After my Uncle Frank generously gave a piece of land to my parents when I was just 12 years old, they grabbed the opportunity to move from London to the Isle of Sheppey in Kent determined to start a new life away from “the smoke!” Smog, a combination of fog and industrial waste products often hung in the air over London in those days and probably contributed to my dad’s breathing problems in later life. Cities like Los Angeles still have a massive pollution problem which I experienced when driving my yellow Mustang around the city in later years. More of that in another blog post!
I got to cycle 6 miles to school and back every day
Once we got settled in our post war prefab, I got to cycle to school every day from Minster to Sheerness, the “capital” town on the island. It was a 6 mile round trip which was fun and kept me fit. There were two possible routes – one across the island via Halfway, so called because it was! Or along the coast road, which was challenging in bad weather, with the sea often breaching the defences and flooding the road with sea water and stones dragged up from the beach.
In had to earn my own pocket money. That was normal in those days, no free hand outs, unless your parents were a soft touch and were not short of a bob or two.
Delivering groceries on a push bike.
I was able to get an after school job delivering groceries on a push bike. Hard graft cycling with a full load of groceries in a huge metal frame basket attached to the front of the bike. Several deliveries each evening, sometimes to Minster – that 6 miles round trip. It was hard work, but hugely satisfying knowing that I was earning my own money. I can’t remember what I was paid, but it was something like 1s 6p in old money – 12pence in a shilling, so 15p in today’s money! That may sound like exploitation to the modern mind, but you have to remember that it was several decades ago!
Now we are coming to the point of the story! Chocolate!
Every Christmas one of my kids buys me a large bar of Cadbury’s Whole Nut. I can easily consume the whole bar in one sitting. It’s a miracle that I can still fit into my wedding suite which is, at the time of writing, 20 years old. And what’s more, I can still fit myself into my once piece bike leathers, more like 30 years old! Impressed?!
So what’s with the chocolate?
Well, cycling as a young teenager for several miles every evening delivering heavy loads of groceries to people, took a lot of effort and energy. So, most days I would buy myself a bar of chocolate which would give me the sugar rush to keep going, even in the wind and rain!
So that must be where I get my love of chocolate!