Geoff and I have just returned to the UK after 5 weeks in the USA. We've possibly had the best 5 weeks ever.......the reason being, we became Grandparents in January and were so excited to be meeting our new Grandson, Harry for the first time.
I’m a grandfather now (known as ‘Pop’ to the immediate family – in honour of my own dear departed grandfather Bates) and blessed with 4 grandchildren – 3 of whom who live in Herefordshire, plus another 4 ‘honorary grandchildren who are Judith’s great nieces and nephews (who, sadly, have no grandparents of their own on our side of the family).
I was eight at the time. Southampton had been decimated during the days of the Blitz
My father, Bill Chambers, joined up in January 1940 and spent the next five years as a Sapper, a private in the Royal Engineers.
On September 1st 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Two days later on September 3rd, Britain declared war on Germany. So started World War 2.
In 1939 war broke out between Germany and Great Britian and I was still in domestic service. When Dunkirk came along, it was very distressing to see the soldiers returning from France, lying along the footpaths at Wickersley in rags. They looked dreadful. It upset me very much to see them so I decided to ask dad if I could join the army. He was dead against it. I pestered him so much that he eventually gave in and said "yes".
I didn't grow up with TV. When I was Little G's age and older, we got our juvenile entertainment from the radio. Listen with Mother was followed by Children's Hour with Uncle Mac, Toytown, Jennings and Norman & Henry Bones, boy detectives.
We had two of our grandsons staying for a weekend visit (6 year old Harrison and 2 year old Joey). It was a beautiful sunny Saturday and so we decided to take them to a nearby ‘Petting Farm’ which had horses, ponies, goats, sheep, pigs, llamas and a variety of other animals, plus tractor rides and a large playground area.
As my eldest two reached towards the end of their teenage years, so the lure of the big city (Hereford) became evermore irresistible.
Before I took charge of Little G on a regular 2-day basis, my world was filled with noise and I hated it. There was DIY from next door, the radio playing pop music from over the way, the office computer whirring, the mobile beeping.
My name is Steve Davies and I served in the Royal Air Force Police for 25 years between 1975 and 2000, mainly with the SIB. For the past 23 years, I have been researching and writing up the history of the RAF Police, and have, to date, published a number of books on the subject.
Soon after we moved into our Ledbury home we started hosting occasional weekend visits from our oldest grandson (then 4 years old), then later with his brother Joey (2 years old). These were always (deliberately) designed to give them some new experiences that their busy, city-dweller mum and dad had neither the opportunity nor time to replicate during their normal day-to-day family life.
Little G has now been in nursery for six weeks. Enough time to generate her first report, or EYFS Progress Check. (No, I don't know what it means. Don't ask). As a renegade student all my life who frequently got reports that began 'Carol has made an inauspicious start to the term' my amazement knows no bounds.
‘Excuse me can you tell me where the school is? Mum stopped and asked. The woman pointed to a low, long building not too far away. ‘Thank you.’
When my oldest two children, Mike and Sarah, were still at Infant and Junior school respectively, a few years before we moved over here, they both experienced their first countryside holiday.
There is nothing like taking charge of a small baby to remind you that you are not immortal. From the moment Little G was placed in my inadequate care by You must be mad, I have had a cold, accompanied by a cough, occasionally joined by a sore throat and a hoarse voice.
Summer holidays were always old-fashioned affairs in our family, reminiscent of my own childhood. The simple pleasures in life are worth far more than money could ever buy.
When I was Little G's age (1951 if you MUST know) babies were left in playpens or Silver Cross prams, preferably outside in all weathers, until they went to school. Fast forward 64 years and it's a totally different world.
Life is very different for children in today's modern world. During my childhood 'Shanks's Pony' (ie, walking) was the de rigueur form of travelling locally (like walking a mile or so to school each day), complimented with cycling when I got a little older, and the bus – and occasional train ride – for longer journeys.
I was watching a TV programme the other night about the Channel Islands ('An Island Parish – specifically about Sark). This little island hangs on to an earlier, more sedate way of life reminiscent of previous generations by, in particular, banning motor vehicles (apart from tractors) and street lights (lamp posts).
It is impossible to leave the house in the company of a one year old without carrying enough supplies to equip and run a small Antarctic Expedition.
I was (delightfully) tasked with looking after Harrison (our first grandson) for the day, which was a change from Judith (my wife and their loving – and dearly loved – step grandmother) looking after him and his brother Joey (our second grandson) for an overnight stay, before returning them home to their parents the next morning.
