Wednesday, 3 December 2008


Squirrel's Leap! A fenced off field on the edge of Cricket Camp.

I am wallowing in it right now. That's what comes of doing research into Victorian times - it begins to seem as real as the present. I seem to be stuck on a loop from where I grew up in Southampton - in the 1881 census the road I lived on wasn't even there. A few cottages up at Thornhill were called "Thornhill Cottage" and only one of those can I remember from my childhood, the one along the Roman Road - I daresay the others were flattened before the council estate and high-rise flats were built. I remember it vividly because I used to walk my dogs up there on a Sunday morning, and once Tara, oblivious to my shouts, shot into the garden there and killed a big rat! Whilst I was apologising for her bad behaviour, the owners were pleased she'd killed the rat! Sometimes we went further and over to Cricket Camp - where as children, Glynnis and I used to ride on Snowy, an elderly Section A pony who lived at the Snooks' smallholding. Visiting this summer, Cricket Camp was orderly and pathed and fenced and Council-organized, but a good place to walk and ride along by the River Hamble. The Snooks wooden "bungalow" - there were plenty of them around built between the wars - was long gone, and a totally out-of-place "des res" sat on the plot, and it was now an "equestrian holding" as estate agents are wont to describe them. No longer somewhere with a productive orchard, chickens for eggs, a big veg plot to supply the family and the rest sold locally - often "out front" with an honesty box.

So on my walk today, my thoughts will be of childhood, of a way of life which would seem Dickensian to children today, as they have no notion of growing up BEFORE everyone had cars, at the end of the horse-drawn era, where shops had delivery rounds still, milk was delivered by horse and cart (Brown and Harrison's Dairy), the rag and bone man still drove round with his odd call, driving a scruffy little chestnut cob with lots of white splashes, called Suzy; and the didakois (as we knew them then) drove up to old Queenie's wooden "bungalow" opposite our house, and put their bad-tempered dock-tailed mare Mandy in the yard at the back. Lord knows what they did to their horses, but they had two that would attack people on sight - I often wondered how on earth they caught them (well, Mandy was tethered) but Bill . . . thank heavens for the Safety Tree in the orchard or we'd have been pushing up daisies long since . . . I am smiling - they were such happy carefree times, and we had such freedom . . .


LBP said...

I have enjoyed taking some time to catch up on your blog! I love traveling with you in your photos, they are so lovely.

I do remember the milkman (but he was in a truck).



Mam said...

I love your reminiscing. It's kind of funny, but I got some old classic literature at the library today - felt in the mood for Dickensian time. I'll be reading the Old Curiosity Shop! I have reserved "A Christmas Carol". I guess I was a bit late. There are 17 copies of it in the system and all are out with 4 people on waiting lists. I want to read it to the kids. They only know the Looney Toons version! Sheesh! And I love reading aloud to them!
I still envy you your surroundings. It's just a joy to live vicariously through you and your wanderings.
Hope all is well with you and yours. Love, Nancy