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School Days, Reminiscences of Joy Lennick

School Days, Reminiscences of Joy Lennick

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Joy Lennick, author and poet. Joy joined in the conversations from the outset, sharing snippets from her war-time schooldays. Intrigued to learn more, I invited Joy to join in with a post dedicated to her own reminiscences and she accepted. I’m certain you’ll find them as interesting as I do.

Before we begin the interview, I’ve invited Joy to tell you a little of herself:

From a young age, I was never happier than when reading or writing (and perhaps dancing!). I was evacuated with my two brothers to live on a mountain (Hare) in Wales, being half Welsh on my mother’s side, and grew to love Wales. My education was completed in Pitman’s College, London, from the last year of the war. At fifteen, I became a shorthand-typist, and worked for an agency in the East and West ends of London, which I really enjoyed.

After marriage just before the age of 21, and living in London for a few years, the Suez Crisis debacle flared up and petrol was so short and the atmosphere so “war-like,” we set sail for Canada, where we lived and worked for eighteen, unforgettable, months.

Returning to the UK due to home-sickness…in 1960 I had my first son, followed by No.2 in 1962 and No.3 in 1968. I contracted but beat cancer, so was very lucky. We then ran a green-grocery/grocery store for several years. After its sale, and the children went to school, I returned to work in the city as secretary to the two editors of Kaye & Ward, an old established publishing company in the city. (My dream job!)

The next chapter saw us buying a small hotel in Bournemouth as we both enjoyed cooking and people. We turned a dark, mean place into a thriving business, I lost a stone (yippee) and gained a few muscles, and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole business, even though it was hard work.  Tastes were changing and the hotel was old. We needed more cash than we had to make it more comfortable, so – with regret, sold it and returned to Essex to live. And that is when I learned about “Serendipity,” and became a writer, quite by chance.

A letter from Kogan Page Ltd of London “commissioned” me (?!) to write a book for them, subject to approval of the first two chapters. I couldn’t wait! “Running Your Own Small Hotel” was approved. I had been recommended by one of the editors I’d worked for who had read some of my poetry and an article I’d had published. The book did well and went to reprint. There was even an exciting “Authors’ party,” and I updated two of their books and wrote a second called “Jobs in Baking and Confectionery,” which also sold well.

In between working for my local junior school, part-time, I then ran a modest, while successful poetry club, and wrote a few poems and articles, which were published. I also received a few rejection letters…par for the course!

Fast forward too many years, and we retired to Spain, I joined The Torrevieja Writing group and won the first Torrevieja International Short Story competition with a Time Traveller tale called “Worth its Salt,” then was a writing judge for two years.

Next came a memoir: “My Gentle War” which went to No.1 in Kindle’s Social History and Memoir category. A true sea adventure story: “Hurricane Halsey” followed, then my only novel “The Catalyst,” covering one of the terrorist bombings of a train in London in 2005, but with fictitious characters. I also wrote several stories which were included in WordPlay’s anthologies – later called Writers’ Ink (our off-shoot Ezine is called INK SPOT). Then came “Where Angels and Devils Tread,” a collection of short stories written with author friend Jean Wilson; and a modest collection of jokes and humorous poems written with my husband, Eric: “The Moon is Wearing a Tutu.” I also edited husband’s book “A Life Worth Living,” and updated “From the Prairies to Paschendeale,” for a friend. I am at present working on a book about the “Dombrowski family.”

I took a Creative Writing class for the U3A for several years and am in the “Chair” for Writers’ Ink here in Spain.

Joy Lennick and her books

Welcome, Joy.

Let’s talk school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?

Where did you go to school?

1937: Dagenham Infants school

1939: Twynrodyn Junior School

1941: Hunters Hall school

1943: Eastbrook senior school, Long Eaton senior school, Derbyshire

1944: Neath senior school

1944: Pitman’s College, London.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

All Government schools, except Pitman’s College, London, which was private.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

Highest level: Pitman’s where I received various certificates for hand-writing/typing/shorthand and commerce.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

I started as a shorthand-typist, became assistant secretary and then secretary. Also assisted husband in running a greengrocery/grocery shop and became a hotelier.  I was then a Dinner Lady/School assistant and did voluntary work with the elderly before writing professionally.

