I remember when we moved to Larkfield/New Hythe. I must have been about six. Actually it all began one evening when a man knocked on the door and said we were to have a new house. Personal service meant something then! On removal day my two stepbrothers and I were put into the seat next to the driver and told not to touch anything or move. I was terrified, hardly dared breathe in case we set off down the hill and into the river.
We arrived at the house which was large and modern (for those days at least. Flower beds and lawn at the front and even a birdbath. Inside loos (two of them) and a bathroom. Roomy kitchen and washing room by the back door. With a COPPER! Don’t suppose any knows what that is now. Not one of the boys in blue but a copper boiler complete with a copper stick.
I had been ill so started school at six. We had great respect for the teachers, the cane and the ruler being much in evidence. Cane for the boys, ruler for the girls, although the only time I was punished that way it was a slap on the leg.
On the way to school we would meet the cows going down to pasture on their own! They were (to me anyway) enormous and scary as they wandered all over the road and up on the banks. And when we were going home, there they were again going back up to the farm. On one visit my grandmother was almost knocked over by a cow running down the banks beside the road.
But I can say we had a privileged childhood. The disused sand pit was up for sale and it was decided that the families would raise money to buy it for the children of the village. And they did! Often pennies at a time. And we had our own paradise, trees, a sandpit, blackberries to pick and wildflowers which we tried to sell door to door – very unsuccessfully!
Now there is a fitness centre there for people to get fit indoors. All very tidy, but a little sad.
When we were a little older we could go to the woods near Lunsford. In the spring bluebells everywhere and in the autumn hazelnuts, as many as we could carry. Now buried deep under the housing estate.
Every Friday the fish and chips van arrived and in summer, Black smoke belching from its chimney, two rival ice cream vans, Walls and Beach Parlour and on one glorious occasion (for us) they actually came to blows.
Gwyneth Rees Groves Norée