85. Practical Skills

Practical Tasks and DIY

Grandad continued to do practical tasks, particularly what would now be called DIY, around the house. Do-it-yourself became a commonly used phrase from the 1950s. One of the shops grandad bought from in the sixties, Frank Edwards, had DIY in its title and the Hill Methodist Church had a DIY group in 1969, see Chapter 54.

Examples of Things Grandad Made

Things grandad made while still living in Kirkby included pelmets, shelves, a bed guard, seats, chairs, and a stand to go beside the cooker.


He often made things from something else although I don’t think he would have recognised the term “upcycling”!

For example, in March 1961, grandad cut a seat in two, a seat they had had from Trinity. Later that month, he made a seat for next-door out of an old one from Bourne. In November 1961, he pulled apart and then reassembled a crib that grandma had bought from a Trinity jumble sale for five shillings the previous month. Grandma then painted it white. In June 1962, he pulled a dining room chair to pieces and gave Florrie Booth all the covering. That same month, he pulled apart an old dolls’ pram that he and grandma had bought from Kath for ten shillings. He also broke up things he had previously made. For example, in May 1962, he broke up an old truck he had made at Station Street and used the wheels to make a lorry.

Other Practical Jobs Around the House

Grandad installed light fittings, laid lino and carpets, and both he and grandma were involved in painting and decorating. In terms of light fittings, in February 1961, grandma bought new globe and fittings for the kitchen light and grandad fitted them. She got these from Woolworths in Mansfield for 12/6. This website has details of Woolworths’ stores in Nottinghamshire.. 

Converting the Coalhouse to a Shed

In April 1962, he cleaned out the coalhouse making it into a shed. He also put up a loft which I think was in the shed.

Mending Things

Grandad mended things including various electrical appliances. For example, he fixed the socket in the garage and the pencil element in the bathroom fire. He also mended the hall chimney clock key which broke during winding, and a pane of glass in the garage door which had been broken by someone in the street.

Home-Made Improvements

Grandad often came up with home-made  improvements to things they had bought. For example, he added two short handles to their big garden shears and added an extra leg to the adjustable table they had bought by post from Bradford. He also made a variety of tops and covers to go on appliances such as fridges, cookers and toilet cisterns to provide surfaces that could be used, in the case of cookers when they were not being used.

In June 1962, grandma bought two castors from Woolworths in Mansfield for 7/6. Grandad fitted them to one of the chairs in the dining room. However, grandad was not satisfied. So, he took them off and replaced them with a pair from their old dining room suite. In summer 1962, he made a reel to wind up the electric wire used for the mower.

Grandma Was Also Involved

Grandma made covers for various items of furniture including a kitchen chair, their dining room suite and the suite they had bought from Brays. I have found details of two businesses with the name of Bray in Kirkby.

P E Bray and Sons

First, there was P E Bray and Sons who originally had a shop on Low Moor Road but who later moved to Station Street. However, they mostly sold china although an advert in the 1953 Carnival magazine indicated that they were also expert upholsterers.

R C Bray

However, I think this reference is probably to R C Bray which was a furniture shop on Urban Road. I think this is the shop also referred to by Jonathan Evans in his book “The Mystery of Ernie Taylor’s Abdomen” (p24). Jonathan and his brother Richard want to buy a chemistry set from Brays which he refers to as the only toy shop in town. This would fit with the advert from the carnival magazine which refers to selling toys as well as furniture. On p27 of his book, Jonathan Evans explains in some detail where Brays was and also explained that the ground floor was mainly furniture while toys were on the first floor.

Advert for R C Bray from the official guide from 1950 which was kindly given to me by Helen Jay
Advert for R C Bray and Son from the Kirkby Carnival magazine in 1953

Photographic Accessories

Grandad also made various photographic accessories including fitting a transformer to his slide viewer to give a better picture and making a projector stand and a projector stool to stand on the table. I am not entirely sure why he needed both. Perhaps one was freestanding and the other stood on a table.

Toys and Games

He also made toys and games. For example, in July 1960, he made a set of skittles for a garden party they were holding.

Grandad Continued with Practical Tasks After They Moved to Norfolk

Grandad also did a lot of practical tasks once they had moved to Norfolk.

Making Things

He continued to make some things. For example, in November 1964, he made a crate for their bowls.

