Seventies – various family events

May 30 1970 – The arrival of our third daughter Katie Victoria

Katie was born in the Leeds Maternity Hospital, Hyde Terrace but was discharged home on the first day as all seemed well. As far as I recall her progress was generally uneventful and the girls were pleased to have a new sister. We were relieved that all went  smoothly.

Photos 1.Main bedroom at 42 The Mount soon after Katie and Ann came home from the maternity hospital with the family on the bed.  2. Susan with Katie. 3. Grandmas  Phillips and Skilbeck (Littlewood).

The rest of 1970 was a relatively uneventful in our new house at 42 The Mount with our new baby Katie. 

Money was short, as usual, and we went for a very economical summer holiday on the northeast coast at Aldbrough, a coastal village about 12 miles north of Hull.    We rented a pleasant but small holiday cottage belonging to a Hull general practitioner.

I have two vivid memories of that week at Aldbrough. One was the sound of low flying aircraft from an RAF fighter training unit nearby. Not only was there alarming and very noisy low flying aircraft but also target practice – in fact, one car near the village was hit by a stray bullet! This made news headlines, so we had to ring home to tell the Grandmas it was not us. The second memory was of the low ceilings at the bottom of the stairs in the cottage from which I suffered multiple head injuries during the course of the week.

 Susan and Sarah on the Aldbrough beach and Katie aged 6 weeks

However, on the positive side, the weather was not bad and the girls seemed to have a good time on the beach. Katie was with us on this holiday but only six weeks old. In the photo she is demonstrating a normal asymmetrical tonic neck reflex!

Although we had this rather basic holiday at Aldbrough in 1970, we made full use of the excellent garden at our home at Four Winds, 42 The Mount Leeds during that summer.

November 8 1970 – Katie is christened at St John’s Moortown

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left to right. Richard Littlewood (Douglas and Pat’s younger son), Bob Webster (Jim’s cousin), John and Douglas Littlewood (son and father), Barbara Webster (Bob’s wife) and Mary Phillips (An Littlewood’s second sister)
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The godparents and Katie – Rodger Search (Ann’s cousin) and Mary Phillips (Ann’s sister)

Early in 1971 – Various alterations to 42 The Mount

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Photos: The pictures show house before (L)  and after (R) the alterations.

Essentially, the original integral garage (big white door in left hand photo) was made into an extra room entered via the kitchen (window to right of old garage door). A double precast concreted garage was erected alongside the house on the left – not visible on the photograph.

At the time of writing this (2018), the present owners have made extensive alterations and improvements to the house including a big extension to the side and even a swimming pool.

Summer 1971. A pleasant farm holiday near Bridlington

pasted-image-small-59A pleasant and different holiday which the girls seemed to enjoy to the extent that we went again the following year. 

The farm was being run temporarily by the farmer’s parents while he and his family were away on holiday. The old farmer was very kind to the girls in showing them the various animals and workings of the farm.  All I recall is one of the younger cows developing severe colic and having a very distended abdomen. The old farmer relieved the gas by sticking a trochar and cannula (essentially a big hollow skewer!) into the cow’s abdominal wall which was followed by a great gush of wind and a relief of the problem.

Summer 1973. A caravan holiday in the South of France

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Photos: The Renault 16 and hired caravan. Stopping on the way in a Brittany farm orchard. The girls on the beach in the South of France.

This was undoubtedly an adventure holiday! We had no previous experience of caravanning, and I had never towed one behind the car. I hired the caravan from a firm near Harrogate, had a tow bar fitted to our Renault 16 car and collected the caravan the day before we were due to set out for France. At the garage the manager asked if I had previous experience of caravanning. “No” I confessed. He looked somewhat concerned at this. “Where are you taking it?” he asked. “To the South of France” I proudly rejoined. “B—-y Hell!” he exclaimed.   However, he hitched me up and I drove home where I had great difficulty getting the caravan through the gate as I soon discovered that reversing was not easy. The best way seemed to be to unhitch the caravan then swing it round and re-attach it!!  Suffice it to say we eventually travelled down to the caravan site in Brighton (not recommended even though next to Roedean School!) prior to catching the car ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe.

