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It's hard to believe that those halcyon days of endless summer spent on the Norfolk Broads are the best part of a lifetime ago. I sit in my armchair and gaze into the garden, rain making patterns on the French windows, grey clouds scurrying across the distant horizon. I have reached an age where I need a list to remind me to buy milk and bread when I go shopping. A small device in my pocket the likes of which once seemed beyond science fiction reminds me of the correct day to visit the Doctor and renew my various prescriptions and once in a while allows a family no longer nearby to check up on me. A call to see if it's worth spending a stamp on a Christmas Card or whether it's more prudent to invest in dry cleaning their funeral outfits.

For all my great age and frailty I can still close my eyes and recall the names and faces of those days in Norfolk, recall them as if they were only yesterday. The man on the radio plays a tune, it's “Tracks Of My Years” time, I like that. It reminds me it's time to think about lunch. The intro sounds familiar and as the band begin playing I recognise the song we danced to so many times on those sultry evenings on Pakefield Beach, dancing, swimming and sitting around the driftwood fire, it's flames glowing blue green as the salt coloured them. They were carefree days, days of wonder and enlightenment. Everything was possible, everything an adventure, but I let that adventure die before I realised how magical it really was.

Summer holidays were the one luxury our family enjoyed. Every year the money was scraped together somehow for our two weeks in Norfolk and Suffolk. Times were hard back then. We didn't think of ourselves as poor, in fact both my parents worked and we were better off than many in our local community but still there was “not much to spare” as my mother often said. She worked in the hosiery factory at the top of the street, my father was a carpenter. They paid the mortgage, sometimes with the aid of ten bob from a helpful grandparent, put food on the table and provided us with clothes, which sometimes fitted. We had no car, in fact in our whole street their was only one car, the scary man at the top of the road who worked at the bank. The street was for playing football and cricket, undisturbed by traffic. We did however have a television, and that too was one of very few in the street. Father's brother was a television engineer, remember them? Try explaining to the youth of today that when your TV broke down a man came and fixed it, or occasionally took it away in the back of his van if the repair was too involved, for it's return to be eagerly awaited like the delivery of a new baby in the family. Our TV was one which it's previous owner had given up having repaired but which Uncle Bill had pulled back from the brink of oblivion. It was black and white, of course, and it had buttons to switch between 405 and 625 lines depending on which channel you wanted to watch. There were three, can you imagine finding something worth watching with just three channels? To change the channel you had to twist the dial, little pieces of stamp paper marking the approximate location of each station. I was the remote control.... “lad, put BBC2 on” my father would say.

During school holidays kids were left at home. That was the way. There would be somebody “on duty”, somewhere in the street. A non working mother maybe, or an older sibling. “If you need anything knock at Mrs Morris's” mum would say on her way out to work. I don't think it was ever said, but it was understood that you only disturbed mum at work if it was really serious. In truth we were not really “home alone” as we would be out playing all day. It seems almost unimaginable today, but kids played together outdoors back in those days. Half the things we got up to would probably have snowflakes from Social Services banging at the door nowadays. We climbed trees, built dens, made fires to bake potatoes on and if someone had got a ball we spent the afternoon in the park. Children of different ages played together, can you believe that, but there was a pecking order. The older kids decided what to do and the younger ones were allowed to tag along.

Of course the school holiday we all awaited most eagerly was Summer. Nine weeks of freedom. Almost long enough to forget your teacher's name. Being factory workers my parents both had set holidays, when the works would stop and most of the county boarded a bus (our railway line having fallen victim to Dr. Beeching's axe) for Skegness. But for us, it was a car, hired, borrowed but never quite stolen and the A47 eastward

East to Oulton Broad …….

 

to be continued …..

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I do remember the television engineer coming out. We had a tv from Radio Rentals. It would take forever to warm up

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I remember the conversion from 405 to 625 lines, a man came around to change the old TV, if memory serves me correctly you had to book an appointment because the engineers were changing loads all over in our area. BB2 started on 21st April 1964 and started the colour service on 1st July 1967.

Regards 

Alan

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Lovely way with words.. I share many of those memories and look forward to your next installment :1311_thumbsup_tone2:

Our earliest TV always responded well to a non technical impact adjustment :default_biggrin:

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Great tale but I think you have stolen my youth!

The only thing missing is playing with lego bricks trying to delay going to bed.

paul

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I can remember the massive excitement in the house when dad installed this on the tv

 

IMG_0982.JPG

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Oh Wow and wow again, taleteller.

I have liked your post - Obviously - but wanted to click the 'thank you' icon too but couldn't, So, Thank you. :default_icon_bowdown:

Your monica 'taleteller' is absolutely spot on.  We have missed not having someone of your talent in here for ages now.  So Welcome to the NBN.  Well chuffed to have you onboard, and you must keep it up now you have whetted our appetites.