Making Improvements

Grandad also made improvements to other things. In December 1963, grandma bought a set of wooden legs to fix on the blanket box. She paid ten shillings for these. In February 1964, grandma bought another set of mini castors. Grandad made tops for the fridge and the washer. In October 1964, he made two rods for their wardrobe, the one they bought when they were married. In December 1964, he made a case for the clock they had bought from Meggitts, see Chapter 53, in 1933. I am not entirely sure which clock this was. Also that month, he pulled the old Monavex paraffin stove to pieces. I am not completely sure of the name but that is what it looks like. I have not found details of this.

Work in the New Bungalow

Once the new bungalow had been built, grandad laid carpets, in some cases, with help from mum or grandma. He put up extra shelves, e.g. in the sink unit and made a cabinet for the electricity meter. In October 1964, he put up a shelf in the lobby for grandma’s geraniums. This triggered a memory of their bungalow for me as I recall those flowers in the entrance as you came through the front (side) door. In November 1964, he also made a stand for geraniums in the outside toilet.

DIY Supplies

Grandad bought DIY supplies from various places.

Frank Edwards (DIY)

In August 1964, grandad had a sheet of hardboard and some wood delivered from Frank Edwards. I have found some details of this firm. It appears to have been established in 1958 but is no longer functioning. Although there was no record in the 1960 Kelly’s Directory, by 1967, they had branches at 14/16 Lower Goat Lane (occupied for about a year by Rainbow wholefoods in 2019), 23-25 St Augustine’s Street (now appears to be residential), 68 Grove Road (seems to be all flats now), 65B Hall Road and 63 St George’s Street.


One of the places grandad most frequently patronised was Dixons on Reepham Road. This is now Dixons shopping centre. Initially, when I was researching the diaries, there was an excellent history of this and the family shop that preceded this there, including a photo of the shop but, as of January 2022, this no longer seems to be accessible.

While I do not really recall that shop, I have vague recollections of grandad going there on a moped or bike, as to get there, he went past our house. Items he bought there included paint, wood and  PVC sheeting. In June 1964, Eva used paint bought by grandad from Dixons to paint their garden seats and grandma painted two bedroom chairs.

Dixon’s shopping centre currently – this was established in the 1980s

Maintenance and Repairs

Grandad continued to maintain and repair various items, including their vacuum cleaner. In October 1964, he repaired a table he had brought from mum’s caravan.


One of the bigger projects he undertook, at the end of 1964, was to construct a covered area or veranda over the “yard” area immediately outside their back door. For details of the materials he purchased, see Chapter 84.

This photograph is set in grandma and grandad’s back garden and shows mum, dad, Alan and me playing cricket. The bungalow is in the background and this clearly shows grandad’s cabin to the right and the veranda that he built
Later photograph of grandad, grandma and Jim showing the veranda that grandad built in the background

Name and Number Plate

In December 1964, he fixed the name and number plate on the side of the bungalow. The family tradition of calling houses “Elstow” is discussed in Chapters 24 and 31.

Front of grandma and grandad’s bungalow showing sign with name and number
Close up of sign with name and number

Practical Jobs for Mum

Grandad also did quite a lot of practical jobs for mum, initially on visits from Kirkby, see Chapter 81, and particularly once he and grandma had moved permanently to Norfolk. Things he made for mum included a kitchen cupboard and a netting frame for her bedroom window. He helped her level her Thor washer. Mum noted that this also involved dad and that he and grandad put a washer on the washer (!) and levelled it. The Thor washing machine was new, see Chapter 84.

Grandad put up various things for mum, including a dining room clock, which according to grandad was grandma’s father’s clock, a telephone shelf, shelves in the store shed and a replacement front door bell.

He also modified various things for her. For example, he put extra shelves in or under her sink unit and replaced the bath panelling. He changed the garage doors, put a roller catch on the front door and put a new lock on the French windows. He put a new flex on the landing light and also made the gate catch fasten. Also, he wired the clock in my bedroom. He put ball catches and hardboard on other doors. He pulled down the picture rail in the hall.

Grandad also carried out various repairs including to the back door lock. He helped mum lay lino. He also made some garden frames for dad and brought them when they visited us in August 1962. On that trip, they also brought a table that grandad had made for mum when she was two.

Grandad Made Things for Us

Grandad also made things for us including a swing for Tricia, some railway track (fixed to boards) for Tricia and me for Christmas in 1963 and small cricket bats for Tricia, me and Alan. He also made a number of what he called “runabouts” which were various forms of trolleys/go-carts/wooden bikes and which I recall as a child.

