War Diary Years V and VI and VII

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With the recession and our current economy drive, I find myself looking back to 1998/99 when circumstances left us in a very difficult financial situation. These are our fifth and sixth years.

DB = my husband DS = our son. 

January/March l943/1998 Buses are being restricted in some parts of the country to help conserve fuel. A terrible accident has occurred on the Underground. At the start of an air raid, a woman carrying a child, tripped down the stairs.178 people were crushed and suffocated! Cheese reduced to 6oz, then 4oz. Milk back up to 2½ points.

The weather in January has been indifferent. Most days are cloudy, windy, rainy and cold, with just a nice sunny day thrown in. It is nice to do a spot of weeding on these rare days, go for a walk or a quick bike ride and just bask in the mild warmth. It somehow helps to get you feeling right to turn your face to the sun, inhale the good, clean country air and notice the slight changes taking place in the hedgerows.

The cold, blustery days see me in the kitchen making soup and bread. My first 2 loaves were a bit on the dry side, the next 2 better, so hopefully they will set the trend. Today, we have had leek, potato, bacon and pearl barley soup. During the week, I shall make pumpkin, followed by chicken and celery to use up today’s roast chicken remains.

When the oven is on for tea, or from baking bread, I try to use it for something else to make the most of the electricity being used. Date slices are something we haven't had for ages and DS was delighted to see some being made today. Tomorrow, I shall use some of the chicken to make Coronation Chicken, which is diced chicken, apple or grapes in a creamy curry mayonnaise. This can be served with rice or potatoes and a winter salad. I usually try to get 4 meals from a chicken, one of which is usually soup.

February was one of the mildest on record. Some days, it got over 22C! People were even sunbathing on the beach. These unseasonally high temperatures whilst not having much effect on the hedgerows and trees, had a dramatic effect on the garden itself. Several summer flowering plants have sent up shoots as high as 4", my daffodils are coming out and unfortunately, so are the bugs.

March was unusually wet, receiving on average, 4 times its normal rain. This carried on into April with floods in many parts of the country. Several people have been killed. The gardens will soon recover but water damage to houses will take many months to sort out. Rain, gales, snow, hail and frost have arrived often at the same time causing destruction and hardship.

April/June l943/1998 Budget brought in higher taxes on beer, tobacco, wines, entertainment and non-essential goods. May 16th saw the 2nd National Thanksgiving Day for the North African campaign. Public urged to eat more potatoes to save ships moving the flour. Cheese now down to 3oz but milk up to 4 pts.

April - We were given an Easter present of a small bar of chocolate and a kit to make Hot Cross Buns, yummy. Easter eggs arrived via the grandparents as well as a huge egg won in a raffle, not bad. I gave up sweets, cake, biscuits and puddings for Lent, it was very hard work and I hardly lost any weight, but oddly enough, I haven't gone too mad on the eggs.

We have decided to have a rest from bought sausages, either our tastes have changed or the recipe, they just don't taste the same and we are beginning to get a few more bits of gristle, which almost make me vomit. So, having looked up various recipes, we are going to have a go ourselves, but without skins.

I shall have to get back onto bread making again as we tend to buy the cheaper loaves and their taste leaves a bit to be desired. I'm also going to get dried egg again as they do make lovely cakes and biscuits.

I have sown and transplanted several peppers and tomatoes along with some fuchsias to enjoy later in the summer. We have dug up our patio and laid down some polythene to keep weeds down. We have rounded off the area and are going to lay down gravel to make a 'sea-side' effect with grasses and possibly bamboo swaying in the breeze.

May started off very similar to February with hot and often humid weather. Despite having the windows and doors open, the temperature in the house became too warm and stuffy which resulted in increased but leggy growth on my seedlings. I have decided to plant them out but protect them from frost with dustbin bags.

We have begun eating salads again and what a treat they are. The past 2 weeks have seen 26C, and us constantly on salad! Magic. The weather cooled off considerably towards the middle of May and night time temperatures began to drop alarmingly and I had to cover my plants but luckily no frost. However, as May progressed, the weather turned very wet and windy and although the apple, pear and plum blossom was greatly increased from last year, the wet put paid to most of it. At one stage we had 3 plums but lost them all. We had 9 pears for a while but now only have 5, and the apples have not faired much better with one tree having no apples at all! 
June - The fig is fig less but at least the loganberry, as ever, is fruiting its heart out. The rhubarb was so floppy at the beginning of the month that I almost dug it up thinking it had got some dreadful bug or disease. Glad I didn't though as towards the end of May when the rain returned, it went from strength to strength. The cherry tree in the front garden has a few cherries on it but yet again is plagued by black fly. Ho hum!

We were at another craft fair end of May and although not warm, it was pleasant and we did okay. I transplanted 12 lettuces of which 11 have taken and we have just eaten the first one. A row of radishes, French beans and Ruby Chard followed. My darling husband however, took it on himself to tidy up the lawn edges, remove stones etc, the end result of which was 3 radishes, 3 chards and 1 bean. He hadn't noticed my labels and said I should have told him!!!

We finally found some spare money to get the back garden finished. Several plants and over a ton of gravel later, it looks lovely. We even have a new pond re-styled from the old and a raised alpine bed. We made a fountain from a 1950's RAF fire extinguisher, painted it a lovely blue, matched up the shed in the same colour, painted the garden furniture a deeper shade, and hey presto, a nice Mediterranean garden.

Just when we thought summer was arriving back came the wind, cold and gales. Several areas of the country were once again flooded though not as bad as last time. The wind has messed up the garden and now, halfway through June, we have had to begin staking plants again. The average temperature at the moment is about 17c.

Horror of horrors, we went to the only supermarket we know that sells dried eggs and they have stopped selling them. Now we can't get any at all. Worse still, the hen-laying population have gone mad and many 1000's are being slaughtered, as there is an egg glut. So, for the time being, we have decided to pretend we have got chickens, given up dried egg until another source can be found and change over to fresh eggs. We shall increase our ration from 12 to 18 per month as we feel sure this would have occurred should such a glut have happened during the war and hope it saves a few chickens.

Ours points system has gone haywire. DS is beginning to eat like a horse, probably moving into his adolescence and is therefore turning to his favourite item, cereals. With only 72 points per month to play with it is becoming increasing difficult to make ends meet.

Our average food spending per month has increased to £130/£140. Along with all other household bills, this brings the total bill increase to around £40 per month with no extra income to help. Somehow though, we seem to cope which is just as well as business isn't too great at the moment and I have had to cancel my wage. I hope to begin it again in September. DS has only 6 more weeks at his junior school. He then begins 'big' school in September.

It is nice the see the blossom on the hedgerows. The elderberry is superb and we look forward to picking them. This year, I hope to remember to pick the plums in time. We have been saving our newspapers not that we buy any, we only get free ones. We hope to be able to buy a paper mache log maker and supplement our winter fuel this way. We do however need hot and sunny weather to dry out the bricks. So far, they are far and few between. I also hope to begin making paper but again, need the warm, dry weather for drying the sheets once made.

July/September l943/1998 Italy surrenders. On the 12th, was the 3rd National Thanksgiving day for the Italian surrender. Dried egg powder has now increased to 1 tin per 4-week period; it was previously per 8-week period! In July, milk was reduced to 3pts, and then in August, it was further reduced to 2½ pts per person per week!!!


