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Firewood … part 1

June 5, 2012

The fetching of the daily pinta, bread and collecting of firewood during the winter was among the most important daily tasks. Firewood was the vital life giving commodity for cooking, heating and fuel to run the generator that conducted energy into the radio battery. Each morning and evening my father  would listen for any weather warnings so that he could ensure all the boats on the jetty would be safely moored, ropes too tight or loose could result in mayhem and wreckage. A daily foray was of imperative.

We would pull on wellington boots with a silent prayer ‘may they be warm or at least dry?’ Often our boots were wet from a previous expedition when we had missed a footing and got boot full of a frozen wetness –Yuk! It would take ages to dry thoroughly.

With a resigned grin we allowed our mother to button us up, tie a scarf over our heads and firmly under our chins.  With the preparation complete and the idea for me became an adventure and my sister indignant at being withdrawn from the comfort of home soon warmed to the idea with the promise of tea and cake when we returned.  My favourite was Battenberg,  a pretty chequered pink-and-yellow sponge wrapped in marzipan but today it was a Joly roll a jam Swiss roll a poor alternative for the day before payday!

We heard my mother’s departing command ‘Don’t take long, be back before dark and don’t come back until you find some’ with no wasted affection, this was law; to disrespect the Hamble, her tides and our mother was to fail. The wind and tide was fearsome match for us girls – she warns again that the tide will be in soon and cut us off if we did not hurry back.

Like soldiers out on a sortie we two marched out into the late afternoon, as the pale sun moved lower in the sky.  From our home, we took the familiar path with a positive stride one behind the other until it met the lane that ended on the fore-shore.

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