Friday, 21 March 2008

#076 - 1965 - A year at home!

For some reason the BCF did not respond to the invitation to ride in the Peace Race  This lead me to have full year attending more to the business.

Brother-in-law Keith and I were still doing a little walking. One particular Sunday we decided to climb Bleaklow hill, the summit of which is near Strines Moor and the TV mast at Holme Moss, Carol and young Alan came with us. The day dawned to a cloudless sky and we  left Long Eaton early travelling by the beautiful Derwent Dams  (the last one to be finished was witnessed by us in 1942). We left our van in a lay-by on Snake Pass, walking up the path the map showed we had to go near a farm. When we meandered near  the farm a woman came running out brandishing  a pitchfork and mouthing all sorts of oaths at us. It appeared from her “mouthing” that we were on their private road, with difficulty we calmed her down and explained that we had mis-read our map, apologised and asked if we may return by the same path to which she agreed.

The route up Bleaklow follows a stream, several parts of this stream (a raging torrent in winter) have pools forming. At one of these we stopped for our lunch, after which Keith casually remarked  to Alan that he  wondered how deep this pool was. Alan who had donned his rucksack bent down to look, lost his balance with the weight on his back and promptly fell in. He disappeared, we had no idea of the depth of this pool, but he came up spluttering saying 

“By crikey, it’s deep in there, Carol”, 

Water was pouring out of him and his mug tied to his rucksack, we were helpless with laughter. We stayed there about an hour swimming in our underpants turned back to front. We eventually carried on to the summit which is all boggy ground, not really worth the effort, on our descent the woman at the farm was very amiable and sold us eggs.

In business discussions with Ernie, we decided that we should enlarge the College Street shop and in particular the sales area. Ernie would take over my house, all the ground floor being absorbed into the shop and  the upstairs converted to a quite large (5 bed roomed) flat. We - Jean, Carol and I bought a house in Toton, what a  fantastic house it was, we were living away from the business for the first time in years. As well as the new house we bought a Austin 1800 car and a new Ford 15cwt van. In spite of this, relationships at home were not good, we should have been happy but  Jean was hard to please and always wanted more. A major problem was my bad time keeping for meals, Jean unable to see that I could not always get away on time, she would have prepared dinner and I was not there to eat it. A prime reason was that the shop not only provided a service, but it was also a meeting place, a social scene and difficult to disperse – the ‘Royal Oak’ public house directly across the road didn’t help either! Jean never took an active roll in the business and rarely visited it, even though my mother lived there.

College Street alterations were going well, although the costs were high and the extra expense caused us to increase our overdraft facilities just at the wrong time, as the bank lending rate was rising. In hindsight we would have been better off  taking out a separate loan to pay for the College Street alterations. Trade in the Tamworth Road shop was on the increase, how much easier it would have been if we’d have  had one of to-days personal computers and with all the knowledge we have now, it wouldn’t have solved our troubles but they would have been eased).

We must have been feeling well of financially in 1965 for we were to buy a riverside wooden bungalow by the Trent at the rear of the ‘Harrington Pub’, Old Sawley. The  bungalow was built and owned by a builder friend of ours, George Leivers. He was asking £500 for it but we got him down to £400 which included a boat. We had some nice times there (the M1 motor way was in the future so it was still quite and peaceful there). I would stay there on my own  sometimes and Kathleen, who by now worked at Draycott Hospital about 3 miles away, would join me during her break. Access was by a gate near the Harrington, over the flood bank  to enter a field then a track ran across the field for about ¼ mile to our bungalow. One early October night Kathleen came to see me, after ¾ hour she opened the door to leave but a thick, dense fog had descended and  even with me walking in front with a torch we could not find our way across the field to the gate for an ½ hour at least. The hectic times we had. (on another occasion after we had met down Whites Lane - a mere track then - Kathleen reversed her car in to the field to go home but neither of us had noticed  that the field had been ploughed – her car sank up to the axle ! fortunately I was able to free it by ‘rocking’ the car with the gear box. Kathleen was very impressed and another disaster and possible exposure was averted……)

The 1945 birth rate bulge had now reached the age for us to sell many Honda Motor Cycles, we had set another man on in the office hire purchase forms taking up a lot of my time. Honda also sent their dealers an entry form to fill in what sales of Honda Motor Cycles were sold over a  certain period. The top four in Derbyshire were to win trips to Japan, unfortunately our man failed to post off the form, so although we could have won the trip hands down, we lost out. The competition was held early in 1966, Neville Copestake of Derby and Lionel Minion of Derby went and had a very interesting time. I was to go on a trip with them to Majorca and Amsterdam some years later (both Honda Sales Competitions).

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