AUTUMN MATTERS - CONTINUED 

Within a fortnight, I was back again at the Midland Hotel, Bourne-mouth, with my other bridge group of eight, where Viv, the nurses’ tutor and Steve, the ex-Southsea Bridge Club captain, assumed control of the bridge sessions.    In the quiet room, which Steve had commandeered while the remainder ate refreshments, meant they could relax when he returned and reported ‘mission accomplished’.

With avid bridge players like these two, there was no time for coach trips.   We played 24 hands of Chicago in each session, so that having played two on Friday, also two on Saturday and one on Sunday morning, we had played 120 hands before we left to return home.

Viv made certain that we were plied with hot drinks and our organiser awarded prizes for the winner of each session.   No bridge holiday could have equalled that intensive weekend break, playing bridge.   Each night Viv cudgelled me to partner her on the dance floor, before retiring to bed.   I rather surprised myself, apart from my arm that I nearly had pulled out of its socket, doing the jive.   I still remained on my feet until the end of the dancing session.     

The next weekend, Andrew and some of his family had planned to come and stay for the weekend, with the object of Peter, the eldest son, visiting the Portsmouth University for an interview for his application to take up studies there.     He had applied for a degree course in International Business Management.   This subject came as a surprise, as he had been hooked on a professional football career.    I thought that he was looking further ahead - to when his playing days had come to an end.    The outcome of that interview was that he had to achieve a specified number of A levels to be accepted.  

Should Peter obtain his necessary A levels and take up his studies in Portsmouth and the remainder of the Rayment’s offspring did likewise, it would demonstrate to the fish world that it was not only their kind who returned to their spawning ground.

In my younger days, I could not recall joining in with my sister on any activities.   Girls did their own thing, and boys did theirs.    Not so in Andrew’s family.   Elisabeth did paper rounds as well as her brothers, and would be seen together in social groups, whenever I had stayed at Shrewsbury.

It was interesting to note that Peter stayed at Joy’s digs during the weekend, while Andrew and Linda were at Wigan Crescent.   On the second day, Saturday, Joy and Peter joined us for the one hot meal I always promised them.   I served up spaghetti bolognese, consisting of minced meat, tinned chopped tomatoes, flavoured with Oxo cubes.   This meal was a bit of a let-down after the half Christmas turkey I had served up the previous time they had come.    It was my custom to have a medium sized turkey at Christmas for Harry and myself, after it had been sawn in half - one half was kept in the freezer for the joining of the clans occasion.

In the lounge after the meal, a storm blew up between Joy and Peter.   They were loud enough for my next-door neighbours to hear.    It was obvious that Joy had a grievance and was letting Peter know in no uncertain manner.   There is nothing to match a female’s fury, when she is wound up.   Their parents tried to quell this outburst between brother and sister, but all this did was to remove the contestants into the hall, where all went quiet eventually.    It was difficult to understand the cause of Joy’s outrage, which I had never seen or heard before.   

Linda agreed to put me in the picture after they had returned to Joy’s digs in Jessie Road, Milton, where Dad would have to pick up Peter the next morning, complete with his sleeping bag.    Linda had learned from Joy that Peter had been bored when they were at a party where the boys had outnumbered the girls.   He insisted on returning to Joy’s digs before the party was over.    Reluctantly, the keys to the flat had been handed over to him.

Joy and her flatmate had arrived back at her digs in the early hours of the morning, not expecting to get no response when knocking, banging and kicking on the front door.    Their problem was to gain entrance without the keys that Peter had, and he could not hear them, as he had gone into a deep sleep.    At two-o clock turned in the morning, they thought that they could be mistaken for cat burglars if they attempted to climb the drain pipes.

They had to assume the role of safe breakers, if they were to break in at all.   With the knowledge that several complaints had been made to their landlord that there was too much play with the door movement in the locked position, Joy’s friend brought a coat hanger from the car.    Using the metal wire hook, after several efforts, she was able to withdraw the bolt.     On gaining entrance and seeking out Peter, Joy refused to tell her mother the details of what they had said when they woke Peter up.   Just as well, for I am sure it would not be repeatable in decent company.   Their residence was no doubt typical of many run-down terraces, with which landlords exploited the large population of university students in Portsmouth.     Peter would have more than one thing to remember for a long time after he returned to Shrewsbury.  

Andrew duly picked up Peter at Joy’s address, not at 9 o clock, Sunday morning, but at 12 o clock, for their return journey home to Shrewsbury.     There had been a technical hitch at Joy’s end - could this be that someone had overslept?