The first night in France we parked in a farm orchard – “La Malmaison” (photo) – owned by a very friendly farmer who subsequently gave us a bottle of Calvados apple brandy when we stopped there again on our return journey.   On our journey to the South of France we made another stop at Lyons and parked by the river before finishing our journey the following day.

It was a good holiday and full of “adventure”. For example, travelling round and round the centre of Reims unable to find our way out with workmen cheering as we passed them for the third time! On another occasion in Geneva on our way home Ann suddenly said “Turn right!” which I did instantly only to find we had entered the front drive of an imposing looking embassy.

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The time we spent in the South of France was good on the La Carabasse caravan site where there was a good pool and “facilities” and excellent beaches nearby.

Our hired caravan seemed rather modest compared with of the continental models which were huge and bedecked with television masts and assorted aerials.  Also all our gas mantles broke on the way down so we had only had candles for light. It was quite a relief to get home in one piece.

We had at least three Renault 16s.  They were very comfortable, the only unusual feature was the gear change which was on the steering column.  They gave us good service but unfortunately the model was eventually discontinued and so we moved to Volvos.

Jim’s golf – some general comments

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Photos: (R) with Ulster Cup and holding President’s putter a Scarcroft”major”: Left other trophies – Scarcroft Team Golf Trophy (1976); Clayton Foursomes (1980); Rimmel Trophy (1982).

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  British Paediatric Association Ulster Cup – Winner and one year joint winner with Dr. Peter Dunn of Bristol

Although I was never a truly dedicated golfer due to the demands of my job, in 1974 I won the British Paediatric Association (BPA) golf competition for the third time. Eventually I won it a record 3.5 times as some years later I drew with Peter Dunn from Bristol.  The cup was donated to the BPA in 1935. In a recent history of the BPA it states of the Ulster Cup “the most frequent winner has been jim Littlewood (3.5times)….”.  My only mention in the book!

pasted-image-small-96I used to play golf on some Sunday mornings at Scarcroft Golf Club usually with my neighbour Phil Coldbeck or my brother Douglas and nephew Richard. Eventually I played most Sundays with Phil and we had considerable success in the club competitions at Scarcroft – as described above.

Photo: Phil Coldbeck and myself receiving the Clayton Foursomes Cup at Seacroft Golf Club 1980 prize giving

I must admit to not being a very good social member of the golf club – mainly a “turn up on Sunday morning” type with less of the “Mr Captain , Lady captain” stuff. I had enough committee involvement at work in the NHS.

JANUARY 1975 – WE MOVE TO 7 BINGLEY BANK, BARDSEY

We were now about to move to the house at 7 Bingley Bank, Bardsey where Ann and I would still be living for the next 40 years until in 2015 we moved to Radcliffe on Trent near Nottingham.  We moved to Bardsey so the girls could attend the very good village primary school and then move on to the new comprehensive at Boston Spa near Wetherby.

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7 Bingley Bank Bardsey in recent years

All three girls did subsequently attend both these schools at which they say they were happy. We had not intended to stay in this new house in Bingley Bank in the long term but it proved very convenient and, with a series of major alterations over the years, proved satisfactory and we were very happy there. The house had so many alterations over the years that it is difficult to remember exactly what is was like when we moved in 1975! It certainly represented a step down from Four Winds, 42 The Mount in Alwoodley Leeds, but most importantly, the location was very good and of great importance the local primary school excellent; also the Boston Spa Comprehensive had a very  good reputation and an excellent headmaster.

Summer 1975 – Two weeks as locum consultant paediatrician at Northallerton Hospital

This was mainly to earn some money, rather than spending money on a holiday, as we had recently had the expense of moving house from Alwoodley to Bardsey. We were very lucky as the weather was fabulous and Northallerton hospital had only a small paediatric department – very light work compared to Leeds. I only had to work in the mornings, so in the afternoons we went on trips across the Yorkshire moors Scarborough and the east coast. 

