Archive for September, 2014

image22sIt was now late summer and we were still on school holiday. One day, Mum and Dad said they had a surprise for us. Mum told us that we were going to Porthcawl, our nearest seaside, for a day. It was to be our reward for helping Dad in the allotment. Dad said that we would go when Lil had her next day off. A few days later we all set off for the railway station. There were nine of us, Dad, Mum, Lil, Mary, Kath, George, Brian, Alwyn and myself. We had to walk the mile to the railway station, as there was only enough money for the train fares. Mum pushed the push chair with my two younger brothers in it, and the sandwiches and drinks Mum and Lil had prepared early that morning.

untitledtrainOn arriving at the railway station, Mum bought the tickets and we boarded the train for Porthcawl. I was quite disappointed when we arrived as there was no sign of the sea. We walked past some shops, and in the distance we could see a big wheel and other fairground rides. This we learnt later was Coney Beach Pleasure Park. All the rides were covered up because of the war. Then at last we could see the sea.

We just stood and stared in wonder at the view. It was the first time I had seen the sea. It looked a lovely green colour with the sun shining on it, and the waves rolling in were a frothy white. I thought it was soap suds at first, but Mum explained it was the force of the water turning over. thQUR0S2O9Only a small part of the beach was open to the public at that time, and in the near future this was to be closed as well, so we were very lucky to have that day. We spent the whole day playing on the beach and paddling in the sea. The sandwiches and drinks quickly disappeared, and soon it was time to pack our belongings and make our way home.

As we walked away, I looked back at the sea and sand, and thought I would remember this day forever.


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Dad had not had time to look after his allotment while looking after Mum and Mrs Morris. However, we had been watering it for him and pulling out all the weeds, and as a result the crops in the allotment were a great success. There was enough for our needs, and some left over to sell to the village shop. Dad could not carry all the produce himself, especially the potatoes as they were heavy, so he made a cart out of two planks of wood and three wheels, and a rope was tied to the front wheels to guide it.

thM0WA7Wlane5XOur job was to push the cart to the village with the vegetables and fruit on it, take it to the shop, and then bring back the money to Dad. Over the next week, Dad dug the vegetables and we picked the soft fruit. Then everything had to be weighed and packed. At first this caused a problem as we did not own any scales. Mum managed to borrow some from Mrs Williams, our next door neighbour. They were old-fashioned scales, made in the shape of a metal ‘S’. You had to hold one end of them in one hand and attach the fruit or vegetables to be weighed to the other.

On Saturday morning Dad packed all the vegetables at the bottom of the cart, with the soft fruits on the top. He then tied a rope across to hold them steady. Dad said that it would need three of us to go with the cart, one to push, one to guide from the front and one to hold everything on.

Our first delivery of fruit was a bit of a disaster. My sister Mary was pushing and Kath was guiding the cart, while I had to make sure that everything was secure. Dad had to help us manoeuvre the cart down the lane to the main road. The lane was the only access for farm vehicles to the house, and it was full of ruts and very uneven. I could hardly manage to hold all the produce on as it kept moving from side to side. Once we reached the pavement it was a lot easier. We waved goodbye to Dad, and set off for the village.  We started off in good spirits, and at first it seemed like an adventure.  Then the sun began to get very hot, and pushing the cart made us quite tired.220px-Patates

Berries_(USDA_ARS)Every so often we would have to stop to make the load secure as all the movement made the rope loose. I was getting very thirsty and the thought of all that juicy fruit so near was a big temptation. Mary and Kath decided we would have a rest, so we sat down on a grassy mound by the road side. I do not know who started to eat the fruit first, but soon we were helping ourselves to strawberries, gooseberries and black and redcurrants, paying no heed as to how it would affect the weight.

Then, when we reached the village we had a mishap with the potatoes. Our route took us past the colliery, which had high metal gates across the entrance. On the other side of the gates, the road sloped down to the mine. It was just as we were passing the gates that the potato bags burst open, and we watched in utter horror as our precious potatoes rolled everywhere – including into the mine entrance beyond the locked gates. The only ones we could pick up were on our side of the gates. All the rest we had to leave, as there was no way of getting into the colliery. I often wonder what the miners thought when they saw all those potatoes scattered everywhere on their way into work.th41QWXBJminerP

At last we reached the shop. We carried the bags in, trying to hold the split ones together. Mr Thomas began to weigh the produce. He said that he could not make out what each bag was supposed to weigh. My sisters and I looked at one another, but we all kept quiet. Mr Thomas weighed all the fruit and potatoes, and paid us for the total amount. Obviously this was less than Dad was expecting, as there was now less produce.

We left Mr Thomas feeling quite pleased with ourselves, and looked forward to handing the money to Mum and Dad. Mary was holding the envelope with the money, and a receipt for the amount we had delivered. However, on reaching home we soon realised there was going to be trouble. Dad counted the money, and then gave the receipt to Mum to look over. When Mum said that we had delivered more than Mr Thomas had paid for, Dad started to get angry. He said to Mum: “Bloody cheek, trying to cheat me out of money. I’m going to have a few words with Mr Thomas.”

imagesBNWT3AYVThe three of us looked at each other, knowing that we would have to own up that we had eaten some of the fruit, and lost quite a lot of the potatoes. When we confessed that it was our fault the money was short, Dad turned his anger on us. He shouted at us that we were greedy and dishonest, and we were sent to bed without any tea or supper. When we made other deliveries that summer, we made sure that we delivered the full weight to Mr Thomas.

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