As an only child, I adored dolls, and they were my companions when none of my friends could come and play. I had various beautiful baby dolls as my aunt lived in America and sent me a doll every Christmas.

I have photos of four wonderful Christmases in front of the tree, opening my latest doll from my aunt, with a big smile on my face. I started to notice my mother wasn't ever very happy about the dolls that my aunt bought. She would often say, "It's only because she has no children of her own that she sends these dolls. She likes our presents to look inferior". I neither knew nor cared what that meant, I just loved my dolls.

I learned to knit and sew so my dolls would have clothes. I had three particular favorites, all Madam Alexander dolls, all 2 foot high like real babies. There was Kitten, Pussycat and Sugar Darling. There was also a 20-inch Thumbelina with golden hair that moved when she was wound up.

I looked after their dresses and hung them in my old baby cupboard. I had a small doll's clothesline and washtub so I kept all their clothes clean and neat. They only wore their original clothes on special occasions. I dreamed of the day I would pass my dolls on to my future little girl.

One day, around my eleventh birthday, I came home wondering if the parcel from my aunt had arrived yet. My mother was in the kitchen. She told me there was a surprise for me on my bed. I ran in, anticipating my new baby doll would be there. But no, on my bed were two small thin boxes with a Barbie doll inside one and a Midge in the other.

I wasn't impressed. They weren't cuddly or pretty - just hard-faced grownups with too much make up. I put them aside and went to get my baby dolls out of the cupboard where they sat all day while I was at school.

DISASTER! The cupboard was BARE!

I ran out to my mother, who calmly told me she had given them all away as I was too old for baby dolls. I was devastated. The only thing I had to hang on to was the new baby doll my aunt would undoubtedly send me. But it wasn't to be! Unknown to us, my aunt was very ill and she died suddenly around that same week. My mother was upset about her sister's death and about giving the dolls away but it was too late, she couldn't get them back.

I never played with Barbie, I gave her away to the first friend who showed interest in her. I have no idea what happened to Midge.

I missed my dolls all my life and only now have I managed to replace them with other vintage 60's versions of Kitten, Pussycat and Sugar Darling, the same as mine were. I have their same original dresses that I cared for with such love back then. I hope some little girls somewhere got the same joy out of my baby dolls I did. I was so lucky to have had them, and to have had such a loving, generous aunt.

I still have to resist shuddering when I go in a toy store and see the many versions of Barbie. I have never liked her, she cost me my precious babies.