New Norfolk history book takes readers back to the 1960s

Cousin Christine’s wedding reception.

Cousin Christine’s wedding reception. (left to right) cousin Keith, Janet, mum, Wendy and Little Nanny. Note the pyjamas peeping from under Wendy’s dress. - Credit: Family Collection

She would shuffle her feet into her slippers and creep downstairs to see her beloved grandad sitting in front of the fire.

Clambering onto his lap she would make herself comfortable and ask: “Tell me about the farm, Grandad.”

And that is the name of this wonderful new book.

Travel back to the 60s with Tell me about the farm Grandad.

Travel back to the 60s with Tell me about the farm Grandad. Janet and sister Wendy with their mum and dad Daphne and Frederick Burrell. - Credit: Family Collection

“I loved his stories about the people, animals and birds. About the things he saw and the things he did,” says Jan Collingsworth.

And now we can all enjoy them.

Author and former teacher Janet Collingsworth.

Author and former teacher Janet Collingsworth. - Credit: Family Collection

Her first book is an absolute joy to read. It takes us back to Norfolk in the 1960s… such a different world to the one we live in today.

While some of us – of a certain age – have difficulty remembering what happened yesterday, the stories this former Norfolk teacher tells of growing up in that decade will ring a loud bell.

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Jan, now living in Aylsham was the winner of our Let’s Talk Short Story Competition last year, with her poignant and moving piece Three Times To Say Goodbye, and now she has written her first book.

Janet and sister Wendy, proud bridesmaids for cousin Christine at Taverham Church in 1965.

Janet and sister Wendy, proud bridesmaids for cousin Christine at Taverham Church in 1965. - Credit: Family Collection

“I didn’t intend to write a book. It was going to be a short story but it really wrote itself,” said Jan.

The daughter of  Daphne and Frederick Burrell was born at the West Norwich Hospital in October 1957 and lived at Costessey. Her dad worked at Marks & Spencer.

Her grandad and nan, Jack and Lolly Keeler, a farming family, lived at Corpusty and it was the visits to stay with them which form the basis of the book.

Janet’s much-loved grandad and Nan at Corpusty in 1969.

Janet’s much-loved grandad and Nan at Corpusty in 1969. - Credit: Family Collection

And there came a time when she would be travelling on her own. Her mum would ask the conductor to keep an eye on her and make sure she got off at the right stop.

“One of my earliest memories is of grandad carrying me across the road to the station to see the sheep and cows in the pen waiting for the train to take them to market.

“The name of the station was ‘written’ in white stones on the grassy bank beside the bridge.

Janet with her doll Susie, Aunt Jacqueline, grandad Jack Keeler, and Wendy with Pansy in 1962.

Janet with her doll Susie, Aunt Jacqueline, grandad Jack Keeler, and Wendy with Pansy in 1962. - Credit: Family Collection

“The waiting rooms and station master’s office had old fashioned roses growing over them and a little further along the platform, beyond the waiting room, huge lilac bushes filled the air with their perfume. Granddad used to lift me up so I could bury my nose in the flowers.

“The stones, sheep and lilacs are long gone, part of the platform and the waiting room are all that is left,” writes Jan.

Janet’s first school photograph at the age of five in 1962.

Janet’s first school photograph at the age of five in 1962. - Credit: Family Collection

We follow the first ten years of her life… one that so many of you will recognise. She takes us back to a very different time. Life at Costessey Infants and Junior schools, trips to the seaside, to the countryside, paddling in the river at Bawburgh.

The arrival of the “box in the corner” and loving Blue Peter and Crackerjack and who remembers Weavers Green filmed at Heydon? Seeing somewhere you knew on the telly!

And… so much more.

Jan went on to teach at Horsford, Old Catton and Larkman at Norwich. In recent times she has been doing voluntary work with the Alzheimer’s Society and has been a Dementia Café co-ordinator for north-west Norfolk.

Janet in her Maori outfit in 1969. They were taught songs and dances by a teacher from New Zealand.

Janet in her Maori outfit in 1969. They were taught songs and dances by a teacher from New Zealand. - Credit: Family Collection

Her book will make you think. Look back at different times and smile.

Oh, and the added bonus is her Nan’s old-fashioned recipes for the likes of Norfolk Gingers, Norfolk Fair Biscuits and as for those shortcakes!

Tell me about the farm Grandad. A 1960s Norfolk Childhood by Janet Collingsworth is published by Paul Dickson Books at £11 and is available from www.allthingsnorfolk.com, Jarrold Norwich, Jarrold Cromer, Not Just Books, Thetford, and Waterstones, Norwich.

We have five copies of the book to give away to our readers.

Just answer this question. Name the Norfolk village where grandad and nan lived?

Please send entries and include your postal address to Paul Dickson at paul-dickson@btconnect.com or write to him at 156 Southwell Road, Norwich NR1 3RP by October 26.

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