Summerhouse – County Durham – Sheila’s Story

My mum worked here - I loved this house

You can’t really see the dimensions of this farm-house from here, but this is where my mum worked whilst we lived in Summerhouse. The house was huge, or at least it seemed that way to a five-year old.

My mum worked for a very kind family, who did all they could to help her, knowing she was struggling to raise me on her own. I spent a lot of time sitting on the hearth in this house. It was a warm comfortable inviting place to be.

This photograph was taken during a recent visit. This was my first trip back to Summerhouse since 1968 and only my second trip to England since we moved Stateside in 1995. The visit brought back lots of good childhood memories. It was a little overwhelming.

Much of the village was a little run down, but the village green hadn’t changed, and there was still a swing hanging from the big old Chestnut tree. Sadie’s Post Office was no longer there. The little brown bus shelter, where I used to stand to catch my bus to school every morning, was still there and looked exactly the same as it did all of those years ago.

The field at bottom of my garden.

Now back to Sheila’s story.

This field was Sheila’s playground. When she moved to Summerton (back to the story names), she felt like she was the luckiest girl in the world. She could just hop over the fence at the bottom of the garden and she was free. She would run around this field until she could run no more. It filled with wild flowers which she picked in huge bunches for her mum. There were ‘milkmaids’, cow slips, ladies fingers, buttercups, soldiers buttons. It was a young girls idea of heaven.

Soldiers Buttons




The field looked and smelled divine. Sheila’s mum told her that if you held a bunch of buttercups under your chin, and the yellow reflection showed, it meant you liked butter.  Sheila made friends the a couple of the kids in the village before she started school. There were only a couple of kids her age, and then a couple of older ones.

At last Sheila felt like she had a normal life. She had her own bed, well when her brother wasn’t staying she did. When her brother Bobby came home, Sheila shared her mum’s big bed. Bobby was in the Fleet Airarm, so he didn’t come home very often. At least she didn’t have to sleep on an air-bed on the floor anymore. She missed her Gran though, and wondered a little about her Grandad, and the time he appeared on the fell.

Sheila used to stand and look out of the big sash window in her bedroom at night when she couldn’t sleep. She wondered if there were big fireflies in the field at the bottom of the garden. Or maybe they were fairies. She would see something that looked like soft balls of fire flitting and dancing around the field after dark, when the world was asleep. She decided they were fairies. It was magical.

To read my short stories about Sheila, and her adventures, click on the links below to download them from Amazon or Smashwords.

You can also get a personalized copy from my website:


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