DS has had his 'taster day' at his new school. It seems all my worries were for nothing as he thoroughly enjoyed it and is looking forward to starting in September.

The rhubarb, which started so badly, has come along in leaps and bounds with strong, tall growth. The loganberry is giving us its usual glorious result and each day, sees more and more disappear into the freezer for later use.

I have planted my leeks and some more lettuce to help us through the summer, when it arrives! The tomatoes are all growing well and producing tiny fruit lets. The chilli peppers have been transferred to a trough and are beginning to sort themselves out a bit. Hopefully, later in the season, I shall be able to make my usual winter supply of tomato and chilli sauce. I still have 2 bottles from last year, plus 2 Elderberry Cordials and a Sloe Gin. We are now down to our last 3 jams, all strawberry and blackcurrant but as the fresh fruit season arrives, I shall start again. We get through so much in winter as we love jam sandwiches when hungry.

My 3 ruby chard plants - first ever to survive - are all growing well, at least the wet weather helps them. I have no idea what they taste like but they are supposed to be okay, the top being like spinach and the stalk a cross between celery and asparagus, which is great stir-fried!!! We shall see, my family will probably never speak to me again.

We have joined the butchers 'Christmas Club' - similar I suppose to the wartime pig clubs. It means going without now and having it in December. £3 a month of our meat ration goes towards it.

There seems to be an awful lot of ants this year. So far, they haven't had the warm evenings to fly off, usually into our hall and porch, but they are everywhere in the garden, especially the red ones, which appear to be more aggressive than the black.

We found a new blackbird nest in our Wisteria and our neighbour had a strange, large bird in her garden. After checking in our bird book, it turned out to be a French partridge - fancy that.

Down in the bottom of the freezer, we found a chicken and are having a full roast dinner today (Friday) as the weather isn't too hot. Our sausage making is going great. As I don't stick to the same recipe mostly they are good but sometimes they are wonderful. The best recipe seems to be with the addition of 1 slice of bread, extra fat, a few fresh or dried herbs, then onion and either a large blob of tomato puree or a good dash of soy sauce, haven't tried them yet with Worcestershire sauce as its not something I usually have in stock.

Weather wise, it is a poor do so far, possibly worse than last year. We are in early July, are wearing light jumpers as the daytime temperatures are between 16C and 19C. There is still plenty of rain about and the garden with just a few exceptions, has just about flowered itself out.

Joy of joys! We have found a supplement to a magazine, dated around the late l930's. In it, is an article on food prices. Here are monetary comparisons between then and now (1998): -

1/2 lb Tea
1/2 lb Cocoa

2lbs Sugar
1/2lb Cheese

1 pkt Porridge

1 pkt Dates

1lb Jam

1/2 lb Marmalade

1/2 lb Sultanas

1lb Dried Pears

1 pkt Wheat flakes
12 Weetabix

1lb Butter
1lb Margarine
3lb Flour
1/2 lb Haricots

Small Jar Bovril

Tin Sponge Pud.

1/4 lb Lard
1 pint Milk
6 Eggs
Tin Dried Eggs
1 Large W. Bread
1 Large B. Bread
1lb Fish

1lb Eating Apples

2lb Cook. Apple


1lb New Potatoes
1/2lb Tomatoes
1lb Bananas
1lb Raspberries

1lb Good Bacon
1lb Rib of Beef

1lb Neck Mutton

1lb Sausages

1/2 lb Dripping

1 Bar Soap

1 Bar Hand Soap

Have at long last found a stork cookery booklet, dated 1948 but still operating under the rations and points system as indicated by a meat meal for 4 with 12oz total meat content. Most of the recipes are very good and although a lot of the puddings require steaming, it shouldn't be too difficult to convert them to either baking or micro waving!

I've had a cycle around the lanes checking on the progress of the wild plums. It looks as though it will be a bumper year, which is just as well as my ‘domesticated’ ones are no more having either been frosted, or blown off at an early stage, thank heavens for the wild crop. I also came across 3 wild mushrooms.

I walked to and fro past them several times before deciding to pick them. Heaven alone knows what people must have thought. I reflected with sadness, that as a child, I would have easily identified with horse mushrooms, yet here I was, with all the typical inbred fear of the adult, wondering if indeed they were mushrooms, or toadstools resembling them.

Anyway, after several looks, I picked them; their pinky grey gills and smell confirmed them, almost, as mushrooms. I know my husband wouldn't touch them, so I said a prayer and deep-fried them. The mushroom smell was over-powering so I knew I was right. Being wild, they didn't have the high water content of commercial ones and hardly shrunk, the taste was absolutely superb. I wish I could find some more. It won't be too long before the shaggy ink caps appear. They have a slightly slimy texture but maybe deep-fried, perhaps in some batter, they may be better. Possibly I could dry them, but it depends on whether that process may accelerate the dripping of the ink!!!

Our friend R. came around to play some music with us. We haven't done this for months as she has been at college learning all about computers and has now got a temporary 2 days job at the college. Her youngest child is shortly due to leave home and goes to University so she had not had too good a day. 

She arrived with a bottle of red and white wine, some crisps and a pot of recently made strawberry jam. Yummy! The other day, she popped in as a friend was visiting for a few hours from Germany. This time, she came with a tub of home made spaghetti sauce, which we ate 2 days later, very nice.

DS has come home after his residential visit to Derbyshire. He thoroughly enjoyed himself and arrived back mucky and very tired. We gave him his tea, bath and by 6pm he was in bed and didn't wake up for 15 hours!

Today he has gone to school very smartly dressed, as he is one of 6 children who have been selected to show the 3 applicants around for the new Head teachers job. I must point out however, that his glee was down to missing swimming. Not that he dislikes it but is not allowed to wear a nose-clip and that starts off his sore nose.

DS has left Junior School. We went to his final assembly (which we do at the end of each summer term) but didn't want to miss this one, as the Head, Mr. M. was leaving. It was very good, moving but with lots of laughter. DS was awarded the Maths Cup as the top maths student in Year 6. He holds it for 1 year and will have his name inscribed on it.

It is now almost the end of July. The weather still hasn't picked up. You can tell it is summer by the temperature on the days it stops raining! Still, we mustn't complain. In the USA, especially around Texas, they haven't had rain for several months, the temperature is around 42C, and crops, animals and people are dying. In Papua New Guinea, they had an earthquake 18 miles off their coastline, which created 3 huge tidal waves, 30 feet high. It is now estimated that 10 thousand people may have perished, with more than 30 villages wiped clean away. In China, the Yanksee River is swollen and threatening the whole area along its length. If it breaches the defences, it is estimated that 10 million people could loose their lives and more than 30 million will be left homeless. It is hard to comprehend loss in such high numbers.

DS, I. (a neighbour) and I, went pluming this week. There are simply hundreds of them about, more red than yellow, which is unusual. Anyway, not being too greedy, we picked for ourselves; 3lb of yellow and 5lb of red. All are in the freezer ready for pies and jam. I. brought some jam over as a thank you for taking her. We have done this since DS was about 3. It is fun, hard on the head when un-ripe ones drop down, dirty and sweaty but very rewarding.

