Caerleon Net
Both Sides of the River
~ by Cosette Allsopp (nee Lloyd) ~
© Cosette Allsopp 2002

Part One

Caerleon, Spring 1954: The Long Way Home

Lessons over, I turn right at the school gate and proceed past the entrance leading to the senior school. Looking to the left, I see the Lych Gate of St. Cadoc's Church. To the right, is the road leading to Dr. Reynolds' Surgery! Soon I will pass a very large walled property - what's behind the wall is a mystery to me. However, I do vaguely remember attending a Garden Party there a long time ago.

Continuing along the road, I see the Post Office to my right and I remember a story that Mummy has recently told me. It all happened in around 1950. My aunt Clara, whom I will talk about later, had told Daddy, that the only way he could expect to get rich would be by winning the 'Treble Chance'. I have since discovered that what she really meant was that he would have to win the football pools! Anyway taking her advice, he cut up little squares of paper and wrote a number on each one of them. These little bits of paper were put in an old box and each Monday, Mummy and I would have to, in turn, close our eyes and pick a number out of the box. Daddy would then copy each number onto another piece of paper and give it to Aunt Clara who would send the numbers somewhere. Each Saturday, at around teatime, Mummy and I would have to be desperately quiet whilst Daddy listened to a man on the wireless saying how many goals each football team had scored.

All this seemed very boring to me, until one Saturday, after the man on the wireless had finished telling us the football results, Daddy screamed with joy. He told us that he had 'come up on the football pools'. My parents decided that we should not tell anybody about their good fortune.

On the Monday morning, after Mummy had taken me to school she went straight to the Post Office to send a telegram to Vernon's Pools, saying that he had 'a winning line' and was making a claim for first prize. She was so excited that she didn't realise that the lady at the Post Office now knew their secret!

I think the lady in the Post Office told everyone who went into the Post Office that day, so as you can imagine, our secret was a secret no more! However, this story has a very sad ending. Aunty Clara had forgotten to post the completed football coupon, and it was still in her coat pocket!

Just past the Post Office, is a small shop that sells all sorts of things. There are large sacks on the floor, containing things like sugar, dried fruit and flour. You can buy birthday cards for your friends and bottles of 'Camp Coffee'. To the front of the shop are iron railings. These railings are a sheer delight to me, as each and every day, both going to and returning from school, I turn a somersault over them.

Immediately after the shop with the iron railings is a public house called The Whitehart. On the opposite corner of the lane is a butcher's shop owned by Mr. Skuse and still further down the High Street, again on the right hand side, is Mr. Belling's Chemist Shop. Mr. Belling is the 'sole supplier' of the famous liquorice root, which we chew and chew until every trace of liquorice, disappears!

Today, I will take the right hand turning after the public house, into Whitehart Lane, my preferred route home to the Old Village. Just before the lane veers to the left, I see ahead of me, a large stone, set into the wall. This is my second 'stop' on my way home from school. As with the railings outside the shop in the High Street, I stop and perform my usual routine - I jump on and then off. And so I continue on my way!

However, it isn't long before I break my journey for the third time! This time the break could be described as a 'cultural stop' - there happens to be a derelict building just as you approach the bend of the road, and me, being me, I just have to peer inside! What a find! There are piles and piles and even more piles of old books and papers. There are old family bibles, prayer books, story books and you name it, that type of book is there! I must keep this 'find' a secret, at least for a few days, anyway.

Just ahead of me, to the right, I see 'Glen Holm'. This is where my mother's friend Doris Johnstone and her daughter Sandra live. Sandra is in the year below me at Caerleon Junior School, and we have been friends since the time we were in nappies! Sandra has a rabbit, so today I will peer over the gate in hope that she sees me and asks me in so that I can help feed Flopsy bunny. Also, Sandra's mum always has a good supply of home-made ginger beer!

