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  • Our bungalow was set in a narrow street that to our left, ran down to a recreation ground with a swing park and walking to our left, five minutes round the corner was the school Madeleine and Samantha attended.

    Parkstone nestled between two large towns; the ancient port of Poole where quaint pubs that stood on cobbled streets, and Bournemouth that had been a resort since King James.

    Along the coast ran chines, remnants of rivers now trickling streams, with grassy banks and trees to give relief from the sun in the summer.

    Every school holiday I would make a plan with Madeleine and Samantha which beach we would go to each day. Branksome Chine was our closest way to the beach that was not invaded by tourists.

    We could take a bus to Sandbanks, a spit of land that ran into Poole Bay, covered in beaches with fine white sand exclusive homes owned by the rich and famous, and an entrance to a ferry still pulled along from Sandbanks to Purbeck by chains running on the sea bed.

    On Purbeck Island were tall sand dunes and a hidden nudist beach; and running up to Bridport, Thomas Hardy country, was the Jurassic Coast where fossils in layers of rock hold secrets of our planet’s ancient creatures.

    Image: Samantha five years old
  • Whilst the children were in school I had a chance to go to a portraiture class at a further education college.

    Jacques started going to guitar lessons to learn to play folk music.

    During the holidays I would have themed activities for Samantha and Madeleine. I summer I planned a world religions project for them and concentrated on Buddhism.

    When we moved down to the south of England it had not occured to me that most of the population were white Protestants.

    In London, where I grew up, the population was very cosmopolitan but in Poole, families had lived for four generations in the same house and never seen people from other cultures.

    Because Samantha was olive skinned she had to learn to be assertive about her heritage. When other children called her names I wept.

    last Image: Madeleine aged eight
    Next image: My daughters sitting on a cannon with Jacques in the grounds of a castle.
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