My memories of Far Cotton as a child come from the late 1960s. In that time Mum and Dad had no phone, no car and a black and white TV with two knobs on the front. As a 3 year old I would jump up and down in front of the TV if it started to roll as the vibrations through the floor boards would "fix it". Of course TV programs didn't start until late afternoon and there were 3 channels to choose from BBC1 BBC2 and Anglia. But not a lot of time was spent watching the TV. I would "help" dad with the vegetables in the garden or play with my friends but today mum and me were going out. Mostly when I went out I played opposite our house in London road in the spinney, each tree had its own name, The helicopter, The seven floors and so on. Sometimes, more daringly, we would go over the barbed wire fence into the field with the cows. There we would make a path into the big stinging nettle patches to make a den in the middle where we were safe. If we went up to the abbey watching people practicing in the archery field we would always keep to the right of the road because the big races horses in the top field would scare us. Why go to the abbey? Because of the newts and frogs in the ponds and the almost infinite places to hide. But today I was going into town with mum. Sometimes we used to watch the cows being driven down the road to the cattle market but not today.
We set off past Lil and Toms and Mr Gillets and Aunt Winnie's the blacksmiths daughter then Ashords big white house. Then came Mr Busby, if I was on my tricycle he would say he would like that for himself I always cycled on the far side, he seemed to spend his whole life in the front garden. I think he was retired but used to be the manager of Burgess the farm supply shop in town. A bit further on was Mr Matthews, his blacksmiths was by south bridge. He lived in the Victorian age with no mod cons, dad and me used to help him collect the honey from his bee hives in his garden and use a big spinning machine in the bath to collect the honey. Then came the Crescent where my Aunt Iris and Uncle Reg lived with my 3 cousins. On to Penrhyn road. My grand parents lived here Pap Ed and Nan Rose as well as Uncle Johnny the bookie and his wife Aunt Nora who had the most Jewish nose I have ever seen. I always wondered if our family was Jewish with a name of Isaac it was only in later life that I found that we were only 4 generations ago. Pap Ed collected coins and taught me about history through the coins, he loved fuchsias and grew hundreds in his small garden. At the back of his house was an alley but I never went in there. We carried on walking, the number 19 bus went past but we would walk. We were going to Ashford's corner, to the chemist. I liked going there to see the fish and I always got a lollypop from the counter. Were we going down Ransome road to my other grand parents Pap Tom and Nan Gwen? Their house was next to the dairy. I liked it there, they had a mangle and a big old sink in the scullery that I played with and also a sewing machine with a treadle that I sat on. Nan Gwen always baked me cakes, mostly coconut pyramids on rice paper, my favourite.
But no, we were heading up town. Wait a moment, a trains coming, the big white gates were swinging closed, quick mum, let's go up the bridge. That was fun to watch the train go underneath, oh boring a diesel. I liked the steam trains, not so many of those now. Just one train the gates are opening, I liked it best when they stayed closed and another train came in the other direction. Then the traffic would really build up but we could carry on because of the bridge. We got over South bridge to Latimer and Crick, this is where we buy the food for my rabbit called Nibbles. I loved the smell in there, a mixture of straw and wheat and lots of other smells all mixed up. Now we are going round Cattle Market Road past the meat machine house, my dad proudly told me that he made the doors that hang there still. I know where we are going, I've got a special day out, I'm off to see Pap Ed who worked in the brewery garages by the entrance to the cattle market. He would show me the big beer barrels they kept there, they were enormous. One for Pale Ale the other for Double Diamond and they were allowed to take some home with them each night. I got lemonade. But I could sit in the big Beer Lorries, and be told me how my Great Grandfather had a pub in Woolmonger street and he drove a lorry like this too. I liked days like this.