As the train pulled into Darlington station, both children and I decided we rather liked the look of Yorkshire. Met by G., already installed and unloaded, we caught up on the previous couple of days whilst taking in the scenery on the drive to Rawlinson Road. Although still a Captain, G had been allocated a Major's quarter. At the end of the short, cherry-tree lined drive, stood a low, two-storied, red-brick semi, separated from our neighbour by a high hedge and fronted by a thriving rockery and lawn, prompting a 'Great' from Simon. 'Space for a Badminton net.'
Apart from a double-aspect sitting-room, a utility-room and a fourth bedroom,' G had replied, when quizzed on the homeward journey 'The house follows the usual pattern... Sorry. No central heating. But it's on the cards...' Ah. 'And I've made up all our beds. But before we go in I'll just mention that decorators have been promised. Due in about three weeks.' Ah, again...But it had a friendly look. At least from the outside. Once inside however the hands of friendship remained firmly clenched as we surveyed our new living quarters, succinctly cursing the previous occupants whose two, perhaps three years worth, of accumulated dirt and dross was all too evident.
A year of real change. In less than a month, with Dom at the local school, and Simon in his last but one term at St. D's. late September found G. preparing for the first of the regiment's Belfast tours. I suspected he'd been warned sometime prior to us leaving Berlin - such moves being planned well in advance - but considerately, had said nothing. And so began the start of the soon to become familiar pattern of what the family referred to as 'Bog-Trotting'. The regiment would remain in Catterick for almost four years, although we were posted - a Staff job for G - after three and a half. During this time, six tours in Northern Ireland would have been completed, plus exercises in Denmark and Canada.
As several of these tours turned out to be closer together than one might have expected, welfare problems grew rapidly. That first year, with the men away for both Christmas and Easter, some families, having bravely arranged short summer holidays, were forced to cancel as, after just weeks back in England, the men were again en route to N.I. for an 'Emergency three weeks, or so' - the 'Or so' turning out to be another full four months.
With the house scoured, painted and boasting the novelty of carpets and curtains which for once, failed to clash, our limited spare time before G. left, was spent exploring. Close by, situated at the edge of the beautiful N. Yorks Dales,was Richmond, a small, ancient, friendly market town, whose famous bridge spans the picturesque river Swale. After two years of big-city life we appreciated the change, immediately falling for the broad, surrounding stretches of wild countryside, delightful small towns and villages, and exquisite ruins, all of which oozed history.
from SINGING TO THE GOLDFISH by Bev Pettifar
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