How Don Aaron came to live in Great Parndon, Harlow, Essex
Young Don Aaron
Father and Mother 1935
The Early Years
I was born in 1936, the eldest son of Hector Aaron (January 22nd 1904 to December 7th 1943) and Ivy Aaron née Knapton (August 4th 1912 to April 1st 2004).
My early childhood in Knottingley was spent at No. 1 Gordon Terrace, located just off Womersley Road and running parallel to Broomhill Avenue. My father worked for one of the major employers of the town - Jackson Brothers - Manufacturers of glass bottles.
My recollection of Gordon Terrace is now getting a little dim. However, I do remember that we had gas lighting and the heating was from open coal fires in every room. However, unless we were using a room for an extended period, which then merited starting a new fire, the main room in use in Winter was the very large Kitchen. The main feature of the Kitchen was a large black cast iron range which heated the kitchen, produced hot water (for baths in front of the fire) and on which my mother did all her cooking. Magic. The family radio was run from lead acid batteries which had to be taken frequently to be recharged in a long dark building located, if memory serves me correctly, just off Racca Green. Later on we "upgraded" to a wired system which was powered, via overhead cables, from a building situated in Aire Street.
One childhood memory I do have is a visit, as a very young child, to the theatre with my parents. It was raining heavily (I can still visualise the rain against the outside wall of the theatre). The only act I can remember is with a man on stage listening to an emergency programme on the radio as we were at war. The man was learning how to boil an egg. With the egg in the pan and all of two minutes into the act, it was announced over the radio that the programme would be continued next week!.
I have no recollection of my paternal grandparents as my Grandmother Florence, née Renton, had died in 1924 and Grandfather Reuben Aaron (June 9th 1860 to April 11th 1938) had died before my second birthday. I have a better memory of both my maternal grandparents as they survived until 1951 (Grandmother Ellen née Pickersgill - January 14th 1881 to June 13th 1951) and 1956 (Grandfather George - 1878 to October 14th 1956). These Grandparents lived off Broomhill Avenue and Grandfather George worked at the local Glassworks, Bagley's. After his "retirement", Grandfather took on a number of casual jobs to support himself and his wife Ellen. They were both kind and caring, of a completely different generation - a "Personal Pension" in those days was an alien concept. My Grandfather had fought for King and Country in both the Boer and First World Wars. Two of their sons became policemen, one of them was stationed in the North whilst the other was stationed in Oxford.
Reuben Aaron and Sons Roland, Hector and Tom - 1914
In Gordon Terrace we had a long allotment where we grew potatoes, with a chicken house as the main feature - invaluable in wartime as eggs were then on ration; as were meat, cloths, petrol etc. In fact I've still got a vivid memory of seeing the odd car with a gas bag on the roof. I can also remember milk being delivered by a man with a horse-drawn dray - the milkman served milk from a churn, the customer provided the receptacle. Similarly, coal was delivered on a horse-drawn flat bed cart. The street lighting along Womersley Road and along Broomhill Avenue in those days was gas. As there were not many fridges about, it was necessary to buy things fresh and ensure good storage conditions.
Shopping was interesting, small quantities of goods often provided in twists produced from sheets of brown paper - polythene and other modern packing materials were a thing of the future. The shops in Aire Street, all now gone in the interests of progress, were fascinating, some dark, and maybe dingy, however Arkwright knew what he was about when it came to laying out and organising a store - none of your modern display cabinets. I still have a strong memory of Horncasles, the Drapers, as I trapped a finger in the door!. Clays, the Grocery shop, as well as Spiers, the Newsagents, were all fascinating places. Aire Street was the location of the "Palace" where the Saturday morning treat was to see the latest Cowboy or Comedy fantasy - more than often still in Black and White. The open ground (the Flatts), over the road from the shops, and on the bank of the Aire was used by the "Fair" for the week of it's annual visit. The "Flatts" was subject to flooding almost every year, as was the area on the other bank, Brotherton Marsh. In quieter times the river ran very low and a ferry service over to Brotherton Marsh was operated by a man with a rowing boat.
My mother could boil clothing in the boiler attached to the Range (spotless with it's black lead polish) and had a "Peggy Stick" to work the cloths on a deep zinc plated round tub. A wash board and mangle completed the "Kit".