We (Judith and I) were looking after Harrison (one of our grandsons), and planned to take him to see his first pantomime in Hereford. And so our arrangements with his mom and dad included looking after him the night before, then taking Harrison to his very first (pre) Christmas pantomime
On reading about one woman's ridiculously expensive birthday party for her child, I thought back to when my two daughters were young and I had to plan two parties seventeen days apart as they were both born in November, so lots of baking, cooking, jellies and trifle to be made and party games to plan.
I've lost count of how many vehicles (cars and motorcycles) I've owned over the years, but usually only one or two at a time.
Dear Avalyn Grace
It seems like only last week that we were visiting you in the hospital, and seeing our first grandchild newly born, wrapped in a hospital blanket, with a plastic label round her tiny ankle.
I found a photograph this morning of when I was in the paper,re the end of Crossroads! We went to Tewkesbury for a reunion, and I have some photos of us standing behind the Crossroads sign.
This is a true memory when I was about age seven or eight years of age.
'Our Kath. Go outside to coal'ouse and get bucket of coal,' my father said. (I should add that we were northerners, from the UK, hence the phrasing of this sentence)
Christmas, what does it mean to you? To some it is a religious festival and celebration of the birth of the Christ child. To some it is the time to go mad, splash the cash and max out the credit card. Then bear the consequences after the great event.
Do any of us ever ask our parents enough about their pasts? I remember glazing over whenever my father spoke about his time in Italy and North Africa during WW2 – not that he banged on about it, but it was like ancient history to me growing up.
There was such a sad story in the paper earlier this week which someone shared on Facebook. A man of 98 and hie wife of 86 were found shot dead in their home in France. Early signs indicate it was a murder-suicide.
When I first met my wife Judith, her father Bill Chambers was a wheelchair-bound pensioner with a lively sense of humour and full of stories about his experiences during WWII (which I'm sure you'll read more about via Judith's 'Bill's War Blogs').
Age 17 years,two months, three days and my first car had been bought and delivered. A Ford Prefect, green, two doors, three gears and I drove it to Newquay with my best friend. A seven hour journey with no motorways. After checking the oil, the tyres, the break fluid and having a full tank of petrol, I bid goodbye to my anxious mum and set off on my own feeling VERY grown up indeed!
I recently moved house and one day while unpacking and sorting through various boxes and bags that had been hastily packed away I found myself being distracted by photos, cards and momento's that had not been looked at for many years.
I inherited from my father a love of Christmas, an interest in history, folklore and literature and a fascination with World War 1. This has led me to write a novel set during the conflict: While I Was Waiting.
My day started at the unearthly hour of 5.45am, after what had been a "scratchy" night's sleep.
It was our special Anniversary on September 1st. And as I am 68, and my husband Mick 64, we decided to have a big party, and have our marriage blessed on the same weekend.
The years of 1956/57/58 saw some of the first pupils arrive at a very new grammar school, which had been built to serve an area to the north east of Newcastle.
My father was a gardener and in the late 1940's and early 1950's, he worked in the gardens of a big house on the outskirts of Preston, Lancashire.
Caroline Saunders liked to dabble in palmistry. When she had a few drinks she could be persuaded to do this party trick. She preferred to read palms of people she didn't know, or at least those she didn't know very well, so she couldn't be accused of, 'ah, well you knew that about me anyway.'
A little stewed apple goes a long way
Dear Avalyn Grace
I wrote to you 6 months ago, when you were born (here it is). So much has changed since that day, so I thought I'd write to you again. The biggest change has been in you. Here you are, sitting up (a bit topply still but you're getting there) and beginning to enjoy some solid food - even if much of it gets spread all over your face.
The publication of a piece announcing the engagement of a certain Miss Wild Rose to a Mr. Bull (cross my heart) started it all. My interest in names that is. It struck me that some parents have a lot to answer for when it comes to choosing their offspring's first names.
My interest in things past, and a bent for detective work, led to my involvement in genealogy. I began researching the local history of Herefordshire in the 1980s and worked on a variety of projects with other writers as well as a local government department. I was a family history researcher for over ten years and helped scores of people worldwide to link up with their Herefordshire ancestors.
She told me that he had written back to say he was indeed very much alive and would like to make contact with me. Suddenly I was transported back to that rainy afternoon so many years ago and the small black and white photo looking back at me, all mixed up with the stories I had been told over the years and the father I met so briefly 45 years ago.
To my great surprise and pleasure when I was 19 or 20, it was announced that my father had been in contact and was coming to visit Edinburgh as both my sister and I had given birth to our first child. I was really excited and for the first time in my life, made a pink spotty dress for the occasion. I cringe now to think of that dress.