We went to the Sandringham Flower Show with our crafts. It started out well, but for the first time in as long as anyone can remember, it rained heavily during the early afternoon and lots of people went home. Our sales were half of last year, which in turn were half of the year before. If this trend carries on for the rest of the year we will be in serious trouble.

We went once again to the Living History at Kirby Hall. Then the following weekend, we are going to see some friends at Knebworth House. After that, we have another craft fair then hope to go to Nana and Granddad’s for a week and visit places in North Wales on our English Heritage Family card.

My dad is not coming over from the USA. In my heart, I knew he wouldn't so am at least prepared. Got a letter from my niece who with her friend Jo, is hiking around the world. They are halfway through their yearlong journey and are staying in Australia for a month with relatives. They sound as though they are having the time of their lives!

We have invested in 2 back to back card displays. We used them for the first time at Sandringham and sold 43 cards in the one day. Hopefully, the trend will continue. I had 5 new cards on display, most of which, sold out.

August 1943/1998

Yesterday was my birthday. Got a packet of luxury biscuits plus an I.O.U. for a present from DB and DS (The present they were going to get me was sold out!) Also received, were a letter rack, flowers and a lovely book. In the evening, I had a phone call from my sister, we chatted for nearly an hour. It has been a long while since I have spoken to her for so long.

Finally got around to trying some Ruby Chard vegetable for tea. It tasted earthy and rather like beetroot. Also had a few French beans. I don't think we shall grow the chard again but at least we were able to try it. I shall have to get some new bean seeds, as this plant was the only one from a whole row of seeds!

Think I might get around to making my jam in the next few days. Went into last years supply only to find it had all gone. I will make some with loganberries, redcurrants, and plums and shall also freeze my rhubarb before it dies down. It has been such a glorious display and I shall be very annoyed with myself if I fail to harvest it. Not much point in digging for victory if it spoils.

With DB’s help, we cut, blanched and froze 5lbs of rhubarb. Managed to get 6lbs of jam made in some lovely assorted flavours, blackcurrant and wild plum, rhubarb and loganberry etc. Went to stay with Nana and Granddad for a week. Had a good time. Popped into North Wales for the day and visited 2 Welsh Heritage properties. As we were English Heritage members, it was free and saved us £20.50! Came back home to find tomatoes ripening all over the garden. Most are of the mini variety so didn't take long to eat. The fig tree has decided to send out fruit, too late I fear for eating and they will also be too big to over- winter.

My neighbour, during an over the would-be fence chat!, showed me a lovely large apple I hadn't noticed. It is the only one on the tree. My 3 pears are still growing, as are both patches of rhubarb. The rains have helped the leeks to start growing and the chilli peppers are going mad. It looks like we shall have to pick the elderberries soon to make our cordial. I emptied the 'larder' the other day - a small cupboard above the stairs (we don't have stairs by the way - a private joke) In it, I found a large bottle of tomato and chilli sauce, so we have started on that, also, 1 bottle of elderberry cordial and some 2 year old sloe gin.

Coming back from Nana’s helped fill the larder with marmalade and pickle. We hope this year, to pickle some onions, mustn't forget, as all this will need doing in our busy pre-Christmas craft period. I also have to make a small batch of mincemeat and think about homemade presents as part of our wartime Christmas spirit.

Last night, 25th August, it was quite chilly and after saying how cool it was in the front room, we decided to light the fire - imagine, a fire in August!!! It was lovely. We only stoked it once and it lasted well into the night.

I went to gather elderberries the other day - none. The birds had eaten them all. This is only the end of August; normally they would be hanging their heavy heads begging to be picked. Still, I did have a nice, long, evening bike ride and came home happy for that.

DB has started autumn pruning the pyracantha and I have started clearing the beds of flowers. We still have tomatoes, chillies, lettuce, rhubarb and 3 pears in the garden. Shared our one and only apple with the neighbour who found it. He enjoyed it very much and commented on its flavour. It was ready to fall off despite its pips being still pale. It was tarter than usual but very nice.

It is now the end of August. Last night the bell went and it was our neighbour. He gave us half a sack of potatoes and one eighth of a sack of dried peas and wondered if we could make use of them - silly man!

September 1943/1998

Went off to Bedford the other day on our Faith in Action run. DS went with his dad and I with R. We had, as per usual, a good, long chat. Now she is working 3 days a week, it’s hard to catch her in. Guess what, after delivering our boxes, we walked back via the lovely central river and found... elderberries! Managed to gather enough (luckily R. had a spare carrier bag) to be able to make 1 or 2 bottles of cordial - oh joy!!!

Tomatoes, well my outdoor ones, have been rubbish this year. The slugs, due to an abundance of rain, have given themselves a world cup this year as far as nibbling goes. On top of that, many have split or have 'greenback'. So, I decided the only course of action was to gather in the stalks, complete with their green tomatoes and hang them indoors - where, I am pleased to say, and they are ripening nicely.

I decided it was time to gather everything needed for the annual Tomato and Chilli sauce make. We managed to get 2 large bottles, 1 medium and a small jar. This year, we decided to have go using Scotch Bonnet chillies. Not having used them before and fearful of their reputation, we decided to risk using 2. A quick taste revealed this to be okay, but the sauce does have a habit of getting hotter with maturity! We shall have to see.

R. has given me permission to raid her fallen apples, which I shall soon do ready for mincemeat.

Weather wise, the middle of September sees the rains still falling every few days and with daytime temperatures of around 18C and night time about 7C. I have just put the electric blanket back on the bed even though we haven't been desperate enough to use it yet. I don't think it will be long though. Twice now, we have had to put the heating on for the odd hour or two.

DS has successfully started senior school - well almost. He did his Thursday and Friday. Monday mid-morning heralded a call from school saying 'pick him up, not feeling well'. I must admit, he did look a bit peaky and had a headache but after an hour or two, he bucked up, like they do!

Today, his second Monday heralded a phone call; 'can you bring one of my books in' said in a very despondent manner. Ah well, hopefully all will go well for next Monday.

We had 700 litres of oil delivered to see us through winter. Next month, we shall get what coal we can. We prefer to use a coal fire during the day as the person who put our central heating system in, omitted to install a temperature device near the pump. Although the boiler cuts out using its control, the pump carries on working with the result that our electricity bill rises above and beyond what we think it should.

Next year, hopefully, we shall get around to putting in a new pump and temperature control and see if that makes any difference.

I asked DB if he could build me one or two 'bee-hive' compost containers over the winter months. We usually use two dustbins (which semi-block the coal bunker) and they are not composting well enough. They are close to the tumble drier outlet and the ants seem to find them very cosy, building nest after nest in them. When you want to use them, it takes days for the ants to disperse and is not a pleasant job.

October l943/1998 Italy declares war on Germany. Toys are getting difficult to buy. More potatoes and wheat for our bread have been grown than last year. This frees more shipping space for munitions.

At the beginning of October, I went down to our local Junior School to give a talk on war rations. I took 5 carrier bags of different rations (as well as a modern and its equivalent war-time cake!) I have been down to the school many times to help with various projects but never just to talk. All went well until I was requested to start, then the nerves kicked in. My throat tightened up, my hands shook, and whose voice it was I do not know but it struck quite a familiarity with Micky Mouse!!!