My father died in 1943 from pneumonia. Broomhill Avenue became my home in my teens. The wash board, mangle and other wash day items were consigned to history when a (twin tub) washing machine was acquired. Electric light was a real bonus, as was access to anything powered from the mains. However, heating was still from open coal fires, a "bonus" when much later brother Ken worked for the Coal Board as a Surveyor and received, as a perk, concessionary coal. Mention of coal reminds me that rail transport was powered by coal. A train journey always seemed to result in a dirty collar and a distinctive smell on clothing. Also I am reminded that Knottingley is cut, West to East, by a canal which runs in a deep cutting, particularly in the area of the Town Hall and all points West. From the bridge on Weeland Road it was possible to see the "Tom Puddings" carrying the coal down stream to Goole. The Tom Pudding was a large floating container, capable of holding up to 40 tons of coal. A number of these containers were coupled together and moved by short tugs placed fore and aft. As they chugged slowly along, a few men were doing the work of many. Each shipment could move up to 700 ton of coal. Thus keeping many dirty heavy lorries off the road. On arrival at Goole, each of the containers was "simply" lifted out of the water and up-ended into the hold of a ship for onward movement. The system finally came to an end in 1983 after over 120 years service.
Knottingley in those days seemed to be dominated by the Glass Industry. Gregg's, Bagley's and Jackson's. Much later on, Bagley's was taken over by Jackson's and then later on Jackson's was to become part of the large Rockware Glass Company.
As a child I was taken, on a school outing from Weeland Road School, to watch the launch of a ship built by John Harker's. The shipyard (now defunct) located East of the Town, was just over the way from the Yorkshire Tar Distillers, now Croda International. This site was a fascinating place. Large distillation plants, in those days with large lagoons of solidified pitch, a by-product of the (very) smelly distillation process.
The Lime Quarries to the West of Womersley Road were an endless source of pleasure to us all - looking back on these times now, they were also a real source of danger - lots of deep crystal clear water (badly polluted in later years) and all too often very thin ice in Winter!. In my childhood one of the quarries was still productive. However, even then the last productive one was well past it's peak. Double Summer Time appeared to make the days playing in the Quarries inordinately long.
The two means of transport readily available were the bus or bicycle and I spent many a happy hour exploring the countryside on my bike as other traffic on the road was genuinely sparse. The bus journey was to the local shopping metropolis, Pontefract, or very occasionally an expedition to Leeds. Later on the bus became my daily means of transport when I went to Grammar School in Pontefract.
I remember attending, probably in the late 40's, a performance of the Messiah at the Methodist Church in the Ropewalk, sponsored I believe by a Mr. John Polson who lived very near the Church. The orchestra was the Hallé Orchestra and the principal female singer was Kathleen Ferrier. I have never been a real fan of classical music, however, her voice was of a supreme quality. The recordings she made are still available, however, I believe that they do not do full justice to her range and power. It may be that time has distorted my memory, but I still have that clear impression of pure quality. Sadly she died at the age of 41 in 1953 having started her career as a pianist and surprised everyone, including probably herself, by taking first prize in the 1937 Carisle Festival for both Piano and Voice. She made her first recording for Decca in 1946 and from then on was acclaimed as a true star.
Kings School Pontefract
I attended the Weeland Road School and in 1947 I set the 11+ and gained a place at the Kings School Pontefract. If I remember correctly 1947 was the year of deep and extended snow. J.D. Lean was the Headmaster of the Kings School in those days, with Mr. Done as Head of Science. Latter on I was joined by Brothers Ken, Colin and Brian - Sister Wendy had to be different - she went to the Girls High School, also in Pontefract. Sadly, political leveling-down later on ensured the demise of two very good schools. I also had cousins at the Kings School - the Aaron Family were all powerful!. In remembering Weeland Road School, I am reminded that my brother Brian, after his first day at School is alleged to have said something along the lines of "That was nice. What am I doing tomorrow ? ", how many other children have made the same mistake?.
Prefects - Kings School Pontefract - 1953
It was in my late teens that I developed a passion for Short Wave Listening. My original acquisition was a battery powered 4 Valve Superhet, followed by the R1155 - a classic war time design, produced to fit in aircraft. I spent/ wasted many a happy hour trawling the world for the latest Short Wave acquisition.