My 'official' stops over, and nearing the end of Whitehart Lane, I glance to the left, and out of the corner of my eye, I notice the cottage belonging to the Snook family. - And what a family. - They are always up to something. I can remember one morning, probably in or around 1951 when news quickly got around the Old Village, that a Weston's Lorry, carrying biscuits, had turned over, negotiating Caerleon Bridge. I should think that on hearing the news, most of the population of Caerleon rushed to the site anticipating a free supply of what at that time was quite a rare commodity, biscuits! I vividly remember my mother taking her most prized possession, a brand new black coach-built Silver Cross pram recently purchased, at great expense, for my new baby brother, and filling it with bags of broken biscuits. On the other hand, so it was rumoured, the Snook family, not satisfied with the broken biscuits, insisted on only taking unopened tins!

Looking both ways, I cross the main road and make my way towards the bridge, at the same time looking down into the muddy waters of the River Usk below. It is high tide, and the river is running very fast. I continue on my way.

To my left, just past the bridge is The Ship Hotel and the tiny Tollgate house. Attached to the house is a small wooden building owned by a Miss Jefferies. I seem to think that Miss Jefferies may be deaf, as when you enter the little shop you have to ring a small brass bell that is to be found on the counter. It was at this little shop that I remember buying my very first Easter Egg. It must have been when sugar first came off ration as the shell was made of crystallised sugar and inside was a tiny Easter scene -Yummy!

There are three roads ahead of me. To the right, the main road heading towards Newport, to the centre, New Road, leading to the Old Village and eventually Christchurch, and to the left, Lulworth Road, leading into Isca Road. This road follows the riverbank and is an alternative road into the Old Village.

At this point, another memorable story to tell - at least for me, because it was at this junction, about three years ago, that I was knocked over by a motor car when returning home one Saturday morning from my ballet class in Newport. I had been attending a class run by the very glamorous Misses Mitchell and Hamilton. It had been my father's turn to take me that Saturday and in return, he was to be allowed to go and watch the then quite famous Newport County play a home match! Fortunately, apart from my pride, the only injury I sustained was to my knees and my brand new pink ballet tights!

Today I will take the middle road, known to me as the New Road - I cannot remember ever seeing a road sign saying 'New Road' but anyway, that is what the people of the Old Village call it. I pass Miss Jay's cottage to the left. Miss Jay is a law unto herself. Most of the village children are afraid of her because of her witch-like appearance. On the other hand, I am fascinated by the fact that she has a pet parrot whom rumour has it insists on swearing whenever Dr. Reynolds has occasion to visit her. I understand that anticipating his visit; Miss Jay will hurriedly cover the bird's cage with a 'blackout' curtain!

Next to Miss Jay's cottage is Lulworth House. A good friend of mine, Diana Lawrence lives here. Diana is in the same class as me at Caerleon Junior School and one thing sticks in my mind about her. That is that she has extraordinary large feet. I can remember looking inside her wellington boots and seeing size 7 printed on the inside! - What a silly thing to remember!

New Road, always seems long and tiring, especially after all my 'adventures' en-route! Tea is always on my mind and of course the anticipation of going out to play afterwards; so it is with relief that Hugh Green's house becomes visible around the bend of the road.

Hugh's house is called Downderry and has a very large garden, which is crammed full of vegetables and flowers. I believe Hugh's Uncle Sid is in charge of the garden as I often see him pottering around in a smart new greenhouse. I also remember once seeing a notice on the shed, saying, in big letters, SID'S SHED-PLEASE KEEP OUT!

My mind is starting to wander back to last year, 1953. It was Coronation Year and there was much excitement in the Old Village. Mr. and Mrs. Green, as far as I was aware, were the only people in the Old Village to own a television. So be it, with a 12 inch screen that had a 'snow storm' every day just in time for Children's Hour!

What a party Mrs. Green laid on. I remember all the children who lived in the Old Village crowding into her living room and spending the whole day, sitting crossed legged on the floor watching the miracle machine in the corner of her room. Food was plentiful that day. Plate after plate of sandwiches, filled with things that I had never heard of before. Homemade butterfly cakes and what was to be my first taste of fizzy 'Green' pop! It was only last week that I discovered that the ' fizzy pop' had been lemonade, coloured with a few drops of green ink from Mr. Green's office!

1953 was an exciting year in the Old Village. To celebrate the Coronation of our new young Queen, many events took place and I suppose the most memorable one for me will always be the Old Village Carnival, as I was chosen as their Carnival Queen. My school-friends Christine Davies and Olive Young were my two attendants. With very posh long silk dresses and bejewelled headdresses we were paraded around the village on a suitably converted and decorated lorry complete with a large gold painted chair representing a throne!

