The Black Middens

A story of love and struggle to bring up three children during the war years.
Joe Donnelly, a coble fisherman from cullercoats meets the girl of his dreams when Emily Rose Higgins crashes into him on her bicycle whilst out with her sister Mary Jane. Joe and his brother George, a captain in the British Army ask the two girls out to a dance at the plaza in Tynemouth and they both fall in love. Alan Donnelly the youngest of the brothers is in the Northumberland Fusiliers. it is not long before they all get married. Emily Rose has two children but there are complications during the birth of her third child and she dies leaving Joe to bring up Marina, George, and Helen the newborn child.
After some attempts to try and hire a nanny come house keeper Joe hires a dutch girl called Alina Classen whose parents were both killed by the Germans in the first world war.
Not speaking much English Alina works very hard and teaches the children to speak Dutch and they in turn teach her English. What dev


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It certainly felt like a good haul of fish but he was bottom fishing and he may have a few rocks in the net which would make it look as if there was a good catch when in fact there wasn’t.






The arms that had pulled in many a net felt the strain under the weight of fish and he wondered if in fact he would be able to lift it on board.

For over half an hour Joe hauled in the net until he lay exhausted. His arms and shoulders numbed with the effort of bringing in such a huge amount of fish. He filed all of his baskets and still there was more in the boat. He raised the sail then headed towards the Mermaid. Slowly he made ground until he could see the fishermen.

“Ahoy there.”

“Ahoy; was a reply from the skipper.”

“Looks like you have done well said Jon Carter the fishing here is poor. We are heading back in. Do you want a tow?

“That is kind of you; yes thank you. I have too much fish for me to take to market on my barrow you can have it if you like?

Thank you Joe; I would appreciate that.” I have a truck that can carry all of the fish; if you want a lift. Mind you would have to sit on the back because we will never squeeze you in the passenger side.”

“Okay by me skipper.” Throw me a rope and I will tie you off on the cleats. Lower your sail too. Joe threw him the tow rope then lowered the sail he asked them for some baskets and he filled nearly twelve.”

“There you go there’s at least £60 pounds to be made here said Joe.

“Thanks Joe; maybe one day I can repay you the compliment.”

“We are fishermen; we help our friends in need.” Today you are in need my friend.”

It only took them twenty minutes to reach the shore and Jon and his son William helped Joe pull the coble ashore. Then Jon brought his truck and they loaded it up.

Joe sat on the back with his long legs dangling over the side.

They got the fish to market before any one else and Harry White got the bidding under way which was very strong. They knew that there weren’t many boats out today.

Joe got six pound a box for his cod; he had made a hundred and ten pounds for his crabs and lobsters so all told he had made almost three hundred pounds.

Jon made £72 pounds and was over the moon. He would have enough to buy diesel and pay his son as well.

Jon shook Joes hand and thanked him again. Do you want a lift home?

“If you are going my way Jon?

“Even if I weren’t I would take to my friend.

Joe hopped on the back again with a bag containing cod, monk fish, and some rock turbot. That would do all of their teas tonight he thought.”

Joe got back earlier than was expected and when he opened the door and walked in Alina was in the bath tub with Helen singing away to the baby. Her legs dangled over 

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