It was also in my late teens that I purchased my first 35 mm camera, a Wirgin (Wiesbaden) Edina fitted with the Prontor SV Shutter - all springs and gears to drive the complex shutter diaphragms to produce a shutter speed of 1 second to 1/300 of a second. The lens was an Edinar f2.8/4.3. Small disposable bulbs were used in the flash gun and each flash bulb contained a measured amount of magnesium foil. The cameras had neither built in metering, nor auto focus. Processing was done at home and the Chemist in Pontefract, Boots, could be relied upon to have a ready supply of all the required chemicals - on a slack day the Chemist would even mix the chemicals for me. One day I must visit the local "Boots" and ask for a pint of Hypo (Sodium Hypochlorate - or was it chlorite?). I can even remember experimenting with Dufaycolor - an obsolete additive colour film process, in which a black and white film was coated with a very large number of minute red, blue and green filters, the proportion of the three colours being such that the resulting colour was a neutral grey when the film was viewed at a distance. After exposure the film was developed using a reversal process to produce a positive image. Dufay 35mm colour film had 20 lines to the millimetre, hardly a high resolution film. Sadly, all my efforts have disappeared over both time and moves.
During the long Summer Holidays I took various jobs to supplement the family income. Climbing up a vertical ladder in a barn, with a two hundredweight sack of grain on my back, is now a distant memory. As is working all Summer in the laboratory at Jackson's, analysing the glass. I was also responsible for analysing the gas produced on site, used to power the glass furnaces. It was this that put me off Chemistry - I passed A Level with Distinction in Chemistry as part of my School Certificate efforts and seem to remember that I had the offer of a Scholarship at Hull University.
In 1954 I received a State Scholarship and went to Birmingham University to study Science. The State Scholarship was for £218 per year, however in 1954 the Average Price of a house was all of £2,000. This was my last real contact with Knottingley as although I returned home to Broomhill Avenue during the vacations, and in subsequent years, my interests were elsewhere - including taking a job in the long vacation to finance my changed lifestyle. I remember one very hot Summer when Brian Howes and I worked for Midland Counties in Birmingham, making Iced Lollies and stacking them, and Ice Cream, in very cold and very large walk in fridges. I also spent some time in "Retail" working for the Lewis's Department Store in Leeds and it was in Leeds that I met my future wife Marty.
On Graduation I took some time off, prior to joining the RAF - National Service was then still an "Option", and given a choice of two years in the Infantry as "Cannon Fodder" or Signing On for an extra year with a genuine choice of options, I chose the RAF route.
After basic training at RAF Bridgenorth, I transferred to No. 1 Radio School at RAF Locking to train as a Radar Mechanic. Whilst at Locking I managed to get some time off and returned to Leeds for a Registry Office Marriage to Marty. Marty joined me in Weston-Super-Mare where we had a flat in Severn Road - Marty managed to get a job with Littlewoods in Weston, where she ran the store Cafe.
I was eventually posted to RAF Patrington where I worked on the Radar Site out along the coast near Holmpton. Hopefully someone will one day publish the fully story of the Rotor System and the R3 Building (A very large two story underground fully reinforced radar station bunker) and the associated Radars (including the Radar Type 80). Marty joined me, and we found a lovely small furnished bungalow at the end of Hubbert Street in Withernsea. We then spent most of my RAF service living in Hubbert Street. The odd detachment up the coast to RAF Bempton was no real hardship, as was a return to RAF Locking to learn all about the FPS 6 Height Finder Radar. During my service at Patrington, the Marconi Company did a major upgrade to the equipment in the "Hole" and part of my Service included helping out/ observing the work carried out.
Our son Donald Ian was born in the small Maternity Home in Withernsea.
The Radar Years
On completion of my service in the RAF I had a number of interviews in the South, and, having been exposed to the Marconi Culture, felt very comfortable in accepting an offer of a job as a Systems Engineer working for Peter Max and Jerry Taylor out at Church Green. Church Green was a relic of WW2, a fine country mansion as the offices with Nissen Huts "round the back" where the Drawing Office and other facilities were located. Now it's a housing estate - "Progress". I spent most of my time at Church Green working on the 264 Radar - a 50 cm. set with exceptional range at the penalty however of a very wide radar response. One of the installations was in New Zealand on a small island in the harbour. The runway contractor was persuaded to raise the outer level of the island to screen the radar from the sea surface, and thus drastically increase the range of the radar.
Originally I lived in digs in Chelmsford, but we eventually found a furnished flat over a shop on Rainsford Lane. I remember the flat with some affection, it wasn't luxury, but the three of us were together. I also remember one particular Winter when Marty was in hospital and I had charge of Don Ian and the pipes froze!. Trying to clean reusable nappies in the bath, with only buckets of water from a neighbour, is no joke.