Just around the corner from the Greens, I enter Ashwell. On the right are two pairs of semi-detached houses known as Ashwell Villas. They will always remain in my memory as being 'jerry-built'. I still don't know what jerry-built means. I will have to look the word up in the dictionary Daddy gave me last Christmas.

A young family owns the first of the villas. Mr. and Mrs. Holder have two small children, Susan and Michael. Sadly, a few months ago I remember Mummy telling someone whilst out shopping, that Mrs. Holder had died. I don't know what will happen to poor Susan and Michael but I expect their father will look after them. I hope they won't be too sad.

Next door to the Holder family used to live an elderly couple by the name of Weller whom I can't recollect as having any family. They sold the house to a Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins; I remember them as having one daughter around about my age, called Diane. Tragedy struck again, and the young Mrs. Jenkins developed polio and spent, so I was told, the remainder of her life in an iron lung. 'Iron-lung' - yet another word that I don't really know the meaning of, so I will look that one up in my new dictionary! The house was sold again in about 1952, and the Lavender family joined us at Ashwell. Ted and Brenda Lavender are very 'sporty' and so too, their daughters, Christine and Caroline. I remember with envy that they had a set of parallel bars and rings in the back garden, and that their house not only had a number, but a name also! - It seemed that the entire village was informed by Christine, who was a year or so older than myself, that "our house is called 'Arosfa' and it means that everyone is welcome to come and see us!" All four members of the Lavender family are excellent swimmers and it was their dad, Ted Lavender, who patiently taught me to swim out at Bulmore Lido last summer.

Next door is number 2a Ashwell Villas, and that is my house. My parents purchased the house in about 1949. They had been living there since before the war as tenants, and it was with great excitement that they were given the opportunity to purchase it. for the princely sum of £450! Last week my parents told me that a lady had asked them to sell our house to her for a lot of money - £1750. I think. If the lady gives us the money very soon, we will be moving to another house, about a hundred miles away in Gloucestershire, near to where my mother's sister Ena lives. Aunt Ena, her husband George and two children, Jeanne my very favourite cousin, and her younger brother Nigel live on a large farm, so I am hoping that I will like it and make lots of new fiends.

However, there is one thing that worries me a lot about moving. Last week we had a letter from my school, saying that I had won a scholarship to Monmouth School for Girls. I hope that if we do sell our house and we move to Gloucestershire I will still be able to go to Monmouth School as I know that some of my friends are going there also.

Mummy and Daddy are very excited about moving and keep on saying, "Everybody in the village will really think we did win the football pools!"

Miss Harris used to live in the house adjoining us in Ashwell. She was a funny old lady, with a long pointed nose, and always wore black clothes. I can remember her being afraid of thunder and lightening and always hiding her silver away if there was a storm. I was glad when my parents informed me that she was to move and the house was to be occupied by another young family with the surname of Laye, The Laye family had moved from Australia - Fancy moving from a nice hot country like Australia!

Mr. and Mrs. Laye have four children. Peter, Ann, June and Susan. I believe June and Susan are twins. They all seem very nice and I hope they will join our gang!

Next to the Layes' house is a row of terraced cottages. Mr. and Mrs. Gear and their grown up daughter Cora live in the first cottage. Cora always seems to be ill. I think she is the best friend of my mother's younger sister, June. Auntie June got married a few years ago and I think I remember Cora being her bridesmaid - or did she call her matron of honour. Auntie June and her new husband Dick now have two small children, Jennifer and Alan. Alan who is about three is a lovely little boy, but he does cry a lot! Mummy tells me that auntie June was always crying as a child!

Next to the Gear family lives my Auntie Clara and Uncle Glen and my grown-up cousin Albert. I can never really understand how or where they fit into our family, but I guess that uncle Glen is related to my granddad Jenkins.

Further down the terrace is a cottage everybody calls 'condemned'. There are cobwebs in the window and peeling paint on the front door. It's quite spooky when you look in.

