"In the village we were always aware of the changing seasons; the ebbing and flowing of tides; the rich pickings of nature; collecting wood for the fire; the pitch darkness of moonless nights; the magic of phosphorescence on the water; the entrancing echoes and the sound of voices being carried across the river. Without realising it, sights, sounds and smells were all soaked up – we used our senses in overdrive. Although never thinking this at the time, yet looking back, I think we grew up in the best of times ... "


"When the bombs were crashing down all around us, I remember thinking: 'This is it, we are going to die'. The doodlebugs were really scary; we could hear the whirring noise and when the noise stopped, all we could do was wait for them to fall. And then…bang!...there would be this huge crash...I remember one night particularly well. The Germans launched a ferocious attack on a number of places, including Ipswich. We hid under the table, listening to the bombs dropping all around us and thinking it was only a matter of time before we were hit. We were absolutely petrified, scared to bits..." 


"Something really rather special happened a few hours after Rachel was born. It was late May, so dawn came early and there was a most amazing dawn chorus. I had never heard anything so beautiful before, and I have never heard anything as beautiful since. Leonard heard it as well. It was as though all the birds in Heaven were greeting my daughter..."  


"You can mention any kind of parties and we have had them! Family parties, friends’ parties, wedding parties, birthday parties, christening parties, wedding anniversary parties, engagement parties, Christmas parties, street parties, Jubilee parties and victory parties. Any excuse for a booze-up and a good time ... I don’t think anyone enjoyed themselves like we did. We had the time of our lives..."


"Good Friday was ‘Hot Cross Bun Day’. Nearly everyone would go to the baker’s shop in Plympton to buy their buns. We would get up at three or four in the morning to walk there and back, or you would cycle if you had a bike. All our gang used to walk and I would take my accordion to play on the way. Other groups also had people playing accordions, as well as ukuleles, banjos, saxophones, trumpets and concertinas. We would go along, dancing and singing and having a fine old time. People came to the baker's in Plympton from all over the place, and they must have sold thousands of buns..." 


"My parents never said anything to us about their life in China and I never asked them. That’s something I should have done and I regret that I didn’t do it when I still had the chance...After they died, I realised I knew very little about my mum and dad, and of course it was too late then to do anything about it..."


"A lot of men and women came to our village looking for work in the fields to buy food. They were literally starving to death because of the famine. There would be a mother with a baby or a father with a little child, but they didn’t have enough food to feed both of them. So, in order to save themselves, they would leave the child or the baby by the side of the footpath. If they were lucky, somebody would pick the child up and save them. But I saw some babies who had starved to death and some who had accidentally crawled into the river and drowned. I remember seeing dead babies in the river. People were so desperate that they had to make this terrible decision to abandon their baby to have a chance of surviving themselves. Even adults lay by the path, dead from starvation. I saw them with my own eyes..."


"Many were the times during the blitz on Plymouth that the sirens would go off at night and I would get up and quickly put my uniform on, with my tin hat and gas mask at the ready too ... Sometimes it was possible to get a good night’s sleep in the back of my brother George’s Corona van out on Dartmoor. Some nights there would be thousands of Plymothians sleeping out with the ponies on the moors, many to return home to find that they had lost their homes and all their belongings..."


"My class teacher was called Miss Butler and she was an absolutely marvellous lady, wonderfully kind and gentle. I can remember her taking a couple of us children up to her cottage in the Lakes and do you know, she had daffodils in her garden. I lived in a place where there were no gardens – there was no space for them – so I thought it was wonderful to see daffodils at Miss Butler’s cottage. It sounds very strange to say this now, but I just couldn’t believe that she had flowers in her garden..."


"I was happy at Farley’s – we even had a song which we all used to sing:

Farley's girls, they are such girls, 
high-heeled shoes and their hair in curls. 
Eyes like diamonds, teeth like pearls, 
nothing can beat those Farley's girls. 

We are the Farley's packers, 
we are the Farley's packers, 
we know our manners, 
we spend our tanners, 
we are respected wherever we go. 

As we walk down old Torr Lane, 
doors and windows open wide. 
People always shout: 
‘Farley's now turning out.’
We are the Farley's girls! ..."