#FabulousFridayGuestBlogger – Judith Barrow @barrow_judith

Today’s #FabulousFridayGuestBlogger, Judith Barrow, has written a lovely piece, chock full of memories and interesting settings. This is a fun way to lead up to Judith becoming an author. Thank you, Judith, for sharing this glimpse into your life. I hope everyone here will remember to share it on their various social media sites, as well.

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judith headshot

Growing into my Writing Life

My first memory is of my climbing over a backyard gate and running home from a party where I’d been told I would have to ‘do a turn’: singing or dancing. If I’d been asked to make up a story I would have been there like a shot. But singing or dancing…?

We lived in a in a place called Saddleworth, surrounded by hills, fields and moorland. To me it was just a large playground and, from the age of six, I spent whole days exploring; walking with my dog to a place called Chew Valley (this was well before it was transformed into a reservoir, now called Dovestones), where I paddled and even swam in the deeper areas and picnicked with bottles of water and jam ‘butties’ and wrote poems and stories. No one ever asked me where I’d been or where I was going. I was free to roam. And write.

At home, Saturdays were washing and ironing days at our house; if it was fine the clothes would be strung on a line, held high by a ‘prop’, a wooden pole, across the garden. If it was raining they would be on a clothes maiden around the fire and the kitchen would be filled with steam. I hated that and, more often than not, hid away in my bedroom to write. To coax me back downstairs my mother would make potato cakes. These were made from a mixture of flour, margarine and mashed potatoes, rolled out, cut into squares and baked in the oven. Spread with lashings of butter they were delicious! 

My mother was a winder in both cotton and woollen mills. When I was very small I was in a nursery attached to the mill. Later, well before the days of Health and Safety I would go after school to wait for her to finish work. I’ve written many times about how I remember the muffled boom of noise as I walked across the yard and then the sudden clatter of so many different machines as I stepped through a small door cut into a great wooden door. I can hear now the women singing and shouting above the noise, whistling for more bobbins: the colours of the threads and cloth – so bright and intricate. But above all I can recall the smell: of oil, grease – and in the storage area – the lovely smell of the new material stored in bales and the feel of the cloth against my legs when I sat on them, reading or writing, until the siren hooted, announcing the end of the shift. Continue reading