What is your earliest memory of school?

My earliest memory at Infants school was writing my name in sand on a shallow tray and playing the triangle and the tambourine in the school band.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

I was immediately fascinated by the letters and words on a page and took to reading straight away. I read anything and everything: ingredients on cereal boxes, comics, etc., and was always lucky enough to be given books for my birthdays. I joined the library in MerthyrTydfil and devoured books from age seven — Hans Christian Anderson and the frightening Bros. Grimm, et al.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

As for writing, my father was a keen letter-writer (positive views on many subjects to the local newspaper) and wrote beautiful Calligraphy which I greatly admired and wanted to emulate. He kept stamps and made a few admirable displays with delicate work around each stamp. I was proud to be told I had a “good hand!” and of my hand-writing certificate. Shorthand later made it a bit scruffier…

What do you remember about math classes?

I had a problem with maths. Adding, subtracting, decimals and fractions was coped with OK but  if I was thrown a maths ‘puzzler’ I’d freeze…I coped fine when we had our shop, and did the accounts when we ran the hotel as it was comparatively straight-forward, but I much preferred English.

What was your favourite subject?

Most definitely English, and because of the very nature of war — between the years 1939,when it  began and 1945 when it ended, there were, periodically, huge disruptions in my schooling,  especially when the siren sounded. At such times, we were read to and had to ‘Read quietly!’ by ourselves, which I found a joy. I also loved composing stories and enjoyed spelling. I even wrote a silly play which was acted on the stage. Poetry also pleased my young ears. I was particularly fond of Hiawatha because of the delightful rhythm. I couldn’t take to Shakespeare when young but loved it later when, at the ripe age of 66 I finally took and passed the English Literature exam – much to the amusement of my younger peers…

Joy Lennick at age 4

What did you like best about school?

I made friends quite easily, despite being shy and was a chatter-box, in spite of the annoying habit of blushing if a boy spoke to me. In fact, I blushed a lot as I was often unsure of myself, but always enjoyed having friends at school. There was so much to learn, and I have always been a curious person. I was lucky in that I was never bullied and got on with most children, and was also fortunate with  the teachers, except for my maths teacher at Pitman’s who had no patience with my many questions…Miss Jones, my English and Games teacher at Pitman’s was my favourite.

What did you like least about school?

To be fair, the mores of the times were dictated by the state of the whole world, as very little was as ‘normal’ as in peace time. Some children were killed or injured and lost loved ones and air raids disrupted many classes, especially in London, Coventry, Norwich and many other towns. We children went back-wards and forwards to home and Wales several times in between the bombing for long weekends and holidays. And when I attended Eastbrook senior school in Dagenham, the bombing increased and the whole school was evacuated to Long Eaton in Derbyshire. It must have been a nightmare for the teachers to keep to a curriculum!

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

There is no comparison between my schooldays and those of my three sons. Only one was bullied because he was more studious and wouldn’t join an unruly gang. Fortunately, the headmaster sorted it out. All three received a fair and satisfactory education. I have no grand- children to comment on present conditions but do have friends who were teachers. They both complained about the increased paper-work, which – apparently – is an ongoing problem for teachers today.

What do you think schools (in general) do well?

From my ten years working as a Dinner Lady and reading/poetry assistant in a junior school, I’d say that, over-all, today’s children are in pretty safe hands, education-wise. The technological strides forward are amazing, and I’m personally pleased to see more musical appreciation and tuition being introduced in some schools

How do you think schools could be improved?

It’s no secret there are a lot of problems in the world, generally – of course there always have been – but because of technology and the immediacy of news reaching eyes and ears, it is often exaggerated in our minds. Too much paper-work still seems to overload some teachers, and I wish there was more emphasis put on caring for each other. Not all parents are equipped for the job they undertook…(as my husband says: ‘You have to pass a test to drive a car, but any idiot can have a child…’ Religion should be discussed broadly, but taught and practiced in specific schools,  not mainstream, although children should be helped to accept and live and let live, when taught about caring.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Joy. How disruptive your schooling was as a result of the war. You seem to have overcome any obstacles that it may have created. It’s been a pleasure to have you here and get to know you and learn about your school days and your achievements.

