My very first memory is coming home from the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford after having appendicitis with peritonitis. I remember riding in a car with a very long bonnet. I can't remember who was driving, but I have always thought it was Mr Harris.
Then there was the row of elm trees which ran from the allotment gate, opposite Patch Riding, down to the top of the new play area by the School, which at that time was the school garden. I loved playing under the elm trees and climbing them, much to the concern of a Great Aunty who lived at the end of Patch Riding. The house is now long gone. One rather amusing tale was that when the war started there were aeroplanes very high up and Aunty made us get under the trees in case they dropped bombs on us. So for just a while the elms were friendly, no longer a danger to us — as the old proverb says: "Elm Hateth Man and Waiteth"— because it drops branches without warning. Every November we used to have a bonfire which was supervised by Nurse Trinder, who lived in Patch Riding, next door to my Great Aunty and Uncle, and Nurse Trinder made very sure we did not get too close to the fire. Of course from 1939 there were no more bonfires, so I suppose the last fire was in 1938.
I was born in one of the Waterloo Cottages in the High Street, next door to the Miss Hutt’s, who always remembered my birthday. My parents later moved from High Street into an old thatched cottage, just below Patch Riding, with very wide walls and a big walk in larder. The apple tree in the garden is still there and grew some of the sweetest apples I ever tasted. Just over the garden wall was a long narrow field which went with Finstock House. Mr Trinder and Mr. Davidson used to have an allotment there, but the rest was kept for Mr and Mrs Fellows, who lived in Finstock House. I remember Sid Pratley ploughing this field and he would sing as he ploughed. He sang, "Oh, I wonder, yes I wonder, will the Angels way up yonder, will the Angels play their harps for me, 10,000 miles I've travelled and a million sights I’ve seen, and now I’m ready for the field". Mike Breakell is the only other person I have met who knows this song. After Sid had finished ploughing he would take me with him to stable the horses. He would put me up on Bonnie and if they turned the horses out on Finstock Heath, he would let me ride all the way up, but he always led the mare. But if Sid's brother Fred took the horses up to the Heath, he would let me ride without leading and I would think I was really grown up!