I had received a phone call before tea time from Andrew, informing me that they had arrived home safely after that journey of around 200 miles in no more than three hours.   This I could well believe, and I was glad that I was not in his car!

I had Bowbrick, the builder, to revamp my crazy paving that I laid in the front garden, soon after Ella arrived.    Weeds were growing between the broken slabs as a result of my inferior pointing.   This took longer than expected for father and son, Peter, to clean the joints before repointing.   In a way, I was quite pleased with this proof that my mortar mix was a good one, even if my application of the mortar had been sub-standard.    There had been no need to relay any of the slabs, which was proof that I had used a spirit level, as was the case with crazy paving, when I first constructed the patio at the rear of the house.

My next-door neighbour, Bill Dungate, was most impressed with George and his son’s efforts, that he approached them for an estimate to construct a crazy-paved front garden, using Portland stone as compared to the broken concrete slabs I had obtained from Portsmouth City Council.    Not only was this scheme attractive to look at, but also removed work in cutting the front lawn, which Bill regarded as the main reason for having the crazy paving.

Additional work that I had done was to have the cracked concrete doorsteps faced with Dorset stone and to have a rectangular section in the front drive inlaid with this matching stone.   This latter task enhanced the front entrance, and masked the crack, which gave the appearance that the foundations were failing.    My plan of the house and grounds, supplied by the County Planning Office, showed a Roman way going through the drive in the past.   I could now claim that the Romans had left their visiting card, with the presence of this rectangular mosaic. 

Still making use of George and Peter, I had them repair and clean out the fish pond, close to the patio in the back garden.     The Japanese Koi and several goldfish had great difficulty in surviving the hot late-summer spell.    They had adapted to the pond I had constructed from the period of Ella’s garden reconstruction programme, over ten years ago.    Apart from the fantail fish, each of the others appeared to be fighting for breath.   I could always rely on the Koi to be first at the feeding point, to receive his breakfast of cereals and Tetra sticks, putting his jaws out of the water and winking his eyes as much as to say, “Alan, get on with it, and throw some sticks down!”

By the time George and Peter were available to clean the pond out, all the fish had died, except four, one by one giving up the ghost and laying flat on the surface of the pond.   They had almost become members of the family, and were always introduced to our visitors.      I was told that I did not have enough plants growing in the water to aerate the pond.    I made a note of these finer points of maintaining a fish-pond for the future, when I would restock the pond, in the Spring of next year.

Pets, be they dogs, cats or even fish in the garden pond can become great friends to those who live on their own.   Each morning my lively and friendly fish never failed to greet me with their tails whisking about and jaws ajar, ready to swallow the breakfast cereals I had brought them.   

I had the winter months to learn to be completely on my own, apart from the few fish who would remain at the bottom of the pond during the cold weather, and could seemingly do without the cereals until the spring.

However, although on my own, I could sit in the conservatory and gaze upon the back garden with its variety of evergreen shrubs, which were acquired from Keydales for under 10 as a job lot, nearly ten years ago.    It could be claimed that they had now blossomed out into their mature state of a variety of green shades and shapes.   The exception to this was the blue spruce, which was a contrast to the evergreens and had pride of place in the centre of the lawn.   It resembled a monkey tree, and had grown to a height of ten feet.    Round the base were low-growing green shrubs, which formed a skirt around the base of the spruce tree.

There was a recent addition to the garden layout, which was drawing attraction away from the spruce centre-piece.   This was a shrub called ‘California Glory’, but known in the gardening world as ‘Fremonton-odendron’.   I first spotted this attractive climber grown yellow, poppy-shaped flowers at Willerton, when visiting Barbara at Dunster.   I bought one to grace her garden and within two years it had to be trimmed back.  This had proved to be so in my case, for I had it close to the conservatory adjoining the dividing wall, and did not want it to shield the light from my next-door neighbour’s garden. 

A clematis had been planted close to it, with the object that being a Montana, a type that blossoms on last year’s growth and therefore is not cut back in the autumn, it would smother the California shrub and stint its growth.     The outcome of that marriage of those two plants and shrubs was that I had a cluster of yellow and pink flowers as if they were on the same plant.     Both thrived in their joint union and were about 11 feet tall, so I had to resort to a surgical operation by using a saw, but failed to cut off the top of the main stem, completely due to lack of access.    The top of this hybrid of plant and shrub now leaned forward into the garden, away from my next door’s garden.

