cane lying across the his desk. He knew how many boys should be in the line as he counted them slowly. Picking up his cane he would approach the first boy.

"How many red marks, excluding the tick, Bamber?" he would say. "5 sir" said Henry holding out his hand.
Whack, whack, whack. Still a deathly silence as Henry walked slowly back to his seat. The next boy the same and so on down the line of boys. The history Master never raised his voice or altered its tone, each word was spoken slowly and precisely, always the same words, his movements always in the same order. I would say today each boy could repeat like a litany each word and movement, it never varied. I think that was what each of us dreaded most was this never varying ritual; we knew each step of the process. I also think each boy tried and worked to his utmost, hoping to breath a sigh of relief when he opened his workbook and counting the red marks minus the tick.

Every boy in the History class had at one time or another, had felt the History Master's cane across his hand, some much more than others. Even I had felt his cane, at least twice.
The only thing I cannot remember is his name. I remember his dress, his voice, his manner, his expressions, and his slight smile as he looked directly at me sometimes when he boarded our morning bus at the outskirts Tirrell.

Reminder to me: may put in the broken cane incident later.

Ullswater: Secondary School Friends.
I soon made friends with my new classmates, we were a mixture of town boys and boys from the outlying villages surrounding Penrith. As country boys we were all strangers to one another and we were at Penrith Secondary Modern because we were 11+ failures in want of an improved education. The town boys were known to each other. We were all 11 years old and the year was 1945.

Standing , probably looking a little forlorn in the schoolyard one day during my first week, a large boy from my class standing nearby spoke to me. I soon learnt he was from Penrith and had come up through the school and I, I suppose told him my story. Anyway, from that day on we became firm friends and his name was Henry Bamber. He had 2 other friends Jeff, his cousin, and Lol, short for Laurence. As Henry was big and solid, Jeff was small, thin and weedy; Lol was short and stocky. All 4 of us got on well together.

Within a short time of arriving at Penrith Secondary Modern I began to catch up in my subjects. I revelled in all this new knowledge, which helped me to move steadily up the class levels until eventually I was topping the class with my marks. This was not such a big achievement as it seems. Enthusiasm helped of course but what helped also was the fact many students were in classes under sufferance with no interest in education and after being weeded out by the 11+ exams the previous year some were not very capable in the learning stakes either.

My 3 friends fell into this "little interest in learning" category but that didn't spoil our friendship. I don't think it bothered them at all, even if they did notice. Sticking up a hand in class in response to a question, my hand was invariably not chosen, I kept my profile low. Henry was often in trouble with his class work, he just didn't care. Jeff and Lol also but they were unable to master their subject.

Lol and Jeff were also often in trouble in the schoolyard, Jeff often argumentative with others and Lol prey for bullies. Quiet Henry would step in only if things got out of hand with either one of them. If the problem persisted it then became Henry's problem and not too many boys dared to cross Henry. Looking back now Henry had a strict sense of fair play.

Henry and I were firm friends for over 3 years until we left we moved from Ullswater to Milnthorpe in 1948. We stayed at each other’s houses at long weekends and holidays. I introduced him to the world fells, farm and lake and he in turn showed me all the delights of a town life.

19 September 2003

Ullswater Secondary School Introduction

Year 6, and my last year in Primary School was an important year. It was the year of the 11+examination, the examination that dictated the educational path we would follow in Year 7 on wards. If you passed the 11+ exams you went on to higher education at Grammar School in the nearest town and if you failed the 11+ you continued with low-level secondary education usually at your present school.

I failed the 11+ examination and it seemed I was doomed to continue on at Barton School and end up with only a barely, basic education. Through discussion with others my parents were advised to send me to the Secondary Modern School located in the nearby town of Penrith. A much better school than Barton School with numerous staff teaching the secondary students unlike Barton School with only 1 teacher to cover all the secondary students.

I now could bike to Pooley Bridge village in the mornings and then catch the bus into Penrith. My parents also learnt at this time that no one from Barton School usually passed the 11+. Pupils from Pooley Bridge usually went, when old enough at 8 or 9 to Yanwath School a few miles up the road towards Penrith, on the bus. At this time, my brother John also attending Barton School was transferred to Yanwath School and better teaching. When the time of his 11+ exams came around some 3 or 4 years later, I'm glad to say, he passed with flying colours.

A whole new world of education was opened up to me at Penrith Secondary Modern. Over the next year or two I began to realised  how much improved this new school was, in respect to Barton School. It still a lower educational standard than a Grammar school. Maths levels stopped before algebra and trigonometry. A good standard of written English was taught but the level stopped short of reading the Classics. Poetry came into English also and to a surprisingly good standard. It was here I developed a love of poetry, but that is another story for later. Bookkeeping and basic business subjects were taught. Science, Biology and Botany were all combined and taught to a reasonable standard. History and Geography were taught to what I think even now to a good level. The sole practical subject taught was Woodwork. Sport was practically non-existent, I don't know why.

Boys about to enter year 6 were streamed into 2 separate classes, those with a good chance of passing the 11+ examination and those with a lesser chance. My friend Peter Embley, a year behind me was in the "rejects". The accelerated learning class almost always got 100% pass rate in the 11+ exams and some in the "rejects” were late bloomers and scraped through the 11+.

Discipline is the next story and is worth reading.