The Brown family used to live there up until a few years ago. I remember that Mr. and Mrs. Brown had three children. One grown up son who went to university, a daughter called Ann and a daughter called Margaret who was my age. I think that Mr. Brown was the man all the children in the village used to laugh at because he sometimes wore brown suede shoes, which we children thought, was very sissy! Margaret Brown was very ill a few years ago and died. I can remember all our class at Caerleon Junior School had to go to her funeral. Our teacher told us that she had peritonitis and died because she had a weak heart. I will never forget going to Margaret Brown's funeral as it made all the children in my class cry, because we thought that we might catch 'peritonitis' and die also! Mr. Aliffe told us that you couldn't catch peritonitis but that didn't stop us all worrying.

Just after the Browns old cottage lives another friend of my Auntie June. Her name is Hazel Cook. She is grown up, probably about twenty and wears red lipstick and rouge.

The road comes to an end. There is an iron gate called a kissing-gate leading to a public right-of-way. Immediately through the gate is 'The Well' - I never have dared to drink from it, although I believe it is the only source of drinking water for the majority of the people living in the terrace of cottages.

Beyond 'The Well' is the 'Tumpy' field where my friends and I play. Sometimes, in the summer, we take a picnic there and pick bunches of pretty lavender blue flowers that we call milkmaids. In the spring the Tumpy field is covered with cowslips. I usually pick so many that we don't have enough flower vases to put them in and we have to use jam jars! And of course, there are the large juicy blackberries to pick in the autumn and make into delicious jam.

Hearing the traffic from the main road travelling towards Newport in the distance and finding the grass wet underfoot, I will retrace my footsteps past the well, through the Kissing Gate and back into Ashwell.

I will walk on the other side of the road this time. There is a very narrow winding lane opposite the Brownes' old cottage. I can see Mrs. Pattimore's house at the top of the lane. We buy our eggs from her. There is another cottage up the lane. The lady who lives there sometimes sells us apples.

I am now standing by a wide farm gate and very badly want to go inside. The house is called 'The Vines' and it is the house that used to belong to my Nana and Grandpa Jenkins. My nana died when I was four years old and my grandfather lived there alone for several years. One day I saw a big notice go up outside 'The Vines', saying SOLD and very soon the new owners, Major and Mrs. Browne moved in. It was a lovely old house and I remember every single room vividly. I enjoyed nothing more than going upstairs to my auntie June's bedroom and dressing up in her jewellery and silk scarves.

My grandfather used to work as an engineer for the Post Office. I remember him always fiddling with wires, and talking about "cats' whiskers". Grandpa Jenkins didn't have the happiest of faces but he was very fond of me and it was he who bought me my very first two wheeler bike. It was made by a firm called Elswick and had a smart black saddlebag in which he had put a small tin containing a John Bull puncture outfit. It wasn't long before the puncture outfit came into use as like all young children I didn't treat my new bike with the loving care it deserved. My new bike had a set of lights run by a dynamo and a set of very fierce brakes. These brakes were ably assisted by the toes of my shoes, and I can always remember being scolded by my father for using my shoes as an extra set of brakes!

Unlike my grandfather, my nana always looked happy in spite of the many chores associated with taking care of her family. Nana Jenkins took a lot of pleasure from tending her large garden in which she grew many vegetables and lots of wonderful flowers. She kept chickens, ducks and pigs, which meant that during the war years our family had a bountiful supply of fresh produce. There was always at least one side of bacon hanging on her larder wall and there always seemed to be hundreds of pots of jam, marmalade and pickles on the shelves. Nana Jenkins' house was always a good place to visit when you were feeling hungry! I was so sad when she died in 1947 when I was just four years old.

The new owners of 'The Vines' had one small son whom I believe went to boarding school and wasn't officially allowed to mix with the village children! However I was determined to make friends with the Browne boy so that I could go inside my grandparents' house again.
The family are still not too keen on us village children, however I do go inside and play occasionally when he comes home from Boarding School.

The road to the other side of 'The Vines' leads to Christchurch and it is windy and steep and often referred to by the locals as 'up the hill'. Yet more 'relatives' of mine live 'up the hill'- Winnie and Tom Halloway.