Find out more about Joy Lennick

Website: https://joylennick.wordpress.com/

Contact her at joylennick@gmail.com

Or connect with her on social media

Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Writers’ Ink

also a member of Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Hugh Roberts

Debby Gies

Pauline King


D. Avery

Christy Birmingham

Miriam Hurdle

Robbie Cheadle

Marsha Ingrao

Ritu Bhathal

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.
Coming soon:

Darlene Foster

Susan Scott

Barbara Vitelli

Mabel Kwong

Sherri Matthews

Chelsea Owens

Pete Springer

with more to follow.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.



That’s what friends are for

At this time of year, minds and hearts turn to friends and family, and contemplations of what we can do to make the world a better place. When we think of global events, we may feel overwhelmed, wondering what possible effect our actions could have. But when we focus on our own circle, any positive difference we make can effect changes of which we may never be aware. That’s the ripple effect, and that’s what friends are for.

I belong to a very supportive online community whose encouragement helps to keep me going.

With my focus on education, particularly early childhood education, and their work mostly targeting adult audiences, I struggle to find ways of supporting them and their creative pursuits during the year, other than the usual shares on Twitter and Facebook.

However, come Christmas time, what’s to stop me doing a little more?

love of reading to young children in early childhood education

In a recent readilearn post, I acknowledged authors and illustrators of children’s literature whom I was fortunate enough to interview throughout the year. You can read that post here. I was also delighted to be invited by Christy Birmingham to write a guest post about them for her blog When Women Inspire.

SMAG Society of Mutual Admiration and Gratitude

In this post, I acknowledge and promote recent works published by my SMAG community; lovely people who support me both here and over at readilearn. SMAG is an acronym for Society of Mutual Appreciation and Gratitude. The community is open to anyone. All that is required is friendship. If you’d like to add the badge to your blog, I’d be honoured. If you’re not sure how to do so, you can find instructions here.

I know I won’t catch all my SMAGgers, but I’ll do my best. If I miss you, I apologise. Please add your details in the comments.

I hope as you read through my list your will find some books to add to your own collection or to gift to another for Christmas, or holiday, or anytime reading.

Carrot Ranch

My first acknowledgement goes to Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch Literary Community.

Participation in the Carrot Ranch weekly flash fiction challenges inspires many of the posts shared here. The support of Charli, Lead Buckaroo, and the team of Rough Writers has been a constant source of encouragement.

Congress of Rough Writers Anthology Vol 1

While we eagerly await the publication of Charli’s two novels-in-progress, she has compiled an anthology of flash fiction submitted to the weekly prompts. The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Volume 1 will be available soon. I am rather delighted to say that some of my writing features in the Anthology. (Check out books by other Rough Writers featured on the Books page.)

Anne Goodwin

Anne Goodwin's books

I very much enjoyed Anne Goodwin’s debut novel Sugar and Snails, and was not disappointed with her second novel Underneath, released earlier this year. Anne is also a prolific writer of short stories, many of which are available from her website. An anthology (Annethology) will be available soon. I’ve yet to read a story of Anne’s I didn’t like.

Sarah Brentyn

Sarah Brentyn's books

Sarah is a micro-fiction expert. She packs a whole lot of story into just a few words. I described her first book Hinting at Shadows as a box of chocolates – bite-sized pieces of dark delight; once you’ve tasted you can’t stop! Her second anthology On the Edge of a Raindrop, just released, holds equal promise.

Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle's books

If you haven’t yet checked out Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate Books you really must. Robbie’s unique style of illustrating her stories with fondant creations will make your mouth water.

The Sir Chocolate Books series of stories were written by Robbie and her son Michael. The rhyming stories are supplemented by the inclusion of recipes and links to YouTube videos.

Debby Gies

Debby Gies books

Debby Gies writes memoir; stories from her life and her heart; stories that will resonate with us, inspire us, make us laugh, and make us cry. When I read Have Bags Will Travel, I couldn’t believe how much of my experience she was sharing.

