Taking home with us – again

Strange as it seems I cannot remember the farewell meeting when we left Sunderland North Circuit in 1968. However I do recall the wonderful gifts John was given. Thomson Memorial Hall gave him a slide projector and he also received a camera for slides from the Hood Street Church. It was brilliant! We ended up with loads of slides from which we had a lot of pleasure and not a few illustrated talks for meetings. We had the projector for years, and made good use of it, until we were able to upgrade it to one which could be loaded with a tray of 50 slides. I still have lots of family slides and a selection of holiday ones, and from now on looking at them for pictures to scan for the blog will be part of my routine. The Bible Class women gave me a cheque for £20, a substantial gift in those days. With it we bought a swing for the girls in the new garden and some records of singers I enjoyed, e.g. Deanna Durbin, Ian Wallace and others. Listening to them again has been on my things to do list for a while.

Newcastle manse in winter

Newcastle manse in winter

Although we were again going to a furnished house, we had more ‘home’ to pack as we had acquired curtains, small rugs and other odds and ends – as you do! The house was larger. There was lovely plaster work above each door in the main rooms and round the ceiling. The front bedroom upstairs also had this ornate touch and we thought it had once been the drawing-room. The girls shared it at first. There were three more bedrooms and when they were ready to go solo they had two smaller rooms to choose from. There was no central heating except one small radiator in the dining-room /study which was the overflow from the boiler through the wall in the breakfast room. However, Elspeth’s room was over that room and there were gaps in the floorboards which let heat from the boiler there to waft up through! We were a hardy lot in these days.

John and Mr Marshall

John and Mr Marshall

From the hall there was a corridor lined with shelves and cupboards, which was fortunate as the kitchen was going to be altered by Mr Wilf Marshall, the Circuit Steward, who had a building business. So once again we drew the short straw! However it was to our advantage so we looked on the bright side. The larder was to be incorporated into the kitchen so that was a wall to come down. How on earth would I be able to make meals? Mr Marshall solved that problem by knocking a hole in the wall and bringing the (vintage) electric cooker into the breakfast room. I was able to fill the kettle when the workers had their breaks. So we managed. Another hole in the wall came when the electrician was putting a new socket in and accidentally came right through, but all was put right in the end. Mrs Marshall was getting a new modern fridge so they kindly donated their old one to our manse. It was large and roomy and was just wonderful! No freezer, of course, but it meant I didn’t have to shop so often and gave me more time for the vacuuming and dusting!

Now we could get back to a more regular routine, for a time, anyway. When Harvest Festival, came we all went to the evening event and came home in the dark. I was into the breakfast room first and switched on the light to see a flash of movement in the grate. It was lots of wee insects running away under the boiler – absolutely horrible! John phoned Mr Marshall on the Monday and he said they were silverfish. We had never seen or heard of them and I wasn’t happy to have them there! He recommended a chemical called DDT which in later years was banned as unsafe! However after a time it did the trick, but I kept a wary eye when I switched on the light at night.

Ready for a new school

Ready for a new school

Anabel was 11 shortly before we moved and Elspeth was 8 and went to Wingrove School. Her first friend lived along the road from us and was called Nicola. Anabel attended Rutherford School as part of the second comprehensive intake to a former grammar school. Both were good schools and not too far from home. Anabel’s best friend was Valerie and the two of them still meet for a weekend together with their husbands every spring.

Crab apple picking

Crab apple picking

We had a long, wide garden at the back with two huge poplars and an ancient apple tree which was only moderately fruitful. There were also two crab-apple trees which flowered beautifully and each year had a bumper crop of bright red fruit after lovely flowers. Each year I made loads of apple and ginger jelly which sold well at Sales and our annual Garden Tea Party for Church funds. John and Elspeth were the champion apple pickers assisted by Anabel sometimes. John would give the tree a good shake and they’d gather the crab-apples that came down. After that it was turnabout on the ladder. We were visited by some of the lads of the area who climbed up on the next door stone wall and walked along it to the trees when they would fill their tucked in jumpers with apples no matter how often I told them they were sour and would give them stomach-ache!

