Towards the end of 1950, I was feeling just like any normal seven year old should feel, and I was starting to wonder if I would ever be allowed to play sports again. In September, for a slightly late birthday present, my parents took David and I on holiday to the South of France. David and I were not good travellers in the back of the car, but we played all sorts of games, counting things along the way and we were both obviously distracted enough to forget to feel carsick! I remember that on some occasions, we used to count haystacks, but this got somewhat out of hand, as there were so many. Today, haystacks seemed to have disappeared from the farm fields and bales of hay have replaced them. Can you just imagine trying to count hay bales!! In later years, my mother told me when Dad had planned the journey with a drive right through France, she was dreading every moment of it knowing how carsick David and I had been in the past. We had a really wonderful holiday and David and I enjoyed every minute of it. I do remember at one stage while on the road David and I playing around with my favourite doll named Topsy. We must have got a bit over-enthusiastic and dear old Topsy went flying straight out of the back window. Dad duly stopped and went back down the road and Topsy was recovered; my life would never have been the same without her! How I wish I had a photo of her to show you; she was just a rag doll, but so loved. I think that this trip must have had some sort of ‘healing’ effect on both of us kids, as we were far better travelling by car after this. I must say though that even today there are some makes of car in which I would prefer not travel in the back.
|Off to the beach with my fishing net! 1950. My mother used to do the most beautiful smocking. Just look at all the work that must have gone into the top of this dress.|
On our return from holiday, I was duly taken off to the doctor for a checkup and although I was told there was a huge improvement in my heart, most sports were still out of the question; however, I could resume riding, so long as I only went on quiet hacks around the countryside and I was also allowed to swim. Mum used to take me regularly to the heated swimming pool in Bath and at weekends Dad often used to join us. One day when I was playing around pretending to ‘life save’ my Dad, the attendant approached us and suggested that I should train as a life saver. I did get my first diploma but somehow other things later took over my life and further certificates were never pursued.
During this same year, the house in Batheaston had been sold and we moved north into the Cotswold Hills. I remember Dad used to take me into school and Mum collected me. She must have felt like a taxi driver, as she also used to take David and me on regular visits to the ice rink at Bristol on Saturdays. I had been told if I took it quietly, I could also skate. I took to the ice immediately and soon started dancing lessons on ice. I must comment here that about twenty years later when I went ice skating, having told everyone that there was nothing to it, I could not even stand up!