Dad and Alan on runabout that grandad made
Grandad with me and Tricia on runabout
Later photo of Caroline Douglas, Alan, me, Liz and Tricia on home-made bike
Tricia, me and Alan on runabout with dad
Alan, me and Tricia on homemade bike with mum. We seem to be in our school uniforms

Practical Jobs for Other People

Grandad also did practical jobs for other people including his next-door neighbours, friends and relatives.

Arthur and Florrie Booth

Arthur and Florrie Booth were grandma and grandad’s neighbours in Kirkby. Grandad hardboarded two chairs for Florrie and he also made a small table for her glasshouse. He also put some hardboard in a cabinet for her. He put some castors onto their old settee. Also, he swapped the two door buzzers they had for the door-bell that the Booths had. He fitted a wooden bottom in the Booths’ dustbin.  He tried to fix Florrie’s vacuum cleaner but could not get the motor out.

Graham Douglas

The Douglas’ lived next-door to grandma and grandad in Drayton. Grandad made Graham a catapult.

Walter Maltby

Grandad made Walter a small box for his car loudspeaker.

Auntie Bertha

Grandad made her a cupboard to stand against her sink. Grandma and grandad exchanged this cupboard for Auntie Bertha’s old gas washer which grandma wanted for the boiler. This was delivered in May 1963 by Evans at a cost of 8/6. Grandma and grandad then pulled the Acme wringer to pieces that was on the gas washer.

Advert for Acme wringer. Grandma and grandad pulled one of these to pieces for Auntie Bertha in 1963

In September 1961, grandma and grandad brought a table of Auntie Bertha’s for grandad to put together. He worked on it over three days. The next day, he unscrewed it to take it back to Auntie Bertha’s where he reassembled it.


In August 1963, grandad cut up firewood for Jim and Auntie Bertha.

Richard and Simon Parkin

In 1962, grandad made a scooter for Richard. He also repaired some telephones for him that year.

Simon brought a tape recorder for grandad to repair but it is not clear if he did.

Helping People With Jobs

Grandad also sometimes helped people with jobs, including helping Arthur Booth make and enlarge a coal bunker and helping Walter Maltby fix a gadget for airing the glasshouse.

Dad Sometimes Helped

Dad sometimes helped grandad with jobs. For example, in May 1960, dad cut up some tree trunks that Mr Booth had given grandad.😇


Sometimes grandad injured himself while doing jobs but thankfully not seriously! In August 1960, while dusting over the front door, the stool slipped and he fell and bruised his right leg. He considered himself lucky not to have broken it. In October 1962, he cut a finger on his right hand using the planing machine. He had to have the doctor see it.


Grandad loved his tools and continued to include diary entries about them during this period. One of my memories is how well-equipped grandad’s cabin was and how well-organised all the tools were with everything in its allotted place. In March 1960, grandma bought grandad a screwdriver with adjustable bits for the car. She got it from Gillotts in Nottingham for 10/6.


In the diary, it looks like Gillcotts but I found details of a Gillotts hardware store in Goose Gate. It appears to have been at 60 Goose Gate. Initially, I thought the earlier picture, from 1915, showed a different location but it is possibly the same location with some of the buildings no longer there. It is now an off-licence.

Cutthroat razor from Gillotts
Gillotts in Goosegate, Nottingham in 1980 – image licenced for re-use from Picture Nottingham

More Tools

In March 1963, grandad bought a flexible drive for his electric drill from Woolworths for 15/6. In June that year, he moved his bench drill so that he could drive it with the ¼ HP motor that he had bought at the end of March from Mansfield Sales and Exchange for 32/6. He had bought one previously in December 1960 and I am not sure why he needed another.  

Mansfield Sales and Exchange

I did not find any listing for Mansfield Sales and Exchange in the 1941 Kelly’s Directory. However, I did find a 1985 advert for them based at 107-109 Nottingham Road where National Carpets and World Interiors are based now. I also found news articles from 1963 about a miner who sold a radio he had on hire purchase to Mansfield Sale & Exchange and the theft of a safe from their premises.

Grandad Sold Some Tools Ahead of Moving to Norfolk

However, in August 1963, grandad sold some of his tools ahead of the move to Norfolk. He sold his saw and planer to Mr Carr for £18 and his bench drill to Tony for fifty shillings. Roy and Alma picked it up with Carole in September 1963.