In April 1963 I moved to Cossor Electronics, located in Harlow, with Peter Max and Alan Carnell. For most of my career in Cossor, latterly Raytheon Systems Limited, I worked on SSR (Secondary Surveillance Radar). Initially I travelled with colleagues from Chelmsford, moving to Great Parndon in Harlow in mid 1964.
Although most of my career was SSR based, I did spend some time working on the 787 Primary Radar upgrade. This was an intense programme which quickly developed into a shift pattern. As I was still living in Chelmsford at that time, and working very late, it cost the company a small fortune in taxi fares!. When it came to Flight Trials at RAF Binbrook we stayed in the Officers Mess for all of three days. However, Arthur Gregory contrived to get us thrown out by approaching a rather stiff and starchy Wing Commander and asking "Where's the Bar Mate". We rapidly relocated to a boarding house in Cleethorpes which had far more comfortable beds and better food. The Trials included a period of Optimisation. I still have a vivid mental picture of Gordon Chase attempting to explore the first Blind Speed of the Radar at midnight - on the main runway - in a company van - trying to get the van up to 70 m.p.h. Binbrook in those days was a Lightning base. Although the radar, for safety reasons, is kept away from the runway, it was still very "impressive" to see/ hear the aircraft taxi past the radar and then take off in formation with full re-heat on.
One of the earlier jobs at Cossor was as the Systems Design Authority for the SSR Systems to be implemented at the Air Defence Radar Sites - RAF Stations Bawdsey, Staxton Wold, Boulmer and Bishops Court (Northern Ireland). The Design Authority task included producing all the equipment procurement specifications for the MOD (Antennas, Turning Gear, Buildings, Interrogators (Transmitter/Receivers), Defruiter (Interference Blanker), and Interface Equipment), building special equipments (Interface Equipment), writing Systems Acceptance Specifications and Flight Trials Documentation. These sites had a two story block house, the R12 Building, now above ground level, and formed part of the Linesman/ Mediator Air Defence System. The antenna for the Type 85 Radar was located on the roof of the R12 building. The Type 85 was a truly awesome Radar - frequency agile with 12 stacked beams to provide height information. The 12 high power transmitters arranged on the arc of a circle, the wave-guide and the high power multi-channel wave-guide rotating joint were works of art.
During my career at Cossor/Raytheon I was also responsible for the sitting and performance of the MSSRs (Monopulse Secondary Surveillance Radars) fitted to RAF and Naval Sites in the UK and also three RAF sites in Germany - In all 27 Systems.
Latterly (until I retired in 2001) I was responsible for the Implementation and Performance of the MSSRs supplied as part of the Raytheon SIVAM (System for the Vigilance of the Amazon) programme in Brazil.
"In between" I've been responsible for MSSRs fitted in Switzerland (Military Systems), Iceland, and the MSSR upgrade in Scotland - Lowther Hill in the snow and fog is something to be experienced!.
I remember visiting Algeria just after a coupe - we always seemed to get the same taxi driver; he could not speak a word of English, yet he unfailingly always knew what we wanted, even when we changed our plans in the middle of a journey. The trip was also interesting in that whilst we were talking to the Generals, the competition, the French, was talking to the Deputy Prime Minister.
Two trips to Egypt, just after the Russian Advisors had left was a fascinating insight in to the Egyptian psyche - although the British had been thrown out of Egypt as a Colonial Power, they missed the British organizing abilities. The local wine, Ptolemy, was a real treat. Beer could be a problem as the Hotel had to return the empties before it could get a new supply. We used the Mena House hotel as our base. The hotel is located at the end of a new dual carriageway motorway outside Cairo, and near the Pyramids. On a day off we hired some camels to explore the Pyramids - these beasts had been genetically modified to stop near a shack or pile of rocks where someone would then leap out to sell some local jewellery. Whilst exiting the Great Pyramid, someone turned the lights out - the bruise on my forehead lasted for days. On the return journey to the hotel (in the dark) the camels insisted on using the local motorway and had decided that it was "safer" to head into the traffic.
In Iran hotel swimming pools were closed and full of rubbish. Hotel lobbies were decorated with anti-American slogans. Strange men with beards sat all day in the hotel lobby watching the comings and goings. The morning TV highlights were the traffic jam cameras in Tehran, or a religious figure talking earnestly to the viewer. Only foreigners wore neck ties, as a sign of decadence?. However, behind closed doors the Iranians I meet were charming gracious and very friendly and helpful.
