At the start of 2011 I received the very sad news of the deaths of three of my contemporaries who lived very close to my childhood home in Bailes Lane, Willey Green, Normandy. I refer, of course, to Bernard Hobbs, his brother Peter and Colin Harris. I received the news from Michael Boyd, another Bailes Lane contemporary, who now lives in Cumbria. Such news is always a reminder of one's own mortality. As youngsters in the 1930s, we were all much about the same age and although we went our separate ways in life, our comparative age differences remain the same. Bailes Lane has always been a source of many memories, some sad but most very happy but as I write I feel extraordinary sadness.
Bernard and Peter Hobbs lived at "Hillair", now Hill Cottage almost opposite the entrance to close to Bailes Farm. Colin Harris, who arrived in the lane about 1945/6, lived at "St. Catherines" just on the first bend in the lane after entering from the Aldershot Road. All were close pals enjoying each others company, whether it be playing cricket in the road, fishing at "Crooke's Farm pond" (or the one behind the brickfields), bird nesting, football on the field opposite my home "Rose Cottage", rummaging in Bayliss's car scrap yard - plus the hundred and one other pursuits that young lads get up to.
Bernard was a particularly gifted cricketer and became a stalwart of Normandy Cricket Club. Over the years he must have been very close to being "spotted" by Surrey County CC. He was an excellent batsman and an occasional cunning leg spin bowler.
Although for many years I have lived out of the area my fond memories of those three contemporaries of mine still remain in my heart and it was with great sadness that I learned of their departing. The immense loss to their families is un-imaginable and my heart goes out to them all.