Britten Court – the Final Fanfare

Our final session took place at Britten Court Care Home in Lowestoft on Tuesday, 29th November – three years to the day since we held the first session at Howard Middle School in Bury St Edmunds.

It’s been a fabulous three years – 208 people have taken part, a further 100 have benefited in other ways,  and thousands of people have seen the Suffolk at Play Cube. We’ve written and played and sung our way through stories, games and memories, we’ve animated and decorated and created and had such fun.

Thank you to everyone who has taken part, supported us and cheered us along the way; most particularly, a huge thank you to all our wonderful participants, for sharing their stories and making Suffolk at Play.

Britten Court – the Final Fanfare

Friday was 1 and 1 (a pennyworth of fish and a pennyworth of chips)
Saturday morning was the cinema and sneaking your friends in for free

At Christmas time Ivy and her family played cards for monkey nuts
She used to play school in the back garden with her friends: Ivy was always the teacher

Maureen remembers Valentines and the knock on the door
and the present on the step (just a few sweets in a bag)

Peter played football with his pals in the park.
He was a speedy left winger who scored a goal or two

Ella had a Cindy and Barbie and used to push them in a pram
around the village

Pansy grew up in Kessingland and was the oldest of seven children
and used to play near the fish and chip van

Maureen had a Committee Bike which was black
She used to polish it and keep it clean

Doreen had a brown suitcase packed every morning
full of sandwiches and cakes to take down the beach

Pansy used to fight a lot with her brothers and sisters
rather than playing with them

Peter and his pals would make up games – that’s what they did

Doreen used to get a tow on the back on a horse cart
Ella rode her pony over the countryside

Jean was sent to the beach and told
‘don’t come back till evening’

Irene had a teddy bear with a pink cardigan
and it was lovely

Maureen had homemade dollies
made out of stockings (they weren’t very good)

Doreen played skipping
in the road with boys and girls

Peter had a catapault but he didn’t keep it in his back pocket
in case his parents saw it

Iris had a doggy called Prince
It was a labrador with a happy tail

Ella played hopscotch on the road –
there were no cars just horse and carts

Maureen used to swim at the swimming pool
in Oulton Broad and play on the swings at Everitt’s Park

Ella has never been to a disco
but Ivy used to go to the Salvation Army for a singalong.

Hildesley Court Choruses

It was lovely going back to Hildesley Court; we worked there back in 2012 on the Art of Play project, and it was grand to see so many familiar faces – and welcome new residents to our session.

Hildesley Court Choruses

Barbara used to buy rings from Pretty’s
and one day she forgot about her brother
in the pram which tripped up! Sam was ok
but he bawled out!

Ethel used to jump off the shed roof
with a counterpane as a parachute

Maureen used to climb up the Harleston mountain
and skate on the pond

Molly didn’t do this but…
the older boys used to tie the door knockers together
knock on one door and wait…

Rita was seldom good enough
to go to Sunday school on Sunday evening
(but did go Sunday morning and afternoon).

Dumplings with liver
Dumplings with gravy
Dumplings with treacle

Chalk boards at school
chalk on the beach or found in the dirt
to draw hopscotch on the pavement

Marbles, skates, whip and top
salt, mustard, vinegar, pepper

Here we go gathering nuts in May,
nuts in May, nuts in May
Here we go gathering nuts in May
early in the morning…

The farmer’s in the den
and the farmer wants a wife

Alan’s sister used to put his fingers
through the mangle.

Dumplings with liver
Dumplings with gravy
Dumplings with treacle

All the rubbish went in the copper

Ethel covered the school walls
with chalk and all the way home
was given a glass jar of water
and a scrubbing brush to clean it off

The skipping ropes, skip through the two…

We played donkey… threw a ball up the wall
and when it came back you had to jump over it
and catch it

Molly’s neighbour was Jack Valentine
He’d leave the box on the step
with sweets inside

Cigarette cards lined up on the wall
and you’d flick a card at them
and try and knock them down.

Dumplings with liver
Dumplings with gravy
Dumplings with treacle

Barbara lost her brother Sam on the beach
and when she found him he was bawling
his mouth was square!

Ethel’s brother used to tease her –
when she went to the outside loo
he’d be waiting for her with orange peel teeth

Rice pudding, plum duff,
treacle duff, jam roly poly

But if you didn’t eat your firsts
you didn’t get your seconds

Boys would score a little hole in the ground
and try and roll a marble in it

But if you lost you’d lose your marbles
and glass alleys.

Dumplings with liver
Dumplings with gravy
Dumplings with treacle

Dell Ditties

When we visited Dell Care Home, we were welcomed by a room full of residents – and a lively parrot who seemed very interested in pecking our fingers. We collected lots of memories about the games they played, which Dean then arranged into the following verses.

