I have a great reason to be cheerful this week.

Over the Easter weekend, we will be moving to pastures new and reuniting as a family. This delights me on so many levels. It means the Royal British Legion despite their best efforts could not keep us down forever. It gives my husband and myself an opportunity to enjoy being a couple rather than working through a list of tasks. I think the opportunities for the children will be fantastic. What if one of them took up sailing and carried on Dad’s great love for the sea? I will be closer to London when exciting opportunities come my way as they do from time to time. I will be able to suggest a show in London without it seeming daft. We will be near my beloved sea which is so good for my body, heart and soul. I have needed a fresh start/kick up my immense bottom for some time and this will be a great catalyst to a good future.

Thinking about it, I loved living in the South of England. I left purely because my ex did me over emotionally and financially. That was 16 years ago!! I swore to my Dad that I would not stay put in Yorkshire but then I met my now husband and had 3 children and plans to return South went out of my mind.

I actually have butterflies with the excitement of it all. It still feels slightly unreal and I have not seen the new house yet so I hope it is as nice as my husband says it is. However, it does not really matter. What matters is leaving this terrible year behind us and starting afresh.

This is probably very arrogant but can I just say a big “Well done us!” for holding it together through a lot of stress. Yes we had screaming, rows, tears, depression but we are here and we are a family. Big thanks to Auntie you know who you are, my brother and lovely online friends who kept me hopeful with tweets, emails, blog comments and cards.

Writing my Dad’s memoirs I see his service number began with P for Portsmouth so I sense he had a very big hand in all this.

Feeling quite giddy.

Loads more reasons to be cheerful too but this one is the giant one!

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Pay and kit in the Navy

April 17th, 2014

By the beginning of the second week there was a 12 inch snowfall and a couple of days were spent snow-clearing. Before the fortnight was up we had been knocked roughly into shape as a squad who could march more or less in step, had been taught how to salute officers and how to distinguish some of the various ranks so that we didn’t salute Petty Officers and Chief Petty Officers.

We were about ready for our next move although we were not told where that would be. There was still a war on and posters all over the country said “Careless Talk Costs Lives” although how vital the information would be to Hitler that a hundred or so matelots with two weeks experience being moved from A to B would be I don’t know.

Before the move were were to get paid. Throughout the Navy pay parade for “other ranks” was more or less on the same lines. Men were lined up in an order known only to the Payment Officer and when each man’s number was called he stepped forward to the pay table, saluted the paying officer, removed his cap and placed it on the desk when his fortnightly pay was placed within it. Take up the cap, remove the money, place cap on head, salute the officer and turn away back to the ranks. Sailors were paid 3 shillings a day the equivalent of the present 15p. Thus fortnightly 42 shillings. However it was a compulsory requirement that of this amount one third had to be allocated to the next of kin whether a man was married or single, thus a man’s actual pay every fortnight was 28 shillings. The Navy sent 14 shillings per month to Mother. Additional to this each man was paid sixpence per week kit allowance.

The issue of kit mentioned earlier was the one and only issue throughout a man’s service. The only exception to this rule was if climatic or working conditions required a man to have additional clothing. Whatever official issue of clothing a man had he had thereafter to replace at his own expense. This applied whether an item of clothing was worn out, lost or stolen. Once again there was an exception and that was if an item of kit was lost or damaged during enemy action.

Thus unlike the Army or the Air Force who received replacement kit if the original wore out the men in the Navy replaced items themselves. Most shore depots had what were known as Slop Stores (kit was known as Slops) which were open at certain times and where a man could purchase replacement kit.

Theft was a serious offence and in general did not take place but nevertheless each man kept all his kit secure in his large kit bag which was capable of being padlocked. It was also an offence to be in possession of kit bearing another man’s name, hence the requirement to name-stamp everything in one’s own kit. It was of course an additional means of identifying a drowned sailor.

No opportunity had been given for any of us new recruits to leave Royal Arthur during the fortnight we were there.
We therefore scrambled on the last day carrying out own kit and were lorried to Skegness Station to board the troop train in which we remained for the next 19 hours.

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Have you seen the fabulous challenge for bloggers over on BritMums. You can do the #GreatBritishHome fun quiz and find out what sort of style you have and who might share it in the celebrity world.

Where did my home style come from? Why do I make the choices I do when it comes to turning a house into a home?

I think a lot comes from my mum who loved things that were a little bit different and preferably a bargain to boot. We spent a lot of weekends going round antique fairs and flea markets. She loved it when the first charity shop showed up in our town and I still remember her joy when my brother introduced her to the particular pleasure of car booting.