Grandad Started Buying New Tools in Norwich

Once in Norwich, grandad started building up his tools again. More details of tools grandad bought during this period are found in Chapter 84.

Grandad’s Cabin

As part of the design of their bungalow, grandad had a cabin in which he could work and he spent a lot of time in it. He also hosted visitors in there. In August 1964, while Ken Hodges was visiting, they spent time in the cabin and Ken turned an ashtray on the lathe.

Fairly recent photo of 166 Drayton High Road. Red arrow shows location of grandad’s cabin

I have vivid recollections of this although I think I probably thought it was a converted garage rather than something that had been designed as a cabin/workshop from the start. I am grateful to Louise Brown and Sara Atchoarena for allowing me to visit the house in May 2023. Their family have owned the house since it was sold after grandma and grandad died. I was able to see grandad’s cabin which has since been largely used for storage.

Photo taken on visit to grandma and grandad’s old house in May 2023. Cabin to the extreme right
Photo taken on visit to grandma and grandad’s old house in May 2023. Cabin door straight ahead
Inside of grandad’s old cabin on visit to grandma and grandad’s old house in May 2023

In May 1964, grandad wired up his lathe and upgraded his circular saw. Then, in June, he put up shelves in the cabin and made a guard for his saw. In July, he pulled the front off the wardrobe in his cabin. Then, in September 1964, grandad made a saw stool and a rest for his disc sander fixed to the circular saw. In  October 1964, he started using the oil stove in his cabin.

Getting Professionals In

Sometimes, the family got professionals to do jobs they could not do themselves.


In October 1961, grandma and grandad had Mr Walker do some decorating for them. This included papering the hall and hardboarding the kitchen doors. After he finished, grandma did some tidying up. In November that year, Mr Walker fixed a new fireplace for Florrie Booth.

Outside Painting

In May 1960, mum got Mr Walker to paint the outside of the house in Diamond Avenue. Grandad thought he had made a good job of it. The cost of this was £16 6 9d.

Servicing and Repairing Washing Machines

Grandma’s Machine

In June 1960, a man from Beeston came to service grandma’s Thor washer. He put a new belt clip at a price of £1 15 11d. In September 1960, someone came to look at the Thor washer as it was “knocking” but they said it was nothing to worry about.

The following year, in March 1961, someone from Radiation Group Service in Beeston came to see the Thor washing machine. I have not managed to find any details of this group. He tightened the belt and examined it for which he charged £1. In July 1961, the Thor washer fused. Kirkbys, see Chapter 84, of Kingsway collected it. Apparently, the junction switch and pump needed replacing. Three days later, the washer was returned. The total cost was £6 10s, £3 10s for the replacement pump, £1 5s for the new switch and £1 15s for labour.

Mum’s Machine

In October 1961, mum’s washer went wrong, the pump was not working and mum said that there was a handkerchief in the pipe. She said she rang Cambridge and said someone was coming. She stayed in all day and the man came between 5.30 and 6.30 and mended the washer at a cost of £1. However, in December 1961, mum’s washer went wrong again. The agitator was not working properly. She rang Cambridge again.

The following year, in January 1962, mum had someone come to service the washer. She paid him £4 16 6d. She noted £2 12 6d for the next two services. It is not clear to me if the price she paid included that or if that would be the price in future for those services. I also am not sure if that price was for each service or the two together.

Grandma and Grandad’s Machine Again

In January 1964, grandma and grandad’s Thor washer went “wonky” again. A man came, apparently the adjustment was wrong. He put a new washer below the wash bowl at a cost of £1 12 6d. In February 1964, a man came to see the washer again but, as it had worked alright when grandma last used it, he did not do anything and did not charge anything.

Servicing Vacuum Cleaners

In August 1961, grandma’s Hoover vacuum cleaner was serviced. This cost 15 shillings plus 1/6 for a new belt. Also that month, Kirkbys collected Florrie’s vacuum cleaner. In May 1963, the man from Hoover serviced mum’s vacuum cleaner at a cost of £3 5 11d.

Repairing Televisions

In August 1961, Kirkbys collected Walter’s television.


In March 1963, Dick Egglestone came to fix a burst pipe at the washhouse at grandma and grandad’s but found that it needed some replacement pipe so he left it. He came back subsequently and made the repair for which he charged 22/6.

