Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Those unforgettable days of summer

MY father was a keen gardener, or at least an energetic one.

I’m not sure how much he actually enjoyed it but it was a question of necessity.

When I was a kid he would spend every Sunday, especially when the weather was fine, as did most of the men in the Anning Road in the 1950s, toiling in our 60-feet long stretch of garden at the back of the house with every nook and cranny cultivated. 

We lived off the back of his labours, as all families did in our road as food rationing came to an end. There was never any need to buy vegetables, fruit was in abundance and we even kept our own chickens, although I distinctly remember my father struggling with the slaughtering of our Sunday lunch. 

We never went hungry, a day never past without a nutritious hot meal on the table. And there were tons of treats -  fresh strawberries during the season, homemade cakes and biscuits and my mum’s speciality - nubbies (rock cakes).

I remember those Sundays like it was yesterday.  There was always a lot of laughs, the men sharing family gossip while swigging from bottles of cider in those heatwave summers. We kids would run from house to house, “Two Way Family Favourites” would blare out from the radio. There would be great excitement if someone from Lyme, a soldier serving in Cyprus or some other hot-spot, got a mention.

I still live in that house today. Apart from a few greenhouse tomatoes, we don’t grow any fruit and veg. Both gardens, front and back have long been grassed over. 

I’m no gardener, although my wife Jackie is and spends hours making that same strip of land my dad sweated over every Sunday look nice for the visitors who stay in our garden flat in the summertime.

Occasionally, I help out by cutting the lawns, keeping the garden furniture smart and religiously getting the barbecue out of the shed and making sure there’s enough gas in the bottle for the family barbecues that are invariably washed out.

Today it’s bitter cold outside but there are signs that spring is on its way. The evenings are drawing out and there are some small signs in the garden that warmer days are just around the corner. 

Soon the daffodils, my favourite flower, will be out in abundance. When we were kids we used to cycle over to Wootton, pick baskets of wild daffodils and sell bunches of them around the estate for threepence.

Sometimes I sit in my garden and dream of those carefree days 55 years ago. I can see my dad sweating away in his vest, digging potatoes, picking carrots and chasing chickens. 
There’s still the occasional whiff of roast beef but not from our house. We never eat at lunchtimes, always in the evening. 

Back in 1955 we never had lunch; it was dinner and tea. We had little but we wanted for nothing either.

Happy days -  gone but not forgotten.

Year book for 2012 will be out soon

A RECORD of life in Lyme in 2012 - an unforgettable year - will be soon be hitting the bookshops.

For the past two years we have produced a Year Book chronicling the events that have been reported in the View from Lyme Regis in what was generally considered to be one of the busiest periods in recent history.

As Francesca does most of the reporting in Lyme these days, she is busily putting the pages together and the publication will soon go on sale.

It will record all the events that made 2012 such a special year for Lyme with the Jubilee and Olympics and feature all those who made the news and were  featured in our columns.

With the Year Books for 2010 and 2011, it will form part of the modern day history of Lyme.


SOME readers have enquired why I don’t include “Event Of The Week” in every column, as used to be the case.

There’s a simple answer to that: frequently there are weeks now that I don’t attend an event in Lyme.

Since the View from series became a part of the Tindle Newspaper Group in April of last year, I have a greater management load with responsibility for producing 15 weekly newspapers across the region.

I also write quite a bit of editorial for our East Devon papers and recently the group launched a new weekly in the city of Gloucester which is edited and produced at our Lyme office. 

So a greater burden has fallen on Francesca to attend most Lyme events and edit the Lyme edition.

But I did manage to get along to Lyme Regis Pantomime Society’s production of “Dick Whittington And His Cat” last week and thoroughly enjoyed the show.

Now I’m the first to admit that panto is not everyone’s cup of tea. And as very few of our reporters relish covering such productions, particularly out in the villages where the humour is, now how shall I put this without causing offence, a little agricultural, I seem to end up doing more than my fair share. 

So by the time I got to the Marine Theatre last Thursday I was a bit pantoed out. But I always like seeing my hometown panto and the best thing about it is watching youngsters treading the boards for the first time.

At Lyme you always know you will see a professional portrayal from Tina Paveley in the principal boy role - and there’s usually one or two who also catch the eye.

This year Gemma Hatton (nee Rattenbury) was the undoubted star of the show in her dame role, showing impeccable timing and great comic delivery.

Take a bow also 17-year-old Melissa Denslow, who was making her debut in the principal girl role playing opposite Tina Paveley from whom she will have learnt much.

And well done to Kathy Smith for putting it all together in her joint role of producer/director, possibly the youngest in the area, almost always with a smile on her face!

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