Today, my Dad’s memoirs show him leaving his firm friend and going to RAF Bassingbourn.

Early in January, we left Raven and returned to HMS Daedalus. Immediately Ginger and I were back on the guard under the selection process. Time spent in Daedalus was time spent in awaiting transit to somewhere else and we carried out frequent checks looking at the noticeboard outside the drafting office in the hope that your name appeared which signified a move.

Ginger Jackson and I had been together now for over a year and were firm friends but now our courses diverged. After only about 4 weeks in Daedalus this time we both got Draft Chits. Ginger ws to go out to Malta and my Draft Chit said RAF Bassingbourne. I left first with all my kit and a Travel Warrant to Royston. There were give other Safety Equipment ratings on the same draft and we were at a loss as to how Naval Ratings were to relate to the R.A.F. Nobody made us any the wiser. I had what I thought was one consolation. I was aware that Royston was just outside Barnsley and had visions of getting home in the evenings and certainly for weekends.

We made our way to London and reported to the Regional Transport Officer at Waterloo. He directed us to Liverpool Street and only then did I find out that there was a Royston in Cambridgeshire where we were bound. Transport was available here to take us out to the R.A.F. Station at Bassingbourne. This was huge airfield with over 1000 R.A.F. personnel. We six were the only Royal Navy ratings there.

What are my reasons to be cheerful this week? Am I walking on sunshine?

1. Nearly two months after moving, I have the upstairs of our new home sorted. Everything is unpacked and put away sensibly. I do need a bedside cabinet for my teen’s room and another chest of drawers for ours but we are pretty much there.

2. My teen son got the most amazing report from his new school. He is in the top sets for everything apart from German which is fair enough seeing as he has never done it before. He is keen to pursue German so we are going to have to see how we can find him some extra help with that as we did not study German ourselves. Particular comments were made about his great talent for mathematics, science, ICT and his fabulous questioning and challenging contributions to class discussions. Very importantly, he is making new friends too. The new school is far better than his last one and they are looking into his issues with handwriting (I have been trying to get this nailed for almost 10 years).

3. I am really enjoying my 8 year old’s son company at the moment. I had missed a television programme I wanted to see and he was able to tell me all about it in such great detail. He loves word play as I do so we connect on that level. He brings me flowers from the garden most days. Today he told me the best thing about my dress for BritMums Live was me! This boy has serious charisma and I am sure will move mountains as he grows up. He got a special award from school for good work in science this week.

4. My daughter is growing up fast and I sense my little girl is becoming a young lady and a feisty one at that. It cheers me up that as she breaks away from the apron strings she still loves to snuggle up with me.

5. The children are enjoying their outdoor swimming pool at school and miraculously, I am remembering to send them with the right kit. On the way home, we often stop at the park and they get great exercise and I can catch up with the newspaper or a book.

6. We had a fantastic weekend in the sunshine celebrating D Day on Southsea Common.

7. The World Cup has started, My fella hates football but I like an event so we are having a pizza party for the game tonight.

8. I am enjoying writing my Dad’s memoirs – give them a go – they are a great read.

9. It is BritMums Live next weekend – time to reflect on a bit of a challenging year and to see amazing women all in one venue. Hoping to dine with some lovely ladies too. I am hoping it cools down a bit or that the Brewery has amazing air conditioning.

10. I have a new smartphone because Him Indoors decided I am so worth it.

That’s all folks. See some of you very soon!

My Dad continues his memoirs of the Navy moving from HMS Deadalus to HMS Raven for safety equipment training.


HMS Raven – safety equipment training in World War 2

As explained before, Daedalus was the main Fleet Air Arm base depot and as the European war ended all manner of Naval categories drifted through. A familiar sight, particularly in the NAAFI which was open to all ratings and non-commissioned ranks were the large numbers of Petty Officers and Chief Petty Officers who were qualified Pilots and Observers. It seemed strange to be rubbing shoulders with say a Chief Petty Officer Pilot who was hardly 20 years of age little older than myself.

There were many Officers too who were extraneous to service needs. Officers of all ranks. In fact, there was an RNVR Captain whose sole job was to supervise ratings who tended the potato fields. Due to shortage of food in war time the entire grassed area between the flight paths was cultivated and potatoes were grown there.

I spent most of the Summer of 1945 at Daedalus until on 14th August I moved to HMS Raven to undergo Trade Training. Raven was in fact Southampton Airport at Eastleigh but at that time remained as a Fleet Air Arm base as there was no civilian flying from the airfield at that stage.

We were accommodated here in wooden huts which were one stage better than the Nissan huts of Daedalus. Discipline also whilst still maintained was not as severe as Daedalus. The Commanding Officer was Commander Saint, a veteran of the defence of Crete and of the Mediterranean Campaign. He has the Naval aviator’s approach to relationships with his men i.e. a more relaxed attitude attitude to discipline than was met with in general in the Navy. Nevertheless that is not to say that you got away with any infringements of discipline. HMS Raven had a small and compact Ships Company and was a happy ship.

