When my father was 80, I asked him what it was like being old and he said “You begin to feel that it is difficult to keep up with the lawnmower.” Let’s hope that my memory can keep up to speed now that I have reached 80!
My parents owned & ran the Post Office in Newent, a business that had been passed down through the family from the time of the introduction of the Royal Mail. We lived in the “Red House”, a large Georgian property that had formerly been a doctor’s residence. The house came complete with a coach house, pig stys, a large chicken run and, before our time, 2 tennis courts. Behind the house was a long & very large garden occupying more than an acre of terraced banking, fruit trees, flowers beds, vegetable gardens and lawns. The lawn, on the ground terrace, was 25 yards long with high bank of about 3 feet at the end which made an ideal rifle range! Along side the house was a 100 yard drive leading to the coach house which l remember was lined by cherry, weeping ash and an elm trees.
I had two older bothers – Phillip [who died last year] and Robert James then a younger sister, Camilla Eunice (second name after Mum). Camilla couldn’t pronounce her name as a child, calling herself “cuckoo” instead, a name that she was always known by!
When I was about 4 or 5 and being quiete a bit younger than my older brothers, who were 5 and 7 years older, l had a serious problem keeping up with them, they really didn't want to be followed around by a little boy; well, they had found a swing from old Dr Marshall’s days at the Red House, and had fixed it to a branch of the old cherry tree. I had a wonderful time swinging backwards and forwards, however there was a problem, when I wanted to stop & get off the swing, my feet couldn't reach the ground and then there was a safety bar to stop you falling out. I struggled to get out of the chair, but the bar kept slidding back into place then, l don't know how, I was caught by the neck and left perilously dangling by the neck. Fortunately for me, I was rescued by one of the postman, l don't remember which one, who was heading to the sorting office. The swing was scrapped immediately.