The diary of a child travelling in Steerage on the SS Great Britain

As I walked along the dockyard I got my first view of the mighty ship, the SS Great Britain. It was bigger than I expected and I started to feel very excited about the journey we were going on. The noisy crowd hustled and bustled their way towards the gangplank and I felt nervous that I might lose my mummy, daddy and sisters as I was budged and banged along.

We finally made it aboard the ship all together still. As I looked up I saw the towering masts and wondered how big the sails would be when they were opened. A very tall, serious man told us that we weren’t allowed past the white line on the deck unless we had a First Class ticket, which we did not have. So we had to go down three narrow, dark staircases to find our bunks in Steerage.

The bunks were very narrow and short and I had to share with one of my sisters! Mummy had to have our little sister in with her so she made a little hammock for her to sleep in. The blankets were thin, itchy and woolly, not as nice as at home. There weren’t many other children on board, only in First Class and we weren’t allowed to play with them, so I felt a bit lonely. Daddy had to sleep in a different area to us with all the men. We went to see him but it was very smelly (like stale ale and sweaty clothes!) so we were pleased that we were with mummy. The lady next to us had a new baby who was crying lots but we helped to look after her and she thanked us for being so helpful.

On the first night I felt cramped and scared because of all the loud noises. We were very close to all of the ship’s machinery so we could hear the floor creaking, cogs crashing, chains clattering and the loud, powerful blasts of the siren, which put fear into my heart. If it was ever quieter I could hear rats squealing and children crying. Lots of people were seasick so the smell was disgusting. I wasn’t, so I had to keep going up two flights of stairs to get fresh water for everyone!

In the daytime we played chess, cards and tag in the corridors to keep ourselves busy. We were allowed on deck in the afternoon to get some fresh air, but it was very crowded and cold. At mealtimes we were usually only given herring (fish), bread and garlic. I was desperate for some different foods. One day I was really lucky when we were up on deck because I saw an apple roll from First Class, past the white line and I grabbed it! I hid it in my dress pocket and shared it with mummy and my sisters when we went back to the bunks.

The journey seemed to go on forever, but we got used to it and were lucky that we had a routine to keep us busy.

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By Mummy, Poppet and Pickle 19.10.2016

There is no such thing as bad weather…

… Just unsuitable clothing (Alfred Wainwright or an old German proverb, but either way it’s so true!)

As we head into autumn our home ed days have to alter slightly. That doesn’t mean we spend more time indoors, probably the opposite; I just have to ensure that I’m more organised and have all the appropriate wet and cold weather gear!

Last Thursday on our weekly visit to Westonbirt Aboretum I was not prepared. In the morning the weather was warm and sunny so we headed to Westonbirt in lightweight clothing with thin waterproofs just in case. Well,as quite often happens at this time of year, the weather changed and it not only began drizzling but it also got bitterly cold! I was freezing. Luckily the big Ps were so busy playing with their friends, whittling and using tools that they didn’t really notice. Piccalilli was warmed up with a big cuddle and we cut our visit short.

Having learnt that the weather is changeable (you’d think I’d know by my age really!) or finally accepted that we are in autumn, I was ultra organised when we visited the SS Great Britain this week 🙂

So off we went to Bristol for the second time in as many weeks (this time by car thankfully!). We had the most amazing glorious sunshine for the morning and thoroughly enjoyed pretending to be Victorian passengers on a huge ship.

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We definitely all enjoyed the First Class experience more than the Third Class Steerage accommodation (Pickle was especially freaked out by the sounds and smells being hyper sensitive to them!) The experience has definitely affected them and they wrote a wonderful diary this morning which I will post after this.

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After a few hours on the ship we were all hungry so ate our picnic in the sun – I started to wonder why I’d bothered carting a huge, heavy bag of warm tops and waterproof around with me!

After lunch we went under the ship and learnt a bit more about how a steam ship would work. The Ps kept imagining they were working on the ship and I was amazed by their increasing knowledge of technical facts.

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After a while my mum and me were craving a cuppa! So we headed up to the cafe for tea, Babychinos and cake. We decided it would be nice to get a bit of fresh air and walk along the waterfront. At which point my bag of preparedness finally came in handy as the rain started just as we left the cafe!

I’ve realised that the easiest thing is to have the bag packed and ready so I can just grab it every time we’re heading out the door. I know as the weather gets colder that the bag will probably get bigger!

How did I get an eight year old?!

I have an eight year old! How did that happen? To think that eight years ago I had a (five weeks early) one day old child – I was in the first throes of becoming a new parent, learning things at a hundred miles an hour and feeling hugely overwhelmed by all of it.  Do I feel any less overwhelmed now? Not really!

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Poppet has not been a child to play with toys for a long time; in fact the last time I really remember her doing so was when she was about three and played with plastic dinosaurs. That’s not to say she doesn’t like role play (dragons, mums and dads, dogs, anything really!) or playing with construction toys such as lego, but she would never ask for a doll or small world toy. All she wanted for her birthday this year was a whittling knife and a chemistry set (a bit more than last year when she asked for some new books because “I really don’t need anything else do I?”) and a trip to @Bristol Science Museum.

Pickle decided to buy her a soft toy cat (which she actually hasn’t put down yet!!) and Piccalilli chose to buy her some sweets (ulterior motive there I think!).

Yesterday we went to Bristol on the train (Poppet really wanted to go on the train; I didn’t, but we had to due to a broken car!) The journey in was great, mainly due to bumping into a friend on the train who helped out with getting the Ps on and off and walked most of the way with us at the other end 🙂

@Bristol was fantastic (and such good value with home ed rates). We met some other home ed friends and they were all so happy and engaged for nearly four hours.

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When we’d had enough we went for a walk along the waterfront and enjoyed the sunshine.

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Then it was time to head back for the train. We made it with about five minutes to spare, got on the train, sat down and then I felt like something wasn’t right – the train didn’t feel like the right train! I asked someone and he confirmed my worries! So we ran (me carrying Piccalilli and the buggy) down the stairs, four platforms down, up the stairs and heard the whistle… luckily a kind man, who had been running just ahead of us, held the door so we all managed to jump on!

It was an amazing day out with only a minor error at the end!

Poppet’s only issue was that she couldn’t take her new whittling knife, but we’ll take that to Westonbirt tomorrow…

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