OUTINGS AND RECREATION
When she was a child, my aunt never went away for holidays. Children had to make their own amusements; there was no radio or television and very few toys. As she says: “Our pleasures were mostly taken on foot, in the area.”
Mrs King’s father would often take her for a walk along Hove seafront, but she had to walk properly, and she wasn’t allowed to “mess about”! They used to watch the fashion parade on Hove Lawns, and see old ladies in basket or bath chairs being pulled by elderly men and taken for a ride along the seafront. Once they saw the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII who abdicated the throne to marry Mrs Simpson):
“There was a big old manor house [at the bottom of Hove Street] and I remember seeing the Prince of Wales – he used to visit there – and I saw him. I was coming up with my father – we’d been for a walk on the seafront – and he said ‘There’s the Prince of Wales’; he was getting into a car.”
When she was young, she wasn’t allowed to go on the beach on her own or with brothers and sisters, but she did occasionally go with her mother:
“I can remember going with my mother down Hove Street which of course was very different to what it is now, and bought my bucket and spade. Opposite the Ship Inn, there was a little shop with a tiny window, and all the buckets and spades hanging outside, and we used to walk down there from home and it wasn’t far.”
Whilst still very young, she and her friends and siblings used to go for walks on the South Downs to see the wildflowers and butterflies. Up by the Three Cornered Copse (near the top of Dyke Road) there were marguerites and poppies to pick in the hayfields. They would think nothing of walking all the way over the Downs to pick blackberries at Saddlescombe and Poynings, or to Patcham to pick raspberries, while in the spring they’d walk to Newtimber Woods for the primroses and bluebells. Wild roses grew in the hedgerows each side of what is now King George VI Avenue, but was then a chalky track where Mrs King first learned to ride a bike. The bottom of the valley was known locally as Toad’s Hole and Mrs King saw an old shepherd (“a real old-fashioned shepherd wearing a proper smock”), come by with his flock of sheep. She also used to go to Sidney Hole’s dairy farm near Dyke Road to see the pigs and bull, and to Holmes Farm (in the vicinity of Holmes Avenue) to search for birds’nests, although she never took any eggs.
On Sunday evenings in the summer, the family used to walk to St. Ann’s Well Gardens to hear a military band play, and occasionally, perhaps on Bank Holidays, there would be an outing by train from Hove Station to the Dyke, or to Barcombe Mills near Lewes. There were Sunday School outings too, also by train, to Hassocks or Burgess Hill. “. . . we went through the tunnel, and that was quite a thrill in those days . . . When we got there, there were swings, races and always a tea. Oh, it was quite an occasion, the Sunday School Treat.”