the house where Mum was an evacuee


It was still there. And not so different from my memory of it. We parked round the corner and wandered along to where a mum and three children were sitting on the pavement enjoying the October sun. They turned out to be the current occupants of the house that was home for my mum for the three years she spent as an evacuee. Another neighbour appeared and to Mum’s delight she remembered the family, Olive and Herbert Sands and their daughter, Elizabeth, who had taken my mum and her sister in. We were invited to see inside the much-changed house. My strongest memories were of the passageway between the houses and the long thin back gardens. Mum lived there from 1939 to 1942. We left Bluestone and drove round to the village green. The stream runs alongside. I could picture my sister and I playing there when we went to visit in 1970, by which time Aunty Olive and Uncle Herbert were quite old. In war time Olive had been strict, but by the time I met her she was as soft as putty. Leaving South Creake we turned right at the war memorial and headed for North Creake where Mum’s sister went to school. (Mum went to Fakenham). By one of those strange coincidences that pepper life, the school is now owned by my best friend from Buckingham, a couple of counties away. She runs the Norfolk Painting School with her husband, Martin Kinnear. Mum was enrolled on a  course there so spent three days learning from the master, eating food cooked by the lovely Lucy, Jane’s daughter, and chatting with the fellow artists. Being in Norfolk brought back many forgotten memories for Mum. Buildings, tellings off, visitors, schoolboys who followed her home – the strange girl with the wavy black hair and London accent. While Mum was painting, the children and I explored. Wells-Next-The-Sea, Holkham, Sheringham, Fakenham and then further afield to see long-lost Aunty Felicity in Marlingford. She has a lovely dog called Ferdy (Ferdinand!) who won the children over big time. I hadn’t seen her for twenty years. She’s more or less the same. Bit older. No less attractive. She’s originally from Australia and has a lovely Anglo-Antipodean accent with vestiges of the Fosters lingo that make her sound entirely of-the-moment. I gave her a copy of my first book and she looked suitably stunned that I had, in her absence, become an author. Evidently I had ‘naughty’ eyes as a child so might not have come to much. We’re home now, five hours after leaving Norfolk. Pity it’s so far.