Your first instalment could have so easily been my childhood years exactly, (I was born in 1960) only as well as a black and white TV my Mum and Dad did have a family car and not many did in our village, kindly bought for us by an aged Aunt as way of welcoming the first born to my Mum and Dad - Me (I had a still born older brother).

Great first instalment - More please,    :default_beerchug:

Griff

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Welcome to the forum Taleteller. Wonderful start to your tale. This is when I need to be able to click "Love" rather than just "Like".

You've certainly painted a picture and set the scene.

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Travelling any distance took planning. It wasn't like it is now. I can get in my car today and be anywhere on the Broads in around three hours and a single tank of fuel completes the 360 mile round trip twice. If I don't have enough fuel I'll pass at least six filling stations in the first ten miles or so from home. In the early 70's we didn't pass that many garages on the whole journey, and they opened “office” hours. Saturday morning if you were lucky, never on a Sunday. A full tank would just get us to Oulton Broad with enough leeway. Three hours was a pipe dream, the journey took six on a good day, on a bad one it could take eight. There were no “improvements” on the A47 in those days. No dual carriageways, no crawler lanes, no straightened sections. The climb up Rutland's Wardley Hill could be murderous. Lorries laden with coal and gravel from the mines and quarries of Leicestershire could make no more than walking pace up the narrow, serpentine three mile ascent. The road passed through every town and village on the route, bypass was a word still alien to our language. Every village had it's crossroads, towns had traffic lights. Travelling was stop start, stop start. There were motorways, the M1 had opened some years earlier but mother would never use it and no motorway went anywhere near Norfolk. At least some things never change.

For us, the adventure began on Friday afternoon. It was straight home from school and into the back of the car. The first car I remember was a brand new Ford Escort 1100L 2 door saloon, hired from our local Ford dealership and nicknamed “Silver Fox” after it's paint colour. Two adults in the front, three kids in the back and a rather portly and often flatulent dog in the back window. A boot full of everything but the kitchen sink and a roof rack on top with father's vast array of fishing tackle. All that and the grand total of 40 horsepower. Even when you found a bit of “open road” progress was never rapid. I often wondered if mother, who was the driver in our family, father never learned, was grateful to those lorries on Wardley Hill as I doubt we could have gone much quicker if they were not there!

The first point of note on the journey, for me at least was Peterborough. Dad's parents came from Rutland and he had family across the county and through Northamptonshire and so we visited those places quite regularly. Mum would borrow her sister's Mk I Cortina to take dad fishing with a visit to his parents afterwards. Many a Saturday afternoon was spent at the tea table in Nana's dining room watching the Wrestling on World Of Sport on their second, yes second TV. The one in the lounge was even colour! Peterborough was different though. We never came this far other than this one time each year when we were going on holiday. This was the start of foreign territory. Exotic began here.

The next place of interest was the small village of Thorney and fish and chips for supper. Well a bag of chips between the three of us kids anyway, I told you times were hard. A bottle of Corona Limeade washed them down, that being dad's favourite. We would wait until the pop was gone so dad could return the bottle and get the thruppence back on the empty before resuming our travels eastward.

The reason for our Friday departure was the content of the roof rack, the fishing tackle. Dad would never pass a river, lake, pond or even muddy ditch without wondering what he could catch from it. He was a keen angler, more than keen even. He was an international match angler, fishing alongside the likes of Ivan Marks and Roy Marlow in an era when the top anglers didn't need make up, lights or sound engineers. One of the many clubs or associations he belonged to held fishing rights on the Rivers Welland and Great Ouse and the drains of the Middle Level so once we reached Wisbech we turned off the A47 and followed the A1101 through the pretty village of Outwell and to our destination for the night, Salter's Lode. Dad's aim was always to be set up and ready to fish before darkness fell and would fish through the night with the aid of his faithful “tilley” lamp.

I was a great disappointment to my father. After two daughters he was delighted to finally have a son to share his passion for fishing and shooting but that wasn't the way I was wired. He would drag me along the bank and show me how he was setting up, how he was going to fish and what, hopefully, he was going to catch. I watched with feigned interest but mercifully was considered too young to spend all night on the river bank and so for me it was back to the car to bed down for what sleep we might manage. Mother would have the thermos out and tea made, all the good things in life seemed to be accompanied by a thermos flask. Meanwhile my sisters would walk the dog along the riverbank allowing for his night time ablutions.

And so to “bed” dear reader. My eldest sister would claim the passenger seat due to the hierarchy of age leaving me and “middle sister” to fight over the rear bench seat. We always had pillows and blankets in the car so we could get reasonably comfortable. We watched the deepening black of the sky as sleep came slowly to us.

And then the dog farted.

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Loving this story. Cant wait for the next episode:)

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Brilliant and fantastically written.

I got to the end of the first paragraph, first post and was welling up.

So much of what you write strikes a chord, as I'm pretty sure it does with others. My Dad would takes us to Cornwall, but the feelings were the same.

Looking forward to reading more.

Thanks

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Just shows that nowadays people do not have the same sense of "adventure" and certainly don't know how to "enjoy" it !

Thanks for bringing back a lot of memories

Jeff

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Before the next instalment I should like to congratulate those who have made it this far. If you stick around a little longer then I promise that my Hinge and Bracketesque "random jottings" will begin to encompass the Norfolk Broads, especially Oulton Broad and the Waveney Valley as seen through the eyes of a schoolboy. I'm writing this as I go along, and although it's all in my head somewhere, finding certain bits of it takes a little longer than it once did. Please forgive me if the interlude between instalments is sometimes a little longer than would be polite. If you are expecting a new edition of Swallows and Amazons then accept my apologies now and return to your daily life before I cheat you of time irrecoverable. Our adventures were, in hindsight somewhat more mundane. There will be no mysterious castings off to investigate, no tales of derring-do as we attempt to evade the attentions of hullabaloos, though, as you will see, Arthur Ransome had a big influence upon us.

I woke early this morning, as I always do, if you  can call it waking. Sleep is a luxury mostly denied to me now. Days are punctuated by brief periods of restless recumberance, itself perforated by nocturnal wanderings between bedroom and bathroom. Titter not, you will find out what I mean one day.

My early rising did however afford me a glorious sunrise this morning. Firstly, as I always do, I checked that I was still breathing, I consider that my main goal in life. Each day that I can "tick that box" is one more minor victory. Another night successfully negotiated. Was it Edgar Allan Poe who said "Sleep, those little slices of death. How I loathe them? There would be little for him to loathe in my nightly routine. Last night was clear and crisp, very crisp in fact. The garden was icy this morning, shining bright silver in the half light which all too briefly perforates night and day. Standing in the sack yard on top of the old "coal hole" puffing away on the "e-cig" gadget which some years ago replaced the Woodbines I stood and watched the first promise of the day to come as the sun rose between the two plane trees at the bottom of the orchard. It was quite a Stonehenge moment. It was about then that I decided to pen this minor interlude. Originally it was my plan simply to divest myself of each episode as and when they became available, inflicting them upon an unsuspecting world through the vessel of your wonderful site, without comment or explanation. This morning I changed my mind. I do that a lot just lately.

So at this point I would issue a word of warning. Some of what I write, if not much of it really happened. "The stories are real, the people are real", oh golly, too much daytime TV me thinks. To that end the names have been changed, what do they say, to protect the innocent? On this occasion it's perhaps more a case of protecting the guilty, but either way changed they have been. I have watched this site for many years, awaiting the moment when it seemed germane to dump this diatribe upon you all and I am aware that there are those amongst us who will know the area and the time, and perhaps some of the people in my story. One or two here I may well have met during the period covered. I would ask that if anything thing, or anyone seems familiar then ignore that familiarity and just go with the story. It will all make sense in the end.

Sense? Who am I kidding, but stick around, nonetheless.

Finally I should like to issue two apologies. Firstly for the somewhat coarse manner in which I ended the previous episode. A vulgar and unpleasant word however you didn't know the dog. No more polite descriptor adequately portrays the vehemence of the flatulent pyrotechnics of which that animal was capable. And secondly? Please excuse any errors of logography, my grammar and spelling are not what they might be. Occasionally I may invent word which doesn't, but which in my head should exist, hopefully it's meaning will be clear by the context in which it sits. All my life I have been a little dysexlic, though I try not to let it show.

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It's a genuine pleasure to read your posts, I have a suspicion that you could write a shopping list that we would enjoy given your way with words :default_beerchug:

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All that and a fellow Ransome lover, what's more to want.

I can attest to a similar upbringing, the winter we moved house and had to burn the whole line of conifers down the side of the house as we couldn't get a coal supplier. The ice patterns on the inside of the bedroom windows.

We didn't have a car, my dad worked for British rail so we had privelidge tickets and a number of free tickets, so we travelled by train, and car ferry,

we had no telly, so it was book reading and listening to the radio.

Holidays as such were rare, one trip to Scotland, and a night ferry to Holland, sleeping on the boat, stick out in my mind. 

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My dad was railway too, GWR as was, privilege tickets took us far and wide too :12_slight_smile:

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So, you think you need to apologise for using the word 'fart' do you?

Have you seen the Jokes section?  or some  of the posts that our more shall I say 'Cheeky' members put up for general consumption? (No names mentioned but they / we are in the majority I would ascertain)

We are generally a thick skinned bunch in here so you 'fart' away :default_rolleyes: (In the written sense you understand) as much as you feel the need :default_norty:

Griff

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More please taleteller, you will no doubt have realised that many of us are of an age to appreciate the era to which you relate so don’t hold back! Out of interest, what sort of dog was the f****r?

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47 minutes ago, vanessan said:

Out of interest, what sort of dog was the f****r?

'Air' dale?

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Don't know your age, taleteller, but if you had a dual standard tv, I must be older than you! Great storytelling, bringing back so many happy (and some sad) memories. Please continue.

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