Mum loved her ornaments particularly Royal Doulton ladies and treasures sent to her by my Uncle from London. She liked having lots of kitchen equipment and loved any blue and white porcelain items. She would swap sofas at an alarming rate. Cushions were everywhere and curtains and bedding sets were usually of the floral and striking variety.

What about me? What does my style say about me?

The first thing to say is you will probably find books in every room of my home. Fact and fictions, ones on self-improvement, ones on trying to look good, New Age ones – an eclectic mix. I dream of a room which has its walls lined with bookshelves.

My bedding tends to be striking with rich colours. I would like a sleigh bed one day but never seem to get round to buying one. I would like louvre doors for a wardrobe as they remind me of my beloved Uncle’s home.

Shall we just gloss over the children’s rooms and pretend I don’t hurt my feet on Lego and sigh heavily as I pick up toys?

My bathroom’s striking feature is, if I say so myself, a fabulous collection of rubber ducks in all manner of guises and colours. I would like a slipper bath and I would also like a wet rooms.

My husband goes mad because I collect objects usually via the charity shop that I like. He would prefer a well-thought out theme.

Glancing around, I see candles, a Russian Doll. a book on Seamanship and a monkey covering its eyes.

Remember most of my stuff is packed in bin liners and boxes ready to move house or this would be a much longer post. I dream of owning one of those globe drinks cabinets so fashionable in the Seventies.

Kitchen-wise I would love one with a dresser filled with Cornish Blue crockery. Pans would all be cast iron and colourful. I would like one where things hang down too – always think that looks brilliant. Oh, and can I order a stable door please? I would like a milk churn outside the door too.

My dream garden would be one of those country ones that look wild but are actually very well-managed by the gardener the universe is going to deliver to me one day.

I like my walls covered in art too – seascapes and ones with amusing or meaningful sayings on them.

It came as no surprise when I tried the Victoria Plumb Great British Home quiz and came out as “Quirky and Cool”. I have being called quirky quite a few times in my life although rarely if ever cool. Perhaps I have a coolness all of my own. Who knew?

Well, that’s a little about my home style.

You should have a go and you might win one of ten £100 John Lewis vouchers so you can put some of your dreams into action.

I am not eligible to win as I work for BritMums but it could be you!

This post is an entry for the #GreatBritishHome Challenge sponsored by Victoria Plumb, a source of quality bathrooms for every type of home. Take its “What’s Your Celebrity Home Style?” quiz to discover what your home says about you.

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Sailor style

April 15th, 2014

It is worth spending some time describing the kit that was allocated to a sailor who was going into the seaman branch as all of us at Royal Arthur were.

You were marched as a squad into a large camp hall which was fitted out as a supply store and if I can remember then all were given the following:-
1 Large canvas kit bag
2 hammocks with strings and rope
1 soft mattress and mattress cover
1 blanket
2 serge trousers
2 serge jumpers
1 Melton overcoat
1 black oilskin coat
2 pairs of boots
2 wool jerseys (blue)
2 white cotton shirts (known as fronts or flannels)
2 caps
2 cap tallies (each with HMS in gold cotton)
4 pairs blue wool stockings
1 silk square
1 white lanyard
1 Attache case 14 inches by 11 inches by 4 inches
1 Trouser/money belt
1 Pussers knife
2 boot brushes
1 gas mask
1 Manual of seamanship
1 sewing set (known as a Housewife or Husseiff
and last but not least a large sheet of brown paper and a length of string.

Also a little block of wood some 4 inches by 2 inches by 3 quarters of an inch slotted along its length. A group were given a box of letters in woood whch were soaked in the block to spell out your name. This was used to mark your clothes in white or black paint.

Loaded with all these items we were taken to a large room by our instructor now known to be Leading Seaman “Knocker” White and it was demonstrated to us how the various items of clothing were put on to become the sailor’s square rig. We were also shown how to sling a hammock and also how to lash and stow it when not in use.

At this time were were each given a bakelite disc on a length of string to wear around the neck at all times, literally all times. The disc had stamped on it the man’s name, religion and service number. My number was P/JX739065 with the P representing Portsmouth as being my home depot.

Also at this time were were given pieces of wood rather like shortened clothes pegs on the end of each of which was a letter of the alphabet and on full stop. When these were arranged onto a short piece of wood each man’s name was splet. Tins of white and black paint were produced and each man marked everyone of his items of kit using his name board, white paint on dark-coloured clothing and black paint on light.

We were each given a handful of metal studs – hobnails and were told the precise pattern how they should be knocked into our boot soles.

