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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“Joe never thought of that; she was very young only twenty two so it was inevitable that she would meet someone one day.

Joe hoped for the sake of the children that it would be long time before that happened.








There was a knock on the door and Joe answered it.

Marina and George bounded in and hugged their father. Tom waved in the car he would down the window and said he would see him tomorrow morning at the cemetery.

Joe thanked Tom for looking after the children and told him he had hired a housekeeper.

That is good Joe; it means you can get back to work.

“I’ve been out today Tom; I made nearly three hundred pounds.”

“Any way I have to go; see you tomorrow then.”

Joe waved as he drove away then went inside. The children were talking to Alina as she prepared the fish for their dinners.

She made a fish stew with vegetables which was very popular in Holland.

“Children I would like you to meet Alina she is from Holland. She doesn’t speak much English but I’m sure you will be able to help her.

“Now say hello.”

“Hello Alina they both said; then went running off to play with Helen who was now awake and making gurgling noises.

Alina was in the yard hang out washing and was talking with Joyce who was also hanging out washing.

“Joe over heard her say; Joo nice man, he buy me coffee.”

Joyce was trying to explain how to say Joe.”

“I say Joo ja.”

“You will need to go shopping tomorrow with me so we can get things that you may need; you know like women’s things?

“Ya what hour you go Joyce which sounded like it was pronounced with the letter Y.

“I will give you a knock after the funeral cars have left; say about eleven o’clock.

“Joo will be sad tomorrow day.”

“Yes he will so let him be on his own if he wants to. The children will both be at school tomorrow so you need to get them ready for eight o’clock then take them.

“First I must feed Helen and change then get children up for Schools ja?

“Good girl you will soon get the hang of it.”

“Now I go give children’s tea.

“We call it dinner.”

“Dinna yes, I heard this word before.

“I now go give children’s dinna ja.”

“Better Alina much better.”

“Good ja?

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