Dell Ditties

Margaret played hopscotch in the street, chalked on the pavement
and played with a stone

We chalked hopscotch on the pavement but we were told off
if we left too much chalk

A group of girls skipping in the street, singing special skipping songs

You could play in the road then. Skipping with a long rope
Used to hurt your knees – grit and dirt

We had a big long skipping rope – as long as this room with 20 or 30 people skipping

Barbara did lots of elaborate skipping with her friends – boys and girls
We didn’t have to look far for our entertainment

We made dens in the park in the trees and bushes. Everyone collected cigarette cards and swapped. We collected stamps – they were expensive to buy so we swapped

Ivan used to play conkers, remembers the green prickly cases and opening them up and how shiny they were.

I made tanks from bits of wood and cotton reel and sold them one shilling each – painted them (camouflage!)

Harold had a catapult – till it was banned. He had a nail gun – it was a bit cruel! The nails were tied so they didn’t go too far. We aimed at tin cans in our German helmets

In the summer Ivan spent all day on the beach but before he went
he had to do our chores – run errands and fetch the groceries.

Mum took us down to the beach and took our sandwiches – sandy sandwiches – lovely! We went by Claremont Pier

Edith had dolls called Peter and John and had tea parties with them

Barbara took her doll to the dolls hospital when she got broken and they made her better

A special doll for Christmas and she slept in my bed

Joan – there were a lot of teddy bears and they loved going out into the country

Margaret had a doll that could bend down. She had dark hair and a coloured dress. She lived in her bed – got her for Christmas.
Rosemary was too little to get onto the lovely big rocking horse at school
We all lived in one room above Norman & Stanley’s sweet shop

Ivan doesn’t want to blow his own trumpet but
he was a champion sprinters at the age of 14

Ivan also played left wing for Lowestoft schoolboys – went on tour to Germany
for ten days during one Easter holidays. This was before the War…

Not a football but an empty tin can for Harold with as many boys as possible kicking it down the street. Or he made his own cricket bat out of a bit of wood – and a ball made of paper

We’d get into trouble if we kicked the toes out of our boots

Joan’s Mum taught her to knit when she was little. She  knitted different things
but Joan just knitted plain. She wished she could knit like her Mum
but she couldn’t. Mum made all their clothes – she had a treadle sowing machine

On Valentine’s Day we had Jack Valentine – there was a knock on the door and a packet of sweets. It was a long time till we found out who it was!

Edith lived in the Dutch High Hats in North Lowestoft – by the High Light. Sometimes Jack Valentine left something not very nice on the doorstep. She had twin sisters – Edith was 10 months when they were born – on Valentine’s Day!

Margaret was one of five kids and had nothing at all – sod all!
Harold toes out of boots
Harold used to get thruppence when he was the first child that a new baby saw. It had to be a child of the opposite sex to the baby. It was a silver thruppence. He spent it on sweets – bullets and gob stoppers

Harold remembers the starvation strike in Newcastle – they had nothing to eat
till a box of dried peas come in – Carlins – and they boiled them up
and survived on them

The boy’s got herrings – they got to know the women who rolled a few fish up in cloth and put them aside and the boys picked them up later

We were invaded by Evacuees – from the east of London – there was a bit of sorting out in the old fashioned way

Harold was 17 when the war started – just under age but they took him anyway

I was the first boy in the village to fly a kite after the war. Then it was all kite-making – split canes, brown paper and screwed-up newspaper

It was a tough childhood – but worse if you didn’t have good parents

They were all angels with dirty faces.

Harleston House Verses

On Wednesday, 16th November, we visited Harleston House in Lowestoft, where we were greeted by an enthusiastic group of residents, keen to share their memories of childhood games – not least their techniques for ‘losing’ at kiss chase.

Harleston Verses

At nine Marcella played kiss tag
and ran slowly so the boys could catch her

At seven or eight Bill played football
on roller skates

We played hopscotch – 1-2 1-2
or all the way around

Clip around the ear
if you didn’t clear the chalk up afterwards

Jelly on a plate, jelly on a plate,
wibbly wobbly jelly on a plate

Climbing up the walls,
Knocking down the spiders,
Cabbages and onions too,
Boil them in an alley-alley saucepan,
Then we’ll have a good old stew.

Marcella’s brother broke all her dolls

Gladys got a black dolly for Christmas

Kathleen had a baby doll

Ruth got a golly for her sixth birthday
while she was evacuated to St Albans.

Glass alleys in the gulley
on the way to school.