We were then told to repair to our chalets to change from civilian clothing into uniform and to stow our kit away tidily.

The reason for the mysterious sheet of brown paper and string became apparent when were were told to wrap up all our civilian clothing into a parcel and to address it home. After being handed in at the Camp Office it was posted home compliments of the Navy.


Jumping to it in the Navy

April 14th, 2014

The next thing was to hear at 6.30am next morning a Petty Officer banging each bed with a stick with shouts of Wakey Wakey. Still pitch black, there was a scramble to find the toilet block now to be known as “Ablutions” and to fight along with dozens of others for a sink to wash and shave in cold water and to await a chance to use one of the row of toilets.

Breakfast was porridge followed by bacon, egg and fried bread. There was one thing that despite strict rationing to the civilian population, food in the Navy was always good. After breakfast, we fell in as a squad again.

There were now more than a hundred newcomers and we were divided into 13 groups of about 30 and were placed under the guidance of a Leading Seaman whose job it was to see that each member of his squad did everything that he was told and to it right during the next fortnight. Mine was called Leading Seaman White.

First of all, every man underwent another thorough medical examination. Having been searched minutely for piles, dropped testicles, flat feet, ears, eyes and throat peered into, stethoscoped and found to be breathing, you were declared to be fit, vaccinated and innoculated and from there went to be allocated a service number.

At the same time you were given a Station Card which identified who you were and which had to be produced on demand e.g. at mealtimes to see that you only got one meal and not two!

In the days that followed, each man received a haircut to be paid for and this was indifferent to the plea that you had had a haircut a few days before joining. He was also given his full kit, had his photograph taken, given a pay book, vaccinated, innoculated and generally made to jump to it!


Silent Sunday

April 13th, 2014


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Today is a day I have looked forward to for some time plotting with my friend Elizabeth to sprinkle a little fairy dust.

Who wants to go to BritMums Live? We have a FREE ticket to giveaway.

Last year, I did a Golden Ticket as I wanted somebody to experience the joys and surprises that I had at BritMums Live 2012.

Being me, I said I would go very much on instinct as to who should get the ticket. Lots applied of course some bloggers that I knew and some that I didn’t.

I had narrowed it down to two potential recipients in my own mind so asked my husband to help me choose between them. As I worked through the emailed entries with him, a new email pinged into my inbox. Pretty much from the first line, it was clear that it would be difficult not to go with this new entrant. It felt like reading an email I would write myself. It felt like somebody I would like to get to know better. It felt right.

I still mulled it over to be absolutely sure and asked further questions of the three main contenders.

How delighted I am that I chose Elizabeth. I stressed that she did not have to feel any future duty-type connection with me but I think we have become friends over the last year or so. I have needed that friendship in ways that I never envisaged at the start of last year.

Elizabeth has bought a ticket and we are giving it away. You can check out all the details on Elizabeth’s pos

We want you to give us your email address as we will be sending you an email but basically all we will ask you to do is to say why you would like the ticket. You don’t have to try to be clever or witty. Just tell us your thoughts and feelings about why you want to.

We will then gather in a top secret location with cocktails (bit of a fantasy that bit!) and make our decision.

I can’t wait to find out where the fairy dust will fall this time and what magic it might bring.

Don’t stress it – just apply and see what happens.

Posted in General | 4 Comments »

Dad joins the Royal Navy

April 8th, 2014

On the 10th January 1945, my maternal grandfather Benjamin Morgan died. The funeral was on 15th January the same day that I reached 17 and a half and that very day a letter marked OHMS arrived through our letterbox. I opened it excitedly and read that I had to report for duty at Leeds on 29th January.

I showed this to my father whose firm instructions were that it was the wrong day to acquaint my mother of this and “You had better say nothing for a few days until she gets over the funeral”. I managed to contain my feelings for a day or two but it was my father who broke the news to my mother. It was obviously a further upset for her that the inevitable was upon us and that I would be leaving home to face goodness knows what.

Another week passed and the morning of 29th January 1945 found me in my best (and only) suit with a small case containing change of shirt, socks and underwear (and also a cake baked by my mother) on my way to the Railway Station at Dewsbury with my father accompanying me to see me off on the 9am train.

I had never had any talk from my parents on the “facts of life” and I suppose I was no more or less knowledgeable that my contemporaries in that respect but no doubt my father had had instructions from my mother to put that right before I left. At any rate on the station platform, Dad blurted out “Think on. Keep away from red lamp ‘oles and with that sex education I boarded the train for Leeds and waved goodbye.

