Little_Mavis' rants and musings


When I were a lass

After my Infant School post I was going to move straight on to Junior School but I thought some background context might be useful.

This isn’t going to be a carefully structured, well-thought-out post, more random musings as I remember things.

I grew up in a small market town in South Yorkshire that was surrounded by pits. Back


This is the pit where both my grandfathers worked

then, it was reasonably prosperous as such places go. (When I went back last year it was dingy and run down. I already knew that all the places I played as a child had been built on but there wasn’t really anything left. Every school I had attended had been demolished. But that’s all beside the point)

The vast majority (of men) were employed and it was normal for women to leave work after they had children. The jobs were mainly in mining, both my grandfathers and one of my uncles were miners, and there was a large locomotive loco (railway locomotive maintenance and stabling depot), though this closed in the mid sixties. My dad was a railway fireman. He started as a cleaner at 17 or so after leaving the local technical college and ended up, before he retired in the early 90s driving InterCity 125s. My mum went back to work in some kind of factory after I was born and I was looked after by my grandma. She gave up work after my brother was born four years later. For the first three or four years we lived with my grandma (My granddad died when I was 2 or so) in a council house but then bought a small terraced house.

The house we moved into was a terrace with three bedrooms a front room and a living kitchen. No bathroom (It had been built in 1924) and no heating apart from coal fires. I’m not sure if there were fireplaces in the bedrooms. For cooking, we had a built in coal oven in an enamelled range (rather than the cast iron ones that were still in some houses) ovenThe nearest I can find to what it looked like was this. We also had a 2 ring gas burner and a geyser for hot water. There was only a cold tap. Over time (don’t ask me when) we had a bath installed in the kitchen in the alcove next to the chimney. And a back boiler installed to heat water. My dad boxed it in with a lid to cover it when it wasn’t in use and when we had a bath we used a clothes horse covered in a blackout curtain to screen us off from the rest of the family.

There was an outside toilet, not too far from the back door rather than across a yard. We kept a paraffin lamp in there to heat the pipes in winter.

Again, over time a bathroom was added, with some sort of government grant, and eventually central heating, though that may not have been until after I left home. We had no phone (hardly anyone did. If we needed to we used the phone box at the bottom of the street), no fridge and the TV had 2 channels.

We played out a lot. You had to be careful where you played and often be careful how much noise you made as there were always people on night shift. As well as in the street, where it was reasonably safe to play because there were very few people in the street with cars, there was plenty of waste ground to play on. Having looked at old maps these tended to be places that had previously been used as quarries or clay pits though there was a big park nearby with hawthorn bushes along the side to make dens.

Kids tended to play out together in mixed age groups. The older ones looked after the smaller ones. Any adults around kept half an eye on everybody. Disagreements sometimes ended in physical fights without any serious harm done.

We walked to school from quite an early age, but there was far less traffic then. Lots of corner shops, in fact they were on pretty much every corner. Within easy walking distance of our house I can remember a couple of grocers, a post office, an off-licence (beer-off), a butchers, a newsagents a chip shop, 2 cobblers, a Co-op which was a big grocers where you could buy sugar or “best” butter by the pound.

We also had a “potato man” come round every Friday delivering vegetables with one side of his van open & laid out like a market stall. The milk was delivered by a woman pulling a sort of electric handcart.

I spent a lot of time at the library in town and had pretty much read my way through the children’s library by about 11, not difficult if you’re getting through a book a day. You encyclopediaweren’t allowed to have an adult ticket until you were 14 so my dad let me use one of his tickets. You weren’t allowed to join until 5 (I think?) but although I was too young I proved I could read so they let me. I did have books of my own and I got a lot of information from Arthur Mees’s Children’s’ Encyclopaedia which was in 10 large volumes (most of Volume 10 was the Index) which I think had been published in 1920 something. At first I was only allowed Volume 1 but that got so tatty from my reading it my parents eventually relented and let me have the rest.

buntyI also was given comics by the boy who lived next door to my Grandma so I was well versed in boys’ comics such as Hotspur, Valiant and (possibly) Rover which was mostly text stories. At home I got Bunty (best bit was Bunty’s Cut Out wardrobe on the back page)

I went to Brownies at St George’s Church Hall. After the meeting we used to go to the nearby shop & buy a bag of crisps. When you bought them they had a small screw of blue paper with salt. I remember getting excited when you could first but cheese & onion crisps as well as plain. Other sweets Spangles, Penny Arrows (I liked the banana split ones), Kayli (sp?) A summer treat was frozen Jubbly.

