by Jackie Beadle

 I was brought up in the heart of the countryside in North Staffordshire. My parents lived in a very isolated spot and so as children because of the war years we had few friends.

At one time we had three dogs, two cats, seventeen rabbits, a bantam cock and hen - whom we called Ernest and Monica after the vicar and his wife - and a budgerigar called Joey. He would fly round the room when we let him out of his cage and like to perch on my father's whisky glass. He would then sip the whisky from the glass and we would watch his little eyes start to droop as he became more and more soporific. So my brother, sister and I were kept busy feeding them all and putting them to bed at night.

I used to wander on my own out of our garden gate and on to fields and up to the woods on top of the hill so the trees and grassy slopes were my friends. I always wanted to be the first to hear the cuckoo in the spring and the skylark which used to nest quite close to the house on the ground. I would watch it soar so high so that you would not notice the nest below. Partridges also nest that way.

I would go up to the wood and wade through the bracken then sit at the bottom of my favourite tree and dream my childhood dreams. As a teenager and in my early twenties I would take the dogs up to that same wood and on the way try to sort out my relationships. I would come home feeling so refreshed.

I can remember when my father took a small puppy and his mother up to the same wood and I met him in an agitated state because some riders had come by and frightened the dogs who then ran off. The mother came back to him but the puppy was lost. Frisby was his name. They were both corgis. I stayed to look for this puppy but Jane the mother went back home with my father as it was getting dusk.

… When he got home there was the puppy waiting on the doorstep. My father was so impressed that he said "I'm going to keep that dog" rather than find a new home as we had done with the other four.


© Copyright Jackie Beadle - THACS Writers Online 2020