Vying for the main attraction in the Spring was the Indian Temple.  It consisted of ten feet tall clothes line posts, forming a triangle, situated to the rear of the garage.    The Montana clematis planted alongside each post had been trained to form a roof and had linked to the garage roof.    I had constructed a seat against the rear wall of the garage, which I alleged was my hiding place from my former wives.    The Indian Temple was now used to share my silent thoughts of yesterday.

It was the attraction of the garden that made me put on ice the thoughts of moving into sheltered accommodation.   I also heard from my stroke patients that they could hear other residents’ television sets, both from above and alongside, late at night.     When told of the loss of the independent aspects of living in one’s own home, I was thankful I did not place my ‘castle’ on the market, which I was nearly talked into within days of becoming a widower.

However, I was giving more thought to this possibility as I became less mobile, with my joints locking up, combined with arthritis pains in the hands and legs.   I felt listless, and told all my friends I had become a zombie.   Playing bowls required that I had to sit down after reaching each end.    My big fear was that I should fall over when stepping down onto the green.

There had been a number of cases where bowlers had fallen over the balls on the green and broken their hips, due to the hard artificial green surface.     On one occasion, after stepping down onto the green, I tripped over a ball and fell into the ditch.  Fortunately, there were no broken bones, but this was warning shot across the bow.   I had no alternative but to retire from the game.

It did not help my morale when I told Viv, one of my nurse tutors, who I taught bridge on a Wednesday night, when she replied, “What can you expect at your age?”    I ignored her comment for having a warped sense of humour, knowing she lectured to nurses on the subject of old age!

I had almost given up gardening and had difficulty in holding a knife to prepare food for cooking.   There were other failings, such as not being able to get out of the bath or be able to use the shower over the bath, for fear of falling.   These were all matters that I spoke to my family doctor about, claiming that they were side effects of the implants I had been given.

Dr Pearson was not prepared to take me off the Zoladex treatment, since the analysis of my blood had shown that my cancerous prostrate gland condition had been reduced to a safe level.    Knowing that I was due to see the Consultant in a few weeks’ time, he told me to mention all these possible side-effects to him.   In the meantime, he would instruct an occupational nurse to inspect my home for fitting of hand grips, especially in the bathroom.

The following week, this nurse called, and approved all the necessary hand grips to be fitted.  Again, I comment that the citizens in this area had first class hospitals, local health centres and social services.   It is certain that without them, I would not have been able to keep going at home, for they also provided me with Tanya, my domiciliary support, the seven and a half stone bunch of sticks.

I was going to be 81 and Pat, my fairy princess, who was my literature mentor, had promised that she would invite me to her home on my birthday for tea.  She behaved towards me as if I was her Dad, who lived in Australia.    Her husband, Nigel, was also in Australia, making bids for airports on behalf of syndicates.

I had to carry out a reconnaissance of the fairy glen, hidden on the outskirts of Hambledon, for it would have been a tragedy to make a faux pas of this invitation.   As it was my custom to endeavour to kill two birds with one stone, I also called on Stan Cadman, my former joint boss, who was the Manager of the Drawing Office, and who shared the Head of Management Resources with me.   Stan lived at Denmead, close to Hambledon, where I had visited Stan and Dorothy, his wife, on several occasions.    I had been eternally grateful to Stan for his part in arranging with management that, at the age of 60, I be based in the top management scene with special responsibility for the utilisation of Professional Technology Officers.   This post enabled me to maintain my visits to the Compass Laboratory at Slough, where I had a very good relationship with the management and technical staff.    

Of all my different classes of work, I obtained the most job satisfaction carrying out a variety of management tasks given to me during the five years at work there - such as producing the Establishment’s Annual Report.

Stan, although younger than myself, had retired before me, and both he and Dorothy were in poor health, compounded with the task of caring for Dorothy’s sister, who had been in a poor state of health for many years.   Dorothy suffered from osteoporosis, causing her to be hunch-backed, which prevented her from playing bowls for Denmead Bowling Club, which Stan had taken a leading role in forming, in a similar role to that of Bill Yeoman at Bedhampton Bowling Club.

When I called on them, I was greeted with smiles, with Dorothy doing most of the talking, while Stan got on with the washing-up.   Dorothy told me about Stan’s back trouble and his hearing problems, but was pleased to learn that the Social Services could fit hearing aids in the house, such as the Sarabec loop system.   

