Lydia Gardner (nee Sefanska)
On the left,
Helena and Konstanzy Krawczuk on their wedding day.
On the right Regina and Ignacy Turek Helena's parents, somewhere in the Polish Camp.
On the left Grandmother Regina Turek with Lydia and Taddy. There is a man in the background not sure who he is. Any ideas?
On the right Lydia and Taddy dressed for winter.
Oh, the long, sunny, lazy days of summer as a child in the Polish Camp, ....... such memories and so much nostalgia attached to this very brief but happy time in this somewhat basic but beautiful and idyllic place nestling in the heart of Petworth Park in West Sussex. What a privilege to have been able to spend the first eleven years of my life surrounded by breath taking scenery, although l'm not sure whether I really appreciated this as a child. The Camp was surrounded by park land with deer and rabbits greedily eating the produce that our parents lovingly planted to produce food for our tables! We were self'-sufficient; the lake where my Father regularly went fishing and caught the largest pike i had ever seen (he had been trying to catch it for a long time) provided us with fish and the chickens we kept provided us with the meat .... all organic, of course! I remember this plump white cockerel, which was particularly magnificent, and a favorite of my Father's, with a shiny black plume for a tail, pecked everyone except my Father until of course, one day Father got pecked and
I seem to remember having a very delicious supper of what tasted like chicken! It was the perfect place as a child ..... we had freedom and space ..... I remember Ziggi, Krzystof, my sister and I always out playing at Cowboys and Indians or riding our tricycles on the road which circled the camp. The recollection of the four of us on finding an old mincer and then proceeding to mince deer droppings to make pretend beef burgers still makes me smile! I think we were roughly six or seven and it was such great fun until, of course, our mothers found us!!! Our mothers remained life-long friends until the passing of Rosie (Ziggi and Krystof's Mother) earlier last year. We didn't need entertaining, Petworth Park was our playground. We had very little but made the most of what we had. I recall on a particularly hot summer's day hiding round at the side of the barrack listening to my sister, Krysia,
talking and playing with our Grandmother's cat. She had dressed it in some doll's clothes complete with bonnet and under a layer of blankets in a doll' s pram; it must have been extremely hot for this cat but it obediently stayed in the pram and went along with my sister's wishes. I must admit I was fascinated and wished I had the imagination and patience.
I recall lying in the grass looking up at the sky, listening to the bird song and soaking in the warmth. I thought it was heaven on earth and although the barracks were freezing in the winter and unbearably hot in the summer, somehow it really didn't matter. The toilets were outside and the showers were in a separate building, which was towards the entrance of the camp, but as children we were happy as we had a tin bath that came out once a week in front of the kitchen fire ...... Glorious!
Our parents worked extremely hard. I can't ever remember my Father having a day off sick and he provided for us very well. We had the best of everything, new tricycles, matching dresses especially at Christmas time when he would take us out for the day and after having made our purchases, meet up with some of his friends, and as you can guess, we actually brought him home to the admonition of our Mother, but oh such fun!
1 remember my sister and I going wild mushroom picking with our Grandmother who would teach us to differentiate between the good and the bad. We seemed to walk for miles through woodland covered with huge scarlet, white and purple rhododendron bushes and I distinctly remember thinking how beautiful it all was. Mushroom picking was in September for pickling and drying the mushrooms for Christmas; my nose always seems to be able to recall the smell of drying mushrooms when remembering these times ..... Ugh!
Times were hard, but as children we were never made aware of this fact and we didn't give a second thought to all the hardship our parents had gone through but they had survived! Those were the days when everyone would help each other, after all, we were one big family in a foreign land not knowing what the future would hold for us but through resourcefulness, tenacity and sheer determination, we fought through and eventually gained respect and acceptance from the people of this little island we now call home.