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Those Were The Days

I was born in 1971 (one of the last of the flower children!!) in Woolwich at The British Mothers and Babies Hospital on a hot summer’s evening.  I grew up an only child and lived at various addresses throughout the Plumstead area, starting with 70A Griffin Road until I was about two years old, I think. We then moved to 6 St Margaret's Grove.... wow, did that place have such a huge garden, or so I thought when I was small.  Big enough for my swing anyway........that’s where my memories begin.  I used to play with the girl upstairs from me, usually on the Common opposite, or we would sometimes escape through the hole in the fence at the bottom of our shared garden to play on the swings at the back, next to the flats.  I remember long summers, hazy days, mud pies, knock down ginger, chopper bike rides with the boy at the bottom of the road, eating cooking apples from my garden that used to make me feel sick, dressing up in my mum's clothes and smearing all her make up across my face (sorry mum!!), camping trips in the orchards of Kent, firework night with the jumping jacks and rockets and of course the seven foot guy that my mum, dad and I used to take a week to make. Then up to Bexleyheath station for 'penny for the guy'.  Oh yes...and how could I possibly forget.... sledge rides on the Common and my very first kiss in 'our den' with the boy from the pub at the top of the road!!!

Then it was on to 36 Church Manorway, Abbeywood (although really classed as Plumstead as it was just off of the High Street and Wickham Lane).  It was a lovely little bungalow.... detached and with lattice light windows.  It’s changed so much now. Anyway, I remember building an igloo one winter, with my mum, in the back garden, out of ice, it was so cold.  In the summer I used to create my own little assault course, which was always fun if not a bit on the dangerous side really. Oh, and I was in the Girls’ Brigade up at the Evangelical Church on the Common and Sunday School at St Nicolas Church.   I lived at Church Manorway until I was sixteen years old, when finally we moved to 228b Lakedale Road.
By this time I had joined the Army Cadets, 108 Signals of Watling Street, Bexleyheath and was really enjoying having plenty of adventures, which would later create some of the best and fondest memories of my growing up.
Other memories...the old playgrounds, the umbrella (or witches hat), the horse (the one that if you sat at the front and went hell for leather and if you didn't time it right, it would knock your teeth out, or, sitting at the back you would be flung off) and of course the slides, swings and seesaw.  Bring back our old rides!!!  They were fun, even though there was risk involved. Climbing trees.... yes, I was a bit of a tomboy. I certainly had my moments!! Woolwich Ferry and trips to Southend on Sea, Hastings and Ramsgate and our family holidays.... special times.  

My schools.... South Rise, Plumcroft, Timbercroft, Greenwich Park, Welling Central and finally Plumstead Manor.

My Nan.... oh my Nan,  Hilda Dartnall. * She lived at 85 Flaxton Road (she was there from 1954), used to ride on her motorbike and was park keeper at Swingate Lane playing fields for many years.  Does anyone remember her?  She was a very independent and forthright lady, never was shy in giving her opinion, but a very kind woman who would help anyone in need. She worked at the Arsenal in the war years and was a dispatch rider.

I now live in Scotland...up in the Highlands and have done now for four and a half years. I am a mum myself now and bringing up my son who is eleven years old. 
I miss Plumstead.  I miss the 'old' Plumstead, the one of yesteryear. The one of my childhood, where time seemed to last forever. It was a blissful time of innocence, freedom, laughter, morals, love and yes, happiness. I visit Plumstead usually a couple of times a year and it saddens me to see how much it has changed. 'Progress’ they call it.  Nah...Nothing that changes that much can ever be called 'progress'. I will always have a very special place in my heart for my 'home' and no matter where I go or how much it changes, my memories will always stay the same.

Just...what I wouldn't give to have the chance for one last time, go back to one day in my childhood and experience again those glorious days!!

Candinna (Candy) Tracey McFarlane (nee Smith) 2007

* Nan's full name was Hilda Mary Major-Dartnall. 

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