5.12.17

Evacuation Of Children in WW2

It began the first day of September 1939 due to the threat of bombing. Parents were expected to pay 6s per week. Those who were not so well off were charged less and assisted by the government and people taking in evacuees were paid around eight shillings or as much as sixteen, according to the age and needs of the children. Billeting officers helped find them foster homes. Some sent out by Operation Pied Piper at the outbreak of war, involving over a million children being moved to the countryside within just a few days. More were sent in 1940 when the phoney war was over and bombing really started.

Indication of the official return was sent out in May 1945 but permitted until the war was completely over in the east. Not all children chose to come when instructed to do so. Megan, in Peace in my Heart, much preferred to stay with the landladies she thought of as their kind and caring aunts, having lived with them for three years. This was very often the case. Some children hardly recognised their parents, looking and feeling like strangers, not having seen them for years. This was often because they had little memory of their parents, felt they’d been neglected and abandoned, or simply loved their surrogate parents more. Coming home often didn’t seem much fun.

The parents were devastated when they found little show of affection from the children they’d badly missed. And many had lost loved ones for whom they were grieving. In this story Cecily and Megan discovered that their home had been bombed and had no idea where their mother was living, or even if she was still alive. Evie was, but finding her children was equally difficult, as was locating a new place for them to live. And when they found them, would they ever agree to come home and would they still love their mam and dad?

Settling in with their family after years away was never easy and adjustments had to be made by all. For some the place they’d been living during the war had been exciting, and they found it difficult to return to their previous life they considered more boring. Their personality too had changed as they’d gradually grown up with caring people in a different area. However, if they’d suffered problems as an evacuee, perhaps been overworked, neglected or abused, they ceased to trust anyone. Sometimes their class or religion could be considered wrong by their surrogate parents. Whatever problems they suffered could result in them feeling rife with stress and anxiety, depression or obstinacy. Nor had they any wish to discuss these problems with their parents, once they returned home, not wishing to recall what had happened. Evacuation had saved lives but in many cases did create yet more problems for the family.


The war is over and Evie Talbert eagerly awaits the return of her three children from their evacuated homes. But her carefree daughters and son are barely recognisable – their education has been disrupted, the siblings split up, and the effect on them has been life-changing. Her son has developed serious behavioural problems and with her daughters, there’s jealousy and a nervous disorder that cannot be explained…

Evie’s husband also has problems. Having returned from being in action, he suffers nightmares and fits of rage. He’s no longer the gentle, quiet man Evie married. Peace may finally be here, but Evie’s family is in shreds. Now she must rebuild a loving home to achieve the happiness she’s always dreamed of…

Available at WH Smiths and most book shops.


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28.11.17

A Heartwarming Story of Life after the War

Peace in my Heart 

The war is over and Evie Talbert eagerly awaits the return of her three children from their evacuated homes. But her carefree daughters and son are barely recognisable – their education has been disrupted, the siblings split up, and the effect on them has been life-changing. Her son has developed serious behavioural problems and with her daughters, there’s jealousy and a nervous disorder that cannot be explained… 

Evie’s husband also has problems. Having returned from being in action, he suffers nightmares and fits of rage. He’s no longer the gentle, quiet man Evie married. Peace may finally be here, but Evie’s family is in shreds. Now she must rebuild a loving home to achieve the happiness she’s always dreamed of… 


