There was a wonderful house by Fritton lake. It belonged along with farm land and surrounding forest to Lord Somerlayton. Fritton Church was also part of his estate and my Mum and Dad were married there. Fritton House, Lake and gardens were open on sunday for lesuire persuits including rowing, fishing and walking in the beautiful gardens. The head gardener had been a German prisoner of war. While the war raged he was in charge of growing vegetables in Fritton, as part the war effort. After the war he stayed on and returned the flower gardens to their original beauty.
On Sundays mum worked in the small tea rooms, making sandwiches and pots of tea and selling mouth watering cakes. She also charged a small entry fee to the grounds. I knew every inch of the woods and gardens. Sometimes, if the weather was nice, mum took me to work with her. The german gardener used to take my hand and show me to garden. It is thanks to him that I still love gardening today. I also loved to draw and if mum had a few free minutes, she would show me how to draw and sketch the trees, flowers, ducks and swans swimming on the lake.
Lord Somerlayton lived in Somerlayton Hall an extremely grand house. The Hall was famous for it's extensive gardens, and huge yew maze. The Lord was in charge of the Queen's horses and he was a wonderful old man. You could also walk around the hall for a small charge. I was taken around the Hall many times. A huge stuffed polar bear stood in the magnificant entrance hall I always wondered why he ended up in Somerlayton????
On the days when I did not go to the lake with my mother ,grandad took me to Belton Church. It was a mile walk to the tiny, cold ,church. I loved the church because I got the chance to sing hymns.I looked at the wonderful stained glass windows and flowers arranged by the ladies of the church community.I also got to hold grandads hand all the way there and back. Grandad was my hero. He was over 6ft which in those days made him extremely tall. He always wore braces and on a sunday he dressed so smartly in a suit and tie.. I thought he looked like John Wayne. Though the Duke had far more hair. We didn't speak much, he and I were quiet. On the way home from church he pointed out song birds and taught me the names of the different species. I still take great joy in attracting birds to my garden.
By the time we got home Nanny had made the sunday dinner. It was always the same. Roast meat usually beef, with yorkshire pudding, vegetables and brown gravy. It is traditional to eat "norfolk dumplings" with gravy as a first course. Originally the dumplings were given to the children with meat gravy to fill them up so they ate less of the expensive meat. The men were given the meat especially if they had heavy physical jobs and needed stamina and energy. The dumplings were also called "Norfolk Swimmers" as they swam in a layer of brown gravy. We loved them. Nanny always cooked a fruit pie and custard. I loved sunday dinner.
On Sunday night we all sat around the fire watching the old black and white TV. I sat as close to my mum as I could. We always watched "Sunday Night at The London Palladium". There were beautiful dancers in sparkling costumes, comedians and popular singing stars of the day. Now the world has gone full circle and we all watch Dancing with the Stars.
Those nights were so perfect. We were warm safe and so cosy. Mum tucked me into bed on Sunday night. Then she kissed my forehead and told me ...."don't forget to pray Ninny." I just wanted to see her more and I always prayed for that first..