Sunday, 5 July 2009


Childhood summers seemed quite short. I'd usually spend two or three weeks of the six-week school holiday on Polish cub scout camp. This was huge fun, especially when after a few years in old army barracks (Chipping Campden, Gloucs.), the camp moved to Stella Plage in northern France for my last two years as a zuch (Polish cub). By coincidence, we had our family holiday in Stella Plage in 1967, so I holidayed there three years in a row. Stella Plage was my first taste of life outside the grey jumper'dness of West London. France, with its different shops, typefaces, cars and smells, was a departure into the exotic.

But more about Stella Plage anon. Here, I want to write about the few weeks I'd spend in Croft Gardens in between holidays. In the back garden.

There was the fruit. My parents had tended small patches of strawberries, raspberries, loganberries and gooseberries at the far end of the garden. There were two apple trees, bearing Coxes (to the right) and Bramleys - those large, sour cooking apples (to the left). Incidentally, Bramley apples are entirely unknown in Poland. Towards the end of the school summer holidays, the apples were beginning to ripen, but all to often I'd eat them too early, and get a stomach ache for my troubles!

Aside from the apple trees, which I'd climb for the fruit, there was also a lilac tree which was extremely climbable, which formed my sailing ship with its masts and its crow's nest and rigging.

At the far end of the 80 ft garden was the summerhouse, more a storehouse for old rubbish that my parents couldn't bear to part with. The most interesting thing for me was a wind-up 78rpm gramophone player, and two records; Shine on Harvest Moon and Love is a Many Splendored Thing. There were very sharp needles, and with a bit of winding up, I could make the gramophone player work.

Between the garden and the house was the veranda, metal framed and glass roofed and sided. Black-and-white linoleum tiles and garden toys. My father had constructed some cupboard space with sliding panelled doors, this was where the smaller garden tools were kept (the shovels, rakes, brooms etc with their splinter-yielding wooden handles were kept in the summerhouse).

Around the corner from the veranda was a passage to the garage, in this passage was the coal-bunker, which as I mentioned in a previous thread, was not used as such, but as a store for sand. It had asbestos (!!) sheets covering it. To think my brother and I would play hide-and-seek in it!

No comments: