My mum Rene (Alice Irene Flitney née Harding) died in 1999. When my brother, sister and I went through her things we found an envelope full of old newspaper clippings and other bits and pieces. We looked through the papers and put the envelope away, but those yellowing pieces of paper keep whispering of half-forgotten times and places. Places like Butlers Cross, Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury, West Wycombe, Little Kimble, Wendover, Ellesborough, Southcourt and Princes Risborough.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Guest Post; My Sister Remembers - Part Four

Memories of Susan Poulter nee Flitney; Sue is my older sister (although she looks younger!)
Previous instalments here, here and here 

Great excitement came to the village of Ibstone in 1953. It was the year of the Coronation of Elizabeth II which in Ibstone meant a sports day, decorated cycle competition and many other events. Tony and I entered the best decorated cycle competition and spent hours putting red, white and blue crepe paper around the spokes in the wheels and everywhere else we could add a bow or flag we did – but we did not win a prize. Most of the village turned up to watch the ceremony on our TV, and I remember mum was in her element making tea, handing round cakes etc.,

In the summer life would be really good (as long as mum and dad were talking), dad would take us all to Shiplake where we would paddle in the river and have picnics. Summer in my memory was always hot and sunny, apart from the thunderstorms, which I hated. I spent many hours in the woods making camps with my friends, swinging from ropes on trees and pretending I was in the circus. I always imagined that one day I would move to the other side of the valley, have a big house and horses, shame dreams get shattered!

    Rene Flitney (left) and Denis Flitney (right) in the river with Tony, Sue, Barbara & friends       

It was hard for mum and dad to keep up with all the demands for uniform, items for cooking classes, material for needlework classes, gym kit and so on at High Wycombe school and I would often be the one that didn't have all I needed. This led to other children being really nasty and the fact that my dad had an old car also meant I got a lot of stick. Homework would take me hours as I was so anxious all the time, so it was with some relief that I learnt my dad was looking for a new job and we would be leaving Ibstone. Mr. and Mrs. Andrews had decided to get rid of the Jersey cows, which were my dad’s pride and joy, and replace them with pigs which, although we had some when we lived at Twigside for our own consumption, he didn't like working with.

Mum was really upset as she had friends at Ibstone and a lovely modern detached bungalow but, dad being dad, did his own thing and got a job on a farm near Thame in Oxfordshire and moved us all in to a much older, inner terrace house. This was a real come down for mum who was most unhappy with it.  I was about twelve when we moved, and I think the farm was at Scotsgrove. Excuse me (Barbara) butting in here, I just want to confirm the farm is at Scotsgrove. Terry and I visited in July 2014.

The house at Scotsgrove in the 50s - could that be mum in the doorway?

The same house in 2014, the only noticeable difference is the size of the hedge!

There was a large carthorse called Captain  who I was allowed to ride and as horses were my great love I started to relax. I took myself off on long rides at the weekend with no tack other than a rope halter. There were lovely bridle ways around Thame so summer was a joy; I used to ride down a track which ran outside the grounds owned by Sir Lawrence Olivier (the English actor) and his beautiful wife Vivian Leigh. I always thought I might see them one day, but no such luck.

In the winter the meadows opposite our house would flood and then freeze so we would all go ice-skating whenever we could. My sister, Barbara, remembers going out in the meadow before the water froze, with a little boat belong to my brother Tony.

I do remember it Sue. I don’t know how old I was, but I hadn’t started school – so not very old. Tony had a sailing yacht, and I thought it would be fun to float it on the flood waters. I crossed a road in front of the house and then walked a fair way down a track to the fields. It wasn't long before the water was over the top of my wellies but it didn’t deter me.  I must have been playing in the water for at least a couple of hours when I heard shouting and looking up, saw mum, dad and several other people heading towards me through the floods. It’s probably one of the only times I ever saw dad looking really cross!  By the time they found me, half the people in the village (including the local bobby) were out searching. I remember dad scooping me up onto his shoulders and carrying me back home through the floods – quite an adventure but one I didn't repeat!