I have memories of staying the night with Winnie and Tom, especially after Nana Jenkins died and I was unable to pop over the road to 'The Vines' for the night. Winnie and Tom's cottage is very small but furnished to perfection. I loved staying there for the night because the low sloping ceiling in the bedroom where I always slept fascinated me. However, I was mindful as to the fact that traffic coming down the hill passed mightily close to my bedroom window!

Adjoining Winnie and Tom's cottage is the famous, and much talked about 'smallest cottage in Wales'. I have recently heard my parents talking about the possibility of Tom and Winnie buying the small cottage and knocking it into theirs.

Further on up the hill and at the junction of what we children call the 'the black ash path' lives Christine Davies. Christine is an only child and lives in a modern detached bungalow.
Her dad's hobby, is motorbike scrambling and I enjoy nothing more than going with Christine and her mum to watch his pursuits.

Apart from relatives living in Christchurch, Auntie Pat, Uncle Jim and cousins David, (a recently qualified doctor), and Leon, the majority of our friends live the other side of the Old Village, so I think it's time to take an about-turn and lead you back down the hill. This time, by my favourite route, clamouring up the steep wooded bank, which is smothered with primroses, wild garlic and violets, over all the old tree roots and into our 'den' at the junction of Ashwell and Number 2a Ashwell Villas.

Descending the steep slope down to the road below, I will follow the road to the left called Bulmore Road, which takes you into the centre of the Old Village and eventually Bulmore Lido. Leslie Porter and his mum and dad live along this road in a small quite primitive cottage with flagstone floors and an outside 'privy'. Leslie is an only child and is the apple of his parents' eye. I have always associated Leslie with a man known to us children as 'Mr. Peelings' as I believe he keeps pigs and is famous for his weekly collection of 'kitchen waste'. I have always assumed that 'Mr. Peelings' was Leslie Porter's mum's brother.

On the opposite side of the road to Leslie lives the Tooze family. Mr. and Mrs. Tooze, - Jim and Dora, and their three children, Norma, Bernard and Marlene. Norma is about a year older than me and her brother and sister a few years younger. The Tooze family home is approached by steep steps and appears to be built into a bank. It is equally as primitive as Leslie's home, with flagstone floors and a small 'scullery' with a drain that always seems to be blocked! However, it does have one extra-special feature. It has an outside loo with two seats! Do families really accompany each other on such occasions?

Norma Tooze is a good friend of mine and it was she who was responsible for me being 'delivered' to Caerleon Infants School in September 1946 aged three and a half! The story goes that Norma Tooze told my mother that her aunt, who taught at the school, said I could go, so, go I did! Afterwards it appeared that Norma's aunt did indeed teach there, so be it many years previously. I was later to discover that there was a plaque hung on the wall of the school hall commemorating her life! Norma and I are always getting told off for chalking on her steps. We both want to be school teachers when we grow up and are always doing sums. Sometimes Norma says she might become a nurse and I sometime think I'll be a dress designer.

School days at Caerleon have been good. I can vividly remember my early days at the Infants' School. There was a Miss Jones, my very first teacher. She was beautiful, (in my eyes anyway) and I can remember thinking that if I was a boy, I would marry her. Miss Jones had very dark curly hair, a very slim waist and more importantly, a wonderful coat!
I can remember bottles of Cod-liver Oil and 'Food Office' orange juice on a shelf ready for dispatch at playtime. Did those teachers really think they could disguise the flavour of that terrible oil by mixing it with orange juice!

Because I was very tall for my age, I was soon moved out of class one as I was unable to get my knees under the desks we sat at. What an excuse for depriving me of another few months in what was called 'the baby class' where we could happily dig in the sandpit and even have an afternoon nap on a small camp bed.

Memories of the Infants' School include: The climbing frame in the hall, known to me as 'the jungle jim', the old air raid shelters in the school playing field which were supposedly out of bounds and had a disgusting smell, and music lessons where I was deprived of my ambition to play the drums. I always seemed to be issued with a stupid triangle, or occasionally, if I complained loud enough that silly tambourine!

It was soon time for me to enter the Junior School and I began to hear rumours of the infamous Miss Primrose Hockey - the Headmistress. She and I never seemed to get on and I vividly remember her slapping me on the hands with her equally infamous ruler for daring to ask twice to go to the toilet in the middle of a lesson! Mr. Aliffe was one of my favourite teachers in the Junior School and it was he who offered me sixpence if I could produce just one page of sums without a blot on it. I never did manage to get that sixpence!