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Sarah, Katie
and Susan on a day out on the North Yorkshire Moors in 1975

We took the pictures of the girls on one of our day trips from Northallerton and we still have enlarged copies of them in our sunroom in Radcliffe on Trent.

I recall that during this locum we rented a small hospital house in Northallerton. As there was so much spare time I even cut the grass and cleared up the garden!  We also visited to the local swimming pool in Northallerton. During the Eighties I used to go to  Northallerton Hospital every few months to do a Cystic Fibrosis Clinic with the local paediatrician – Dr Alison Essex-Cater.      It really was a glorious holiday/locum in Northallerton as can be seen in the photo of the family having tea in the garden of the hospital house.                                                                                            

Northallerton 6.1995

Northallerton is an affluent market town and civil parish in the Hambleton district of North Yorkshire; it lies in the Vale of Mowbray and at the northern end of the Vale of York. It had a population of 15,741 according to the 2001 census.                                                    

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The girls in the back garden of 7 Bingley Bank in 1975 when the garden opened directly on to the huge field – later the back garden was fenced in when dogs and cat (Fluff) arrived

So we are now established in Bardsey which increasingly felt like home.  It is possible to see the country’s oldest pub (The Bingley Arms c. AD 905- AD 953) from our lounge window. This view has changed considerably after 38 years and the trees in the middle distance bordering the Bingley Bank are now over 80 feet in height!!

August 15th 1975. John Littlewood marries Vicky Waite

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1975 August – Another visit to London   

London 8.75 pigeonsLater that August we went to London to stay with Ann’s sister Mary and her first husband Vic Gunther. We did the ‘Evan Evans” bus tour and the girls saw all of the traditional sights and fed the pigeons in Trafalgar Square.

1975 Autumn/Winter.  The girls looked after Pepi   

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Later in the autumn of 1975 Susan exercised a horse called Domino on a winter farm for hacking horses.

Although the girls never owned a horse, they went riding regularly at the weekends at a local stable in Thorner, a nearby village.

July 1976. Eli Phillips and Dave Phillips were married

Ann’s youngest sister, Eli, married Dave Phillips on 22.7.76 at the Leeds Registry Office and afterwards there was a reception at Bill and Muriel Search’s house on Alwoodley Lane.

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Ann threw herself into the life of the village. She joined several local societies in the village including the Badminton Club, the local NSPC group who arranged various functions in the village hall and helped with the local charity shop. She ran the village youth club with a friend for 2 years and helped with various school events.  She also continued to run all our household matters including all the family finances. To keep fit she also did Yoga and tap dancing!  As the girls moved on to Boston spa school Ann joined the PTA and was secretary for a number of years.  She also assisted once a week in the “support class” for children with reading difficulties.

1986 Nuffield Hospital Horsforth

Finally, Ann managed our private paediaitric practice very efficiently. She was the main patient contact as there were no answer or mobile phones in those days and I was usually at one of the many hospitals I visited or travelling in the car between them. So Ann would frequently have first contact with the parents which they really appreciated. Our private practice was unusually successful for a paediatrician (where it was said there was little call for private practice) and would amount to one or two sessions a week. I believe a major factor was that the parents saw us as a team; as mentioned Ann would deal with many queries on the phone and also would be present in the clinic when they attended the private clinic. She organised the patients notes, weighed and measured the children, performed respiratory function tests where appropriate, tested  the urine and plated up a drop for me to microscope – and she sent out the bills! We enjoyed working together and I looked forward to these private clinics. I believe the parents appreciated this “team” approach; they appreciated the fact that one or other of us was always contactable by phone if they were worried.

June 1976. Camping at Frejus in the South of France

We went to the south of France with a firm called “Canvas Holidays”; they had a site of tents already erected in the South of France. Although the “facilities” (showers, toilets, pool etc) were

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reasonable, there were numerous ants which we had to ward off from the tent with boiling water. Also there were slugs that crawled over the canvas; I woke to find one crawling above our heads. The next day we moved out to an apartment in Frejus where we had a very comfortable stay!

