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.