Ann Fry remembers her first visit to Oakridge in August 1956 to meet her future in-laws for the first time!
It was in August 1956 that I began my first visit to Far Oakridge, by train from Tavistock North Station, Devon on the 8.59am steam train to Exeter St Davids, the first of 4 changes. Then on to Bristol Temple Meads where I was met by John, from there it was on to Gloucester Eastgate, then the walk over the bridge to catch the Railcar to Chalford via Stroud, the Railcar continuing to the terminus in Swindon.
Then began the long walk through Chalford, along Ashmeads, past Baker's Mill, up farm Lane, into Oakridge, then along the common to Far Oakridge. Bearing in mind, that this was my first visit to my future in-laws and wanting to create a good impression, as I was a town dweller, I was clad in my smartest outfit, and reasonably high heeled shoes, a big mistake! Thank goodness I did not wear the very high-heeled court shoes I normally wore to the office. I cannot remember how many times I asked wearily" Are we there yet? " ---That was long before we reached Baker's Mill. With hindsight I can't understand why John chose this way rather than catching the bus from Stroud, which in those days were much more frequent, perhaps because this was John's normal cycle route to work at George Weller's in Thrupp.
'The Cott' was sparsely furnished, two downstairs rooms plus a scullery, and two bedrooms, so I shared a double bed with his Mother, whilst John and His Dad had single beds in the 'going through' bedroom, up a winding stone staircase. No bathroom, or hot running water, and a bucket toilet at the end of the garden, quite a shock and an enormous change from my life at home with my widowed Mother.
However Mr and Mrs Fry gave me a very warm welcome, I can remember John's Father's first words, "So you be our John's Intended then". The first meal late tea/supper was salad fresh from their garden and new potatoes which tasted slightly smoky being boiled on a trivet over an open wood and coal fired range. Pudding was delicious home grown strawberries with evaporated milk, yummy, I can taste them now in my mind.
I had often asked John what it was like living in a tiny hamlet, and he had always replied" It's SO quiet you can hear the grass grow!"
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