Wednesday, November 09, 2005

CERNE ABBAS 1940-1945. (8)

On 4th September 1944, we moved on to Chester to stay at the Blossoms Hotel for the weekend, from where we went to see my grandfather Squibb. He lived at Kent House, 147 Boughton. I can remember him fairly well, but as he died in 1946, I did not have time to get to know him really well. We visited Chester again after the War, but I cannot remember him coming to visit us in Cerne, London or at Belfield.

Reginald Augustus Hodder Squibb: 1872-1946

He was not in the best of health during the War years, and my father's letters to him throughout 1944 are always full of concern to do with the treatment of his eczema. My grandmother Squibb had died in 1930, and a housekeeper called Ella Fairfax-Jones looked after Grandpa.

During one of our visits to Chester, he gave me a lovely Victorian doll with a china face and blue glass eyes which opened and shut. She had real blond curly hair, and wore a white lawn and lace dress - a sort of Christening robe - a petticoat and a blue cloak and bonnet, trimmed with swansdown. He also introduced me to ginger-beer and fizzy lemonade.

Writing to thank him after this, our 1944 visit, my parents were concerned that we had consumed the whole of his meat ration at Sunday's lunch, and must have made inroads into his other rations too.

Mary Elizabeth Squibb: 1869-1930

From Chester we returned to Grange for the rest of the holiday, about a week, whereupon we all caught colds - we seemed to get a lot of colds - and eventually embarked on the long and tedious return train journey back to Dorset. This involved changes at Preston, Crewe and Bristol. All the trains were very full, we had to travel in the corridor between Crewe and Shrewsbury, and nearly lost some of our luggage at Crewe when the porter disappeared into the crowd. We eventually arrived at Dorchester fourteen hours later, tired and weary - but only fifty minutes late.

The holiday seemed to have done my mother a lot of good and, apart from getting a cold, her general health had much improved.

It was while we had been away that Abbey Cottage had been sold, for a reputed £3000 - which my father found stupendous and difficult to believe, as only two years previously it had been sold for £2000. The purchaser this time was the retired tea-planter from Assam with his younger wife and two year old son, with whom it was thought I might want to play, "unless she feels too old for a playmate so young!"

October arrived, and with it my forthcoming fourth birthday. My father wrote:
"She says she wants a gun for her birthday, so we had to go round the shops on Saturday to find one. It seems strange taste for a little girl, but she is quite definite about it!"

I do not remember the gun, but I do remember the toy farm-yard which they also got for that birthday. It was thought that it would please me as I was:
"...very fond of a little girl dressed as a landgirl and some animals which the landgirl has to look after."

I was getting a cake with pink icing and four candles on it too, and on the day another little girl, probably Penelope Fry, came to tea. My grandfather Squibb sent me a copy of Alice In Wonderland with which I was very pleased, and soon started to recite: "You are old Father Wiliam".

By now the autumnal gales were blowing, and it was time to pick the apple crop - which was not a very good one. Most of the apples were very small and many had various kinds of blemishes, so would not have been good keepers. I told my father all about how I had been up Giant Hill to see the hounds and saw a lot of foxes too, which he found hard to believe! Snugly dressed in my green mackintosh and sou'wester, I was the only one enjoying the persistently wet weather, and had made friends with the newly arrived little boy at Abbey Cottage too. He called be "Mummy" - which at two, was about the only word he knew. I thought it a great joke! A week or two later I was invited to his birthday tea.

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