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I remember a pleasant first floor apartment and standing at the sink peeling huge pans full of potatoes. However, we vowed never again to go camping!! So eventually we had quite a good time after a rather shaky start. Later in 1976 we went to London to see the Jubilee decorations.

August 1977. Richard Littlewood marries Brenda

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                             Richard Littlewood marries Brenda

grandma PhillipsIncidentally I took a very good picture of Grandma Phillips around that time, although the colours have not lasted well. She was a very nice person and definitely favourably influenced both her own daughters and our Littlewood family.

She came to live with us at 7 Bingley Bank at the end of 1977 after we had a major extension at the back of the house so she could have her own flat and facilities on the ground floor level.

1977. Topsy arrived and was welcomed by all the family!

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Topsy '80 jumpTopsy '82

Topsy was a really lovely dog and a much loved member of the family. Apart from rather difficult toilet training in the first year (Yip, Yip, Yip. No it’s your turn, I did it yesterday!!), she gave no trouble and gave us all  a great deal of happiness.

Topsy was a very patient, good natured animal. She would tolerate, and really enjoy, a great deal of teasing – not very sensible really – such as pretending to steal the food she was eating! Although she growled threateningly as one’s hand approached the food, her tail was wagging vigorously and she never once lost her temper. I think she just liked attention. We also taught her to jump – as seen in the photo in the front garden.

1977  Mrs Potts with the girls

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Mrs Potts with Topsy and the girls

Mrs Potts (photo) was our cleaner/help for many years and she became a friend of the family. She was well-liked by the girls and a very kind person who thought a great deal of them. For years until she died she always remembered their birthdays.  We kept in touch and Ann and I visited her in a very pleasant old people’s home

Ann has an extraordinary record of keeping home helpers and cleaners. For example Debbie, our cleaner/help until 2016 when we moved to Radcliffe on Trent,, started as a young girl, has been coming for over 25 years and now has three grand children of her own!! I saw one of her children as a baby in the paediatric clinic; he is now married with children of his own!

1978. Holiday in Malta

In May 1978 Grandma Phillips who was living with us was very ill and Mary and Eli came to stay with her in Bardsey whilst we went on a holiday. Grandma died two weeks after we returned home.

It was good to return to Malta where I had spent two happy years (1957-1959) in the Royal Army Medical Corps, although I could hardly recognise the St Patrick’s Officer’s Mess on the east coast where I lived or the Medical Centre where I worked – there was so much new building.   We were there on May 1st 1978 – Ann’s 37th birthday. Where she is seen clutching a bottle of champagne on our apartment balcony.   

The island is described as a place of bells, yells and smells, which is a reasonable description. A more detailed account of my time in Malta can be found in the section “1957-1959 Royal Army Medical Corps in Malta”

Autumn 1978. Grandma Skilbeck has a stroke    

The autumn was otherwise uneventful. Sarah Jane had her birthday. Susan was in Boston Spa Senior School and Sarah in the Junior School. Katie was at Bardsey Primary and they all seemed happy enough.  Grandma Skilbeck’s stroke was severe and she was admitted to St James University Hospital where she remained until she died in July 1979.  The ward was near my office and I visited her most days.  

We did not realise that another major event in December was about to disrupt our lives for many months!                                                                                  

December 16th 1978. The Great Fire of Bingley Bank!

This photo from the Yorkshire Evening Post newspaper was taken when the fire was at its height and smoke was billowing from the roof. It was a Saturday morning and our recently installed new “look real artificial gas fire” was on in the lounge.

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The first thing Ann had noticed was the lights went out and then it was obvious there was more than a fuse. Fortunately Ann, Sarah and Katie  managed to get out unharmed. I had been to Wetherby to fetch Susan from Dr Rousounis house where she had been babysitting the previous night. As Sue and I drove up Bingley Bank we were faced with terrible  scene shown in the newspaper cutting.

The damage was extensive and obviously we had to move out that very day. We stayed that night at the hotel near Wetherby roundabout – not a pleasant experience. After a terrible day we arrived there with three tired children, and the clerk argued about the payment – I offered him my Rolex a security!

