This past weekend I visited my life long friends Gail and Mick. We met at The Camp School in Kent when we were just five years old in 1951. Gail and Mick have been married for forty five years.
Taken in their garden last Saturday.
All three of us have followed a creative path. Our curiosity, enthusiasm and desire to learn and create, continues to excite and sustain. Gail is a writer and throughout her long career has been involved in broadcasting, song writing and education. Mick is a photographer/teacher, and together they have a keen interest in the folk traditions of south east England.
In our formative years, we shared a very important experience, and that was to have Mrs. Whitefield as our teacher. Mrs. Whitefield awakened the joy of learning and through her enthusiasm encouraged us to explore our creativity. Long before this expression was ever thought of....Mrs. Whitefield encouraged us to look outside of the box!
Watercolour portrait of Gail painted last weekend.
Watercolour portrait of Mick painted last weekend.
Let me take you back to the Camp School in the early fifties.
Very much post war Britain, everyone was making do with whatever was at hand, and indeed the Camp School was made up of a group of army huts which sat in the middle of bluebell woods. There was no central heating, and every child walked to school. At that time, it was rare for someone to have a car. The food we ate was simple. Each little hut had its own small garden where vegetables were grown. Every week a different class was responsible for preparing the vegetables for lunch.
Most people didn't have a phone and if they did, it was a 'party line', meaning it was shared with a neighbour.
It never occurred for us to lock doors, and we were encouraged to acknowledge people when we met them with a 'good morning/afternoon'. Just about everyone in the community knew everyone else, including the local policeman who was treated with respect.
Because the foods we ate were simple and we walked or rode bicycles everywhere, we were healthy. During the weekends or holidays it was quite normal for us to disappear for hours into the woods and make camp fires which we would cook sausages on.....oh the freedom and joy of it. These were the days long before health and safety, and I don't recall any accidents or fires!
The quintessential Kentish view across from Mick and Gail's house.
Without the multiple technical devices that children are bombarded with today, our minds were open and receptive, which allowed a gifted teacher like Mrs. Whitefield to reach and inspire us. Encouraging us to learn about all aspects of our lives, it was through Mrs. Whitefield that I first began to understand how everything is interconnected. It was through her passion for the traditional folk arts of Britain that Gail and Mick's life long interest began.
Last Saturday morning when the sun shone for a half an hour
Shortly after Gail, Mick and I left the Camp School it was demolished and a brand new school was built. I am so glad I got to experience the old Camp School.....and I would wish that every child could have such a simple and yet beautiful start to their education.
Fizzy the cat....at Gail and Mick's
'It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge' Albert Einstein.
All things being equal, next week, I will be visiting Helga in Vienna. My next blog on Wednesday 27th February, will feature news and photographs from Vienna.