This is the corner of Hospital Road, behind me in this picture is Water Lane coming from Great Plumstead and if you go left here you’re on Broad Lane to Thorpe End.
When it rained this corner was usually flooded and I had to go through 10 to 20 inches of water, getting my feet wet on my pushbike.
But it is a happy memory, I remember going down the road to the local supermarket on numerous occasions, buying Bacon and Beans, Minced Meat or Frozen Peas for Tea.
And in Summer, although dusty, this was a beautiful place, sun burn in my neck, always on my pushbike, going somewhere. The Barclays Bank at Heartsease roundabout, the pet shop for my fish, Sainsbury’s with a wooden crate on the back of my pushbike for groceries, and this was the most amazing pushbike experience in my life: going down Ketts Hill and a sharp turn left along Riverside Road to the city center with the wind in my hair!
Sometimes we went together, by car. Simon, Liz and I then went to Tesco’s in the city in his Ford Escort because it was cheaper. Big plastic bottles with Bitter in white and blue striped plastic carrier bags, and Garlic (I believe it was Simon’s favourite ingredient for meals), Loafs of White Bread for Breakfast and Tins of Baked Beans. Those were the days.
A little further up the road in this picture and to the right was the entrance to the hospital where I worked. I came here in 1989, on my birthday. The first days were a strange experience, I got a job offered working in the occupational therapy center with Norman Allen, Sue Townend, Jean Ringwood and Sarah Blake, all lovely people. Norman had the job of teaching me how everything worked and how to get along with the residents. There were making stools with weaved seats and then they sold the stools in the Rec. Hall in a corner. We had a lot of fun and sometimes we took the residents outside in the sun for a cup of tea and biscuits. Or we went walking with them for a while.
In the evenings the place was buzzing, there was a Social Club just outside Old Hall where Gordon and Nancy used to work and often had a live band in on Friday nights. I just loved the English Bitter served in pints for a pound and a tuppence, I remember that very well. And in Summer, it was warm outside, hot really, not what I was used to before in Swampyland, and we went together for a pint in other paces nearby, Long Stratton for example. Or I went to the Brick Kilns, a pub near the hospital, just down the road on my pushbike. My friends told me the hospital was supposed to be haunted by The Grey Lady and once, on such a lovely night when I came home from the pub, I sincerely believe I saw her once in the fog coming up from the meadows just after dark.
I had a lot of friends in those days, living at various places across the hospital grounds. At first we had to get to know each other, a task that proved to be not very difficult, these people were so friendly! And then I discovered friendship, colleagues that became friends, whom I could rely on, and often we went over to each others place and had evenings of fun, talking until deep in the night, or just nip over for a quick cuppa to the A-block or B-block and sit around the kitchen table for a while. Life was, well, I would say rich and I am not talking about money. Yes, those were the days, absolutely fabulous!