Repairing Gas Fires

In July 1963, the gas man came and fixed a small leak at the back of the Gas Miser, see Chapter 76.


Mum sewed actively during this period.

A Buttonholing Attachment

In October 1960, she got a buttonholing attachment for her Singer sewing machine. Grandma and grandad had got her this for her 21st birthday in 1955, see Chapter 66. Grandma bought the buttonhole attachment at Singer’s in Nottingham as mum said she could not get one in Norwich. This cost £4 12 11.

Various Items Made

Mum made a variety of items for herself and for us. These items included pyjamas, nightdresses, coats, dresses, sundresses, underskirts, trousers, overalls, rompers and blouses. One of the dresses she made for herself was a maternity dress in April 1962. She also made some pyjamas for dad. She also made a red peg apron and green chair covers. For details of materials mum purchased during this period, see Chapter 84.

Mum also sewed costumes for plays and did sewing for the summer fair. She made alterations to clothes, e.g. to skirts for herself and grandma.

In March 1962, she started smocking Tricia’s yellow gingham dress. Tricia wore this on 25 April 1962.  There is a photo of Tricia in what looks like a yellow gingham dress but I don’t know if this is the one nor if mum made this or if she just did the smocking on it.

Tricia in yellow gingham dress

In April 1962, mum made a Sooty and Sweep dress for Tricia and a shirt (blouse) and  trousers for me.

Tricia and me in matching Sooty and Sweep outfits

Sewing for Church

Mum also used her sewing skills for the benefit of church. On 3 July 1963, she went with Vera to cut out a piano cover at chapel. On the 24th and 25th, she went to fit it.


Mum also knitted and, in January 1960, made a jumper for Auntie Bertha. Mum had had a knitting machine since 1957, see Chapter 67. In November 1961, she used it to knit a white jumper for Tricia. Tricia wore this for Sunday School on 12 November along with a skirt and cardigan that Minnie had made for her.

Also, in November 1961, mum used the knitting machine to make a bit of a red twinset for herself. She used it over the next two days including for the other sleeve to her pink twinset. However, she sold it on 8 December 1963 for £8.


Mum also baked. In May 1962, she iced a cake for Tricia’s birthday and, in September 1963, she made cakes for a competition. I recall mum baking a lot and that most of what she made was gluten-free so Alan could eat it. In one of the Christmas photos, see Chapter 81, there is a fruit cake decorated with sliced almonds. I recall mum making cakes like these.

Cleaning and Washing

Grandma and mum, in particular, also spent a lot of their time doing very practical jobs such as cleaning and washing.

Spring Cleaning

In addition to the regular cleaning and washing, mum spring-cleaned rooms every April or May. Dad helped with cleaning down cobwebs. I recall mum being very frightened of spiders, mice etc. In February 1963, a starling came down our chimney and mum had to get Mr Keeble to get it out.

Help With Washing

When grandma was not well enough to do the washing single-handed, Florrie Booth helped her by hanging it out for her.

Airing a House

In January 1960, grandma went to Auntie Bertha’s house to help Jim and Renie air it ready for her coming back from visiting Driffield.

Cleaning a House Before Selling It

In February 1960, grandma and grandad cleaned through the house next-door ready for selling it.

Practical Jobs Related to Moving House

There were quite a lot of practical jobs involved in moving into and setting up house in Middletons Lane from 1960, including cleaning, measuring for and putting up curtains, laying lino and carpets, decorating, putting up shelves and carrying out minor repairs and improvements. For example, in January 1962, dad knocked down a shelter. I am not sure what this was. Perhaps an air raid shelter? In May that year, mum put rising hinges, see Chapter 94, on Tricia’s bedroom door. In October, mum stained a whitewood cupboard. Then, in December, she put a panel on the bathroom door.

There were new appliances and various pieces of new furniture. For example, in September 1961, mum had a new kitchen cabinet.  She put pots from the pantry in it, having first lined it with Fablon, see Chapter 64.

Secretarial Work from Home

Mum also did some secretarial work and, in December 1963, bought a Roneo duplicator. I recall these from both home and school and have memories of mum doing typing and duplicating, particularly for church, from home. I remember, as a child, helping mum collate and fold church magazines.

