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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“Do not judge unless you want to be judged thy self.”

“Don’t you preach to me Joe Donnelly; come George, we are leaving.”

“We have to be getting back Joe said George and Alan.” “ Well I hope you will be here for the christening which is next month.







“Your family not like Alina ja?

“It’s not that they don’t like you Alina it is because you are young and also pretty that they do not like.

“You think Alina pretty?

“Yes; of course; any man would be proud to have you on their arm.”

“I make tea ja? Alina said blushing.”

“Yes, that would be nice.”

Marina and George came in from school and saw their father dressed.

“Where have you been daddy?

“I went to say goodbye to your mother today as she was buried. We will visit her grave side next week when I am taking a wooden cross to the place where she is and some flowers from all of us. “Would you like to come?

“Yes daddy we would.”

“Good, now take off your school clothes and you can go out and play if you like.”

Can we, said George.

“Yes but only in the lane mind.”

The children ran to their room to change whilst Alina worked on making some dresses. Using some scissors she had painstakingly picked out all the stitching from the old dresses and cut them to make new ones.

She sat at the table for three hours after making tea.

There was a lovely smell coming from the oven; Alina was baking some Kaasbroodjes which were traditional in Holland they are a pasty with cheese and potato filling.

She also made some Krentabollen; they were teacakes which could be eaten with cheese and an appeltaart, with latticed sweet pastry.

“Something smells really nice Alina.

“Ja I bake for you and the children’s today.”

She held up the dress she had made and smiled.

“It’s very short do you think it will fit?

“It not for Alina; it for Marina; I make one for Helen too look! Alina showed Joe the dresses. They were beautiful; the burgundy red material had been turned into beautiful dresses with white collars with red buttons.

Alina took out the pastries and apple tart and left them to cool on the tray.

“It will soon be Kerstgagen Joo.” How you say; she struggled for the words Christlemas?

“No Alina, we say Christmas.”

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