I still find it incongruous when I recall on many occasions in Tehran seeing groups of young ladies, dressed just like penguins, flagging down a passing car - a private taxi - and after a brief negotiation climbing in. In the same context the journey to the airport could be interesting. On one occasion the taxi driver, on getting caught in a traffic jam on the airport approach, simply crossed the central reservation and then reversed the last half mile to the airport. What could be simpler - there was a lot less traffic leaving the airport, it was after all 2 am.. Airport check-in was an "interesting" experience. After queuing to get into the terminal, it was then necessary to queue to be checked to make sure that there were no antiquities in the luggage; followed by a queue to validate the airline ticket; followed by a queue to check in. The next queue was at effectively the frontier post, controlled by a small smart white picket gate, followed by yet another queue to be searched (men separate from women of coarse). Air side was real chaos, it's probably different today, but then there was no PA system and the only way of checking the flight was to listen carefully as a member of staff walked among the crowd to announce the name of the next flight - Moscva comes to mind as one possibility.
The return flight to Heathrow was a revelation. The aircraft did the circuit Heathrow - Tehran - Bahrain - Heathrow so that it could drop/ change the air crew in Bahrain. On leaving Tehran the passengers were a mixture of male and heavily cloaked females?. Within half an hour of take-off women appeared on the aircraft. When the aircraft landed women wearing make-up had mysteriously appeared!.
The other systems I've worked on are now lost in the mist of time.
I finally retired at the age of 65 at the end of May 2001. During my time at Cossor/Raytheon there have been many changes in hardware design. I can still visualise Arthur Gregory and his breadboard design idea - a row of nails along the far edge of the lab bench interconnected by bare tinned copper wire was the +200 Volt rail this was complemented by a further row along the centre of the bench (0 Volts) and finished of by a row along the near edge for the -200 Volt rail. What could have been simpler? just string the components between the "Rails" - hot valves? So what?. Health And Safety?. Now it's all solid state with very powerful computing and what needed rooms full of equipment can be done on a single chip
I still enjoy Short Wave Listening, now however I use a computer controlled receiver. The receiver is the size of a large paper-back and has great flexibility, it's an ICOM PCR1000.
I was still using Single Lens Reflex Cameras up to the end of 2003. The SLR, with it's built in metering, was great advance on the old simpler Edina.
After retirement I spent some time digitising boxes of old Kodachrome slides and negatives using a PrimeFilm PF1800AFL Scanner - a marvel of modern engineering - and all for less than £200. Initially it was only practical / easy to view the electronic images on a PC. However, modern LCD TV's, and a Western Digital TV HD 1080P Media Player now make it far easier to view the results as an HD TV slide show. The Media Player also stores a compehensive record collection and selected films.
Just to complete the "picture", in late 2009 I finally abandoned analogue TV and also added a Humax Foxsat HDR. This Freesat box has the major advantage of not only recording selected TV broadcasts, but has the facility to archive favourite programmes to an external USB Hard Drive. It is now cheaper to archive programmes on a compact computer USB hard drive, without the noise problem of video tape.
Don and Marty Aaron
Back in the early 90's we learned that an aunt of mine (Aunt Susie - Wife of my Uncle Tom Aaron) had committed memories of her childhood to paper. Susie recounts her childhood in Knottingley in the early part of the 20th century - see the Susan Aaron link.
For a long time I have been a keen grower of cacti and was the Secretary of the Harlow Branch of the British Cactus and Succulent Society from 1985 to 2003; prior to that I was the Chairman for three years. I say "was Secretary" as the Harlow Branch of the BCSS amalgamated with the North London Branch at the end of 2003 to become the Lea Valley Branch. As I believe that Harlow still deserves a mention in the Cactus world, I have provided a link to Cactus in Harlow as well as a link to the British Cactus and Succulent Society (BCSS) main site.