Drawing of a mimeograph or stencil duplicator © André Koehne and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Mum started using the duplicator from Christmas Eve of 1963. I am not exactly sure when mum bought it as grandad noted lending her £25 (free of interest) for this on 31 January 1964. Perhaps she was trying it out or had it on credit before that? Grandad noted that mum paid back £10 of this in September 1964.

In April 1964, Arnold Clough came to collect duplicating that mum had done. In addition, in December 1964, mum decided to have a typewriter from Robertsons. Presumably, this was replacing or adding to the Imperial Portable Typewriter that grandma and grandad had bought for her in 1959, see Chapter 68.


According to the 1960 Kelly’s Directory, this was A R Robertson (Norwich) Ltd who provided office equipment, typewriters and printers and were based at 62 West Pottergate. There was a similar entry in the 1967 Directory but they were just listed as suppliers of office equipment. I found a 1958 advert for them as stockists of Imperial Good Companion portable typewriters. However, this was on the Local Recall archive which is no longer accessible.


All the family were involved in gardening, particularly cutting the lawns which seemed to be a constant job from around April through to November. Grandma and grandad were mainly the ones to cut the lawns at Welbeck Street but other people who did this included dad, Florrie and Arthur Booth, Garnet, a friend of the Booths, and Ron Rowe. Cyril also helped grandad with other elements of gardening.

Photos intended to show the back and top lawns at Welbeck Street. There was also a lawn at the front.

Lawn at Middletons Lane

There was also a lawn at Middletons Lane and this needed cutting but it was not as ornate as grandad’s lawns, either in Kirkby or Drayton, and cutting it did not seem quite the major focus that it was for grandad. I have some childhood recollections of planting a lawn and those involve some kind of contraption for sieving soil to get rid of all stones.

Later photograph of the garden and lawn at Middletons Lane showing me, Tricia, Alan and Liz. I recall that there was a lawn on one side of the path with things growing on the other side. I also recall the “hill” that we are standing on the top of. But, it is much bigger in my memory than in reality!

Borrowing a Mower

In the early days of living in Hellesdon, in September 1960, mum and dad borrowed a mower from the Keebles to cut the lawn.

Interest in Lawn Mowers

Of course, grandad had an interest in lawn mowers. In March 1960, grandma collected a connecting line for the mower from Blake and Beeley. This cost one shilling. In June 1962, Walter Maltby called to show grandad his new Webb motor mower that Blake & Beeley had just delivered. I am not sure if Walter had problems with this but, in September 1963, grandad went to help him get it started.

Blake and Beeley in Church Street in Mansfield in 1996. They now operate from Urban Road in Kirkby – image licenced for re-use from Inspire


Apparently, Webb were best known for their small manual mowers. Although Webb became part of the Wolseley Hughes group in 1963, trade continued under the Webb name until 1973 when they became Wolseley Webb becoming part of Qualcast in 1984. 

Giving or Loaning a Mower to Alf Holland

It seems grandad had given or loaned Alf Holland a lawn mower as, in April 1963, Carole and Tony returned this to him on the basis that Alf did not have a lawn. Presumably, he had had a lawn at some point!

Other Gardening Jobs

Grandma and grandad also did a lot of other gardening jobs when they lived in Kirkby apart from just cutting the lawns. These tasks included garden maintenance, such as weeding, cutting down rambler roses, cutting hedges, pruning apple and plum trees, burning the cuttings and also developing the garden. For example, in April 1960, they laid a small path at the top of the garden and, in April 1961, grandad repacked bricks to make a compost heap.

They had a glasshouse and, in June 1963, grandma and grandad did some pointing in that. Also that month, they re-laid the concrete edging on the front path and re-laid some of the slabs that had been lifted by frost.

Grandad’s health meant that he was limited in what he could do and he sometimes emphasised that he had done little bits of gardening. In June 1961, he emphasised that he had done a bit of gardening by underlining the word bit. In May 1962, he made the same point by writing BIT in capitals. He also noted that things took him much longer than they did grandma. On some occasions, he was not able to garden because of pain in his ankles which was due to gout.

Sometimes, mum did some gardening for grandma and grandad when we visited Kirkby. In November 1962, while pruning a tree, grandma managed to knock the lens out of her glasses. She went to Davison’s, see Chapter 78, and they fitted it back.

Gardening in Hellesdon

Mum and dad also did gardening at our house in Hellesdon.

