Take a walk in Blue Bell Woods listen to the sounds around you, of bird song and bees. Smell the flowers and the scent of Spring in the air. Every year is a new beginning and every day a blessing

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." (Colossians 3:15a NIV)I would love to hear from you, if you don't have a blog you can still comment, join google it's free. I appreciate hearing from you.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Country Life....................

"... she longed to go alone far into the fields and hear the birds singing, the brooks tinkling and the wind rustling through the corn, as she had when a child. To smell things and touch things, warm earth and flowers and grasses and to stand and gaze where no one could see her, drinking it all in."
Flora Thompson,'Lark Rise to Candleford'

This was my childhood........this is what I miss. In Michigan where we have bears (that I never get to see) and even a Panther (that I have yet to see) and crazy people, well, it's not safe anymore to do the things I did as a child.
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we lived in a village between Luton and Dunstable. My grandmother lived on Dunstable Road not far from the hospital. She was a housekeeper for a local family and I loved her house. The back of the house (my Granddad named Minerva after a ship he sailed in during his Navy days) faced the hills. The chalk hills of Blows Downs or the Chiltern Hills I suppose they really were. I spent a good deal of time there on my own. Nothing like laying on the sparse grass of the chalk hills with Harebells blowing in the breeze, making shapes in the clouds and listening to Bees buzzy in their daily chores. I could lay and dream undisturbed and wonder how many others in times long ago did the same thing.
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I would catch the bus up to Shelly Rd and walk over to my Nan's house. After awhile of bugging her I would go up to Skimpot Rd or cut across another road that ended up at the same place. I found my way on my own from an early age and never got lost. I would then saunter across the Downs to my Aunt Ivy's house on Downside Estate in Dunstable and eventually get a bus home. Goodness knows what they all thought because no phones and no way to let them know, I would just show up and walk in. Times they sure have changed. My parents would be at work and never knew where I was, and as far as I knew never worried. No one could let them know. I knew to be home by supper time I suppose or dark, whatever came first. How did we manage without cell phones, or even a house phone?
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Some days if I was not down the farm I would wander the fields behind our houses. There were chalk pits back there. Very dangerous but us kids never cared about that.
Dunstable is a Market Town, that means it was given a charter to hold markets, at least that's a simple explanation. The Romans built a road from the south to north of
England and it was called The Watling Street. It ran straight through Dunstable behind the chalk pits and onwards. Later to become the A5. Well in the olden days the hill back there was so tough to navigate that horses and wagons, stage coaches would get stuck, and so they made the "Chalk Cutting" to make life easier. Back in those days we had a notorious Highwayman named Dunne, they say maybe the towns name originated with him. Dunnes stable?
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Henry 1 or the Conqueror as he was fondly (not) named made life difficult for people back then and so many turned to Highway robbery. We all, at least most have heard of Dick Turpin. Well Dunne was our local hero.
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Anyway, I digress. The Chalk Cutting made it easier for the traffic that came from a busy Market Town and travel to the North and South of England.
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Back in the days of the Roman occupation the locals were Saxons mainly at least around our way. There was a small settlement at Puddle Hill where the chalk was being dug later by the Blue Circle Cement company. They made a great playground for us kids. Some of the chalk pits held water and there were rabbits and all sorts of wildlife there. We were taught in school to find fossils in the chalk and had a day there looking for them. I found a huge one when I took Gerry to show him exactly what I meant.
Again I digress. One day they were digging the chalk out extending the boundaries and low and behold a human skull fell down into the quarry. Guess that guy was freaked out.
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I know I was because Dad took me to see the excavations, I had nightmares of that skeleton chasing me down the playground of Top School all the way home.
Still later on the pits were a favourite playing area and more than that was Blue Waters just a little further away from Puddle Hill.
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The thing is, my Dad was raised in Houghton Regis as was his father and all before him. How I would love to know how far back we went in that general area. I got back as far as 1745 I think. I bet if I got DNA done I would have a good old mix of Roman, Viking, Saxon and Celt in my blood. That's what the English are made of.
This next picture is of my Grandfather's (on Dads side) house.
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I never knew them but he was a Shoemaker and apparently my Grandmother was not approved to marry Bert Hines who was just a laborer. The Hines were all farm laborers one way or other. He also enjoyed the pubs a bit too much apparently. So Great Grandfather Spittle was not happy about the match. They had 10 children including my dad. My Dad played in the same places I did, went to the same school and wandered the same fields. Back in his day the Windmill was intact in Mill Lane and the cement works were not yet there, there were fields instead and those fields tilled by Shire horses.
The fields and mill before the Pits were dug out for the cement works
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After years
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My Dad would have known these places before and after. We could walk to Dunstable via Houghton Road as we did to go to school, or to go to town we would more often walk
"Up Dog Kennel" named for the places that Colonel Part would keep his hunting hounds. It was a nice walk, you could see way over the Pits and over the railway line where I was found after I ran away. We lived at St Omere then so I could only have been about 3, not sure but apparently as the story goes I took off with a little boy down the road and my dog Gerry. I was playing down on the tracks when found and accosted. Gerry was not at all happy and my Mother would have smacked me but he took her hand they say. Later years we would enjoy standing as a steam train would go under the bridge. We would come out of Dog Kennel walk by the Grove House Gardens.
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Lovely memories of those gardens and playgrounds. The Priory Gardens are at the other end of town and I will talk more about those another time.


Kay G. said...

How interesting, Janice, you know I love this history of your family and your home in England!
My in-laws live in Eastbourne and they have the South Downs there, you are able to walk over them for miles and miles, just incredible!
You are making me "homesick"! :-)

Merlesworld said...

How our lives have changed my memories were similar to yours but I live 1/2 a world away.

Magic Love Crow said...

Another great post Janice! Thank you for sharing about you and your family! Big Hugs!