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My Days – Chapter Two

Donington on Bain was about two miles from where we used to live. When we could, Grace and I used to walk to Stenigot to see our friends for quite a long time. But as time went on, we all took on jobs at home to help out as dad wasn’t in good health. Mum had to go out to work as well as working on the farm. Sid had to help out a lot at night after school. Grace and I had to clean the house on Saturday, and Sid chopped all the wood for the week. The school at Donington was just down the lane where we lived so we hadn’t far to go.

Dad loved children, and the field belonging to our farm had a big hill in it. In snowy weather – we did get snow then and it froze for weeks – the snow was up to the hedge-tops and we used to walk on it. Dad used to make sledges for us and we’d be out at night. All the village children used to come. Dad put lanterns on the hilltops so we could see. We did have fun. During playtimes at school, we’d go up to the field and sometimes went back into school wet. We had fun.

Mum used to make all her own bread, cakes and big currant loaves every week, and lovely egg custards as we had plenty of milk with having cows. Emily, our sister, moved from Withern Farm and worked at the Rectory at Donington on Bain for Rev Higgins. She always used to come home on her push bike the night mum had done her baking and took a goodie bag away with her. Mum used to say, “Here comes Emily!”

Some weekends, Grace and I used to go to Emily on a Saturday night and sleep over. We loved it because there was a nice bathroom and we made the most of it. Emily used to wash our hair to save mum the job. We could both sit on it, it was that long. Grace’s was light brown and mine black.  Mum used to put it in rags on Saturday night and we had ringlets on Sunday with a big bow of ribbon. The village people used to think it looked nice.

Images above:

Left – The Sunday School outing to Mablethorpe.  I’m sixth from the right on the front row, between Grace and Sid, with mum and dad behind us.

Right – Benniworth Haven, near Donington on Bain.     

 

We had to go to church on the Sunday morning, to Sunday school in the afternoon and then to church again at night. No village children ever thought of doing anything else.

In the afternoon we could go for a walk, all us friends together. We used to go to a nice wood called Benniworth Haven. It was a lovely place, covered in bluebells. In the summer, the boy scouts used to come and camp there. Of course, we used to go then and sit round the campfire. We had some lovely times.

When the farm harvested corn and hay, we had a field up Station Road. Dad had a reaper, and Grace and Sid used to go and help tie the corn sheaves and stand them up ready for dad and another man to lead them off with the horse and dray. We used to have rides back to the field with the other children. We had great fun.

When dad and the men were busy in the fields, mum used to pack up sandwiches and cans of tea, and we would all sit near the corn we’d tied up and tuck in. It was great. We loved it, and us village children used to play hide and seek around the field. They were great days. Dad used to love to have the village children around him and they loved him too. We hadn’t a lot, but we made our own fun, and had to work too.

Mum used to clean the church and the church hall and get it ready for whist-drives and dances. Mum and dad used to go, and a man and woman from the village used to come and look after us because it was early morning when they came home. I was only six and I didn’t like it, but with mum looking after the hall she had to go.

Dad had asthma and it made him very ill at times. It got worse and he had to give the farm up. We sold the farm and moved to a house down the road, more in the village. It was awful at first but we got used to it.

Sid and Grace were getting older. Sid left school and went to live with some very nice people, the Burkes, back in Stenigot. He looked after the hunting horses and used to ride too. He also drove the car and used to look smart.

When Grace left school, she went to work at Woodhall Spa in private service as a housemaid where Evelyn was working. They called the lady and gent Dr and Lady Boyce. It was at the health baths in the big house near the Kinema in the Woods. Grace then left and went to work at Skendleby Hall near Spilsby. She was married from there, and the lady of the house gave her the reception. I was bridesmaid. The chap was called Cyril Harsley. They went to live on a farm at Huttoft near Sutton on Sea where he was a shepherd. That’s where Grace’s daughter was born. She had her at home and had an awful time. Grace was only small like me and Joan, her daughter, was ten pounds at birth.

We all left school at 14. Grace left in the afternoon and was at work that night in Woodhall Spa. I wanted to go out to earn some money but had to stay at home to help mum and dad. When we sold the farm, mum made one of the rooms in the new house into a shop, and sold fruit, sweets and ice cream. We used to make our own ice cream. I’ve stood and churned it for ages.

Mum had one part of the shop for selling fish and chips. We fried on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The fish used to come on the train from Grimsby. Dad had a horse and cart so he used to go and fetch it from the station. Mum and I had to fillet it and get the chips cut ready. We had a chipper, but it was hard. I used to get boyfriends in to help. I used to go round the village in the morning to see if the older people wanted any, and later I used to take it round to them. I didn’t mind as I had my boyfriends to help. I rode on their bike steps.

 

Images above:

Left – Grace and Cyril.

Right – Nora.       

 

Our sister Nora used to come for a holiday. She was a lovely girl. We loved it when she was home. She was so full of life. She was in service at Mablethorpe, looking after a family’s children, but she was taken ill and went to live at Nottingham with a nice couple with a little girl and boy. Then she was taken very ill and was rushed into hospital. They thought she had appendicitis, but it was consumption. She went into Nottingham Isolation Hospital where she died at 23-years of age, breaking our hearts. She was so lovely. She had a boyfriend at Donington on Bain where we lived and it sent him out of his mind. George Turner never looked up again. He was very nice and he only lived up the road from us. They had a farm, his folks.

Dad took the horse and cart to Louth Market every Wednesday with vegetables, eggs, flowers and all sorts to sell on the stalls to the village people. I went with him sometimes. I used to enjoy riding on the cart.

We had an uncle and aunt living at a little place called Worlaby.  We used to go on Sundays sometimes. We had to start early but it was the only way of getting there. It was real country, just a little farm. Dad used to put a seat at the back of the cart for us children, with one of us between mum and dad. It was a real day out. There were straw stacks in the farmyard and we met up with all the other children. We had a great time. Those were the days. You don’t forget them in a hurry. We had lovely childhood days, but we had to help with the work.