Una's Memoirs - 1940s - 6
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In March we had a visit from Dr Dommon from Ware Park who persuaded Bob he needed to go into the sanatorium. By now Bob had made a good recovery and he was told he could get up. It was a wonderful summer and he spent most of the next three months in the garden at Bushey Mill Crescent. Life was easier for us both. Dr Wood visited us every Sunday morning at the end of his rounds and stayed until lunch time. Bob's Mum and Dad cut flowers from the garden for him to take to his wife.

While he had been very ill Bob had lost a lot of his hair and I was recommended to use a preparation called Silvikrin Lotion. I had to put a teaspoonful of the liquid into a saucer, then dabble my fingertips into it and massage his scalp every morning. His hair grew back and we were all amused because he now had a little fringe over his forehead.

Bob went into Ware Park Sanatorium in July 1948, and while he was away his Mum, Dad and I visited him on Saturday or Sunday mornings. There was a special double-decker bus from Watford to Hertford Market Place. We caught it outside the Odeon Cinema in North Watford and we always tried to get a seat upstairs - preferably at the front. We walked the last part of the journey and crossed the footbridge over the River Rib near the entrance to Ware Park. Bob was living in a long wooden chalet and just in front of it was a huge Cedar of Lebanon tree. There were lots of other interesting specimen trees and Bob showed me a Tulip Tree and a Strawberry Tree.

Bob's Mum had unhappy memories of Ware Park. Her young brother, Bert, who had spent time there, had died in the 1920's. She could not have made her first visit to Bob on a worse day because a patient had just died. This was a very rare occurrence and everyone there was very sad.

Bob seemed happy enough. He was there only for observation, so he did not have surgical treatment. He had regular tests, all of which were negative. I took him a drawing board and materials so that he could design and build a model sailplane. He soon had other patients cutting parts, and when it was finished it flew well. The weather was hot and they were all reprimanded the first time it flew because they spent too long in the sun!

At this time I was able to visit my Mum and Dad for a week, and to see Margaret Watts her husband Clarence and their new baby. I had worked with both Margaret and Clarence in the NCS Bakery office. I also went for a week's holiday on the Isle of Wight with Bob's Mum and Dad. While I was away Bob would still have visits from friends, neighbours and his Aunt Vi.

We had little income for the fifteen months of January 1948 to March 1949 while Bob was ill. He had no pay from the studio but the Hertfordshire County Council gave us a grant until that was replaced when the National Health Service started. Bob's medical insurance gave us a small sum and we had help from the Red Cross. Thanks to Bob's Mum and Dad we had no rent to pay. Help came in many ways - Bob's Mum and I bought groceries from the same store and we were both usually served by a man who knew that Bob had been in the army and was ill. Perhaps he was sympathetic because he had served in World War I and had a pension for disablement - he made sure that when he weighed our purchases the scales were in our favour!

Bob was discharged from Ware Park in October 1948 but he was advised to get really fit before returning to work. He still hoped to start again in January 1949. We went to see Dr Wood, who said that we should first go for a holiday for at least a month. We said we had little money left but he insisted we should spend it all!

We hoped we would be able to get accommodation in Devon and we got help from the neighbours in Bushey Mill Crescent when Mrs. Saunders, whose cousin was a children's nanny in Devon, told us of a family who had a guesthouse in Torquay. We booked to stay there for a month from mid February 1949. They were Mr and Mrs Durden and a lady they introduced to us as 'Aunty'. They had a lovely Alsatian dog and a smaller dog. Sometimes we took the dogs when we went out. From the house we went through municipal gardens to the beach. The dogs enjoyed running free on the sands. Their home was a three story Victorian house on a corner. One of the things I noticed in the house was a display case which had sections of cable. Mrs Durden told us that her father had been responsible for cables that were laid under the oceans. Spring starts early in Devon and daffodils were in full bloom. The holiday season had only just begun but there were already a few coach trips available. One was to Cockington Village with its blacksmith's forge where I bought a little horse shoe which I still have. Several others on the coaches seemed to be honeymoon couples and no doubt they believed we were. Well perhaps we did too!

We had found a nice little cafe in the town of Torquay, and most days we went there in the mornings for coffee and cakes. The waitress would keep our coffee cups filled and it was a pleasant way to spend time. At the local cinema we saw the latest film which was "Scott of the Antarctic". In the municipal gardens a film crew were shooting scenes for the film "Last Holiday" staring Alec Guiness (when we were writing these memoirs, sixty years later in 2008, our son Mark rented a copy of this film for us).

The weather in Torquay was good most of the time but a few of the days were quite chilly and sometimes wet. One day, towards the end of our stay, it started to rain heavily. We sheltered in the doorway of a shop that had a display of umbrellas and we had to decide if we could afford to buy one to protect us. We bought one and could laugh because we had already paid in advance for our accommodation and we had return railway tickets. We then had very little money left but we laughed at that too!

We had enjoyed a wonderful month and it was time to return home. Back in Watford the weather had been cold so that we were able to watch the arrival of spring for a second time. Bob returned to work and soon got into the swing of things.

We did go back to Torquay in the late summer but it was not a memorable time because the experiences we had there in the spring couldn't happen twice.

During 1948 and 1949 in their spare time Dennis and Bob were building model aircraft. Little diesel engines were now available and so powered models were being flown as well as gliders. Dennis was a member of a club whose members called themselves 'Wayfarers'. Bob now joined but there were only about 15 members and it was more a team than a club. However, entering competitions was not enough for them they had to win!

The Wayfarers model aircraft team. August 1949.
Me, Bob & his father and other members of the Wayfarers. August 1949.

I usually went with them when they test flew. This was often at West Hyde but sometimes at Leavesden Airfield, or in fields near the Kings Langley sewerage works. One glider that was launched from West Hyde caught a thermal and flew off. It carried a reward message and we heard that it had been recovered; Bob's Mum and I went by bus to the address and met the householder and her young daughter, who had been allowed to stay home from school specially - she had found our glider and wanted to collect the reward in person.

When the Wayfarers went to competitions this meant spending a day in a field. It was good for me to be out of the house and in the open air. Only one other of the team was married, this was Bill Nicholls, who's wife Marjory usually came with him in their motorcycle and sidecar. Marjory was a sailing enthusiast and not interested in model aircraft flying at all. We both had one problem and that was the fact that there was seldom any women's toilet facilities.

I didn't think I played any useful part, but Bob says that because the competitions required three flights the models often needed repair work between flights, and I was able to help with this. Most importantly, Bob says, I could guard the team's coats, wallets, models, and the motorcycles that some of the team came on. This meant that all of the small team could be flying, or retrieving models without the worry of anything being damaged or stolen.

In spite of their success the Wayfarers came to an end during 1950. Most of the members were in their teens and so National Service, careers, and homemaking was take priority over everything.

For us the 1940s were coming to an end and our main effort now had to be the search for a house and plan our future.

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