Please welcome fellow #RRBC AUTHOR, ROBERTA EATON CHEADLE, on her tour “While the Bombs Fell” Day # 3
While the Bombs Fell
The joys of flowers and nature
While the bombs fell is a collaboration between my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton, and me and tells a fictionalized account of her life as a small girl growing up in the small English town of Bungay, Suffolk during World War II.
Despite the food, fuel and clothing shortages faced by people during World War II in Britain, children still derived joy from the natural environment and took pleasure in the flowers, trees and other beautiful things around them.
I can always remember my mother telling me about all the gorgeous flowers that grew on Bungay common when she was a small girl. After a long, cold winter, the first flowers to show their face and announce the coming of spring were the snowdrops. The snowdrops were pretty, with a single small,
white bell-shaped flower that drooped on their stems.
The snowdrops were quickly followed by other flowers, as the weather gradually started to warm. Elsie and her siblings would go for long walks and look for pale yellow primroses, sky purple violets and yellow cowslips, which were quite difficult to find.
During the warm summer days and long evenings, the breeze would carry the delightful smell of the flowers through the windows and into the small three bedroomed cottage that housed my mother’s family.
I read a lot of Enid Blyton books when I was growing up and I was familiar with gorse bushes as a result. I can remember my mother describing these pretty bushes with their sharp thorns and telling me about how her brothers used to force their way into the middle of these bushes and hide there. When she told me these stories, my eyes always felt prickly and I had to close them as I imagined the horrible thorns scratching at them. As I write this, I still fancy that my eyes are being scratched by thorns.
One of the most beautiful places my mother and her siblings liked to play, was a hill called Target. It sloped down to Ditchingham House which was the home of author, Sir Henry Rider Haggard’s daughter, Lilias. The following is an extract about Target from the book:
“After breakfast, the children set off to walk to Target.
The public path that took the children to Target ran along the top of a steep and heavily treed hill. Bluebells carpeted the woods at this time of year. The path ran through the grounds of Ditchingham
House which had been occupied by Sir Henry Rider Haggard and his wife, Louisa, before their deaths.
Their daughter, Lilias Haggard, currently occupied the house.
From the path, the children could see the beautiful two and a half storey red-brick house which seemed
enormous to Elsie. A lush garden and an orchard with apple and mulberry trees, and even a quince
tree surrounded the house.
Sir Henry Rider Haggard had lived in South Africa and visited other parts of Africa. The children
thought him a most interesting character. A famous author, he had written many adventure books set in
Africa including She and King Solomon’s Mines.
When they reached the top of Target, the children all dared each other to slide and scramble down the
hill as fast as possible. Down they went, clutching onto the saplings, roots and anything else available
to them to grasp.
Elsie clung tightly to Jean’s hand so that she would not fall and roll down the steep hill.”
What was it like for children growing up in rural Suffolk during World War 2?
Elsie and her family live in a small double-storey cottage in Bungay, Suffolk. Every night she lies awake listening anxiously for the sound of the German bomber planes. Often they come and the air raid siren sounds signalling that the family must leave their beds and venture out to the air raid shelter in the garden.
Despite the war raging across the English channel, daily life continues with its highlights, such as Christmas and the traditional Boxing Day fox hunt, and its wary moments when Elsie learns the stories of Jack Frost and the ghostly and terrifying Black Shuck that haunts the coastline and countryside of East Anglia.
Includes some authentic World War 2 recipes.
Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.
I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.
I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.
I have participated in a number of anthologies:
- Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre under Robbie Cheadle;
- Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley under Robbie Cheadle;
- Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre under Robbie Cheadle; and
- Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth under Roberta Eaton Cheadle.
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