Stan and I reminisced, bringing a smile or two from Stan, particularly when I showed him the ‘Stan Cadman Collection of Odes’ that he had penned about myself.   I was very moved when Dorothy joined us at the doorway on my departure, and said, “We shall always remember you!”   Perhaps it was Stan’s retirement occasion, almost 20 years ago that lived in their memories, and which Stan had expressed in his ode, “And So My Work Endeth”.    This is in Volume One, Part Four, Chapter Two ‘Retirement Brings Sorry - 1980’, Page 254.   I left them looking cross-eyed on asking them if they had seen a fairy glen in the direction of Hambledon.

It had been my privilege to stage that retirement dinner in the staff canteen, where the director, Colin Fielding, had been present.   I regarded this occasion as an opportunity to play Stan a personal tribute for making my last ten years at work the most satisfying and enjoyable of my working life.    I too, would always remember the Cadman’s!  

I had little knowledge of Hambledon, other than that the hunt turned out there in the Christmas festive season, which suggested that there were some wealthy people in the area.   Pat had given me her address, and referred to her abode as a ‘converted barn’.     Perhaps there were other fairies in the hay loft, under her thatched roof.   Needless to state, I found no such thatched roof with fairies, in their hive, secluded in the hay loft.   After motoring a few miles past the village and noting several large dwellings set back from the narrow road to Clanfield, I spotted her address at the entrance drive to one of these dwellings, without a thatched roof.   It could have been mistaken for a very large greenhouse which one might see at Kew Gardens.     I returned home with thoughts of the contrast in Pat’s daily life, leaving and returning to the quiet countryside, after a day’s work sorting out the public problems of a major hospital.    My curiosity and appetite increased the nearer I approached my birthday party and the glass barn house.

I saw my Consultant, Mr Solomon, the Registrar acting for Mr Walmsley on 20th November, who regarded the treatment, Zoladex as being very effective for containing the cancerous prostrate gland state.  He took a great deal of notice when I outlined the side effects from the Zoladex three-monthly implant.   He advised me to stay on this treatment for the present, with the possibility that he would change the treatment on my next visit in three month’s time.   This was a disappointment, as I was convinced that the implants were the cause of my listless condition.    However, I was impressed with Mr Solomon’s interest in my remarks concerning my water-works and arthritis, and he told me he would tackle these later.

It looked as if Wallace Arnold had a new man at the helm, going through the weekend breaks and removing most of my favourite trips to places such as the Evans Hotel, Llandudno and the Goldthorn Hotel, Wolverhampton.   This had caused my affection to be shifted to the Bournemouth scene for weekend breaks.

One of my favourite breaks, however, was retained, and when I went to book it through Lunn Poly, all the girls greeted me with smiles.  Had I been ill, they all wanted to know, as they had missed my business of seven breaks at the weekends during the previous year.

In booking this break to Harrogate, I ensured that Wilma and Bob Wilson, a former colleague, would be pleased to see me.   This new man, whoever he was at the helm, had changed the Harrogate hotel from the Cairn to the Russell, a much smaller one, I was to find out, which smacked of an economy drive.

I departed on the pick-up coach from Havant Bus Station at the usual time of 7 am on Friday 8th November and I was disappointed not to have Tony at the driving wheel, to watch his behaviour pattern with whiffs of smoking at each stopping point.    I should not see his customary hug which he received from the marshalling lady on arriving at South Mimms service station on the M25.

Again, there had been a change made to the place of dismount at the interchange, and we were instructed to assemble at our departure point, where our coach would contain our luggage to take us to our final destination.

This change of modus-operandi, of transferring passengers’ luggage from the pick up coaches to the destination coaches by the Wallace Arnold staff, took this chore away from the passengers.    I was sure that the regular 90 year old from Brighton on these breaks, whom I had seen once more, would welcome this change.

I was one of the many eager passengers waiting to be given permission to enter the marshalling area.   Once it was given, I soon spotted my coach, labelled ‘Harrogate’ out of 20 or more all lined up in a military fashion.    I took up my station on the coach, on the near-side a few seats back, where I could observe the driver and the on-coming traffic.   I got a great deal of pleasure from being driven and watching the driver, how he handled the traffic situation.    From the many trips I had taken with Wallace Arnold there was usually a high density of traffic on all major roads, with the greatest on the M25 and the spaghetti junction in the Midlands.   What a pity that the railways could not hive off the lorry traffic, which appeared to dominate the road traffic.   Perhaps one day, all traffic will come to a grinding halt, if car ownership continues to grow!

