In 1939 I was evacuated to Littleport (2 billets) in Cambridgeshire and then to Ely, and in 1942 to Dawlish in South Devon.
Excerpt from my memoir Woman in a White Coat ‘Operation Pied Piper’, the plan for the evacuation of children from areas likely to be bombed, was in place long before WW2 was declared. People in safe areas with spare bedrooms were urged to take in evacuees. They would be paid 10/6d for the first child and 8/6d for subsequent children. Nearly a million children were evacuated on Friday September 1st 1939. Trains were taken over, and London railway stations were packed with children.
Parents had been given a list of clothing to pack. Girls needed 1 spare vest, 1 pair of knickers, 1 petticoat, 1 slip, 1 blouse, 1 cardigan, a coat or Mackintosh, nightwear, a comb, towel, soap, face-cloth, boots or shoes and plimsolls. We were also to take food for the train journey: sandwiches, packets of nuts and seedless raisins, dry biscuits, barley sugar, an apple and an orange.
I was seven, nearly eight and my sister, Hannah, was thirteen. Hannah hadn’t yet started at her grammar school, so she came with me to my school. She carried the cardboard suitcase we shared. Our gas masks in their square brown boxes hung on a tape around our necks, and we had labels tied through our buttonholes with our name and evacuee number printed in large letters. Our teachers marched us to Liverpool Street station and onto the train to Littleport. Some mothers and a few fathers came to the school with their children. Hannah and I were alone.
‘I don’t need to go with you,’ my mother said. ‘You’re old enough to go on your own. I’ve put a stamped and addressed postcard in your case. Mind you send me your address as soon as you’re settled.’
No kiss goodbye. Nothing.
One of Colin Fulcher’s beautiful designs for the bags of our John Dobbie toyshop.
I tried Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages so many times when I was writing Woman in a White Coat but always gave up after a few days. Writing a blog is different. it’s addictive. I wake in the night thinking of things to put in next day. I wake early, make myself a cup of coffee in my fancy Eileen Bodum cafetière and make my preparations for dinner – if it’s my turn to cook. If there’s less cooking to do in the evening I find I have more appetite for an evening meal I’ve cooked myself. I turn on my computer, look at my emails, check my account and with great pleasure click on my blog. Not a chore. A pleasure!!
Monday Bank Holiday. I love cooking – find it really relaxing. I cook Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and Joshua cooks the other days. it’s not as unfair as it sound because we quite often eat out on Saturday night. .Our son, Simon, is coming to dinner tomorrow and will stay the night. Our main course will be pastitsada – a Greek stew with tomatoes, cloves and cinnamon. The recipe used lamb but i find it a bit strong and will use beef with new potatoes and broccoli. As a desert i will make an easy favourite plum tray bake. Both Waitrose recipes that always work – not like some of the recipes in newspapers!
Be careful who you chose as your mentor. I put up with one for 8 painful months. At the end I had a handful of chapters with so many minute nit-picking corrections my manuscripts looked as if a spider had crawled over them – or worse. It stopped me writing for a whole year – and of course there was no refund!
A card I made for Jane – at least I bought the card with a cut-out apple and filled in it with layers of folded Japanese origami paper. I but the cut-out cards when I see them and have used cut out boats, hot air balloons and a football for the children and grandchildren.
The view from the ninth floor is stunning. It stretches from the London Eye in the East to the MI6 building in the West. In front of me is a cityscape of grey rooftops. Most of the buildings are still dark but a few lighted windows show that some people are already at work. The flags on the Houses of Parliament flap in the breeze and the long sharp leaves on our dwarf palm tree rustle. At this time of day the pods on the London Eye are still empty of people. In the far distance red warning lights on the tallest buildings and cranes look like a constellation of red stars. A lone airplane roars overhead on its way to Heathrow Airport and there is already a steady hum of traffic along Horseferry Road. Big Ben’s face is lit up. I hear it toll the hour.
This mallard landed on the balcony of our 9th floor flat. It was on the outside so I used Photoshop to move it to the inside. I looked up duck feet on the web as they were on the other side of the railing and couldn’t be seen. The head and body worked quite well but unfortunately I put its feet on back to front.
Knitted this tribute to Vivienne Westwood so long ago, I don’t remember how I did it all. Machine knitting was one of the many classes I went to after I retired besides writing. Over the years I went to art history, drawing. painting, cooking, dressmaking, music theory. piano. Spanish, Basque, philosophy and more.
I made a couple of jumpers on my knitting machine but mainly knitted lengths of knitting using pure wool. I then felted it in the washing machine and used the fabric to make myself and my partner fleeces that were light but very warm. I sold my knitting machines some years ago and don’t miss them. The clothes you make yourself seem to last forever. You wish they would wear out so you could buy new ones. Now I mainly use my sewing machines for repairs but recently I did make a complete new set of cushion covers for out living room .
Started over with my blog Saturday May 2nd 2015. My bowl is half full because I’ve finally finished my memoir Woman in a White Coat 96k words. the half waiting to be filled is the reply from my excellent mentor Stephanie Hale of the Oxford Consultancy to my new ending.