diary · family · History · memoir

Nan’s Diary: Building new foundations

There’s been a bit of a hiatus on the blog. I guess it’s a case of ‘wintering’ when the motivation to write hibernates for a while. I’m pretty sick of all the lies being dressed up as truths in these haphazard pandemic times. I guess people step up or really step down in times of crises, and that’s the way it’s always been. Yay for Gareth Southgate and the England football team is all I can say!

Reading through Nan’s memoirs has helped me get perspective. She ploughed on regardless, whatever was chucked at her, and I’ve felt a strong connection to her experiences throughout the last year.

In 1956, she moved from Dorking to Bexhill:

‘During 1956, the Royal Observatory bought Herstmonceux Castle so that all the departments of the Admiralty could be gathered under one roof, as it were, including the Time Department, which was still on the slopes of Leith Hill, and where Les (my grandad) and George were working. So the house in Ashcombe Road was put on the market. It was sold for £3000 provided (as per buyer’s instructions) that we got the drainage up to scratch. Apparently, the drainage pipe from the kitchen was broken and to sell the place, we had to put it right.

So Les and I relaid about 10 feet of earthenware pipe from the kitchen drain to the main drainage, digging all the soil to remove the cracked pipe, and putting it all back again after putting the new pipe in; it was a job that we could have done without, I can tell you, especially as the building society didn’t inspect it too closely after we had done it! But I think it was a ploy of the buyer to get it done, so they didn’t have to!

That summer was spent looking at housing estates in Bexhill, Eastbourne and Hailsham to see where the best place to live would be. We chose Bexhill as it was cheaper than Eastbourne and nearer the sea than Hailsham. To cut a long story short, we chose the Millfield Rise site because it was near all the schools, town and within walking distance of the sea and Down (a local open green space).

We wanted to get down to Bexhill in time for the boys to start the new year at school but to do so, we had to go into rented accommodation for some weeks as the house was still being built. The site we had chosen was the second to last to be sold in Millfield Rise so, of course, it had all the rubbish from the other plots accumulated on it…still, it was at the end of a cul-de-sac and very secluded.

To get to the temporary accommodation, my father-in-law brought us to Bexhill in his car – a large Wyvern. We had clothes with us, of course, and other odds and ends, so it would have been a bit difficult with that lot on the train and buses. Anyway, the first flat was in Devonshire Road over the then Sainsbury’s. It was only a small shop then, where you sat on a chair to be served, while the assistants weighed everything out. Shades of museums of social history!

This flat was not very comfortable, and I think would have been very cold in winter, however, we were only there about four or five weeks as it was required for somebody else, so we transferred to another furnished flat on the sea front – De La Warr Parade- a semi-basement in De La Warr Court, opposite to where the sailing club is now (it was not there then). It was a dark flat, smelt horrible, it was damp, due I suspect to the sea crashing across the road and down the steps now and again when the sea was rough, consequently making the carpets wet. Fortunately, the weather was reasonable most of the time that we were there, in fact, it was an Indian summer that year.

Image by AI Leino from Pixabay 

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