Extract - Chapter One 

May 1945 
The celebrations for the end of the war had gone wild, the streets on V.E. Day packed with jubilant revellers all singing, dancing and laughing, much to Joanne’s delight. There were rosettes, flags and bunting all around; lights on everywhere and a band playing. Her gaze shifted to the lilting waves as they lapped below the North Pier. She felt quite familiar with all the moods of the sea from gentle and benign, as it was today to fiercely destructive when towering waves would fly over the promenade and small boats could be battered. Having adopted HMS Penelope, a ship the locals supported, they were devastated when it was tragically hit by a torpedo near Italy in 1944 and sank, killing 400 men. There had been a dreadful plane crash on Central Station and an air disaster in nearby Freckleton when a B-24 Liberator had crashed into the village school and houses killing over 50 people and dozens of children. The many airports had endured some problems throughout the war but the town had still welcomed holidaymakers in need of a little fun, and had generously provided accommodation to thousands of evacuees, including herself and her young sister. Fortunately Blackpool had suffered fewer disasters than many other places, certainly much less than Joanne’s hometown of Manchester. Life seemed to be rather like the sea, one moment calm and benevolent, the next cruel and harsh because of the horrors of war. But they’d found it a great place to live.
            Thankfully the war was at last over, so hopefully things would improve. Looking out across the calm blue Irish Sea, the sandy beach was smooth and golden, stretching for some distance. Joanne had brought some sandwiches and cakes to contribute to the party they would all enjoy later. She’d even seen someone bring along a stack of odd looking yellow pieces of fruit, which were apparently bananas, not something she’d ever tasted and greatly looked forward to savouring them.
     ‘God save the King,’ somebody called out. Cheers of joy met this cry, turning it into the national song.
     Joanne glanced at her watch. Three-thirty. Her afternoon break would generally be almost over at this point. Lunchtime at the boarding house where they lived, the two landladies having cared for them this last three years, had been busy as usual with many wives having come to visit their RAF husbands. Joanne always looked forward to an hour or two of freedom in the middle of the afternoon when she could refresh herself in the sea air and sunshine. Those two dear sisters, Aunt Annie and Aunt Sadie, readily encouraged her to take a break and today being one of celebration, there was no demand for her to rush back to work. No doubt they too were around somewhere enjoying this celebration. From where she stood on the promenade close to the Tower and the North Pier, Joanne watched her sister Megan happily dancing with Bernie, their nephew. He’d first asked Joanne but she’d politely declined, anxious to sit and wait for Teddy to come, knowing in her heart that she could love no man but this GI.
     Oh, but why hadn’t he arrived when he’d promised that he would, knowing she so enjoyed dancing with him? He was a most dapper and exciting GI, billeted in Garstang. Joanne did once visit him there to attend a dance at the village hall. She’d been shown around the camp, tripping along duckboards in her heeled shoes to view the Nissen huts, cookhouse and officers’ mess. It was a bit of a dump, packed with gallon drums, jeeps, fuel; wet clothing hanging on hedges or trees to dry that didn’t look at all proper. He’d taken her to see the tent where he and his mates were accommodated and had given her a cuddle and a kiss. She took care that he did no more than that, not wishing to be taken advantage of. Many girls were happy to lose their virginity with a man who could be killed in the war, something they felt they should not object to. Joanne was far more cautious being only seventeen, very young and innocent.
     How she loved him. These GIs were most attractive men and happy to come into Blackpool to visit one of the many pubs on the promenade, or enjoy the dancing at the Tower Ballroom, sometimes dressed as a civvie instead of in their uniform.
     After the dance she and Teddy would often take a drink in a pub and she would sit on his lap for him to kiss and caress her, sending her senses skittering at the thrill of his touch. More often than not there were other girls hovering close by. Joanne paid them no heed, accustomed to the fact that these guys were never short of admirers, being popular men. And she was perfectly certain that Teddy viewed her as his favourite girl. Hadn’t he told her so a million times?
     So why wasn’t he here on this special day? There was so much she felt the need to say to him now the war was over. Joanne gave a sigh and stood up, brushing away the sand that had blown onto her skirt.
     When a hand lightly touched her shoulder she felt a frisson of recognition. He’d arrived at last. Instantly filled with pleasure and excitement, Joanne quickly turned to give him a hug, eager to welcome him while inside she felt in complete turmoil. Did she dare to tell this man how much she dreamed of a happy future together?

Available at WH Smiths and all good bookshops.





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24.10.17

The Heroine's Journey

1. What is the inciting incident or problem and in what way does it effect her life?

2. What emotional state is she in at the start of the story?

3. What does she want? What are her aims and goal, and what does that tell us about her?

4. What is her flaw or inner conflict that prevents her from attaining her goal, and which traits will help her to overcome them in the end?

5. Many external conflict or obstacles will stand in her way?

6. What is at stake? The stakes need to be high. What will she lose if she doesn’t achieve her objective?

7. Why would the reader care about her? They need to be emotionally involved, to understand her situation and willing her to succeed. Motivation. Motivation. Motivation is the secret of good characterisation.

8. What does she learn along this hazardous journey? How does she confront her demons and develop as a person?

9. The darkest hour will come when it seems she has lost everything. This will be followed by the climax when, largely by her own efforts and certainly not luck or a Prince Charming riding to her rescue, she wins through.

10. How does her story end? Redemption and resolution. Major problem finally solved and a satisfying end for the reader.

26.9.17

Latest books

Hi everyone, I’ve been hooked up with writing for some months. I did take a week off in June to enjoy a wonderful cruise around the Islands of Scotland. David and I loved visiting St Kilda, the Orkneys, Hoy and Shetland. Full of history, beautiful countryside and generally pretty good weather. Such a treat. You can see pictures of it here on my blog:

https://fredalightfoot.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/st-kilda.html

I enjoyed the RNA conference in Telford, which was good fun and I was part of a panel speaking at Wellington Library. I’m now looking forward to an afternoon tea with RNA friends in York. We also took a few days off in September to visit Amsterdam, which was wonderful. It was just for a few days and apart from one rainy one the weather was quite good. We visited various museums and had two canal cruises. Since then I’ve been working hard again on my new website, which is now up and running. I had to learn a new system but hopefully it works okay and I’m sure I’ll add improvements to it over time.   www.fredalightfoot.co.uk

Right now I'm busy doing copy-editing and writing a short story for my publisher, Harper Collins.As for my latest books, Girls of the Great War is the story of two sisters, daughters of a very difficult mother who is a star singer but has problems from her past she has no wish the speak of. Cecily, the elder one, loses the love of her life in WW1 and decides to deal with this anguish by entertaining the troops, as she also longs to sing. Her young sister happily works with her, falls in love but will that relationship work for her? Once the war is over will Cecily even find a man to love? This book is planned to be published early next year by Lake Union Amazon Publishing.

