I was born in the dark ages of 1938, yes, I really am that old although I will deny it if you tell anyone! The above picture is of me in the snow during the winter of 1947.
Me as a baby
I am a Southerner through and through. Born in Portsmouth and until recent years I have never moved away from Hampshire. I met my first husband whilst I was still at school and we married when I was 18. We had two children, a pigeon pair, just two years apart.
I have never regretted having my family early, it meant we still had loads of time to really enjoy ourselves when they were independent
My first husband
We had some wonderful friends and our social life was busy and fun. We travelled abroad on holidays, mainly cheap and cheerful but we were young and healthy and full of awe at the big, wonderful world we were seeing.
Our social life at home was mainly in each other's homes where we gathered for card evenings with the host providing the food and everyone else bringing a bottle.
Me as a receptionist
We worked hard too, I started my career when the children were at school, working as a receptionist at the local GP surgery. Initially I was little more than a filing clerk but the job soon extended to running the afternoon antenatal clinics with our lovely midwife who is still a good friend at least 40 years on.
I became a senior member of the staff with more and more responsibility and the Doctors sent me to college for formal training as a Health Centre Manager.
This worked all too well as after I had received my diploma I applied for and got a job as Home Care Manager with Social Services. The doctors couldn't match the offer I had and recognised that, for me, it was a good career move and gave me a glowing reference and a fantastic leaving party.
Well, I had been with them for 15 years!
My new job was very demanding but I loved it. I had a staff of about 50 and was responsible for assessing and providing care for a large clientele covering all of Hayling Island, part of Havant, Bedhampton and Emsworth.. I worked with three other managers who covered the rest of Havant Borough. We all got on extremely well and are still good friends.
Kitty who I inherited from Paul and Tina Burton
I eventually retired from Social Services when I reached my 60th birthday. It was sad to leave so many friends behind but I was looking forward to a rest and spending more time with my family.
We had decided to change location, although not too far. We decided to buy a Park Home and enjoyed designing it ourselves. We had found a site in Petersfield which is a market town in the South Downs but not too far from the sea and the family. We loved our new home but, unfortunately it was not to last. We knew my husband had a progressive illness and it was becoming worse and he was needing more and more attention and care.
He was able to enjoy our 50th wedding anniversary but after that the decline accelerated and I lost him just over 6 years ago
My four grandchildren
Naturally, I was devastated and the first year without him was dreadful, I really thought my world had come to an end. My children were supportive but had their own lives and families and I didn't want to be a burden to them so finally made up my mind to sort myself out. I got a job in a charity shop. I did enjoy it, especially the company of the other staff there but it wasn't really fulfilling me.
I was walking home one day when I bumped into a familiar face, it was my old boss from Social Services. She had retired too and they had bought a house in Petersfield and they were waiting for the Estate Agent to open so that they could collect their key. It was so nice to see her and we arranged to continue meeting for coffee on a regular basis. One day she told me all about a job she had taken at a Heritage Trust property in Midhurst as a volunteer helper.
I had always loved history and from what she told me I knew this was what I wanted to do. She introduced me and I got the job
I quickly learnt the history of Cowdray House and fell in love with the place. I know it is mainly a ruin but it is so atmospheric it seems to draw you in.
I loved showing people around and telling them about the family that had lived there and I met lots of interesting folk including Hugh Bonneville who lived locally and had brought his children to see Cowdray. He allowed me to take a photo but being an idiot, I somehow managed to erase it from my camera instead of downloading it!
I had so many dear friends at Cowdray and I do miss it and them although I am still in touch and visit whenever I go down South. My life is very different now as you will know if you have waded through my piece about being a jazz wife.
My husband Phil playing his jazz guitar
I have had a good life with a lot of happiness and many friends although as I get older the list is getting shorter as I lose dear friends but I have seen my family grow and flourish and I have my wonderful guitarist husband who fills my life with joy.