Snakes and ladders,
Monday night ghost stories,
Dick Barton at quarter to seven,
Snakes and Ladders and Snap

Doris is 105 and remembers
two World Wars and no cars or planes

In Haddiscoe Hilary used to help her father
put the horses to bed and they were always happy to go

When the lights went down
Doris would say, ‘put a penny in the gas’

Cocoa and a biscuit before going up to bed,
Every night in a night cap then bed by 9 o’clock.

Emergency Tins, Undertakers Next Door and Big and Little Phat

On Friday, 11th November, some of the Suffolk at Play team visited Broadlands Residential Care Home in Lowestoft, to show the residents one of the videos and find out about some of the games they played when they were children. This is what they discovered …

Emergency Tins, Undertakers Next Door and Big and Little Phat

At 14 Cecil drove a tractor
careful not to go near the river

At eight Les was roller skating
knees grazed around country lanes

At six or seven Tony had Dinky Toys
digging out garages and roads
in the spare land near the library

When they were old enough
Norman and Pat used to pop next door
to the undertakers to see
the locals in the Chapel of Rest

Rosemary, younger brother in arms,
found an unexploded bomb in his bed
before another landed in the staircase

And remembers playing draughts in the cellar,
during air raids, by torchlight

Rosemary remembers her ‘Emergency Tin’
two Digestives, two gooseberries
and a little bit of chocolate

Les remembers warming up the milk
in bottles, to thaw it, on the school radiators

Rosemary had twin dolls for Christmas
when she was eight – Paul and Pauline.
It was the best Christmas she ever had
even though there wasn’t any chicken

Pat had a china doll with a silk dress
she kept in a doll’s cot and handled her
very carefully

When Viv was one she got Edward
a white bear with blue eyes

Julie remembers her red tartan trousers
she got from Woolworths

Tony’s mother queued from seven in the morning
to get his Rupert the Bear annual

Pat had a skipping rope across the road –
there wasn’t any cars about and you could see them
coming from miles away

Tying two door knockers together across the street
knocking on the door and running away

Tony remembers going to the Haymarket Cinema
and paying sixpence to go in to see
cowboy films and Roy Rogers

Norman and Pat used to go for long walks
on footpaths through fields

Alma Cogan at the Theatre Royal drew the crowds

Ping pong on the dining room table
card games – happy families, pelmanism, patience, cribb

They still play Phat (little phat and big phat)
at Geldeston Wherry

Tony’s Uncle had a piano accordian
and was the life and soul of the party

Rosemary’s Mother had an upright piano
and Pat learnt to play the piano but never stuck at it –
Norman should have learnt instead!

If you played the piano you were never short of a beer
and we played…

The Bells of St Mary, If You’d Like to Swing on a Star,
Clementine and She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain…

Singing yi-yi-yippee yippee-yi!


Suffolk at Play – in pictures


The gang's almost all here

The gang’s almost all here

(L to R) Poet Dean, animator Emma, reminiscence facilitator Julie, artist Caitlin, Suffolk Artlink co-Director, Hayley and project officer Candida: the only person missing is our wonderful volunteer Amanda, who was busy sitting by the Rhine, eating cake and having a lovely time.

Suffolk at Play participants came from across Suffolk – Bury St Edmunds, Felixstowe, Lowestoft, Stradbroke and Stowmarket – to help us celebrate the project, which started back in November 2013.

It was a truly lovely afternoon; thank you so much to everyone who attended and to all those who worked so hard behind the scenes, for making it such a success. Our special thanks go to Helen and all her staff at the Osier Cafe, for making sure that we had lots of cake, too.


Our guests start to arrive …


… and it’s a time to meet old friends again. Babs, from Bury St Edmunds, took part in Suffolk at Play when it started back in November 2013. It was lovely to catch up with her and some of the other members of the Howard Estate Over 60’s Club.


Some participants went to look at the Suffolk at Play Cube …


.. and others took part in the activity, creating the final Suffolk at Play poem. It’s not so much rings on her fingers, as glitter on her finger tips.


Whilst Dean collected well-known sayings and lines of poetry, over on Caitlin’s side everyone was busy decorating their favourite phrases.


Then it was time to watch the videos.




After which, Dean and Caitlin performed the poem.


Finally, Lisa Harris of the Museum of East Anglian Life thanked everyone for attending, and welcomed the Suffolk at Play resources – the DVDs, the newly-created toy box and the exhibition Cube – into the archive at the museum.



Suffolk at Play Grand Celebration


It was lovely to see so many people at our Grand Celebration at the Museum of East Anglian Life last Saturday.

Participants from Bury St Edmunds, Felixstowe, Lowestoft, Stradbroke and Stowmarket joined us to see all the videos made over the last two years, and create a final poem for Suffolk at Play.

Thank you to everyone for making it such a lovely occasion, all the artists, everyone at the Museum and most importantly, everyone who has taken part in the project since it started back in November 2013.