' The Ragman's Serenade tells the story of four families- one from North Shields and the other three from Wallsend. It is a story of relationships- The Davis family are up to their eyes in debt - The Stewart family have a daughter who has downs syndrome– The hagarths who’s husband owns a bookmakers shop and his wife is a midwife at the RVI- and the Higginbottom's have a father with the on set of Alzheimer's. How do they cope - read this fascinating story i'm sure you will enjoy.


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“We can start with one acre at a time, there’s a tractor in the barn over there and a plough we can get started today and plough that field. It will be hard work son but I’m sure you can handle that if I can. The money for posts, pipes and wire will come from the other pasture that Jackie hires out until year by year we slowly build our vine yards and different flavoured wines. I will give you a quick driving lesson when we get back from town and then we can make a start.

“Are you serious?’  

“Yes I am son.’ we could have a nice little earner here if we learn how the process is done.’ It’s not that difficult by what I have read.’

“Okay, let’s do it.’

Once they had finished breakfast and got ready Matty drove the truck out. He showed his son the controls and how to drive it.

He stopped and then got out on the straight length of road that went on for ten miles or so.

“Right slide over and have a go.’


“Yes, right now, the sooner you learn the faster we can proceed.’

 “Tom followed his father’s instructions to the letter and within half an hour he was driving by himself. Matty showed him how to break, reverse the car, and do a three point turn. Then how to park. Two miles in to the town Matty took the wheel but Tom was watching him all the time.

Matty dropped Jenifer and the girls off in Wagga Wagga and he took Tom with him to the factory. He met his new foreman Sidney Smith who showed both his son and him around. There wasn’t much difference in the process to the one he’d left in England.

“Can you start on Monday morning asked Sidney?’

“Yes, do you work shifts here?’

“Yes,’ same here as in England I expect.’

“My son will leave school in the autumn is there any jobs going here for him?’

“We are recruiting all the time; so I’m sure there will be a job for him here.’

“Thanks Mr Smith.’

“Call me Sid all my mates do.’

“Okay Sid I’ll see you on Monday.

Matty got back into the brown coloured truck and drove back to Wagga Wagga.’

The girls had gone into the job shop and they had told them of their retail experience

And they were sent to the large Woolworths shop for interview. Half an hour later both Carol and Irene had jobs. They would earn $160 per week with overtime for Saturday if they chose to work. That was roughly about £40 pounds a week in English money. Jenifer wanted to do something part time but Matty said for the time being that she stay at home as he would need her to take in all the equipment that was going to be needed in which to set up the first vineyard.’

“Vineyard? Are we going to grow wine?

“That’s the idea.’

Matty allowed Tom to drive them back home which he was more than keen to do having been at behind the wheel on the way there. Now all he needed to do was learn how to ride a motorbike.

When they got back his father went straight into the barn and drove the tractor out then hitched up the plough. They drove it onto the field then Matty stopped at the edge of the field. “Now Tom we have to plough a straight line. Using the fence post as a guide he lined up the wheel so that it was level then looked over at the fence on the other side of the field. 

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