Days at the Junior School have been generally very happy. I love school and have done well. I love arithmetic and can even say my times tables backwards! I enjoy poetry lessons, writing stories and drawing maps. In fact there isn't much I don't like doing at school. I have a wide circle of friends but the two I will always be very special to me are Kay Pritchard and a little girl called Valerie Doyle. Valerie lives at St. Cadoc's, the local children's home and she tells me horror stories as to how her parents locked her in the coal cellar for punishment. I have desperately tried to persuade my parents to adopt Valerie, but it isn't to be. I will also remember, Clare Weeks, Ciara Stocking - or something like that, 'Girly' Rawlings, Haave (is that how you spell it) Pugh, and my mother's friends son, Peter Watson.

Peter, like myself, perceives himself as being a pianist extraordinaire! Thus, it was that we both offered ourselves as performers at the Junior School Eisteffod last year. Only last week did I find, tucked away in a drawer, a piece of sheet music called 'A Bunch of Cherries'. It was to have been my contribution to the concert! I will try and tell you the story.

The day of the Eistedffod arrived. The school hall was full of excited children and their parents. Several people had performed; a few had sung songs, somebody recited a poem. Next it was Peter Watson's turn. Peter was to attempt to play a short piece from the Grand March from Tannhauser. He took a bow, and began to play. I don't believe he had practised it very much as it didn't sound too good. Peter was a bit heavy handed.

"Well done Peter," said Mr. Aliffe, our music teacher. The audience clapped and Peter gave a second embarrassed bow and hurriedly left the stage. It was my turn.

Mr. Aliffe introduced me to the audience and announced that I was to entertain them with a piece of music called 'A Bunch of Cherries'. I shook my head. Mr. Aliffe looked puzzled.

"I'm going to play 'Dancing Daffodils'," I said quietly. (A Bunch of Cherries just didn't sound right for St. David's Day.)

Mr. Aliffe still looked puzzled. He whispered to me, "Where's your music?"

"I don't need music, I play by ear," I said.

And so I began - it went on and on and on. Finally after what seemed ages, I found a suitable chord at which to conclude my performance.The audience applauded, including my somewhat puzzled parents.

That's enough about school days at present, so, if you haven't by now lost the plot of this story, and I forgive you if you have, I will continue on my way further into the Old Village.

Looking to the left we see the small Mission Church. I seem to have spent a large part of my childhood at that church and for some reason or other, I cannot remember a single village child who wasn't sent by their parents to Sunday school every Sunday morning! Thinking about it, could there have been a reason for that?

We have had wonderful harvest festivals at the little Mission, Christmas parties, sports days and best of all, Sunday-school outings to the seaside. You must remember the majority of families in the Old Village do not own a motor car and thus the annual trip to the seaside is something very special. The nearest seaside to Caerleon is Barry Island and a little further along the coast is the 'upmarket' Porthcawl.

The day of the Sunday school outing has always been eagerly anticipated and we set off on what to us small children was a very long journey. In reality it is perhaps only an hour or so away. Even now, when I close my eyes and take in a deep breath, I can smell and taste that wonderful air as we approached the sea.

We have spent many happy days at either Barry Island or Porthcawl, splashing in the sea and making sandcastles whilst our parents sit on formal brightly coloured deckchairs, our dads, often with trousers rolled to their knees and dare I say it, with knotted handkerchiefs on their heads! Mothers and Grandmothers are to be seen at the waters edge, stockingless and with very often, their frocks tucked in their knickers!

Luckily, I have what I think to be a very modern mother who discreetly, behind a very large towel, held by my father, changes into her latest creation, a modest swimming costume possibly run up on her Singer treadle sewing machine the previous day, in the style of the day and fashioned with shirring elastic! I also remember the embarrassment of having to wear a creation of my mothers myself. A little number made from a re-cycled terry-towelling nappy, trimmed with emerald green bias binding!