By this time, life was a little better for mum as Thame was not far away and there were more shops, and she could get out easily by catching a bus at the stop opposite the house. I went to Aylesbury Grammar School and found it was much nicer going to a mixed school. My dad had been a prefect there in his school days and some of the older teachers remembered him, so I was made to feel very welcome and put into his old “house". Sport became my first love. I was in the school hurdles team and did quite well. I also sang in the school choir and because I was more relaxed, my academic work started to improve.
Thame High Street and Town Hall, 1957

My Auntie Babs and Uncle Fred lived in Aylesbury. They were competition ballroom dancers before retirement and my Auntie was also a pianist. They said I could have dance or piano lessons and I choose the piano. I used to go to them after school one day a week and I think I loved the tea more than the lessons. My aunt always served up small cucumber sandwiches and little home-made cakes on beautiful china and I was very impressed. I had a piano at home (it had been left me by a different aunt when we lived at Ibstone) so I thought it would be lovely to be able to use it properly. Of course, I could not practice as much as I should because living in a terraced house it upset all the neighbours!

Unfortunately my time at Aylesbury School didn't last long as within a year my dad had fallen out with his employer and we were on the move again. I think he had numerous interviews, but the one we children remember best was one for a job on the Isle of Wight. The journey across was awful with a really bad storm; I remember sitting up on the deck where I felt safest and chatting to a farmer who was taking sheep over to the island. When we got there we went in dad's car to what seemed the centre of the island to this most beautiful farm. The farmer and his family seemed very nice and friendly. They had dogs, horses, a tennis court and swimming pool – all the things that were quite impressive to us youngsters. The house that went with the job was a really large very old farmhouse and mum hated it – said that it reminded her of Twigside, and she was not going back to “the dark ages”. We were very disappointed, as I think was dad. On the way back to the ferry we stopped and picked some lovely white flowers – well we had never seen wild garlic before - the car smelt awful for days!!

Sue and Barbara on The Isle of Wight 

To be continued….


  1. What an interesting life you and your sister had. I always look forward to reading your walks down memory lane. I had an aunt and uncle living on the Isle of Wight in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. I spent summer there with them and loved it, since they let me go off exploring on my own so much. Two things I remember my parents always talking about were the Queen's Coronation - they had just gotten a TV and watched it, and the McCarthy hearings (not so pleasant as the Coronation).
    Looking forward to your next installment.

    1. Hello Alex, thanks so much for coming to visit us here, this new blog is proving to be a lot of fun.
      Just think we might have been on the Isle of Wight at the same time as you, it really is a small word. Barbara

  2. Hi Barbara,
    Thank you for your input on my memories, just wish I had written it all down when I was much younger as the very old brain is getting rusty!

    1. Hi Sue, time to get writing again, there is plenty of room on this blog for more. Writing is exercise for the brain so it would be good for you! xxx

  3. Hello Sue,
    Another enjoyable read thanks. Bruv Richard went to Aylesbury Tech. college for a year in the early fifties. He also excelled at sport (soccer) and scored three on the day 'talent' scouts were watching but alas we were also moving away. So his possible international stardom ended before it had begun.
    You and Barbara seem to have had far more adventures than I can recall having so I am looking forward to your next episode.

  4. Hi John, Nice to hear from you and pleased you are enjoying our memories. Barbara and I are looking forward to your next instalment. I think other peoples stories always seem more interesting than your own. Sue

  5. Loving all this history and learning alot i dint know and to think I could have been born on the isle of wight ! no wonder i feel at home there xxxx

  6. If my dad had taken that job I would not have met your dad Paula. Funny how things happen in life. Mum xx

  7. Hi Sue and Paula, funny to think how different life might have been had dad taken that job.


I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara x

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