teacher, who I had always been afraid of, took me in her arms and consoled me, scolding the rough boy for his thoughtlessness. This kind gesture towards me put her in a different light as far as I was concerned, and my fear of her disappeared. The morning ended with a walk back to the school for a roll~call and lunch, then the afternoon was spent in much the same way.
Sunday, 3rd September 1939 commenced a new era in history. War was declared between Great Britain and Germany and this event disrupted the lives of everybody, without exception.
The evacuees, as we were now known, boarded coaches from the local school at Oulton Broad bound for yet another unknown destination. The vehicles arrived outside a small red brick school in the village of Belton, Norfolk. We tumbled out of the coaches and were guided inside. Shirley and I sat quietly at small desks in a very large room divided by a sliding partition. We weren't scared or frightened, but just sat still and waited. Eventually, a lady took each of us by the hand and said "come with me". We were then passed to another lady who was to become a very important person in our lives.
Outside were several small vehicles. The one we were asked to climb into was a bright yellow van; printed on the side in big black letters it said, "J.T.Berry & Son, Bakers." Inside the van were Connie and Winnie and three other children I recognized from school back home.
The van came to a stop in the driveway of "Virginia House", a large residence, and we were taken indoors by the side entrance. Inside, the lean~to extended the length of the house and it was quite wide. It gave the appearance of two houses knocked into one because a step divided the inside of the house. At the side of a wall stood a metal object, which had a spout and handle. It was a pump. We had never seen one before and looked on in amazement as a lady drew water from it for her kettle. The water at home came from a brass tap in the kitchen.
The lady who was taking us into her care told us to call her "Auntie Vic." She took Shirley and me by the hand and after saying goodbye to Connie and Winnie and the others, led us from the house.
We went a short way up the road and came to a gate. As we were rather small we could not see over the top. When opened, a pathway led into a diamond shaped garden full·of wall~flowers, which explained the exotic scent I could smell from the other side of the gate. Auntie Vic took us down the side of the house to the back entrance enclosed by a large wooden fence. The purpose of the fence was to keep out the draught which blew down the passage, no matter what time of year. Once inside we were greeted by Nellie, the dog. She was a white curly~coated mongrel terrier with a brown forehead, which looked and felt just like velvet. We were told to take no notice of her barking, as in time she would get used to us.
The small lobby we first entered was the wash~ house. Behind the door stood a table with an enamel bowl placed on a tray. In the corner was a brick copper with a fire grid underneath it. We then went into a cosy kitchen leading to the middle room. The table was laid for tea. Once seated at the table, Auntie Vic started to cut the bread. A tall man entered the room. We were told this was "Uncle Hubert". (He baked bread for Berry's, the local grocery store). Over tea we revealed that our mother was 99 years of age and Daddy was 98. We were not quite certain what we had said, but the statement caused plenty of laughter.
After tea, we were taken for a walk in the back garden. It was very long and wide. There were four apple trees, all kinds of currant bushes and a greenhouse where Uncle Hubert grew tomatoes and cucumbers. At the very end of the garden was a large chicken run, which took up the width of the garden and was fenced in with wire mesh. There was a shed where food was stored for the chickens and pigs. The pigs were in a sty at the side. Beyond this was a piece of land known as the "Small Common", though it looked very big to me. Later we referred to it as "the Common" because that is where we mostly played. On it grew gorse bushes, which in time, provided marvellous places for concealment in our games of hide~and~seek.
Exploration of our new surroundings now over, it was time to go back indoors and get ready for bed. A bowl of warm water was put on the table and my young sister and I undressed and sat on the table for a good wash.
While three days had been an adventure, all of a sudden somebody was very much missing. "I want my Daddy," sobbed Shirley. She was inconsolable for a few minutes. After words of reassurance, we were taken upstairs to our bedroom where we slept soundly for the first time in three nights in a clean and cosy double bed.