It took a good 10 minutes before I could speak properly although everyone assured me I sounded fine when asked. The kids thoroughly enjoyed it; especially the cake testing and I think they were surprised that over half of them preferred the wartime cake. Maybe they don't get the chance to eat home-made cakes or it could be the fact that although the recipes both made sponge cakes, to them, the war-time one tasted of ginger.

DB is still waiting for his throat operation that he had been informed should be some time in November. Good.

We managed to make 3 jars of mincemeat and 3 of chilli pickled onions. DB's parents are due in a couple of weeks at half term. We shall find out for definite if they want to come for our wartime Christmas. If they do, I shall give O., recipes for cakes and pudding.

We have finished tidying up the front garden but still need to complete the back. We have netted our gravel beach area in an attempt to keep the cats off over winter. They seem to treat it like a toilet, which was my fear when choosing such small gravel. 

We hope next year to gravel the front garden again. So have decided to net the back to try and train them away, then choose bigger gravel for the front and transfer a top layer onto our 'beach'.

We seem to be having a week of reasonably mild weather after a colder spell but I don't think it can last much longer. The leaves are rapidly falling, conkers have fallen and the birds are beginning to strip the pyracantha and hawthorn.

I have saved the peas our neighbour gave me and added pearl barley to them for a soup base ready for later on. We have one small canister of gas for our emergency cooker and hope to get another can just in case.

October 17th saw our first ground frost. It wasn't enough to make everything white, more a glisten of white. It was enough though, for me to clear out our summer containers and plant them up with winter pansies. 

That is always something I have wanted to do but never done. They look very sweet. DS thinks they look rather pathetic but I explained they still had to grow more yet and would look very nice once they doubled in size.

We phoned the chimney sweep today and were told it would be 11th November before he could come. We have decided to light the fire as and when it is needed as the chimney was swept in May and has hardly been used since.

Still, the delay at least means we can wait for new coal until next payday so it’s a blessing. R. and D. have gone away for a late 2-week holiday. We are feeding their pets for the first week with another friend doing the second. She has two enormous apple trees in the garden and has told us to help ourselves. We have and have made two large apple pies and 20 small ones, yummy.

We are already thinking about our war-time/home-made/economical Christmas. Two things already decided for the tree are Gingerbread Hearts and 'Stain-glass' (boiled sweet) biscuits. Nuts and raisins will be packed into matchboxes along with dates and figs, wrapped in pretty paper and attached.

Tonight, after feeding the pets, DS is going to help me make some fat cakes for the birds. We are forecast another light frost for tonight and as they are already merrily stripping our berries, thought we would give them something else. Its basically melted fat, bird seed and breadcrumbs mixed together, pushed into a yoghurt pot which has string fed through it, and left to set. The pot is then removed and the cake is hung in a tree.

No good on the bird cake front! I think it might have helped if the weather had been cold as they fell apart as we hung them. Still, no doubt something ate them and enjoyed it.

The weather is very fickle at the moment but we are very lucky compared to the Honduras who has suffered their worst hurricane (Mitch) for 200 years. It was Grade 5, the worst kind and instead of dissipating on hitting land, stayed at full force for 3 days. It delivered a whole year of rain in those 3 days, provoking massive mudslides. 

One poor woman was swept off her house roof, being separated from her husband and 3 children in the process. She was washed 6 miles out to sea and was picked up one week later. Over 10,000 people have died with many thousands more unaccounted for - terrible. 

It makes me very sad when I hear people saying "Well, what about our poor people down south who have had their homes flooded" It just doesn't compare; we simple cannot comprehend the destruction.

However, more locally, our weather is behaving strangely. One moment very cold and windy with daytime temps at 7C, then a few days’ later, spring-like days at around 17C.

October half-term. DB’s parents have been with us for 10 days and we had a great time. They brought down the much promised post-war decorations, streamers that I remember (as well as DB) from our own childhoods. They are coming for Christmas and Nana has gone away with 2 recipes for a wartime cake and pudding which she will bake in early December in case they don't keep although the pudding should be okay as it has 1/2 pint of rum in it - mmm.

We have explained once again about the kind of Christmas we are planning and asked them not to bring tins of biscuits and sweets etc - hope them remember. If not, we have decided to hide them and not have them out where they may be of temptation.

November 1943/1998 In November, milk was decreased further to just 2 pints per person per week! Fresh eggs per person, when available, totalled just 30 for the whole year!!!

DS has settled in his new school and most days goes off quite happily. He has changed teachers after the half term and is now in the top class for most subjects, consequently, his homework has increased!

Today, 11th November, DB heard from the hospital about a possible operation date of 10th December, which is a Thursday, the day before we go to a 3 day craft fair at Blickling, Hope the secretary got the date wrong as he was told it would be on a Tuesday - 8th? We'll see.

5th November saw our group-packing day for Faith in Action. Although we packed the usual 12 boxes, it seemed very slow and tiring and we ended up almost 45 minutes longer than normal. DB’s parents were still here and we persuaded them to come, Nana to iron and Grandad to pack the boxes once the clothes were bagged and labelled.

Went with a friend last night to Swaffham to give a talk on my painted glassware to a ladies group BPW. Had sales of £128!!!

Had P. to tea whilst the parents were here and talking of Christmas past she said how much she enjoyed Indian fruit chutney I made her many years ago. Well, we had the apples, so I bought the rest of the ingredients and will make her some. DB has given me a small present list and we know DS would like a mini stacking stereo, so only me to decide but I'm finding it impossible.

I need quite a lot of things but they are the kind that only I can buy so I shall have to have a long think and hurry up my decision. In honestly though, I think its also to do with the kind of Christmas we are planning. Its almost as though the presents will get in the way. We truly have more fun opening the 75p presents on Christmas Eve. No one knows what’s in them, whereas on Christmas Day, they are usually what you have had on your list so there is no surprise.

As this year is the 80th Anniversary of the ending of the First World War, there have been lots of programmes on the television, mainly documentaries. Very informative and extremely moving with the capability to make you very angry at the inept decisions and Victorian state of war tactics that cost many thousands their lives.

Stories of people who had been shot for cowardice who many, many years later were found to have not been cowards but were merely pawns in a game of politics. Too late to apologize or relieve the agony for their families who suffered rejection and shame from their country folk. Still, must get off my soapbox but it does make me so angry.

This Sunday sees us at Peterborough at a one-day craft fair. In the past we have had sales of between £200 and £260 - can't guarantee anything this year as people simply are not spending their money. After that, we have a 3-day fair in December, where we hope to dress up. DS in his 95th Rifleman uniform, me in my late 19th Century and DB as a Victorian. That’s if it’s true what we have heard about everyone dressing up. If they need us all to be Victorians, DS will still pass but I will have to done a shawl and change my head dress to a mop cap.

Made P. her Christmas present of Indian Chutney, hope she likes it hot. The recipe said 1/2 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper but that could be increased to 1 1/2, so I compromised and used 1 spoon. It now has to mature for 4 weeks, so will just be ready in time.

Spoke to DB at dinnertime about Christmas present buying. He like me, shows no sign of wanting to get started and we both admitted that our favourite bit is the 75p presents on Christmas Eve. Still, we have been pricing stacking stereos and conferring with DS on which he might like to have.