Mandy in the back garden

Mandy in the back garden

Before long Elspeth started campaigning for a puppy since we had a big garden and the expanse of Nun’s Moor behind the garden fence. And it would be company for Mummy when they were all out! Anabel liked the idea and I had been used to caring for dogs since I was about 9 or 10. John could see the down side and to be honest, so did I. Then a Basset Hound bitch pup was advertised in the Newcastle Chronicle, 16 weeks old, house trained. So we drove to The Fossway to see the pup. Needless to say we were sunk as soon as we saw Mandy and her mother. Both dogs were friendly and absolutely beautiful! Mandy had already been sold to an elderly man who bought her for his wife. They found they couldn’t manage the boisterous pup and brought her back. We took her home that day and she was our faithful companion for over 10 years.

I had hoped to get one litter from her, and phoned around, but the only basset breeder in reasonable distance was the owner of Mandy’s sire so I gave up the idea and we had her spayed. As you might expect, before long Mum was the carer and did the bathing when she rolled in cowpats or on a dead hedgehog, yuk! But we still loved her. She was wilful but very clever and loved being on the moor with the other dogs we got to know (and their owners). She was often deaf when called but if you walked away she soon caught up. If a cat came into the garden she chased it. The words ‘pussycat in the garden’ sent her to the back door in a frenzy! She liked her people to stay together e.g., when we were at Whitley Bay for a walk along the seafront she wasn’t happy when the girls ran ahead; she would run back and forward between us trying to get us together again! She wasn’t allowed to be on beds or furniture but she learned how to slowly work her way from one paw on my chair to leaning on my lap. If I took no notice she would get the other feet up and end up lying diagonally across me with her head on my shoulder! That was lovely on a cold evening but she was eventually about 3 stone in weight so it wasn’t allowed very often.

Mandy and her handmaidens

Mandy and her handmaidens

For quite a long time Mandy’s mother would come to see us along with Mrs Ridley, her owner, unannounced. What an exciting time that was, though I used to feel a wee bit jealous of the way Mandy rushed to welcome them. She never forgot them. But she didn’t try to go away with them which made us happy. After about two years or thereabouts there were no more visits, so Mrs. R. must have been satisfied that Mandy was in a happy home. The only thing Mandy didn’t like was an umbrella! If one came into view on a wet day she would try to get us to cross over. She must have had a frightening experience before she came to us. We took her to Greenock always when we stayed with our parents and she and John’s Dad’s lovely whippet were a sight to behold, so different but such great friends. She was friendly with everyone but she loved her family and wasn’t happy unless at least one of us was with her.

It wasn’t my intention to say so much about Mandy. She played such a big part in our life for ten years and, as the girls said, she was company for me when they were at school! So thoughtful! She followed me around unless she was asleep from exhaustion after one of our three times a day round the Moor for an hour or so. I made friends and she made friends and we both enjoyed ourselves. It may sound like I was a lady of leisure but far from it! Fortunately I was fit and healthy and had loads of energy, then.

Mandy Basset

She had long, velvety ears and limpid brown eyes.

She had a jaunty tail and feet that were tea-plate size!

She had a loving heart and ingratiating ways.

She was our pet and our friend in our younger days.

She was so clever she could almost talk

And her greatest joy was to take us out for walks.

She stayed with us for so very short a time,

Because it is our Maker’s great design,

That Man is given years, three score and ten,

And Dog is given only few of them!


The blog will now be taking a break until the New Year. Happy Christmas!


4 thoughts on “Taking home with us – again

  1. Dear Christina,
    Yes, it is sunny here in Pukerua Bay today! Blessings for the Christmas season and I do so look forward to reading more of your stories when you come back on-line from your holiday break. Your stories encourage me to keep up with my family research.
    Take care, Margaret


    • Lucky you! It rained heavily all day here with some hail thrown in and a strong wind. Glad you like the blog and hope your family research goes well.
      It will be the 25th for you now so hope it is a happy Christmas day, Margaret., to you and yours from Chris.


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