Anyway. To finish, because I don’t really know how to finish. Things change. You don’t notice them all that much while it’s happening. I grew up,  went to university (family first), discovered a whole other world. Looking back I realised this way of growing up was similar for many, many years. The war may have speeded up development of some things but may have slowed down others. Going back now, I can hardly recognise the place. It has changed, both in the way places change over time and in a wholly different way because I think the heart has been ripped out of towns like that. It’s changed from a busy bustling town with a purpose to a collection of houses and run down shops with no direction. Apparently the HS2 line is scheduled to go right through a new housing estate there. That’s pretty awful for the people living there but I think the real damage was done years ago.


Leave a comment

Those Hazy Days of Summer.

rockley sands

Rockley park as it is now. Our caravan would have been where the car park is.

This blog isn’t about anything important. I wrote it after reminiscing about childhood holidays in the 50s and 60s when life for children seemed to be much more fun (honestly). This was touched on in a tweet by @JeniHooper referring to this.
When I was small we went on summer holidays to the seaside. My dad worked for British Railways (as it then was), he would have been a fireman then. We definitely still called them firemen way after being an actual fireman was what they did, but that’s beside the point. As an employee he got seven free tickets for his family each year. He was also restricted as to when he could take his annual leave so we tended to go on 2 single week holidays, usually to stay in a caravan, or occasionally a chalet, at a holiday camp. Having the transport paid for was, of course, a huge advantage. It made the holiday much cheaper and we could go as far as we wanted. This meant we often went to the south coast rather than just Bridlington or Cleethorpes like most of the families from our bit of South Yorkshire. One year we stayed at Rockley Sands in Poole. Our caravan was close to an inlet and right by the train line. For the first night, we all sat up in bed every time a train went past, by the second day, we barely noticed them. I’ve actually found where it is on Google Earth, though that part of the camp now seems to be a boat house.


We also went to Penarth (Lavernock Point), Sandown, Brixham, Rhyl as well as northern resorts like Bridlington and Mablethorpe. I have hazy memories of various caravans, caravan camps and chalets.
Once we were there, we mostly went for walks or played on the beach. I honestly can’t remember bad weather but I do remember the cosy feeling of being in a caravan and hearing the sound of rain beating down on the roof so my memory must have edited out the boring days. If there was a swimming pool, I swan, or attempted to while my brother played in the arcades. He discovered that the pennies often got stuck at the top of the chute when they were paying out so he would go round rattling the bottoms to dislodge any of the stuck coins.



A luxury caravan!

Of course, this was all before the days of plumbing, or even electricity in caravans. Showers were taken in a shower block, water was fetched from a tap nearby in a large container and lighting and cooking were by (calor) gas. We still had a cooked breakfast on holiday though and I still associate smoked bacon with summer caravan holidays. There was normally only one bedroom and the table generally converted into a bed. If you rented a chalet though you had a few more amenities.

What else can I remember?

  • Oh yes! Half an hour (okay, it may have been slightly less but ages anyway) of watching through the caravan window as someone tried, and failed, to put up a deck chair. It was like watching a comedy sketch.
  • Missing seeing the Queen Elizabeth from Sandown when my brother cut his head open while we were racing around a bench on the sea front.
  • Playing with two great danes belonging to the camp manager in Wales.
  • Other than that it was sea, sand and donkey ride

When I was about 15/16 my parents bought a caravan at Primrose Valley in Filey so the family went there and soon after I went to university. That’s a whole other story.


Just look at the awful swimming costume I had to wear


Sandcastles and a big hole


This was on the Isle of Wight I think (Blackgang Chine maybe?)

