Childhood memories – Ray Woodcock

Extracts from my memories as a small boy. I was born  in  1939  and  used  to  go to  visit  my  Mothers  parents  in  Hingham,  Norfolk  during  August  in 1944, 5 and 6.

The house was a ‘Tied Cottage’ that went with the job. Grandfather was a shepherd.

By day mother and I  would go to see Grandad with his sheep or take my Uncle Sonny his bottle of cold tea and beef dripping, doorstep sandwiches for lunch in the fields. I thought that Grandad had a russet coloured spaniel called Bess or maybe Jess. She and I used to sit on the sofa in the evenings. Apparently this was my Aunty Derby’s dog. Cousin Jean tells me that Grandad had a “Old English Sheepdog” that did not enter the house.

Another animal friend was the nanny goat that pulled the milk cart which held a single  milk churn full of cow’s milk. Each day I was allowed to carry one of the milk jugs from the pantry to the gate where the milk girl would use a long ladle to fill up my jug. I am proud to report the neither she nor I spilt a drop in the process.

The goat smelt of “country” and so did the impressive, great cart horses that I loved to visit as they pulled the coal cart, drew the delivery vans and  moved the trucks in the railway sidings.

“Going to the toilet” was a great adventure for me. I had to go round the corner of the house past the well (no piped water until 1948), to the outhouse cum small barn where the fire wood was stored together with the apples, onions and gardening tools. There was a door in the corner that led into the reeking privy where we sat over a hole in a wooden bench; the toilet paper was the sheets of newspaper that hung down on a nail on the back of the door. I must have used a chamber pot for night time functions as I cannot remember making the trip in the dark. Probably a good move as I am sure that a lighted candle would have caused a methane explosion! Three miles up the road at Scoulton, where my cousins, the Brown’s lived, technology had advanced; we shovelled earth down the hole and replaced a lid over it.

Ray Woodcock

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