DB has finished my beehive compost container. Although it was built using pressure-treated timber, we have used pale blue wood paint to help it match the other wooden items in the garden. Before placing it, we shall have to dig deep to get up bulbs and plants from the place where it will stand. Can't wait. I've been waiting to do my final winter tidying up just so I can make a start on filling it.

Now that my new compost bin is up and running, I managed to get a bit more of the garden tidied up. I have also asked a neighbour if I can have the contents of her rabbit hutch next time she cleans it out (minus the rabbit of course!)

We have had some very cold weather in this 3rd week of November. Daytimes have been cold, frosty and windy with an average temperature of around 6C. Night time has been colder still with -3C on average and severe frost. I have just bought some new birdseed and have hung it up after sterilizing last year’s container so as to avoid the birds catching salmonella.

DS and I have completed out Christmas Eve 75p present shopping. This was the first year that he has done the whole thing himself and very 'chuffed' he was too. DB has made a start with 2 but still has another 6 to buy.

Took P. into town today and she treated us to lunch at the German-style 'Schnell Imbiss' - yummy.

Bought B. and P. their present, some floppy discs and paper to print on. They are both on O.U. courses and we hope they will be of use. B. will be coming with me next Friday to show the Junior School children how to make a Wartime Christmas cracker. Hopefully, they will make 2 hats from newspaper and paint and decorate them. There will be a pair of dice and instructions for a dice game, 2 sweets and a balloon to put inside the cardboard tube (kitchen roll inner). Then the whole thing will be neatly wrapped in more newspaper and decorated before applying a label. Hope they like it.

Update: The making of the crackers went well if noisy. Although there were B. and I plus the two teachers, it was still hard work with one or two pupils disrupting from time to time. After a spell in the corner, they calmed down.

December 1943/1998
In 1943, there was a mild flu epidemic in December.

Had our first Christmas craft fair. It wasn't too cold but the days were very long, not finishing until 8.00pm. Still, although the sales were not fantastic, around £390.00, we felt they were ok for our first visit and have booked next year.

B. came round with our present, a brown box covered with sacking mumbling about having to use it or it would go off. The thought of a turkey reared its head but she had already assured us it wasn't one. We all crowded round excitedly and removed the sacking. There, before our eyes was a 'Dig for Victory' parcel - excellent. Inside, gathered from her own and friends gardens were:-

Walnuts, celery, carrots, apples, swede, turnips, brussels, cabbage and potatoes - lovely. I think I can honestly say it turned out to be the best and most exciting present/time of the season.

Time passed us by this Christmas. The day arrived and I hadn't done all the things I had hoped for. DB’s parents who were due to arrive on the Sunday, phoned to say they were ill and would come down Tuesday (I hadn't thought they would come until Wednesday anyway!).

When they did arrive, his mum was still unwell, Christmas lunch being the first true meal she ate without looking as though she was going to be sick. DB got DS to kindly hide the shop-full of chocolate biscuits/bars that I knew they would bring.

I thought it was safe to calm down when Nana handed me a carrier bag of presents to hide, announcing it was full of sweets as you can't have Christmas without sweets. All this, despite constant reminders about not bringing sweets!

I'm afraid that my temper got the better of me and I told them what I thought of the sweets and the fact they hadn't listened to what we had said. That put the mockers on the next two days as I steamed silently like an un-vented pressure cooker. You would think that after 17 years, just once, I might be listened too.

The opening of the 75p presents went well and was enjoyed by all. Some very nice things we got as well. Tissues, tea strainer, soap, bubble bath, toys, books, tools etc.

The tree looked great with its edible presents. We had 'Stained-glass biscuits', chocolate covered spoons, bags of marshmallows, gold-sprayed nuts, matchboxes of dried fruit and mini-boxes of crispy-coated nuts.

Weather-wise, it was wet, windy and relatively mild with daytime temperatures around 10C and night time usually 3C. Gales were forecast for Boxing Day but so far, haven't been too bad. Maybe we'll get some snow in the New Year.

Been to have a talk with my bank manager about the business and between us have decided on a loan. It will be used to pay off the last few months of my old loan plus the overdraft. That way, I shall get rid of the constant bank charges (up to £20 per month!) only have an annual arrangement fee.

All in all, I have worked out that over the 4 year period, the loan versus staying how I am, will involve an extra £700, which spread over 4 years is not too bad to try and keep my business afloat.

CHAPTER SIX 1944/1999

January/March l944 Bevan Boys started work. These were boys and men who were chosen to be miners whether they wanted to be or not. 2 oranges per person available on ration. Things that are hard to get hold of are:- dried milk, leather, and torch batteries. Book salvage and recovery drive to replace those lost in libraries etc due to bombing. Lemons on sale, no restrictions!

Happy New Year! This is our 5th year on rations. Apart from the points system slipping a little, we are still adhering to it quite happily. The weather has been very wet and reasonably mild. Average daily temperatures are around the 12-15C mark and night time between 2-7C (in Norfolk anyway)

I have been busy feeding the birds as despite the warm weather, there is not a lot for them to eat and I need their greenfly/slug/snail control for summer. They have nearly stripped all my plants of their berries. They are most welcome, that is why I planted them. The polyanthuses planted last year are beginning to flower and the snowdrops are about 1" high. One or two daffodils have poked their leaves through but I imagine that when the cold weather arrives, they will stop their growth.

We are all fine at the moment. DB’s throat operation went well and he seems to be swallowing better. DS and I both had a horrid sore throat and cough that lasted 3 weeks but so far, we have all escaped the flu. The cold weather really is needed I'm sure to kill off some of these bugs when people are outdoors coughing and spluttering. Indoors is another matter. At the moment we are loath to go shopping due to racking coughs and abundant sneezing. Lets face it, there is only so much you can do holding your breath!

DS has his birthday shortly and has invited friends around for a game of Warhammer and pizza, hopefully not at the same time!

The weatherman says we can expect some cold weather in the next few days, so we had better get coal and wood into the house. In the cold weather, I really enjoy cooking, especially soups, as they are filling and warming. I had a go at bread making over the holidays so once the cold weather really gets going, I shall start up again. There is nothing better than the smell of hot bread, in a warm house, when outside is cold and white with frost.

DS’s birthday was a great success with him, V., D. and his dad, having a knock-out war-hammer game, followed by tea, then the 3 boys having another game before home-time.

As both DS and V. are both interested in Warhammer, they stay behind after school one day a week to play in the Warhammer club.

The snowdrops were wonderful and the daffodils look great, many different varieties, you tend to forget from year to year, what spring flowers are in the garden as they have such a fleeting appearance compared to the summer bedding which seems to go on forever.

SAD NEWS! Granddad went into hospital for a small operation (so he told us) and we went up to keep Nana company. Originally, only DB was going to go but as it would only mean DS missing 4 days school, we all decided to go. Thank heavens we did!

It was quite clear from our 2nd visit to Granddad that all was not well. The 1st visit, he looked like any frail older person after an operation and the apparatus that surrounded him was what I expected for the type of op he had. 

Day 2 he was conscious and well with it if in discomfort and kept asking if a certain document had arrived and seemed agitated when we said it had not!

Still didn't fully twig! Day 3, his neighbour in a nearside bed told us Granddad had been very ill during the night and the ward had called the doctors as he seemed to collapse. 