On reporting at Leeds and joining some 30-odd other would be sailors we were placed under the supervision of a Petty Officer and joined a train to an unknown destination which turned out to be Skegness in Lincolnshire. When we arrived at Skegness Railway Station, it was a wet and foggy night (and of course the country was under blackout which meant that no lights of any description were showing) we walked until a number of canvas backed lorries arrived which we boarded and stood up in the back which then transported us to the Butlins Holiday Camp a few miles along the Skegness Coast and we passed the guardroom at the barbed wire entrance and alighted from the lorries.

We had now arrived at HMS Royal Arthur and a new phase of life commenced.

We were formed up into threes in squads and marched through the camp to a dining hall where a meal was waiting for us. Given the minimum time to eat a main course and a pudding, we were formed up again and matched to another part of the camp where we were allocated a chalet number and to ld to be up washed, shaved and dressed for breakfast for net morning at 8am.

By about 10pm, still finding our way in pitch darkness and the wet fog, we managed to locate the appropriate chalet, each of which accommodated six men, chose a bed and fell asleep.

Morning came …

Wakey wakey – accompanied by Reveille played full blast on a bugle.

This was my first introduction to the coarse humour of the Royal Navy

Wakey, wakey, rise and shine
Hands off cocks, on socks
the sun’s scorching your bleeding eyes out!

This was a common wake-up call sometimes with variations.

And so my life in the Royal Navy began,


Groovy Mums

April 7th, 2014

I am feeling quite groovy today if we equate groovy to being upbeat and positive.


I am starting to work out that sometimes I need to take a break. I had a very chilled weekend watching family films, crafting with the children and relaxing.

Two lovely things happened out of the blue on the friendship front. After a play date, a mum came round to mine and stayed for ages chatting. It made me feel quite human again. Then the loveliest lady online said she would love to go on a little retreat together. She is amazing so this makes me think I can’t be half bad too.

I also feel I might need help with certain matters and am looking into that or will be when we get relocated.

Here are my groovy questions or challenges that you might want to think about.

1. When was the last time you took a break? You probably deserve one. How can you make it happen?

2. What are the times in your life when you were really happy? What was making you so and what of that can you replicate now?

3. What can you incorporate into your daily life to shake it up a bit?

That’s all from me for now. I am away to spread fairy dust and believe in a positive future.

Find out more about Groovy Mums

Here are some very Groovy Discounts

If you are blogging about making positive changes to your life, please link up below and I will promote your post.

Posted in Grooving | 2 Comments »

Dad’s memoirs

April 7th, 2014

I was 11 years of age in July 1938 and having passed the scholarship, I started my secondary education at the Wheelwright Grammar School for Boys in Dewsbury in September 1938.

The school which catered mainly for paying pupils but which admitted a small percentage of scholarship boys had an Army Cadet Force which accepted pupils from the age of 12 years i.e. secnd year pupils. The school Cadets were affiliated to the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry whose Territorial Army battalion trained nearby.

I joined the Cadets in 1939 and wore their uniform of peaked cap, belted tunic, jodphur trousers and putees. Training in arms drill, marching etc took place once a week on Fridays after lessons finished.

The Second World War was started in September 1939. I remained in the school Cadets until 1942 and then my interest being really the Royal Navy, I joined the Sea Cadet Corps in June 1943 just before my 16th birthday. I also left school in July that year with no particular thoughts on what I wanted to do as my sole aim was to get into the Royal Navy as soon as I could although there was no way in the midst of a war that my parents would give their consent to such a move.

I therefore took a job as an apprentice in a steel construction works until I was old enough to volunteer.

Although I was actually in a reserved occupation, I persuaded my parents to let me volunteer when I was 17 years of age. They must have had some heart-searching to allow me to volunteer as this was not long after the D-Day invasion of Europe in 1944 and of course the war in the Far East looked like being a long drawn out affair.

Suffice to say that immediately on reaching the age of 17 years, I went to the Recruiting Office in Leeds to volunteer. I didn’t really know what I wanted to be but some of my school friends were a little older than me were already in the R.N. and were training to be wireless mechanics and so I put that down.

I was told I would have to attend a medical examination in due course but the in any event the Navy could not accept me until I was 17 and a half years of age.

A few weeks later, I was called to attend at Leeds for a medical among a number of other young men, one of whom was Alan Jackson, also a volunteer, 3 days older me who came from Wetherby. We both passed the medical and went back to our jobs (he was a gardener with Harrogate Corporation) to await our actual call up.

Alan (better known subsequently as “Ginger”) and I were thrown together at various times and became firm friends which friendship continued after we left the service.

I waited anxiously for the time to come when I would be 17 and a half years old in January 1945.