Most of my annual summer holidays have been spent in Switzerland as by "coincidence" Marty is Swiss by birth. She was born in the village of Effretikon in the Kanton of Zurich and we have spent short periods with relatives either in Winterthur, Effretikon, Bad Ragaz or Frasco. However, for most of the time we have been "independent" and spent a lot of time in Lenzerheide (located in Kanton Graubunden). Lenzerheide is a ski resort, half an hour drive from Chur. It's major advantage in summer is the mild climate, at 1473 metres it's a true refuge from the intense heat of summer and it can be a real relief to get in the car after a hot day out in Chur and drive to a cooler climate. Lenzerheide has a couple of beautiful lakes and many pleasant walks. We have tended to use the Soleval apartments for accommodation. The apartments are very spacious and not over priced, even during the July/August high season. Yes they are self catering, but this is a real advantage. The kitchens of all the apartments are well appointed, so there is no problem in making a quick meal. However, the real advantage is the flexibility. Being out on the road, it's simply a matter of stopping in a village and finding a hostelry used by the locals. The Swiss motorway restaurant chains also provide very good meals. The Movenpick - now Restaurant Marche Niederurnen - at Bilten, and also the Restaurent Marche Heidiland Mainfeld-Flasch, both located on the Zurich - Chur motorway, are favourite "emergency" stopping place when all else has failed - how often would you drive 20 miles out of your way in the UK to have an enjoyable meal at a motorway restaurant!.
Although we have flown to Switzerland, our favourite mode of holiday transport is the car. Over the years the improvements in both the French and Swiss Motorways has made the journey easier. Gone for good are the days when it was difficult to average more than 40 m.p.h. across France, - I can still "see" the potholes on the Reims bye pass!! . Although we still take two days on the outward journey, we tend to do the return journey in a single, but long, day. It's 700 miles from door to door, but, leaving Lenzerheide at 9am, it's possible to be in Harlow by just after midnight. The journey is down the mountain to Chur and then the Motorway to Zurich, Basel, Strasbourg, Reims and then to Calais. There is a toll to pay on both the Swiss and French Motorways. The Swiss one is a single payment - valid for the year; the French tolls are a lot steeper and per journey. However, the time saved makes the tolls bearable.
On a couple of occasions, when our son was young, we were able to take Mother with us to Switzerland. Then we stayed at the Hotel Landhous in Tagelswangen on the Zurich-Winterthur road - Tagelswangen is a small hamlet just outside Effretikon. I am reminded that Mother also used to take Don Ian with her on her many trips to visit Colin and Family in Brussels, and later Waterloo (Colin worked for Esso International and had a flat in Brussels and then had a house built in Waterloo). I am further reminded that Mother was able to regularly visit us in Harlow. She would spend a week with us and then move on to visit brother Brian in New Ash Green. She was able to make this trip three or four times a year and, well in to her late eighties, was very happy to travel by coach to London where either Brian or I would pick her up - or return her to catch the coach back home. Later on it became a strange Christmas if Mother was not with us!. Latterly, either Brian or I would pick her up from Yorkshire and she was able to make the trip until 2003.
We recently reviewed our holiday patterns, and realised that, apart from a very late week in Tenerife (October time), we have only ever booked a package holiday when we have been away with the Grandchildren, Louise and Thomas. Memorable "All In" holidays in Crete, Turkey and Rhodes when the "All In" made real sense with pre-teenagers.
Explore some of the links below to develop the story. The Aaron, Knapton and Pickersgill Family Tree links are fairly self evident. The Baker Family Tree is a little more obscure: the descendants of John Baker (married January 12, 1807, Grantham, Lincolnshire) include Ben Thompson (third generation) and Ellen Pickersgill (fourth generation). Ellen is my maternal grandmother. Ben Thompson emigrated to America and achieved some notoriety as a Gunfighter and also as a Sheriff. Google Search will provide some interesting results
The other links are work or hobby related.
And finally, the distance from Knottingley to Great Parndon is 168 miles when travelling down the A1, A14 and M11.
Also the Aaron Family of Gordon Terrace and the succeeding generations are now spread far and wide - to Ackworth, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, Essex, Kent, London, Wales and other points South.
Son Don Ian and Partner Sam(antha) moved to Wales in 2016 to take on an exiting project - a converted Wool Mill, Dolgoch Mill. The Mill includes three quality Holiday Lets. Marty and I then had the immense pleasure of spending Christmas 2016 with the extended family in Wales.
We were also in Wales on the 7th of July 2017 when Doni and Sam finally tied the knot in a lovely ceremony at a very special leisure centre only a mile from Dolgoch Mill. The Bride, Groom and Ladies travelled to the Wedding Venue in a dray pulled by a vintage tractor.
