Memories of Barbara Houlton

Herewith a few of my memories of 'Life on the Maypole'
The thing I remember about the winter of 47 was a group of us having to take our 11+. There was so much snow on the roads the buses weren't running so we had to walk across Dartford Heath to get to the Girl's Grammar School. Needless to say, we played snowballs on the way, got there late and I don't think any of the group passed. We didn't want to go to the Grammar anyway, so none of us were really bothered.
It was always so cold in our house - we used to sit around the fire (which was built up the back of the flue) until dad came in and took shovels-full off. He was always worried about fires. We used to go to bed in thick socks with overcoats on the bed and hot water bottles. Ugh.

My most vivid memories are of the war. We used to share our shelter with some neighbours - Mr. Mason, Mr and Mrs Windmill and their two children. Mrs. Windmill always put her woolly hat on as soon as the bombs started falling, and took it off again when it got quiet. All the kids used to laugh like mad and when I met Mrs. W. many years later and reminded her of this, she also had a good laugh. I remember the first doodlebug coming over - I was playing with Joyce Stockford, next door, in her garden and heard this awful noise. I looked up and saw this weird craft and called out to Mr. Stockford - he took one look and pushed us both into their shelter. I don't suppose he knew exactly what it was but obviously was very worried.

Regarding the school - I remember Miss Burr taking us for nature walks across the heath. We went up the road towards Crayford one day and she showed us a spindleberry tree - the first I had ever seen. It was really beautiful with bright red berries surrounded by an orange skin. We also used to go to the penny royal, the glory bombs and down the 'Dell' . Many autumn days were spent blackberrying on the heath and sometimes we were lucky enough to find a few mushrooms.

Does anyone remember how we queued up on the verandah to get our spoonful of malt?

From the age of about 9 I was in the choir at St. Barnabas Church. That meant choir practice on Sunday morning, followed by morning service at about 10.00am. Sunday school was at 3.0p,m and this was followed by evensong at 6.30 so our Sundays were quite busy. If I was really good I was allowed to ring the bells before evensong and if I was really really good I was allowed to snuff out the candles at the end of the service. On one occasion I remember I got the giggles and had to leave the choir stalls through the organ area and was sent home in disgrace.

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