Mum as the Main Driving Force in the Garden

I had always assumed that the main impetus for gardening was from mum as when dad lived on his own in London and Birmingham his garden was very neglected. In London, one of his neighbours used to cut the grass for him! When he moved back to Norwich, he initially bought a townhouse in Pottergate and one of the attractions was that it had no garden! However, when he remarried and moved to Wymondham, he once again took interest in the garden but my assumption was that the main inspiration for this was from Heather.

Helping with Gardening at Chapel

In June and July 1962, dad went weekly to help with gardening at Mile Cross chapel.

Gardening Tasks

More often than not, mum did not specify what the gardening tasks were but they included a mixture of garden maintenance, such as weeding, watering, cutting back ramblers, tying up roses, pruning fruit bushes and cutting hedges and also developing the garden including planting bulbs and flowers, such as carnations, that Mrs Keeble gave to us, and vegetables, such as potatoes, onions, beetroot, cauliflower, peas and lettuce. In June 1961, mum knocked down a wall in the back garden and also painted a garden seat.

Other People Helped in the Garden

Other people sometimes helped in the garden. For example, in April 1961, Mary Howard, a deaconess who was staying with us, see Chapter 79, did some digging. In particular, grandad also helped in the garden when he visited. For example, in July 1962, he cut the hedge at the back where the garden adjoined the community centre land. In April 1963, he helped mum and dad to put up a new fence between the Keebles’ and ours, including making a gate.

I am not sure if this is the garden seat mum painted but it is a bench in our garden in Middletons Lane. The photograph is dated September 1963 and shows dad, Alan, me and Tricia

Gardening in Drayton

Once they moved to Drayton, grandma and grandad had large gardens at the front and particularly at the back to design and maintain.

Starting Off

Mum and grandma started the gardens off in January 1964 when they planted bulbs on the land where the bungalow was being built.

Creating the Garden They Wanted

Grandma and grandad had some digging, clearing and tidying to do, including removing lots of nettles but a lot of the work initially was on creating the garden they wanted.

Establishing a Lawn at the Front

In October 1964, grandma, grandad and Cyril seeded the front lawn. For details of the grass seed purchased see Chapter 84.

Laying Edging Slabs in the Front Garden

For details of this, see see Chapter 84.

Laying Concrete Near the Side and Back Doors

[Grandad prepared for it. Mr Draper’s workmen brought it ready mixed and grandad finished it with his trowel.

Creating a Path Around the Lawn in the Back Garden

This was done in September and October 1964. For details of slabs, see Chapter 84. At the beginning of October, Cyril and grandad laid the path and also had some slabs to go against the cabin on the garden side.

Grandma and grandad’s back garden showing lawn and the slab path round it
The end of what was grandma and grandad’s garden in May 2023. The garden still backs on to a field
This is what was grandma and grandad’s back garden in May 2023. This is from the end of the garden looking back to the house.
Parts of the slab path that grandad laid were still in place and visible in May 2023

Creating an Area of Crazy Paving

In November 1964, grandad laid some concrete broken slabs to create a piece of crazy paving 7ft by 6ft. Ron brought some fishpond sand and cement from Woolworths, see Chapter 84. Grandad then concreted the square but noted that the cement Ron had brought did not go far. So, he went on his moped to Dixons and bought more. Mum brought it round for him. With this, he finished concreting the piece of crazy paving.

This photo is from May 2023 and is, I think, the area of crazy paving that grandad created

Fitting a Pair of Gate Stops

Grandad had bought these from Gale and Galey, see Chapter 84. I assume these were for the front gate.

Installing a Weather Vane

Grandad had bought this from Hubbards. In November 1964, grandad made a frame for fixing the weather vane onto a tree stump. He also made some frames from the edging to fit over the two tree stumps at the front. The next day, grandma painted the weather vane and, a few days later, grandad fixed the weather vane to the tree stump. In early December, Ron checked grandad’s weather vane with a compass he had brought from the airfield. He found that it was a little out.

Grandma and grandad’s front garden with mum, Liz, dad (back row) and Tricia, Alan, me (front row). To Tricia’s right can be seen one of the capped tree stumps grandad referred to.

Cooperating With Neighbours

As in Kirkby, grandma and grandad cooperated with one of their neighbours, Ron Douglas, over things related to the garden. In October 1964, grandad noted that he and grandma collected apples from Ron’s tree.

Other People Helped in the Garden

Sometimes people who were visiting helped out, particularly Cyril and Tom Wilson.