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Banburyshire Family History

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Muriel Wells

Talking to the family of one of my Training College friends who lived in Caerwent, in 1950, they told me of their courting days circa 1930, when they zoomed around the countryside on a motorbike. They had had such fun, and their eyes shone as they related some of their experiences.

Then "the penny dropped"! I remembered my father saying that he and Mum also courted on a motorbike in the late 1920s and eventually married in July 1930. Young people didn't go alone, but travelled in groups together. Their pleasures were simple as no-one had much money. Then in April 2000 my only cousin gave me a photograph of Doris and Len relaxing together on the grass in the countryside, a sweet moment recorded most likely by her father or mother --- I assume that it is a break in one of their motorbike trips.

Often, Dad's brother Frank, and his young wife, accompanied them. On one such an occasion a misadventure that could have resulted in tragedy occurred. Frank and Kathy were riding ahead with Len and Doris, (who later became my parents), following. At the time it was fashionable for young ladies to wear a long scarf, and Kathy was always up with the latest trends. Suddenly the end of her scarf was whipped into the rear wheel. Inexorably it tightened around her throat as she frantically clutched Frank. Her cries were drowned out by the wind and her clutches misinterpreted as an excess of affection! Luckily the trailing pair spotted her predicament in time, and drawing alongside Len told Frank to pull in. Phew, that was a close call !

A little later Mum and Dad had a little three wheeler Morgan runabout. They always spoke of it with affection, but I suppose that they could no longer afford to run a it once they had married and were beginning their family. At least it was never around within my memory.

Mum's sister, Florrie, used to belong to a cycle club and take part in road races in the 1920s. "The bottoms -up brigade" as we used to call similar cyclists three decades later! She still had her racing cycle when I was small, but no longer raced, then. Their cousin May's son, Wilfred Goodyer, was successful at racing too, but whether on the road or track I don't know. Whatever it was, he won many prizes --- cups, plaques, and furniture (a bureau and cabinet), which all graced Great-aunt Alice's cottage frontroom. Mum, (Doris), wasn't able to participate in such sports as she'd had rheumatic fever as a child, which affected her health, and she also had asthma.

Thinking about some of their reminiscences transports me back to those simpler, friendly times. What would Florrie and Wilfred make of the sophisticated mountainbikes, with their multiplicity of gears, that two of my sons own? I'm sure that they would be very eager to try them out!

Written by Muriel Wells