Mary selection027

Cleethorpes on a very hot day. I’d guess about 1967


This looks like Yorkshire and for some reason wearing my school blazer.








I  just hope my children’s’ memories of holidays are as happy as mine are. And that yours are.



I’m producing this at the urging of @Chocotzar. There will be many so I can hide safely in the crowd. Overall, in many ways 2014 was a good year on a personal level. I’ll concentrate on that.

I’m not going to look at last year’s until after I’ve finished this in case I find things I should have, could have done but haven’t so I’ll just plough on.


I seem to have pretty much given up on career goals now. Once you reach your 60s it gets harder to move to new goals and it’s hard to go back to old ones if you’ve effectively burned your bridges, but I have a few things to look back on positively.

This year’s major achievement/incident/happening was that we visited friends in America. This may seem strange to all you globetrotters out there and it’s actually quite a difficult thing to admit in some ways but neither my OH nor I had ever flown before. Not from fear of flying but because we’d never really felt the need. Michael doesn’t much like hot weather and neither of us liked beach holidays, which seem to be many people’s introduction to overseas travel. Once we made the plunge we did it in style and made 12 flights in 3 weeks. We managed to include medical emergencies on DSCN0580the plane (not us), cancelled flights (Erie), turned back flights because of instrument failure (Minneapolis), being put up in a hotel (Detroit) and went to two airports we hadn’t planned to visit (Buffalo & Cleveland). We stayed with friends in two very different parts of America, Erie (as in the lake) and Chamberlain in South Dakota. We went on Lake Erie & on the Missouri river and managed two famous landmarks, Niagara Falls and Mount Rushmore. (More if you count the badlands and Deadwood). We had a wonderful time thanks to the generosity of friends we had previously only known on the Internet. We met lots of people and DSCN0476genuinely experienced what you would think of as small town America, including a local event with a ride on an IRB – an ‘Improved Ribbon Bridge’ – crewed by the National Guard and proper American pink lemonade. And we got to stroke a baby buffalo, called Bella. Oh and we went to the Crow Creek Powwow which was incredible. I should really write all this stuff up.

Next. Joined a gym. Was going three times a week until I got that awful cold/cough that was going round which derailed it somewhat. Haven’t lost a great deal of weight but have dropped several inches from various body circumferences and am definitely fitter.

IMAG1159I still haven’t entirely adjusted to not having to look after my dad. Almost two years on I still sometimes remember, with a start, that I haven’t phoned, then I remember why. I don’t miss the worry and responsibility, but I do miss the visits to Filey and the “runs out” I used to take him on. We did visit Filey for the day with an American visitor. The town is as pleasant and peaceful as I remember and the fish and chips are just as good. We must go again this year.


What else? Oh yes. Have acquired a new small cousin (twice removed?? I think) who arrived almost two weeks late on what would have been my parents’ wedding anniversary and named Edith, which was my mum’s name. She’s lovely. And if she grows up to be even half as wise and kind as my mum she will be brilliant.

Work is fine. The class teacher this year is great and easy to work with. My charge is making progress, slowly, but progress.

I’m slowly staring to believe in myself again, though the belief is fragile and I’m not sure I will ever get completely back to my old self-confident self. The consequences of bullying are far-reaching and long lasting, for adults as well as children.


Not sure really. My job will finish in July when the child I support moves to high school. My prospects of finding similar work are slim as I am not actually qualified as a Teaching Assistant and my teaching qualification is post-16 and did not come with QTS. I wouldn’t want to go back to teaching full time, I couldn’t cope so I’m not sure what I will be doing. I’ll have to think about what my talents are and how I can sell them in some way. I’m hoping there is still a pension when I finally reach the ever-receding pension age in a few years.

I intend to carry on with the gym. I’m finally at the stage when I feel better after a session rather than near-death. I’ve even bought some leggings and new trainers. If you see me though, you have to promise not to laugh.DSCN1353

I’ll carry on with the sewing classes, though I’m not exactly brilliant at it and we have discovered I’m a rather odd shape so we have to alter patterns to make things fit. Still, it’s nice learning new stuff and it’s healthier than going to the pub. I just have to break the habit of picking up a takeaway on the way home.