Also, where I was seated, I could observe the names of places we were approaching and know when we were approaching our final destination as was the case when I spotted the Yorkshire cities such as Sheffield, and later Leeds on that trip to Harrogate.   It was dark as we entered Harrogate, but the bright lights along the roads made a fairy-land scene.

I had not forgotten that I had a date with Wilma, who had agreed to join me at our Russell Hotel, for the evening meal.   Fortunately, our driver, gave us a debriefing on what to expect at the hotel and details of the excursion to the Herriot country on the morrow.    In contrast to the Cairn Hotel, where I stayed and dined with Wilma and had the head waiter place flowers on the table for Wilma last year.  Now the coach party were allocated to the Russell Hotel.   This was a family run hotel, which had a much lower tone in comparison to the Cairn, and had flowers been arranged to be placed on our table, it would not have had the same aura without a head waiter doing the presentation.

Wilma, my former bridge partner, who I first met in Kingston Prison, playing bridge on a Friday night against the inmates, was as charming as ever, with her frilly red hair.    Although estranged from John, her husband, who lived in Wales and was still involved with his rare books business, Wilma continued to look after his financial affairs.   

It was obvious that there would not be any development in our relationship, other than remaining good friends.    She was deeply involved with Harrogate Bridge Club, having held the chairmanship and other official posts.    Most lady bridge players have a circle of bridge players going away as a bridge party, or playing in each others’ houses, as did Wilma.  

We said our farewells after the meal; who could know what the future had in store for both of us.   It was obvious that Wilma was enjoying life to the full and there was little doubt that she would ever give up her independence.

After her departure, with this hotel having no form of entertainment, not even bingo, I spent the evening strolling around the Valley Gardens and the town and conference centres.    My thoughts were mainly on what I might expect when I visited Bob’s residence in the heart of the North Yorkshire Dales.

The last time I had seen my friend, Bob Wilson, was at his home in Whitley, Surrey, where he was having an at-home reception for his friends.    Our friendship developed from playing hockey in the same team at Teddington, when we were both working at the Admiralty Research Laboratory Establishment.   We also played in the same cricket team, where I joined the Brook Nomads, which Bob captained and Ana, his wife, prepared the teas.  

Since those days, Bob had chaired international meetings throughout the world on behalf of the Minister of the Environment.     This prestigious function had in no way changed his Yorkshire down to earth attitude, and I knew that he would have lots of nostalgia, combined with his latest retirement venture, to talk about.

The following morning after breakfast, our coach appeared outside the Russell Hotel ready to take the Wallace Arnold passengers on the excursion to the Herriot Country.     Likewise, I was pleased to note that my host for the day had also arrived, waiting for me alongside the Valley Gardens.    We exchanged a few pleasantries with Bob geared up to show me the beauty of Wensleydale and to give me a commentary on some of the interesting features in his part of the locality that he and Ana had chosen for their retirement.

As we headed for Ripon, I could not refrain from drawing Bob’s attention to Harrogate’s glass fronted conference centre and how it spoiled the Victorian character of this famous spa town.    My personal courier pointed out the distinct appearance of Wensleydale’s rich upper-dale pastures, rising to high fells and then opening out onto the gentle open landscape.   He pointed out the River Ure that we were following, which gave rise to Wensleydale being known as ‘the Waterfall Valley’.

It was very noticeable that Bob was keen to extol the virtues of living at Caperby, not only for the scenic green countryside, but for the many market towns to visit, such as Leyburn on Fridays.    He mentioned several local castles of interest.

At Wensleydale, the Middleham Castle can be visited, where Richard III spent his childhood days, enjoying the view from its massive 12th Century keep.   Another castle, from the 14th Century, close to his residence, which Bob liked to think was his neighbour’s property, was the Bolton Castle, where visitors could see the Basement Dungeon and its 100ft high battlement.

Shortly after leaving Leyburn and turning left on reaching the A684, we finally reached the B6160 junction, where Bob’s estate and a few houses were cosseted amidst the green countryside.   His ranch-type dwelling consisted of several bedrooms en suite, where it was hoped they would accommodate future bed and breakfast clients.   Before entering, I thanked Bob for his conducted tour of the Northern Dale and told him I could understand them returning to the county of their birth.

