Saturday 6 February 2021

Saturday Story

I bet you were expecting stories about things beginning with B today.  Certainly I was.

And then all the things in my head were about P.  In particular Paddington.

In 1967 I took myself to London to my college interview. I had never been to London and had no idea how the Underground worked! Back then parents didn't take you to see your college choices.

At this point you might be saying what has that got to do with Paddington.  Back then, the trainline from Birmingham via Leamington arrived into Paddington Station.  Now it arrives into Marylebone.  My parents moved from Birmingham to Stratford upon Avon whilst I was in my first year at college so I frequently travelled from Leamington to Paddington.  Or Paddington to Leamington.  Quite often phoning up to ask if they would send me the money for the ticket!

The year I went to college, the government of the day decided that they needed to increase the numbers at Teacher Training Colleges.  My college decided that instead of us having rooms of our own, there would be 3 rooms for 4 people.  Two of us shared a bedroom each and then 4 people shared a study room in between the shared rooms.

As an only child I had always had a bedroom of my own.  The only time I shared a bedroom with anyone was Christmas and on holiday when my cousin and I fairly frequently shared the bed as well.  Fortunately I got on really well with my roommate and we are still friends today.

In our study room, I remember reading bedtime stories to my fellow trainees.  I read them some of the Paddington Bear books!

Nearly 20 years later, Paddington Bear cropped up again.  Roger's boss bought a large replica as a present when Andy was born.  I don't think he ever played with it.  We seem to have lost his grey hat and luggage label!

This bear is modelled on the books whilst modern bears are modelled on the films.

This year Paddington has reappearedin my life.  UNICEF has set up a project where in return for your donation you can nominate a child or family to receive a regular postcard from Paddington.  Each postcard tells about a different area in the world where UNICEF is working and what it's like to be child in that country. Fortunately the scheme is available in Australia so I was able to sign up for the Hopper Minis to receive postcards.

The introductory pack included some stickers, a travel journal and the map they're looking at with their dad.

and a postcard from London

The other major 'P' in my life has been Pembrokeshire.  In my teens we had a towing caravan.  We had holidays all over the UK, but Pembrokeshire was my parents' favourite.  We first stayed in Wiseman's Bridge which is near Tenby, but then they discovered the area north of the River Cleddau.

Eventually they decided to give up the caravan and bought a holiday home in Nolton Haven.  When Dad retired they sold the holiday home and bought a permanent home which they extended and renovated.  The garden was fantastic - there was a stream that went from their garden along the boundary of the neighbour and onto the beach.  Andy spent weeks staying with Grandma & Grandpa, playing in the garden and on the beach.

Sadly this glorious garden got too much for them and they bought a sensible bungalow in Simpson's Cross, about 3 miles inland.  My mother died in 2007 and when my Dad died in 2013, we put the bungalow up for sale.  It took well over a year to sell.  We left the property for the last time on July 6th 2014 and we haven't been back to visit the area since.  Although we did drive through Pembrokeshire to get to the Irish Ferry at Pembroke Dock in 2019.

We had visited every Easter holiday, Spring Bank Holiday week, two weeks in August and again at Christmas for so many years that I didn't want to go back again.  There's so much more of the UK, Europe and the World to visit!  But maybe if the Hopper Juniors and Minis ever come to visit the UK, we'll make a pilgrimage with them to show our grandchildren where their parents got engaged.

Thanks for joining me today.

PS: Who knows what the next story letter will be!!

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