After devouring our sandwiches, which by lunchtime are usually garnished with sand, we left the beach and headed towards - if we were lucky - the funfair and the possibility of perhaps an ice-cream, or, if your parents were particularly 'flush' that day, a Knickerbocker Glory.
It is with regret that I have to mention that I have never been fortunate enough to have such a luxury. I remember Bernard Tooze as always being allowed this luxury as I believe it was the only way his parents could keep him quiet! (Sorry Bernard.)

There would be rides at the funfair - the ghost train is my particular favourite, and then if you are really lucky, fish and chips before you join your 'charabancs' (from the French char a bancs meaning carriage with seats.) - I've just looked that word up in my dictionary!

Before we leave the little Mission Church, I will let you into a secret. One Sunday, at Evensong, the collection plate was fast approaching the row where I was sitting with my friend Hugh Green. I had committed an unforgivable sin and had spent my collection at the corner shop and I was just about to commit another equally unforgivable one. I discretely twisted the button off my Sunday best coat and offered it in place of the 2d that I had earlier spent on sweets at the corner shop!

Just past the Mission in Bulmore Road live two families that I have been told not to play with. Until this day I know not why!

Then there is the corner shop -we will forget about that, except that I remember on one occasion being sent there my mother to buy her some 'snowfire' face cream!

On the opposite corner is the Bell Inn - nice families didn't visit Pubs, or so I am told. Stewart Watkins lives next to the Bell. He is older than me and has ginger hair and freckles. I don't like boys. Diana Peplowe lives in the bungalow next to the Watkins family. Diana is in my class at school. Diana is a very pretty girl and always reminds me of the little girls on Mabel Lucy Atwell postcards.

The road ahead takes you to Bulmore Lido, a favourite place for us children to go in the summer. But it's too cold to swim today and I will about turn and head back towards where I started this story.

I turn right into Isca Road. My old Aunt Lizzie lives in this road. All the village children seem to be scared of Aunt Lizzie Hawkins. Her claim to fame is that she is exactly the same age as Winston Churchill. Aunt Lizzie is infamous for rapping her window with her walking stick whenever a child passes by. One of the village children's favourite games is to knock on her front door and run away!

Aunt Lizzie has a piano in her front parlour and it was at that piano that I gave my very first piano recital aged about 5 years. It was my version of 'Old Jack Sprat'. Also in that room is a stuffed owl, which my baby brother calls 'oowe'. She has a rag mat in front of a large black leaded fire range which seems to get smaller each time I visit her as she is constantly dropping coals from her fire on it and having to cut the burnt bits off! and a wonderful rocking chair that she always promises will be mine one day.

I pass Olive and Dorothy Young's cottage, and Jean Warren's, and now find myself back outside the Ship Inn at Caerleon Bridge. This time I will follow the river, not turning into Whitehart Lane, but instead, I will follow the road to the left. I now find myself opposite Mr. Belling's Chemist and outside the house that used to belong to the Tresillian family.

Mr. and Mrs. Tresillian, fondly known by me as Uncle George and Auntie Doris, were probably my mother's best friends. She had spent many lonely hours with them during the war when my father was away fighting in Burma. Uncle George, whom, I believe had been slightly crippled from birth and his redheaded wife, Aunty Doris, at the time when they were living opposite Belling's the Chemist in High Street Caerleon, had four lovely children. Anthony, perhaps a year older than myself, Christina, about the same age, Angela a year younger and Jennifer 10 months younger than Angela. My mother always told me that Aunty Doris had so many children because she was an Irish Catholic!

They were a wonderful looking bunch of children and with the exception of the youngest, like their mother, all had red hair. They attended a Convent School in Newport.
Sadly, they left Caerleon in about 1951 and went to live near Cardiff. I believe two more children, both boys, were born after their move to Cardiff. Sadly our two families have now, all but lost touch.

Slowly, I make my way up the High Street and through the rooftops I glimpse St. Cadoc's Church and the Infants school where I began this journey.

Golly, I am tired. It's been a long way.

Part Two: December 2001 - The Visit
About The author
Email Cosette
Caerleon Net Home Page


Memories of Caerleon Past:

[ Brian Blythe ] [ Mary Isobel Davies ] [ Lionel Turner ] [ Lyndon Watts ] [ Evacuee Mavis Robinson ]