The training period was four months and during that time we were taught all about the safety of aircrew. This involved the composition and repair of parachutes, how to look after them and pack them.. How they were used in an emergency to abandon an aircraft and how they were used to supply by air stores, ammunition etc and also to drop lifeboats or dinghies to survivors in the water.

From there we moved onto dinghies of all descriptions once again repair, maintenance and use.

We were also instructed in the various items of survival gear and food rations, how they were to be stored and used.

Having learned all the technicalities we were then taken through the practical use of parachutes, dinghies and survival equipment in simulated conditions so that we understood the importance of doing the job right.

Dinghies were inflated and boarded in Southampton Baths before we graduated to spending several hours in 3 man dinghies in the sea off Southampton.

I am going to BritMums Live. It will be my third time so I guess I am hoping it is lucky for me. I am joining in the linky where delegates get to know each other in advance.

Name: Kate – as well as my own blog, I handle social media and charities stuff for BritMums

Blog: Kate on Thin Ice

Twitter ID: @kateonthinice

Height: 5ft 5 ish

Hair: Went from blonde to ginger to brown to grey. Will be dyed something reasonably spectacular or at least enough to weed out the roots before BritMums Live.

Eyes: Brown and I will be wearing glasses as I am incredibly short-sighted.

Is this your first blogging conference?

No, it will be my 3rd and should be my 4th but I bottled it the first time I wanted to go.

Are you attending both days?

It is to be hoped so as there is a rumour going round that I am looking after one of the rooms.

What are you most looking forward to at BritMums Live 2014?

Seeing blogger friends and eating with some of them on the Friday night. It is always refreshing to speak to a grown-up and I do love a good conversation once I overcome that shyness of mine.

Having a giggle and learning a lot.

What are you wearing?

Something at least 3 sizes bigger than what I will be wearing at BritMums Live 2015. Anything that hides/masks the gigantic tummy. Flats because I still fail to understand why women put themselves and their feet through the pain of high heels.

What do you hope to gain from BritMums Live 2014?

I will enjoy having a bit of time away from family responsibilities after a challenging year. I want to get to know one person in particular and a few generally a lot better. I want to giggle and to learn. I want to be inspired so that I can take my blogging and my life forwards in huge leaps in the next 12 months. Well, let’s think big – why not?

Do you have any tips to pass on to others who may not have been before?

My first tip would be do not talk yourself out of going however nervous you are. In 4 years, I have gone from bottling the whole thing to making a new best friend to speaking at the event to working at the event. That does not mean I won’t be quaking in advance of the event – it just means life is short so sometimes you have to challenge yourself.

If you are feeling shy, dig deep and act as if you are not or even better tell someone you are because either they will be an extrovert who wants to help you or an introvert who gets it. Either way, you win and it is so much better than returning home thinking you wish you had spoken to people.

Do not think you are the only one who walks round the block before going in, who hides in the loos or who thinks everyone else is glam and knows what they are doing.

If you need a breather or just to chill, there is a great Courtyard area at the venue.

Be generous in sharing what you know as well as being open to learning from others.

Do talk to brands. If you don’t, you may well miss out on something that is just right for you. They are at the event because they want to speak to bloggers.

Overall, try to think in advance about what you want from the event and then set about creating it. That might mean spending time working out which workshops will be most helpful to you, approaching a celebrity or challenging yourself to stand up and ask a question. Make it YOUR BritMums Live.

See you there!

What are my happy thoughts this week?

1. We had a fantastic weekend. We got the back garden sorted with lawn mowed and new hanging space for laundry sorted. We were pleased to pick up new glasses for all the children ready for the Back to School. We bought rugs and runners for the house. We also squeezed in charity shopping and a long walk in the countryside.

2. My teen son continues to bring me little treats. He also comes on the days that he finishes school early to the junior school to join me and the other two children on return school run. He really is a very lovely boy once he has woken up properly which seems to take longer every day.

3. My daughter has come to her senses and got rid of her first boyfriend. I was horrified when I was told she was “going out” with somebody. I will probably be shot down in flames but is my firm belief that girls lose focus on their own hopes and dreams when they get caught up in all the boys stuff.

4. My youngest son continues to take everything in his stride. He is one of those children who is good at everything and the one I worry about least.

5. My husband is clearly enjoying the children. He reads to them most nights. I catch him swinging arms with them and just generally showing extra affection. I think the separation period really woke him up to the pleasures of family life.

6. I am enjoying blogging more and loving starting the day by posting my Dad’s memoirs. I am learning so much about him as a young man as well as such detail on the war.

7. I have asked my husband to take some time off work so we can have some couple time and he happily agreed.

8. I am back to healthy eating most of the time and linking up with Wobbles Wednesday again to help with my motivation.

9. I am refusing to give up on my ideas about volunteering so am applying for a new opportunity every day until somebody has the courtesy to reply.

10. I had a lovely day yesterday when 3 people asked for my company at BritMums Live. I hate inflicting myself on people so it was great to know some folks would actually like to spend time with me.

11. Hold the front page! I actually got into conversation with a mum at the school gates yesterday.

I think I have worked out that a good weekend really does help set me up for a more positive week.