Peace in my Heart is a heartwarming story of life after the war, third in the Post War series of: Home is Where the Heart Is and Always in my Heart.


The war is over and Evie Talbert eagerly awaits the return of her three children from their evacuated homes. But her carefree daughters and son are barely recognisable – their education has been disrupted, the siblings split up, and the effect on them has been life-changing. Her son has developed serious behavioural problems and with her daughters, there’s jealousy and a nervous disorder that cannot be explained… 

Evie’s husband also has problems. Having returned from being in action, he suffers nightmares and fits of rage. He’s no longer the gentle, quiet man Evie married. Peace may finally be here, but Evie’s family is in shreds. Now she must rebuild a loving home to achieve the happiness she’s always dreamed of… 

Once the editing is finished I’ll put up an extract on my website, and let you know about that in the autumn. It is to be published in December and can be pre-ordered now.

Amazon UK

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21.8.17

Southport Flower Show






We enjoyed a wonderful day at the Southport Flower Show this week, on a bright sunny day. There were thousands of people present.
                                            

And lots of wonderful events as well as flowers, veg and food and other items on display or for sale. It's always worth a visit.
    


16.8.17

St Kilda


We enjoyed a wonderful cruise around the Scottish islands in June, visiting St Kilda, the Orkneys, Hoy and Shetland. Full of history, beautiful countryside and generally pretty good weather. Such a treat. St Kilda was fascinating and thankfully a sunny day. Now owned by the National Trust it still has a graveyard, post office, small shop, and a museum house.





We explored the curved row of ruined houses and the replacements built in the 1830s after the original ones were damaged by a gale. Now they are no longer occupied by anyone as occupants finally departed in 1930. Some have been reformed and are lived in by members of the NT.






It was interesting to see the byres where folk used to store their food, often used as shelters by the flock of primitive sheep who occupy this land. It’s very much considered a Natural Nature Reserve. There are many wonderful seabirds including puffins, gannets, fulmars, shags, cormorants, oystercatchers and many others. There are also meadow pipits, snipes, wheatears and St Kilda wrens, plus field mice who happily live there too.







There was a small church with a school room attached. We listened to a young man entertaining us by playing his violin brilliantly.





There’s also a Military Base, to which there is no entry. They are no doubt present for defence purposes, having occupied parts of this land for some years. They keep watch over all the nearby islands and also provide some basic facilities such as electricity and fresh water for the tourists etc.


Being a remote island it is said to be the remains of an ancient volcano in the Atlantic ocean, west of the Outer Hebrides. Originally part of a group of remote islands called Hirta (now known as St Kilda), Soay and Boreray. It could have once been occupied by people who were ‘pirates, exiles or malefactors’, escaping justice for whatever reason. There’s nowhere to stay there, so definitely a place to visit on a cruise. This was the view of it when we sailed away.
 

21.1.17

WARTIME RECIPES

Borrowed from my grandmother’s old cookery book. 

Bread and Butter Pudding
Several slices of thin bread with margarine or butter
2 ounces of sugar (if available) otherwise one grated apple.
2 oz of dried raisins
1 beaten or dried egg
1 pint of milk
½ teaspoon of cinnamon

Line a pie dish with layers of the sliced buttered bread, raisins and a sprinkle of sugar or grated apple between each. Beat up the egg or add the dried egg to the milk, then pour over the pudding and all to stand for about ten minutes.
Cook at around 175 degrees for an hour or so.

Lord Woolton Pie 
Chop a selection of potatoes, cauliflower, swedes, carrots, onions or whatever other vegetable you have available, and add one tablespoon of oatmeal. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Put them in a pie dish, add a sprinkle of herbs, thyme, sage or parsley, as you wish, and a little brown gravy. Line the top with sliced potatoes or wholemeal pastry and bake in a moderate oven until the pastry has browned.

Mock Cream
1 tablespoon of dried milk
2 oz margarine or butter
1 teaspoon of sugar
½ teaspoon of vanilla essence

Beat the margarine and sugar, slowly add the dried milk then add the vanilla and beat until smooth.