At last, a sister on duty, and we asked forthrightly to be told what was going on - terminal cancer!

Granddad looked poor but the next 2 days he rallied enough to chat to us, still asking after the forms which we now knew were his and hers funeral arrangements - he must have known!

Each evening, DB and Nana visited on their own. Day 8, he was peaceful and remained so until he died at about 2315, still in the same position as when DB and Nana had visited. We got the dreaded phone-call to come quick but as the nurse put the phone down, he died.

That afternoon, as I said my normal goodbye, I waited until everyone had left the room and told Granddad, the paperwork had arrived, stop fighting and let go. I found out from DB, that he had said the same thing in the evening. We both felt he needed permission to die, maybe we were right. We all arrived to say our goodbyes, kissed him and left.

It took 11 days for the funeral to happen. We all knew we had to pack up the house to move Nana with us as being 92 and nearly blind she needs a little help even though she is capable of cooking, cleaning and ironing etc. 

We had to start packing and throwing things away whilst Granddad was still alive, but tried hard not to cross the line of insensitivity too often. Sleep was nil and eventually, DB and I took some pills that the chemist recommended, they work very well.

In the 6 weeks from Granddad going into hospital until 9th April when Nana comes here, we shall actually only have about 15 days to clear their house and pack. This, allowing for DS's schooling, will involve something like 6 return journeys!!! 

Thank heavens for the Easter holiday is all I can say, even though over the 4 days of Easter, DB and I are attending 2 separate craft fairs. Talk about gluttons for punishment.

DS has been an absolute brick. Being a child, he has carried on almost as normal and has broken the tension on many occasions. Nana with J. is on a packing and cleaning spree – J. must be in her late 70's! Nana is unable to keep still, her way of dealing with all the changes but she will have to slow down when she comes to us, as there isn't a lot to do here.


The weather is very changeable at the moment. Altering between warm and sunny (one day at 26C!) down to cold, rainy and gales. The entire garden is awakening. The snowdrops have finished, the daffodils are in full bloom, the fruit trees are opening their buds and the Wisteria looks like it might be very good this year. The birds are nesting in the hedge and the Pyracantha and all is well or will be once we are all settled.

DS had returned to school after his 2-week absence and has seemed quite happy. We haven't had any time to grieve but it will come.

Easter came and went. Both the craft fairs were truly awful, more problems. Now, on top of everything else, I have to decide whether to give up the business at the end of the year.
April/June 1944. Rations increasing in some lines such as dried milk now 1 tin per customer instead of per family. Canned sausages are points free, but canned fruit sales are suspended. June 6th saw the start of landing on the France beaches to begin our assault in Europe - D. Day. V1 bombers (pilot-less aircraft) are becoming more of a problem, especially in the South, their common name - Doodlebugs.

Removal day came and along with it the inevitable tears and anger. We shouted back, there is only so much we can take and have decided to stop walking on eggshells. Nana has been with us for a few days. It is like living with a storm, never knowing when it is going to break. There have been more vitriolic outbursts but we have shouted back and calm is restored for a short period. We knew it wouldn't be easy but frankly, the whole situation is awful!

Today sees the burial of Granddads ashes (April 14th). We also have to go and order a memorial stone, which takes about 6 weeks to arrive. We are meeting DS off the bus then proceeding to the churchyard where a very short ceremony will be performed. At least then Nana may have somewhere else to aim her feelings other than at us.

On a different theme, food - one of life’s pleasures, Nana being with us has resulted in an increase in our rations as follows:-

Points 96, Meat £30.00, Bacon/Ham 4lb, Tea 2lb, Cheese 3lb, Butter 2lb, Fats 2lb, Milk 50pts, Small Evaporated milk 10, Shell Eggs 16, Dried Eggs 2 tubs every 6 weeks, Wash Powder 3kg, W.U. Liquid 2, Conditioner 2 litres.

The weather has altered dramatically with the arrival of cold winds, rain, hail and snow. Some parts of the country have had several inches but so far we have only had flurries with no settling. Last night saw our first frost for a few weeks and daytime temps are around 8C.

Today is 6th May. We have walked up to the school to vote for our local councillor. The weather has been quite warm for a week or so but today it is cloudy. Nana has settled a bit more but can still be a handful on occasions. We went to view a bungalow yesterday and it was perfect for her.

She is worried about having to get rid of some more of her bedroom furniture but it can't be helped. There is a small lawn at the front but a gravel garden at the back, a greenhouse, large shed, fish pond, conservatory and a huge covered in car port which should dry clothes nicely, if she wishes.

Have just been to inspect my front garden. DB has surrounded the front octagonal with bricks so the hover mower doesn't keep falling over the edge. The rest of the lawn will have the same treatment when we can afford it then the whole thing - except the lawn - will be covered over with gravel to suppress the weeds. The wallflowers are nearly over, polyanthuses have finished, the daffodils are all deadheaded and the poppies are already in flower. All fruit blossom has now dropped, we have cherries on the tree, 3 plums, 3 pears and hopefully quite a few apples once they have self-dropped in June.

There are still a few leeks in the front which are trying to flower so I shall have to make our favourite soup, leek, pearl barley, potato and bacon and freeze it for the next chilly spell.

DS has been busy at school doing his end of 1st year exams. Considering he had 3 weeks off, he is doing remarkably well - 91% in Maths, Level 5 in English (4 is the average), 95% German, 78% Science, 66% History, the rest will follow including any corrections to my errors!!

He is also trying for 100% Attendance this term. Despite having a very heavy head cold, he still attended and we were very proud of him. He still goes after school with V. to Warhammer club and with E. on Friday to Badminton. His other main playmate is D., they both share a love of N64 and messing around generally. They, along with 2 older boys, have formed a Computer Games Magazine, which they hope to sell around school. Hope it goes well although we think they need to think about it a bit more especially from their cost point of view.

Tonight for tea, we have a few sausages, which I think will have to be done as Toad in the Hole to stretch them for 4 people. Still, I can always do a pudding if we are hungry.

Our last fair was once again a load of rubbish, so reluctantly, we have decided to give up the business at the end of the year and run it on a smaller basis as a hobby, doing only those we feel would earn us a few pounds. I've just returned my year-end tax forms and have asked them what I have to do to wind up and how things will be affected if I choose to do it as a hobby.

Also, there is a bank loan to decide what to do with, how to pay it each month etc. Maybe, we'll have one or two good fairs that will enable us to pay a big chunk off thereby reducing the monthly payments, time will tell.

Have just added up our food spending for the 1st month that Nana has been with us - £200.00 - what an increase! More bricks have been added to the front garden, just under 40 to go then we can put down the gravel. The irises, which I transplanted into the front last year, have been blooming marvellous - literally!

Each stalk has had between 6 and 9 flowers, which I have taken care to dead head as they die. The poppies are blooming early but are a welcome addition. I just have to transplant a few more plants as well as buy in some late flowering perennials then the front will be finished.

Painted the oil tank a lovely deep blue last week, it really shows up the greenery well. Weather is generally dry and sunny with temperatures around 16-19C. Occasional heavy showers help to keep alive my transplants. So far, DB’s anti-cat netting in the back garden seems to be paying off, the cat-poo has certainly decreased in number. Have bought an aubergine and one tomato so far but it is too early to plant them out, also, my Scotch Bonnet seedlings are through but I don't know if I will get any fruit on them as they are 2 months behind schedule.