Retirement - Update - 2018
Prior to retirement in 2001, the week was split into The Working Week and Weekend. Although I enjoyed my job, I was lucky enough to be able to very quickly switch from Work to Weekend mode on a Friday evening. Whenever possible. Work was not allowed to intrude into our Weekend.
On retirement I very quickly adapted to the new concept of having a very long Weekend. Luckily, Marty very quickly accepted and enjoyed my, daytime, Monday to Friday presence.
Where possible I helped with the household jobs. However, the kitchen was Marty's domain and cooking was always off limits; although I was allowed to boil the occasional egg, make soup or toast and other basic culinary activities. As a major concession, I was allowed to prepare and cook the 2017 Christmas Dinner - Marty enjoyed this experience and, also, the resultant meal.
Gardening was also always off limits.
One of Marty's weekly routines was her Tuesday and Thursday morning shopping trips. She would then meet friends Barbara Ralph (Tuesday) and Dot Perkins (Thursday) for Coffee and a chat. Latterly I was honoured by being allowed to join Marty Dot, and other friends, at their Thursday morning coffee sessions.
During the earlier part of my retirement we both enjoyed regular trips to Pilgrims Hatch and then Galleywood to spend quality time with the grandchildren and their parents. As time moved on, other activities and University "intruded" and our trips became less frequent. However we had a great time catching up whenever we did meet.
As Marty and I spent more time together, the bond became much stronger - we just enjoyed each other's company - to the full.
At the end of 2017 I developed a "Cold" - "I do not do Colds".
My cold resolved itself in a few days.
Marty was not so lucky.
We attended a Cactus Club meeting on Wednesday 10th of January 2018.
Marty saw her friend Dot in the Harvey Centre for Coffee on the 11th.
Marty was scheduled to have her hair washed and set on Friday 12th, but called it off as she just did not feel happy about going out.
Over the weekend she was mobile but still suffering (I thought) from the effects of the "cold". On a couple of occasions, on standing up, she fell back into the arm chair and appeared to pass out for a very short period. During recovery from one of these episodes, she stroked my cheeks and said "You are my Husband and I Love You".
On Tuesday 16th, midmorning, Marty stumbled and fell on returning from a visit to the toilet. I phoned the Doctor's Surgery to ask for medical assistance. We were lucky in that they had a team of Paramedics doing house calls over the winter period. Two Paramedics arrived late afternoon.
They did a full assessment of Marty and decided that it was possible she had the onset of pneumonia.
They had to then request an ambulance. When the ambulance arrived the preliminary diagnosis was confirmed. After a thorough examination, the consensus was that any infection could well be treated at home as the house was warm and we had all the necessary facilities.
It was only when Marty was asked to stand that they then realised that Marty was having breathing problems, brought on by the simple act of standing.
Marty was taken to A&E at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow in the late afternoon.
I phoned son Doni in Wales. He said he would leave first thing in the morning to see mum.
After some tests in A&E, we were advised that Marty had the onset of pneumonia and, she also had had a Heart Attack. Both treatable. They would have to deal with the pneumonia first and Marty would probably then be refereed to Basildon for her Heart condition.
I stayed with Marty in A&E until late evening. By then I was feeling very "rough" myself, and, unforgivably and to my eternal shame, excused myself, left Marty, and went home.
I got home just before midnight, and was soon in bed.
About 2 am I woke up, again feeling very "rough". Back in 2009 I had a Triple Bypass operation in Basildon. Just prior to discharge from Basildon I had Atrial Fibrillation (Palpitations). I guessed that the problem I was now experiencing was AF.
I then finished up in A&E very early on Wednesday morning.
On the way in to hospital I explained to the Paramedics that Marty was also in hospital - but "please don't tell my wife - I don't want to upset her".
Early on the morning of Wednesday the 17th I spoke son Doni. He confirmed that, dependant upon the traffic on the M25, he would be with us between midday and 1pm.
At just after 1 pm I meet Doni and his wife Samantha. They were accompanied by a member of the nursing staff.
The nurse advised me that Marty had died of a Heart Attack, about midday.
I was discharged from Hospital late afternoon on Thursday the 18th.
The answerphone at home had a number of new messages.
One of them was from Marty at approximately 11:36 am on Wednesday - she wanted to talk to me.
It would have been our 59th wedding Anniversary on February 16th.
Marty's funeral was held on Tuesday February 20th.
Marty was my Darling - The Love of My Life.
Life is so very different and also very difficult now.