After this Auntie Mu and Uncle Bill Search insisted we move into their house and they went to stay with Roger and Mary over Christmas until we could find some temporary  house rental. Dr Phoebe Edwards came to the rescue. She was a family doctor who worked with me for many years as a Clinical Assistant at St James’s ’s. Her mother was away and kindly allowed us to use her house in Adel, Leeds for a couple of weeks until we managed to rent Starra Cottage at Great Ousburn some 20 miles from Bardsey.  We couldn’t find anything nearer to rent at that time for the six months it was estimated we would be out of our own house. We were delayed taking possession of the cottage as it was the coldest winter for many years and all the water pipes in the cottage had burst and had to be repaired.

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The distance from our new home in Great Ousburn to Leeds, Boston Spa  and Otley was obviously a major problem (20 miles). The girls had to get to school in Boston Spa and Bardsey and I was working as a paediatrician at virtually all the Leeds Hospitals including St Mary’s Maternity Hospital at Bramley (on the other side of Leeds!) and also at Otley Hospital up in Wharfedale. So we did a massive amount of travelling. I was usually so tired on the drive back to Great Ousburn in the evenings that I had to have a can of Carlsberg Gold to sip during the long evening drive up the A1 – would have been arrested today but drink and drive was not so strict in those days!!  No one would have known had Ann not discovered the huge pile of empty lager cans in the cottage garage when she opened an old cupboard and they all came tumbling out!

Surprisingly though we had quite a happy time at Starra Cottage for six months during the 78/79 winter and first half of 1979. During the worst of the weather we were sliding about on the A1 getting the children to school down in Boston Spa and some days I had difficulty getting to the various hospitals. On two occasions I had to stay the night with Pat and Doug in Harewood as the snow was so deep everywhere it was impossible to drive home to Great Ouseburn.

Another incident happened. One day a light aircraft crashed into the field opposite our cottage!!  Fortunately there were no serious injuries but Ann had to ring round to reassure all the relatives that we were alright as the crashed aircraft was shown on the local Yorkshire TV News that evening.    

On the positive side the countryside around was glorious  and there was a marvellous pub in the village, The Crown they served wonderful steak and chips in front of a crackling log fire and one could obtain a reasonable bottle of wine from the bar. I took a visiting Eastern German doctor there – he was most impressed. In fact he was so impressed that he soon after the visit to us he failed to return to Eastern Germany and defected to the West!   Perhaps not entirely due to the steak and chips at the Crown.

During this time Ann had a enormous task arranging insurance claims, choosing new goods for the house, dealing with builders (an excellent firm recommended by Uncle Bill Search) and numerous other details.  As always she took all this hassle in her stride and off my shoulders so I could give full attention to my work.  What a partner!!

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Ann and Topsy outside Starra Cottage

Starra Cottage was a very large pleasant refurbished cottage situated on the main street at Great Ouseburn; it was said to be owned by someone in the oil business who worked abroad. There were pleasant walks in the country around.

With regard to 7 Bingley Bank, there was extensive damage to the ceilings and the whole roof had to be replaced as did all the  carpets and curtains. On the positive side the lounge was much improved after the fire as when the builders removed the lounge ceiling the slanting roof and and a beam were exposed; it looked so good they agreed to leave it slanting and higher with a beam exposed – one good thing to come out of the fire!

1979. Holiday in Lanzarote

After the very traumatic winter of 78/79 we went to Lanzarote for a holiday. It was good – a dry and  warm if rather barren place but relaxing after all our excitement.    

 Our villa in Lanzarote and  showing  “Susan’s gate” – which kept falling off.    Camel rides.  The Comet airliner in which we travelled home. .

The Comet airliner was interesting. It looked good but must have been quite old at that stage. Apparently, the first Comets flew around 1950 and the aircraft in the photograph is a Comet 4C first introduced in 1962. The aircraft, in which we flew, was owned by Dan-Air, the only commercial operator still using these aeroplanes by 1975.  In fact there were only 4 of these aircraft still in service by 1980!

1979. Christmas

We had a quiet uneventful Christmas to end 1979.