We have another craft fair this weekend, lets hope it too is not rubbish otherwise I shall have no chance of reducing my loan before the end of the year. Have found a recipe for Elderflower Cordial. It is from a book called 'Hedgerow Cookery' by Rosamund Richardson, now discontinued.

It smelt and tasted wonderful. I only made half the recipe to begin with but think I shall make some more and freeze it in plastic bottles. It keeps for many months if stored in the fridge. It has to be greatly diluted but undiluted would be a lovely addition to ice cream, gooseberries (jam or puddings) etc.

Made a full batch of Elderflower Cordial and froze it for use later in the year, it is just yummy! Have just had a few days visit from my dad who lives in the USA. The visit went well and we had a lovely time apart from a major outburst from Nana, who didn't like the fact I wasn't paying her enough attention, or was jealous or something, heaven knows. Our relationship is now well and truly strained and even when she is behaving herself, I can't relate to her at all well. Hopefully, completion and moving day will come soon and maybe our lives can return more to normal. They can never be normal again as we have the responsibility for helping to look after her but at least she will be out of our home.

The weather in late June has alternated between hot 26C and cooler 19C. Most of my summer plants are finished and have been cut down. The garden is looking very patchy but more plants are coming into flower. I hope to go to a garden centre and get some late flowering plants to take me through the tail end of summer and into autumn.

DS's school had a parents evening which we attended, minus DS. They are very pleased with him apart from the usual comment of 'he doesn't write enough'

Today 20th June, DB, DS and I are off to an organic smallholding open day near Watton. There are 5 acres to look around, plus plants to buy. Although I have been a member of HDRA from many years and members have these open days twice a year, this will be the first one I will have visited so am looking forward to it.
July l944/1996. Bacon ration increased from 4oz - 6oz per week. V2 rockets have started to drop on London and southern counties with huge loss of life and mass destruction of property.

The weather in July has been horrendous with daily temperatures in the 30's and night-time in the late teens even early 20's! Even summer quilts have been too hot. Our 3 little ponds have been evaporating daily and needed constant topping up to keep the frogs happy. Yet again, at the end of July, the wild plums have begun dropping and in some places have gone altogether. Plants have flagged, some spring ones are sending up new shoots! and many autumn ones are in full colour, so yet again, come autumn, the garden will be empty.

Nana has moved out, into her new home. We are still visiting to do a myriad of tasks, and she still has some major outbursts but at least we can now walk away and come home to our quiet haven, at last.

Salads have been the order of the day in this humid, sticky weather. Most lettuce is from our garden, the odd cucumber from a neighbour and tomatoes still bought in but soon, we shall be eating our own. My scotch bonnet peppers are beginning to form flower heads but as I planted them so late, I don't know whether the weather will be good enough for the fruit to ripen.

Rationing continues unabated except for the odd slip-up. On the odd days of cooler, windy weather, we actually choose a winter menu and thoroughly enjoy it. Today, we are blowing some of our meat ration of a huge pork chop each, with new potatoes, sweet corn and carrot, and sage and onion stuffing - lovely. Yesterday, another cool day, we had meat pie, potatoes and vegetables plus rice pudding and pureed apples - from the garden.

Have been busy reading up on chickens but realised that it had to be either chickens or a vegetable plot, the veggies won. I really miss home-grown vegetables and chickens would be too much like pets, having to monitor their needs plus getting people to look after them when we are away. On top of that, would be the glut of eggs. We are now used to only one egg each per week/fortnight and don't think our stomachs would accept easily, extra rations of eggs.

Slowly but surely, the plants are being moved from my mini-allotment into other parts of the garden. DB is going to build me a mini wooden fence, which we shall paint blue to match the garden. The plum is going to be moved elsewhere and the fig, once its fruits have ripened, will go altogether. This year, it reaches over 10' with very little reward and completely blocks off one bedrooms light and hides a whole south-facing wall. The cherry tree in the front is also going as it collapsed under the weight of black fly yet again.

We are busy using up last years chutneys, jams and pickles, sauces, fruit etc. to make way for this year’s crop.

August - September l944/1999. On 17th September, blackout was lifted and 'dim-out' conditions introduced. There is a general feeling that the war will soon be over.

Today, 19th August 1999, I have harvested some rhubarb for a crumble. The crumble has got brown sugar and ginger in it and the rhubarb will have some syrup for a change. DS is not too keen on rhubarb but loves crumble and custard. I think his hormones are switching on again. He is eating constantly and we have had to curtail his cereals in favour of bread, which fills him up for longer and doesn't eat into our points rationing!

DB and DS have gone, with Nana to Ely to pick up Great Aunt J. She is coming to visit whilst we go on our holidays - to Derbyshire. We don't care what the weather does; it will just be so nice to get away, no phone calls, no visits, no worries!!! DS will be back to school in 2 weeks time - a year 8 person! He doesn't seem too worried but we shall have to wait until the night before and see how he sleeps.

It is only 9 months until the end of the war. Will our rations cease? We don't know. We feel we shall stay on them but maybe have some luxury items and treats on top, or else we shall get the usual items but in the good rather than economy range, time will tell. We all do know, without a shadow of a doubt, that rationing has been a lifesaver in this household. It has helped us remain as debt free as possible, allowing for a few slip-ups.

It has kept us well fed, full up and without weight gain, except for DS, being a child with the normal age-weight ratio gains. It has kept us fit and well. Our levels of colds and coughs has been minimum compared to our friends and neighbours, it has increased our mental capacities with regard to maths on the working out and constant re-adjusting of rations.

Thoroughly enjoyed our week away. Great Aunt J., seemed to enjoy her visit with Nana, although she looks like she has been kept busy and in need of a rest.

Took Nana to the doctor who has put her on anti-depressants, a big improvement within just one week. She has also started going to Hot Pot lunches once a fortnight and seems to enjoy it.

DS started back at school with no worries. His merits points grow unabated and he now seems well settled. He says he is determined to get a parker pen from a school for a full year attendance. By Christmas, he has achieved his first term with full attendance.

L., my nephew will be coming for Christmas and New Year, he is excited, as being an orphan, doesn’t get many opportunities to celebrate with family members.

October/November l944/l999 – Cheese rations rose from 2oz to 3oz. Milk is in very short supply and is at 1 pt per person per week. Coal and golden syrup shortage. Weather is very bad with heavy rain and gales. Frost has now joined the rain and gales. Home Guard was stood down. Christmas cards are very expensive and there are no Christmas crackers or currants around.

L. thoroughly enjoyed Christmas. We had lamb with all the trimmings and a sponge pudding with mincemeat stirred in to add flavour. Nana was with us for tea on Christmas Eve after which we opened our 75p pressies, great fun.

She came for all of Christmas day until early evening and seemed to enjoy herself, then on Boxing Day, we had both her and P., a neighbour. We played games and had a reasonable time allowing for Nana who is finding it more and more difficult to join in due to her poor eyesight and memory for remembering the rules!

On New Years Eve, everyone in the cul-de-sac, decided to have a street B/B/Q., to bring in the New Millennium. It was brilliant, probably the best celebration I have had for a long while. We all managed to stay up to bring in the year but after that, we went to bed although we could hear the party still going strong at 3.30am!