Debby has numerous books in her collection, including her new release Twenty Years: After “I Do. I’m sure you’ll find at least one to take your fancy.

Christy Birmingham

Christy Birmingham Versions of the Self

Christy Birmingham’s book of poems Versions of the Self is an exploration of the emotions experienced in relationships and the personal growth that occurs through them.

D. Avery

D. Avery Chicken Shift For the Girls

D. Avery’s books of poems make excellent reading. Chicken Shift combines philosophy, humour and utter nonsense by contemplating answers to the old riddle “Why did the chicken cross the road?” Who would have thought there could be so many responses? – Only D.

For the girls explores responses to a diagnosis of breast cancer and what it means personally and to others. It’s a must read for anyone whose life has been touched by cancer. There are few of  us who haven’t supported a loved one as they work through their emotional, as well as physical, response.

Sally Cronin

Sally Cronin's books

Sally Cronin is a prolific author of both fiction and non-fiction. Her most recent publication What’s in a Name? Stories of Life and Romance Volume 2 is a book of short stories in which she explores why we find the names of some people memorable.

Sally is also an amazing support for writers and all things writing. I was delighted to be recently featured in her series Posts from my Archives here and here. Thank you, Sally.

Susan Scott

Susan Scott Aging and Becoming

This year Susan Scott published Aging and Becoming – A Reflective Inquiry, which she cowrote with Susan E. Schwartz. The Susans reflect on life and its effects on the physical, mental and emotional experience as we age. Throughout the year, Susan shared excerpts on her lovely Garden of Eden blog.

Not just books

Pauline King has many lovely crafts and artworks for sale in her Contented Crafter’s Gift Shop.

Robin Etter-Cleave plays Notes from Squire Street on her melodic alto flute.

For an early childhood teacher, a readilearn subscription makes a thoughtful gift. Contact me for details.

For other suggestions, check out last year’s list here.

Apologies again if I have missed your current publications. Please know that each of you is greatly appreciated. The purpose of writing is to connect with readers. If you “like” or share a post, that is wonderful. If you leave a comment and engage in conversation, that is even better still. Thank you.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Books make the #1 best gifts!

The love of reading is gift

I am notorious for gifting books. I’ve written about this before in Guess what you’re getting for Christmas and other posts. It would not surprise me if you are also a notorious gifter of books. Perhaps that could be our super power: The Book Gifters!

Reading is empowering. A book is a gift that continues to give, long after the occasion has past. It’s effects cannot always be measured.


In this post, I suggest some books you may like to purchase for special people in your life. And why not treat yourself with one or two as well?

Most, but not all, are fairly recent releases. A few are long-time favourites.

Most, but not all, are written by people I know personally or through blogging. You might recognise their names from comments on other of my blog posts. A few are long-time favourites written by people who inspire me.

I have read most. The only two not read (the books of short stories) are very, very recent. However I am happy to recommend them as I am already familiar with some of the stories, and the writers’ work  from their blogs.

Disclaimer: These are books that appeal to me. They may not appeal to you. The important thing in choosing books for others is in finding something that they will like.

The list is not exhaustive. It is just a beginning to provide a few ideas that you may not have considered. There are many other wonderful books that could just as easily have been included.

I have arranged my list in this way:

For children:

Picture books (including fiction, non-fiction, and poetry)

Early chapter books (for readers of about 7 to 12 years)

For adults:

Books of short stories



Books for teachers and parents

If you follow the links you will be able to discover more about the writers and their other work.

For children:

Picture books – Fiction


Lauri Fortino The Peddler’s Bed This heart-warming story demonstrates that a kindness given can encourage kindness in others. You can read a lovely interview with Lauri on the readilearn blog here.

Tara Lazar Little Red Gliding Hood In this fun fractured fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood needs a new pair of skates. The only way she can acquire them is by winning a skating competition. But which fairy tale character will be her partner?

Galvin Scott Davis Daisy Chain This is a beautifully illustrated, animated and interactive, anti-bullying book app, narrated by Kate Winslet.



Rebecca Johnson The Insect Series This series of ten little books, each about a different insect, combines both fact and fiction with stunning close-up photographs. You can read a lovely interview with Rebecca on the readilearn blog here.

