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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“In Holland, Christmas is a special time for families. We get together and drink advocaat and give presents; we sing and dance and have fun.

“We do too here in England Alina.”

“I like Christmas time too it reminds me of my parents and how wonderful they were.

My father would bring home a tree and we would all gather around it to place decorations and baubles.





“You bring tree for us Joo ja?

“Yes I will bring a tree and we will all decorate it together.

“Goede, I like that.”

“I feed and change Helen now then we eaten.”

“I will get the children to set the table.”

“Ja okay.”

Joe went out into the lane where George and the neighbouring children were playing cricket with a dustbin as the wicket and a soft ball.

“Marina, George, please come in; your dinner is almost ready.

Both of his children left the game and came to the back door.

“What’s for tea daddy?

“Alina has baked something nice; she will tell you what it is, now wash your hands and set the table. The smell of the food permeated all around the room and everyone was salivating in anticipation of what they were about to eat.

Alina had bought some Edam Cheese which was mild in comparison to cheddar and she had mixed it with the potatoes to make the pasties.

She cooked some sausage and then sliced it and some boiled eggs with pickles.

“I make Koffee Verkeerd for everyone but if you no like, then I make tea.”

The children passed the plates around and everyone got something to try.

They all liked the food which pleased Alina. Joe looked around the table to see his children enjoying their meal. They were happy and that pleased him greatly.

“Now next week is the second week in December so I think we will get a Christmas tree what do you say?

“Oh daddy that is lovely and can we all help to decorate it?

“Yes; are we going to have a turkey this year too?

“I don’t see why not.”

“I will make Christmas dinner so we can show Alina how we celebrate Christmas here in England. “ Will you help me?

“We have to go to see Grandma and Granddad daddy.”

“We will put the turkey in the oven then prepare everything then we will drive to Granddad’s house.”

“I thought you might like to spend Christmas with Alina.”

“I do, but I want to see Uncle George and Alan and my Aunts too.”

“Then you shall.”

“Now I think you both should have a bath tonight so I will go down to see my friend Peter and you call all bathe whilst I’m away. Alina will make sure you wash behind your ears and shampoo your hair for you won’t you.”

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