Chocolate Haystacks
8 shredded wheat
1 tin sweetened condensed milk
2 oz cocoa.

Mix and shape in an egg cup. Set out on a tray. Do not cook just leave to harden.

Courting Cake
8 oz flour
4 oz marg/butter
2 oz sugar
1 egg (fresh or dried)

Mix to a stiff pastry with a little milk. Cut in half. Roll out one round and spread with jam. Roll a second round and place on top. Or cut and form the other half into tiny balls and place evenly on top. Bake approx 40 - 45 mins at 180C until golden brown.

Bran Loaf 
4 oz All Bran
4 oz brown sugar
6 oz mixed dried fruit
½ pint milk
4 oz Self Raising flour
1 tsp Baking Powder

Soak bran, sugar and fruit in the milk for 30 mins in a mixing bowl. Add the sifted flour and BP and mix well. Put mixture in a greased loaf tin. Bake for approximately 1 hour at 180C.

Brenda does quite a bit of cooking in my book Always In My Heart, although it doesn't always do her any favours with certain members of the family.
 

Brenda Stuart returns to her late husband’s home devastated by his loss only to find herself accused of bestowing favours upon the Germans. Life has been difficult for her over the war, having been held in an internment camp in France simply because of her nationality. Thankful that her son at least is safe in the care of his grandmother, she now finds that she has lost him too, and her life is in turmoil.

 Prue, her beloved sister-in-law, is also a war widow but has fallen in love with an Italian PoW who works on the family estate. Once the war ends they hope to marry but she has reckoned without the disapproval of her family, or the nation. The two friends support each other in an attempt to resolve their problems and rebuild their lives. They even try starting a business, but it does not prove easy.

Published by Mira Books
Available in most good book shops and online.

WH Smith

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Kobo

14.1.17

Work on the land in World War II

At the start of the war because of the blockade around our shores, there were fewer imports, and farming exports fell. The amount of food people could find went down and people turned their flower gardens into vegetable plots. They would keep hens and maybe a pig too. Women and youngsters would go out each autumn to pick acorns, collecting those that had fallen from the oak trees and use them to feed pigs. Children often had plots at school where, with the help of teachers, they too grew vegetables.

 Throughout the war the government maintained good prices and strived to avoid a post-war farm recession, as happened following World War I. Farm labour shortage did become a problem, most men having enlisted. A farmer’s first reaction was to get his wife and children to work with him, being required to produce more food. Eventually an emergency appeal was made to recruit members for the Women’s Land Army. Many had not worked on the land before, some having been hairdressers, shop assistants or simply wives and mothers, so had a great deal to learn. It could be difficult at times for them to cope with the cold and mud of winter, the long hours and heavy work involved in the vital tasks of digging, weeding and ploughing, but the land girls grew proud at being able to contribute to the war effort.

Later, the government allowed German and Italian prisoners of war (POWs) to be used as farm labourers, which is what happens in this story. Were they welcomed, and were there rules that had to be kept? They were often involved in caring for sheep and hens. I too have experienced that when running a smallholding. I found that great fun, if quite demanding and took me a while to learn how to do it.

A friend supplied me with a number of battery hens, which I could give the freedom to be free-range. Being a lass from the mill towns of Lancashire I barely knew how to deal with them, except for a vague memory of helping my grandfather with his hens when I was a small child. She explained the routine, reminding me to shut them up last thing at night. What she didn’t tell me was how to get them safely into the hen hut. I diligently attempted to pick them up. They ran around avoiding me and I finally fell headlong, catching none on them. I went off to have a cup of tea to puzzle over how to resolve this issue, then saw them forming an orderly queue. Presumably in correct pecking order they hopped through the pop hole and onto their perches. So simple! I used this experience in the story, just for fun.

Despite rationing of raw materials for farm equipment, farmers during the war became keen on new technology. The arrival of the Ford Tractor provided valuable equipment for the task of food production. When the war was over, most of their previous hired labourers did not return to the farm. By then most farmers were much better equipped, having used their increased income to buy machines, so they no longer required anywhere near as many workers.

Brenda Stuart returns to her late husband’s home devastated by his loss only to find herself accused of bestowing favours upon the Germans. Life has been difficult for her over the war, having been held in an internment camp in France simply because of her nationality. Thankful that her son at least is safe in the care of his grandmother, she now finds that she has lost him too, and her life is in turmoil. 

Prue, her beloved sister-in-law, is also a war widow but has fallen in love with an Italian PoW who works on the family estate. Once the war ends they hope to marry but she has reckoned without the disapproval of her family, or the nation. The two friends support each other in an attempt to resolve their problems and rebuild their lives. They even try starting a business, but it does not prove easy.

Published by Mira Books
Available in most good book shops and online.

WH Smith

Amazon UK

Amazon US 

Kobo