January 1945/2000 – Petrol on sale again hardly any coal is available. Seville oranges are for sale but there is no extra sugar. The weather is intensely cold. In February and March, grapefruit and other citrus fruit became available.

Happy New Year, Century, Millennium! Went to Nana's for Sunday dinner on January 2nd then took L. to the bus station to return to Lincoln.

DS returned to school quite happily and celebrated his birthday by staying at home! He got £75.00 in cash, a torch, kite, some pens and sweets. He was very pleased and after paying his debt to us of £20.00, is spending the rest on a new N64 game. I baked him, as requested a chocolate, coffee and lemon marbled cake, decorated with lemon icing, walnuts and orange & lemon jelly fruit. Yum, yum, even used real eggs and butter.

The weather in January has been a mixture of nightly frosts and cold windy days, combined with warm but wet days. The vegetable patch out the back is almost complete, just one large piece of concrete to lift to finish it off. The plum tree seems to have survived its move but we’ll only really know in Spring, if it sprouts leaves.

February 1945/2000

Today is February 1st and it is sunny and mild but with quite a gusty wind. DB is busy mending the bath as the taps sprang a leak and whilst fixing those, we realised that the plug must have had quite a long-term small leak judging by the completely rusted away drip tray!!!

The bathroom is now on a major over-haul. The toilet leaked severely a few weeks ago, mended that. Then the sink felt left out and its taps started to drip, mended that. Obviously it was too much for the bath itself, which decided to go all out and have a major swoon!

DB simply could not disconnect the taps so he had to saw through them and the pipes, rip the bath out and re-position the bath, 6” backwards to give himself more room to work. Now the whole bathroom will need re-decorating but it was a job that was supposed to be done after the dining room. Ah well, such is life.

Tomorrow, Wednesday 2nd February, we are off on a day trip down to London to see the Imperial War Museum, at long last. DS has a day off school, so we hope to catch an early train, take a full days pack up and not return home till early evening.

I hope to sow my tomatoes and peppers at the end of this month as last year, with regards to Granddad, everything was too late to give a good harvest.

Enjoyed our trip to London. I was a little disappointed with the Imperial War Museum, as I had hoped it would have a few more domestic settings. Come the next morning DS was feeling very sick and ended taking the day off school, which unfortunately put paid to the good start of a whole school year without illness. Now he has to wait until September to start again.

Got my seedlings started in the heated propagator and they took only a week to come through. Have given Nana some of my vegetable seeds to encourage her to grow a few things.

February has on the whole been wonderful month weather wise. Lots of warm sunny days, which we shall no doubt pay for later in Spring. 

March 1945/2000

March saw another upheaval in our lives, this time in the form of the taxman. I phoned him up to asked a legal question about my business transactions and was informed that I had to close my glass painting business if I wished to carry on doing work for the data base chap. What a task. It even involved changing banks and accounts and filling out 3 tax forms, which I shall have to have help with.

I’m almost done on that score and once I’ve seen the taxman to finish the paper work, it will be all done and dusted.

March saw more reasonable weather and a grand response in the garden. Everything is growing well and yet again, some plants have gone mad and started flowering early. The vegetables are coming along nicely and the plum tree is in leaf so that’s good. The apple and pear blossom is out and the frosts have arrived, as is often the case with pear blossom so yet again, we shall have few pears no doubt.

DS has been busy at school taking his yearly exams to check he is on course for everything. He has done very well with results from 78%-92%. His English has been marked down and we are not happy with the teacher, as he doesn’t seem to be helping DS much with his problem areas. I really must go and see him!!

April - June 1945/2000 Paper and envelopes in short supply. President Roosevelt died. Hitler dead. Air-raid warning system stopped. London tube stations closed as air-raid shelters. May 8th V.E. Day!!
May 10th Channel Islands free.

April has arrived in its usual unstable format. Warm sunny days followed by cold wet windy days, warm nights chased by frosty ones. Easter is late this year and is followed immediately by the May bank holiday so the schools have an extra day off. Decided to go away for a week over Easter to get a break. Went on a canal boat, which we haven’t done for nearly 11 years. DS was 18 months old when we last went.

The weather was very changeable with 2 very hot sunny days with cool winds, which resulted in sunburn. 2 very wet and extremely windy days which found us struggling to get the boat out of the locks. The rest of the time was mild and cloudy. The boat wasn’t too bad but generally we had a good time and DS managed to open and close 60 locks. Not bad for such a young chap!

I have ceased monitoring our shopping but still find that generally we are on war rations. It has simply become a way of life. We do eat more fruit and treat ourselves to special foods every now and then. The bill has risen by about £40.00 per month but we’re sure quite a lot of that is general food price increases.

It looks as though protecting the pear blossom has worked. At long last, we have a small but worthwhile crop of 10 pears. The apples originally set but have all fallen off. The beetroot and parsnip seeds have been rubbish but the potatoes are all growing well. The weather is reasonably warm but very wet.

July/September 1945/2000. August 6th and 9th saw the USA drop two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in an attempt to end the war with Japan. The Japanese surrendered on August 14th which became know as VJ Day.

The summer is so cool and wet. None of the vegetables seem to be doing well. No apples, no plums, hardly any vegetables except peas, which are thriving in the damp with no sign so far of mildew, amazing.

The problem with earning money when you are not used to it is that you have more to spend and spend it you do. We feel lucky that we are at last able to buy the clothes we have needed for so long and also to get items in the house replaced or repaired. The cost of this is that the zing seems to have gone out of everything. War rations are relatively the same; as food shopping in this manner has become a habit. It is oh so easy to just pick this up, then that and before you know it, the shopping comes to over £200 for the month, unheard of for the last 5 years. We are becoming lazy, not too worried if this or that doesn’t grow – we can always buy it – can’t say I like this new found wealth.

My nephew L. came for a holiday in August. Although we didn’t go out much, he seemed to enjoy the break and has been invited again for Christmas.

Forgot to mention. We now have 3 guinea pigs. I had one as a child. It got its head chewed off by a rat so these live indoors with us. They appear to have no smell, except a strange, sweet smell when the toilet is full so have invested in cat litter which is working well. They are called Gerty, Daisy and Maple. Gerty and Daisy are an obvious choice because of Gert and Daisy from WWII. Maple because she is maple syrup coloured.

They are quite comical to watch especially when running around at full pelt. They have quite a turn of speed as well as the nifty trick of being able to leap, turn a full 180 degrees whilst in the air, land and still be running. They all have different voices, although Maple utters a constant scream at times. She is finding the ‘pecking’ order a bit difficult to understand and generally seems not as intelligent as the other two.

They all have a similar taste in food with little individual likes and dislikes. We think they will cost us about £10.00 a month. Can only hope they don’t need the vet much as I gather vets bills are a bit on the steep side.

End of September and still all is not well in the garden. The summer flowers fell by the wayside, the autumn flowers started in July so yet again, the autumn garden will be a bit flat.

This is where I end my story, hope you have enjoyed it!


  1. This is a wonderful record of your son's formative years...what a discipline to have installed in to you at the age where life long patterns develop x

  2. I've just read through all the War Diaries. A brilliant read and very inspirational.

    1. Glad you enjoyed them, we certainly enjoyed living them!


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