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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“Now if the engine won’t start for any reason just do these checks. Peter ran him through what to do and also told him if the engine begins to smoke for any reason to switch it off and allow it to cool down before restarting it.

Just then Alina came down the bank with their dinner. Joe introduced her to Peter who was just standing with his mouth open.

“This is your housekeeper?

“Yes she has been with me almost a week now.”

“How did you get her?

“Joyce Junghan got her for me.”

“You lucky bugger Joe



“I’ll swap you Goliath for her?

“No thanks; Goliath cannot cook like Alina does.”

“I see you back at home Joo.”

“Her accent is just too much Joe.”

“Careful or I will tell Mary on you he laughed.”

Peter watched Alina’s bum wiggle as she slowly walked up the bank. She turned and waved as she left with the baby in the pram.

“Wow! Man you have got yourself some woman there Joe I tell you; and she likes you as well.”

“Don’t be daft she’s just my housekeeper.”

“I know these things Joe I’m telling you she likes you a lot; she cannot keep her eyes off you.

Come on Pete, I only buried Emily Rose last week.”

“I’m sorry mate I didn’t mean to be disrespectful.”

Joe said it was alright as they opened the picnic basket that Alina had put up for them.

They sat on the pier wall and opened the hamper to see what she had made.

Alina had made some lekkerbek which was battered fish parcels with Rijsttafel which was a spiced rice and vegetable dish. She had also made Pefferjes a kind of sweet doughnut made from yeast and buckwheat flour.

“This is delicious food mate honestly she is a keeper for sure.

Joe poured them the tea he had made earlier; he handed his friend a cup then asked if he could take the boat out this afternoon. Well it wasn’t made just to stand on this fame work was it?

I will come out with you I case something does go wrong but I doubt it. These Parson engines were made to last.

They fed Goliath some oats then he carried the boat down to the shallows and launched her then Peter led Goliath back and tied her to the rail and ran back down the beach to the boat.

“You are going to have to moor her here now mate because you will damage the propeller if you try and drag her along the beach.” Joe started her up.

This time the engine started first time and Joe turned the rudder and headed out to sea.

Joe checked his pots again then baited them up again he cast his nets out and then they waited for four hours until high water. Joe circled the net then both men hauled it in . “It was good haul with some decent sized fish with twelve lobsters and over forty crabs in the basket; plus twenty baskets of cod and two with monk and plaice.

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