24 August – Portslade

We’ve had a last minute change of plans, our visit to see my cousin Viv will now take place later in the week. So today we plan to visit the town of Portslade, where my parents and I lived when my father returned from the war and married my mother (probably 1946). My sister Annabelle and brother Adrian were also born here. Also, it’s the town where my Uncle Mike and my Aunt Katherine lived for some time and where my cousin Michael was born. We have two houses to find, one on Eastbrook Way and the other on Bampfield Street. We start the day late for breakfast. Johanne discovers the hotel stops serving breakfast at 9:00 and according to our travel alarm, it is now 9:52. I am thinking of options when she makes another discovery – her watch says it is 8:52. She remembers putting her watch back when we landed but not the travel clock. While she gets ready for the day, I rush to the dining room to see what’s left. There I bump into Claudio and his friend Byron. Claudio sits and chats while I eat a bowl of cereal. I eventually make it back to our room with some cereal for Johanne who’s still not ready – bad hair day I think.
Today’s Google directions take us without a miscue to Port Slade about 1 hr away and a small dead-end street, Eastbrook Way.
Apart from the sound of air-raid sirens, my earliest memories of England are here. I can remember riding my two-wheel scooter up and down the street. The house we lived in looks a bit run down. The lady living next door tells us the owner has moved and rents the house.

15 Eastbrook Way, semi-detach at the end of the road with a white facade. Notice the pedestrian railway overpass between the 2 blocks

There is no one home so I take Johanne to my next memory of this area, the pedestrian overpass that crosses the railway line behind the house and leads to the playing fields where my dad used to take me when he came home. I can remember climbing the stairs holding my dad’s hand and watching as the trains raced past beneath us. We used to walk down the other side to the sports field where we kicked a football (soccer ball) back and forth.

Back view of 15 Eastbrook Way from the overpass

Not much else to see, but from our brief visit, I take away more than I brought.

Finding Bampfield Street will be a bit more difficult. We can’t find the Google directions that I surely must have printed, or least I thought I did. As we leave Eastbrooke Way, I ask a man cutting his grass for directions. These take us to a development on the other side of the train tracks but we are unable to find Bampfield. I stop again and ask another man. He gets a Super Red Book of maps for Brighton, Shoreham, Seaford and Lewes. With Johanne’s help, he finds the street. To make sure we won’t get lost, he gives us his book and we’re off. A few minutes later we’re there in front of the tidy, little semi-detached with the garage my Uncle built.

24 Bampfield Street where my Uncle Mike, Aunt Katherine and their son Michael used to live

That’s it for today and we’re ready for lunch. We walk to three pubs, none of which were serving food. What’s up with that? I thought all pubs served food! Finally after 30 min of walking around we found an Italian restaurant on Station Road. We wanted to have a light lunch since last night at the Chequers, we over did it. I had sliced duck breast with blackberry and apple jus and Johanne had chicken wrapped in parma ham with a portobello sauce. That would have been enough but there were also two heaping bowls of potatoes (mashed & boiled) and vegetables. Could have fed a family of 4. So for lunch today we have a tasty carrot soup followed by delicious grilled sardines. The Iranian manager chats with us and brings complimentary digestifs, two small, chilled shot-glasses filled with a cloudy, yellow liquid. He says it is lemoncillo (an Italian lemon drink with vodka). We both down our drinks and remark how nice and refreshing it was until Johanne feels the after effects – the burn in her throat and up her nose. On our way back to the car, I take a photo of the Port Slade train station, where my father would take the train to his work in London.
Satisfied we’ve accomplished today’s objectives, we start the drive home to the Chequers, looking forward to our traditional Friday night pizza.
Tomorrow we are off to the National Archives in London (actually Kew) to see if we could find a list of Canadians who were incarcerated in Stalag VIIIB and Stalag IID in Poland during WWII.

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