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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They rounded the bay then tied up near the stairs.”

Goliath whinnied as he heard his master’s voice. His head bobbed up and down as Peter approached.

“Hey lad have you been a good boy whilst I’ve been gone then?

 The big horse shook its head.

Joe laughed and said “he takes as much notice of you as your lass does.”

“I know I spoil them both.

Peter untied the horse then walked up the bank and then onto the main road.

“I will see you later then.”

“Zie je later.

“You learning Dutch as well; things are certainly looking up.”





Joe came in through the back door to find Alina knitting.

“Hallo Joo, heb je genieten van je dag?; did you enjoy your day?

“Ah, ja Alina and the food was lovely; Peter sends his compliments.”

“Wonje iets om te eten? I say would you like something to eat?

” I hope you are teaching the children Dutch too Alina. It is good that they learn another language.”

Ja, I teach them Dutch; they teach me English.”

“How the new motor on the boat?

“How is the new engine on the boat? Yes it is good; very good.

Ja is, I remember Joo.” Marina and George at friends house; will be back soon Ja.

“Well it’s still a school day tomorrow so I would like them in soon.”

“You like me to go and fetch them now?

“No, let them play a little longer.”

“Tell me about your day what did you do.”

“I cook, I clean, wash clothes, I iron you a shirt for tomorrow.

“I take Helen for a walk to see you.”

“Tomorrow I want you to take the day off you have had no time to yourself since you came here.”

You no like me no more Joo; I do wrong?

“No Alina; I just thought that you would like time by yourself.”

“We take children’s out at weekend ja.

“Alright then; do you like the picture house?

“What is this picture house?


“Ah ja I like.”

“Good then we will go on Saturday morning with the children. “ Joyce will look after Helen for a couple of hours I’m sure.”

“I ask Joyce tomorrow ja.”

“Good, what are you making? I make baby clothes for Helen. Winter cold; she needs warm clothes.

“Did you use your money to buy wool?

“Ja, wool from Market.”

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