We’ve been invited back to America to stay with (mostly) different friends. We’re hoping to be in San Diego for Thanksgiving. I can only repeat how grateful we are for having such generous friends. There is no way we could afford it otherwise.

Another resolution? Use my camera more? I have a nice shiny camera which I often forget to use. I’ll add some photos to this blog to show it wasn’t entirely wasted.

I’ve tried to make this positive, though like many people, I’m worried about the future. I’ll try not to let my little bit of it get too downhearted and do what I can to make things better.

Leave a comment


It’s a year ago today since my dad died. I’ve tried to write this a few times but given up. I’ve run out of time now so it will be short & unpolished.

My dad was a railwayman. He started as a cleaner, then worked his way up Arthur Raby 03 through being a fireman to a driver. When he retired he was driving Intercity 125s from Doncaster to London and Edinburgh. He was an incredibly strong minded man. For years I had a totally distorted idea of how easy it was to give up smoking because my dad stopped overnight, going from thirty a day after the price was increased one budget. He declared he “wasn’t bloody paying that price” and stopped. He never smoked again but still carried cigarettes in his pocket for my mum.

Growing up with a father who did shift work was odd. On the railways you didn’t even get regular shifts. Although the shifts were still nominally mornings, afters & nights the start times could vary hugely, even from day to day. It also meant a fair bit of “playing quietly”, usually outside someone else’s house, when he was in bed. It did have its perks though. Working on the railways meant cheap or free rail travel so we went on holidays much further afield than many of the children I grew up with. (By which I mean Colwyn Bay, Poole and the Isle of Wight) Most holidayed in Cleethorpes, Bridlington and Blackpool.

I can recognise many of his traits in me. I have the same stubborn streak and the same need to be right, even when, sometimes I know, deep down, that I’m wrong. I try to keep a lid on that because I know how infuriating it can be when someone does that.

I’m starting to remember him as he used to be before his memory started to fail. In the last couple of years he had become frail and querulous rather than strong and argumentative. He wasn’t the easiest of men. He was opinionated and stubborn and could sometimes be a bit thoughtless but he always meant well and he cared. I have never had a moment’s doubt that my parents loved me as well as each other

dad pub 2012

My mum died eight years ago and my dad missed her so very much. He was genuinely devoted to her and never really recovered from her death. I remember when she became ill she was already worried about how much he was forgetting things. In the last year or so he was becoming increasingly frustrated at his poor memory and his confusion but he remained fiercely independent. Getting him to accept that he needed help was an uphill struggle. He was a typical proud Yorkshireman.

And I miss him.

Leave a comment

Nurture 1314

Having put off my Nurture 1314 blog for over a week now I feel I really should do this in an effort to clear my mind and move on. I have struggled to think positively over the past few years. This is a double blow in a way because I am an optimist by nature. I have sometimes disguised this by a defensive form of pessimism where I actively try to assume the worst outcome so that if it should happen I would be better able to cope, however, secretly, I never really believed bad things would happen. They have of course, and I have coped, better on some occasions than others.