Bob gave me another tour around his several-acre ground, while Ana finished preparing our cooked meal, no doubt a practice meal for when she would start her bed and breakfast business in earnest.   Bob set aside some of his land for planting rare trees from abroad, while he had been on international conference work.    These had been in seed form, which he had managed to cultivate.     He showed me a ditch, dug by a local workman, to act as drainage, to prevent flooding of his dwelling, due to a rise in the ground at the back of the house.    There was much husbandry to keep him busy in his retirement and I doubted that he would have a great deal of time to give to his consultancy business, with the foreign government contacts that he had referred to from time to time.

After I had enjoyed a delightful meal with wine, we sat around a log fire, where I listened to how they had integrated into the activities of village life.    Bob was involved with carpet bowls and singing in the village church choir, whilst Ana had a weekly get-together with wives in the village, one of whom did bed and breakfast and promised to send any she could not cope with round to Ana.   Already, Ana had Americans staying with them and had received letters from them since their return home.

For me, the most interesting news they gave me was that their daughter, Sue, my god-daughter, had taken steps towards changing her career, from the pharmaceutical industry, in which she had a doctorship.  She had been very much involved in the work of her local church at Alnwick in the Diocese of Newcastle.   She, with other active lay people had to keep their church going until they got a replacement for their previous vicar, who had moved to another incumbency.   She now wished to be ordained in the Ministry of the church and had the blessing of the Bishop of Newcastle, who had put her name forward to a selection procedure (stage 2) early in 1997.    The final stage would require her to attend one of the main universities, such as Cambridge.

It was with equal pride I could tell about my grand-daughter, Joy, who had volunteered to assist workers of Action Health of Cambridge.  This would mean her serving in Pemba, Zanzibar, during the summer for a few weeks on midwifery, and would be considered part of her final year course.     The main challenge for her would be to raise the cash, close to 1,000 to pay all her own expenses, which included the air fare.    Although only 20 years of age, she acted in a very responsible manner.   She would prepare a pack when the money had been raised, to assist those who later volunteered and had to raise a similar amount.  

She had formed a society within the university organisation, known as the Midwifery Students of Portsmouth University, of which she was the President.    This enabled the University to donate her expenses to go to Africa.    She would like other universities to form the same society and then to have an annual meeting all together.  Joy also acted as a leader of a small Christian group within the University, visiting each member in turn.

I had every reason to be impressed with the characters of my God-daughter, Sue and my grand-daughter, Joy, both of whom had been blessed with God-fearing and devoted parents from the time of their births.

Bob returned me safely to the Russell Hotel, both not knowing when the opportunity would present itself to renew our life-long friendship again.    Should Sue qualify for ordination, I made it clear that I would make every effort to be present at the ordination ceremony.

In thanking my host for the tour of the Northern Dales, I wished him much happiness in their numerous ventures, bed and breakfast and  consultancy assignments on world-wide environmental matters.    To an average person, this challenge that Bob had taken on his retirement from Government service would appear very daunting.    Not so, for this Yorkshireman, who was a bundle of energy and not averse to cracking a joke or even singing a song after chairing an international conference.

In the evening, I joined other members of the coach party, who had been on the Wallace Arnold day excursion through Wensleydale and Swaledale, to Richmond and back via Knaresborough.

Apart from the Dales, I could claim to have connections with the other named places.   It was at Catterick Army Garrison in 1940 that I received my posting from my 209AA Territorial Unit to the 106Z Battery at Marske-by-Sea which had recently been formed to fire rockets.   We had an influx of A1 grade soldiers from a nearby Army Training Station, who were previously destined for Singapore before it surrendered.    In this squad were top football players, Jackie Robinson of Sheffield Wednesday and Cliff Witlum of Sunderland.    When the unit became down-graded, all A1 fit troops were posted out, apart from the players in the unit’s football team and dance band musicians.     I had no objection to the Officer in Charge’s order of priority, as I was in his football team.

The other named town they had returned through, Knaresborough, was the home town of Wilma, with the River Nidd passing through, which I had visited several times after Wilma set up home overlooking the river.   Thankfully, Wallace Arnold had retained this Harrogate fixture, and I hoped the company would retain it in the future.

The journey home on Sunday was quieter on the roads, as there was much less heavy vehicle traffic, compared to Friday, but the density of cars remained very much the same.    The driver had no trouble maintaining his schedule, and I was able to arrive at Havant around 7.45pm.

Contents - Introduction - Home

Alan Rayment 1998
Last revised: February 04, 2001