Sue Fliess The Bug Book This book about bugs is beautifully illustrated with stunning photographs. Written in rhyme, it introduces children to many tiny creatures.



June Perkins Magic Fish Dreaming This gorgeous book of poems with its focus on nature will uplift and inspire you and your children. You can read a lovely interview with June on the readilearn blog here.

Early chapter books (about 7 to 12 years)


Rebecca Johnson Juliet nearly a Vet This lovely series of books tells of the adventures of ten-year-old Juliet who aspires to be a vet, just like her mother.

Karen Tyrrell Song Bird Superhero This story tells of Rosella Bird and her quest to fly. While she battles the bully at school and at home, she is empowered and discovers the joy of flight when she finds her voice.

Bette A. Stevens Pure Trash: The Story Set in New England in the 1950s, this story tells of a Saturday afternoon adventure of two young boys. The Kindle version is free on Amazon until 29 November (today – be quick!). 

Hazel Edwards & Ozge Alkan Hijabi Girl In this story, when eight-year-old Melek is deciding what to wear to the book parade, she is unable to find a super-hero who wears a hijab, so she creates her own.

Robert Hoge Ugly (a memoir) Robert’s story is one of resilience, of survival against the odds, and of making hard decisions. While coping with difference and bullying, Robert shows that strength of character is a trait of survivors. I have introduced you to Robert previously here and here.

Books of short stories


Sarah Brentyn Hinting at Shadows This book is a collection of very short stories, each 100 words or less. While each may be a quick read, they will give insight, inspiration, and a greater understanding of what it means to be human.

Hugh Roberts Glimpses Launching on 2 December, available for pre-order “28 short stories that will take your mind on a rollercoaster of a ride into worlds that conceal unexpected twists and turns.”



Anne Goodwin Sugar and Snails In this mid-life coming-of-age story, Diana Dodsworth has some tough decisions to make as she comes to terms with who she really is. Anne has previously talked about her book on my blog here and here.

Geoff Le Pard Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle This story about nineteen-year-old Harry Spittle, who is home from university for the hottest of hot holidays, will have you laughing out loud at his misadventures.

Terry Tyler Best Seller This intriguing novella is about three writers, all of whom wish to write a best seller. One does; but which one?



Robert Hoge Ugly (a biography) Robert’s inspirational story is one of resilience, of survival against the odds, and of making hard decisions. While coping with difference and bullying, Robert shows that strength of character is a trait of survivors. I have introduced you to Robert previously here and here.

Lesley and Tammy Williams Not Just Black and White Told as a conversation between mother and daughter, this inspirational story tells of the importance of family, of difficulties experienced by many Indigenous Australians in relatively current times, with a drive to ensure that history is neither forgotten nor repeated.

Malala Yousafzai Malala The Girl Who Stood up for Education and Changed the World The story of Malala, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is one of courage and of the difference that one person can make in the world. I have previously written about Malala here.

Magda Szubanski Reckoning: A Memoir With a Polish father, a Scottish mother and an Australian childhood, Magda’s story is complex, courageous, compassionate, and inspirational.

Books for teachers and parents


Mem Fox Reading Magic This book provides lots of practical advice and support for parents in developing a love of reading in their children. I have introduced you to Mem many times previously, including here and here.

Michael Rosen Good Ideas: How to be Your Child’s (and Your Own) Best Teacher This very readable book is packed full of suggestions for encouraging curiosity and learning in children (and you!) I have previously introduced you to Michael here and here.

Vivian Kirkfield Show Me How Vivian passion’s for picture books and her understanding of the importance of literacy are obvious in this book that provides great ideas for reading and extending the learning experience associated with many picture books.

Or, for a special early childhood educator, gift a subscription to readilearn, a collection of teaching resources that can be used throughout the year.


It’s easy. Simply send an email to hello@readilearn.com.au, arrange payment for the currently discounted subscription, and you will be emailed a voucher with a coupon code, unique to your special teacher. Print the voucher and personalise it with your own message before presenting your gift.

Note: The subscription is for 12 months from date of activation, not purchase: a gift that will go on giving all year long.


I hope there is something in this list that you can add to your gift list.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.