  1. I lost my dad in February. Lots of Twitter people were right there with me through the awful winter months last year when we were trying to cope with his increasing dementia & frailty. My youngest brother was brilliant once we realised how serious his condition was and with organising everything after he died. It has left a huge empty space in my life and sadness mixed with a relief which in turn produces a level of guilt. I keep meaning to blog about him. I’ll be ready to do that soon I think.
  2. On that note, Twitter friends. When I have had dark times they have been so caring & supportive. There were times when I feel I wouldn’t have made it through without them there on my phone with me in Filey. My family were good but having more people to talk to and lean on was invaluable.
  3. We had a huge summer tweetup at Yorkshire Sculpture Park again & met several new folk. This is getting to be an annual event and is brilliant. We selfishly arrange it around our anniversary (mainly because it is Summer & we have good weather usually. If you want to see what it is like my OH blogged about it here.
  4. Met several new Tweeps IRL such as @kykaree @realaqua & @BadPenfold as well as overseas chums @hugeshark & @badunderpants. Lovely people all.
  5. Now have permanent job again. Admittedly it’s part time and only until my charge finishes primary school (currently in year 5) and far, far lower pay than before but still, a job.
  6. Bought a SAD lamp in an effort to counter winter blues (or in my case grumpiness) so far, it seems to help.
  7. Have finally bought paint to start to redecorate our bedroom. Took ages to work out the right type because of the stone walls and incredibly old plaster. (also rather expensive)
  8. Have kept in touch with people from my old job who still matter to me. Turns out most of the ones I had issues with have now left, not under especially pleasant circumstances. That gave me a rather selfish & possibly spiteful thrill of satisfaction. That’s not kind of me I know but my life was made a misery and there is a sense of Karma.
  9. Started sewing classes. I have now half made a tunic. With class fees, patterns, materials & other equipment, this will end up being the most expensive garmernt I have ever owned, but I am having such fun learning completely new skills and meeting people.
  10. I’m more at peace with myself. I still doubt my abilities but my confidence is slowly returning.
  11. Booked trip to the US to stay with friends. We have been promising to do this for ages but finances did not really allow. We sold my dad’s bungalow fairly quickly and have decided to spend some of that on this trip. I am so very excited. I’m even prepared to let you all in on a little secret. I have never flown!

Getting  desperate now Oh yes Helped my charge to learn two things I think will really help

  1. To arrange items in neat rows before counting or to cross things out once counted (I know, but it’s an important skill)
  2. To skip over questions she can’t answer and come back to them later rather than trying & trying & getting upset which stopped her concentrating on anything remaining (Sounds minor but will be a huge asset when doing the actual assessments)

Whee. That#’13


  1. Carry on challenging myself to rediscover my self-confidence and, importantly, push through inevitable minor set-backs.
  2. Forget old job, (if not forgive) Move on.
  3. Be more proactive at work. New class teacher in January. Good time to start.
  4. Blog more consistently. I have neglected it of late.
  5. Re-enrol in sewing class. A half finished tunic is neither use nor ornament.
  6. Book on any suitable available CPD courses.
  7. Actually use the paint we finally bought to redecorate the bedroom. We will have to wait a while for better light though. Also find some wallpaper.
  8. Get back into the garden & tidy up all the bits that have become overgrown or shabby. (Part way there)
  9. Make sure we have at least the occasional weekend away.
  10. Keep in touch with my brothers. It would be so easy not to now we no longer have my dad to make sure we occasionally meet.
  11. Actually go back to Filey for a few days & see some of my dad’s old friends. They were wonderful when he was ill and I want to make sure they know how much I appreciated this.
  12. Walk more. When I get out I always enjoy it. The first step is always the hardest.
  13. Meet more Twitter folk and make sure I stay in touch with those I have already met
  14. Book a place at #NorthernRocks

Right Done. Excuse mistakes please. Was rattled off in a bit of a rush. Off next door shortly for drinks & friends for NYE. Have a great 2014 everyone!

1 Comment

Is it Just Me? (1)

Is it just me, or does this sound familiar?

  • You have people visiting, either coming for a meal or a drink, or people coming to stay.
  • The house is a bit of a mess so you tidy up.
  • You run out of time but there is still the sort of stuff lying around that you aren’t quite sure what to do with, or lots of little bits that need putting away in lots of different places.
  • To get the place tidy quickly you put it all in a bag or box & put it somewhere out of sight.
  • The people go, you sigh, relax, go to bed, go to work…
  • You pretty much forget about the box you put out of the way.
  • You want something but cannot find it. You can’t remember where you put it, you look in the place it is supposed to be and the usual places things turn up when they are missing
  • You decide it is lost or you never actually had it in the first place and you buy a new one
  • Rinse & repeat.

In case you haven’t guessed, we are tidying our outhouse (or conservatory if you want to be posh). We are finding lots & lots of things that were put “out of the way”.

This is almost as much fun as clearing the loft was. Among other finds we have:-

  • A cat tunnel
  • A footstool
  • Lots of gardening gloves
  • Elastic bands, now rotted

To be continued….