Saturday, 21 April 2012

After the War

I started my riding days early! Here I am aged 3 on my pony Meggy

I have only a few memories of my very young years.  I try  to  recall those times, but as I get older, the  process becomes more difficult!  After the war, my father who was an engineer, worked for a spell  at the Royal Air Force base in Colerne, a village about 10 miles east of Bath, Somerset. He wasn't there that long, as I remember, and he soon took over the running of Fiveways Garage, a petrol and service station in Batheaston, a suburb of Bath and on the  London Road just outside  the city.   The business was owned by my paternal grandparents Walter and Alexandra and at that time, in the early 1950's, in a good position to attract  passing motorists on the busy route to the capital.


Having driven past the garage site much more recently, I see that many things have changed; the old buildings have been completely demolished and a car showroom stands in its place. In the last 60 years, with the preference for motorway travel, the old, once busy main road to London, is now used for local travel only. With no passing trade, the petrol sales and service business became unecomonic.
Fiveways Garage -  London Road, Bath - about 1950

With my Dad's job at the garage now established, the family bought a house in Morris Lane, just around the corner from the garage.  It was a large and beautiful property  and my parents had the garden landscaped to include a small bridge over a fish pool at the back of the house. We had kennels under the back of the house where my Mum had a pair of St Bernard dogs, Bridget and Tony. I had a little Scottie dog called Judy, truly the large and the small of it! We also had a couple of stables in a field at the back of the house; my father owned a 17.2 hands high grey Irish hunter called Colonel Grey, while I had a small pony called Meggy, which the reader will have seen above. The pony was shared between David, my half-brother from my mother’s former marriage, and me, but he was never really that much interested in horses. My mother could ride, but never took it seriously. This introduction to horses and riding became a sport which assumed much greater importance for Dad and myself in later years.

Dad on Colonel Grey

Colonel Grey was a beautiful animal, but he had a very odd temperament and only my Dad ever had anything to do with him. If any of the rest of the family went near him, he adopted an "ears flat and teeth bared" attitude; thus I learnt at a very early age to have respect for not only an animal that I did not know, but in this case, one that I did know. 

One of my father’s best stories related to a time when he was asked ride Colonel Grey at the head of a fancy dress parade in the city of Bath.  Dad got all dressed up and went down to fetch Colonel Grey, who, presumably not recognising him, would not let him into the stable!  The end result was that he had to remove part of the fancy dress, mount Colonel Grey and then get redressed while on his back. 

At another time, I also had the privilege of being in a parade in Bath, riding Meggy and wearing a drummer-girl outfit with a top hat and tassel on my head. How proud I was of the outfit at the time!


22 comments:

  1. Ah, the love of horses shared between you and your father. My father loved horses, but I never developed that skill and love; I can see how important it was for you and him.

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  2. rosaria you will see as the story develops how horses pretty much became our whole life but it took a while for this to happen ;) Diane

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  3. Great idea for a blog Diane I shall try to keep up with both whenever I can. Wonderful photos too. x

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  4. Froggy thanks for following, I know you are busy but it is always good to see you. Keep well and take care Diane

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  5. I think I will love this Blog.
    Please go on...

    I wish You a Nice Sunday

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  6. Andrea thanks so much for your comment and for following. I really appreciate your interest. I hope that there are some bits that are of interest to you :) Diane

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  7. What nice memories! Your dad's horse was a beauty. Amazing, that he didn't like your dad's outfit and wouldn't let him into the stable until he had taken off enough so he could recognize him.

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  8. Oh I would have so loved to ride! You look as cute as anything on your pony, and it must have been a lovely shared experience between you your Dad.

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  9. chcmichel, Colonel Grey was not a nice horse! When we sold him a few years later he almost killed his new owner. I am not sure what the final outcome of it all was. Diane

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  10. Vera I really miss my horses now, I loved going to see Roz and catch up with them again for a short while. Diane

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  11. Thank you for sharing these lovely memories with us. Blessings...Mary

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  12. Mary it is a pleasure I just hope that you enjoy a few of my stories along the way :) Diane

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  13. How wonderful to have all of these great pictures. I just love those old garages and petrol pumps.
    This is a great idea for a blog and I look forward to coming back again.

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  14. Good Morning Diane, what a great idea to share good memories with us. I smiled when I read your mom forgetting to ask for curly hair... soo sweet.

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  15. Ellie I hope you enjoy it, I wonder if my life is interesting enough to keep my followers. Diane

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  16. MARCO PASHA yes my mother was always so very happy that her wish came true :) Diane

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  17. Oh wow, you started very early! I am 38 and still haven't experience riding one lol.

    Following this blog too.

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  18. chubskulit, thanks for the comment and following, I hope that you find some interest in my life. Yes riding was started very young!! Diane

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  19. What a lovely blog, Diane!

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  20. Thanks JM, it is giving me lots to think about and to remember!!! Diane

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  21. I see now where you got your love (and respect!) for horses Diane.

    I am so pleased you have decided to write your life story in this way, and I think I will love this blog as much as (if not a teeny bit more as I have such an interest in people's history) your Life in Charente. X

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  22. Dolly, horses have always been part of my life and yes Colonel Grey certainly taught me respect for animals!! Diane

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