If you try to envisage your happiest memories from your childhood, what comes to mind?
For me, it is the memories of family time. As children we spent a lot of time with grandparents and other family and it is something that I am determined my own children should experience. We were so lucky that our grandparents lived close by and we were able to enjoy so much quality time with them.
I remember hot, lazy summers when the time seemed to move as slowly as pond water. We spent much of our time blackberry picking and playing pooh sticks then would head back to my gran’s house where she would cook up a delicious blackberry crumble. Gran’s house would always smell of something yummy like freshly baked saffron buns or warm fresh bread.
It is funny how smells can instantly take you back to your childhood. I only have to get a whiff of roast beef and I am transported back to my Auntie Kath’s house. Perfectly cooked in her old Rayburn, the smell would greet you as soon you walked in the door.
The smell of Peppermint reminds me of the Peppermint creams that I would make with my mum. They were usually a very bright green thanks to my obsession with food colouring. These were just one of the many treats I would be allowed to make on my own using my little Ladybird cookbook.
The best times were of course the summer holidays which were spent mainly on our bikes or playing illegally (!) in the school playing fields. We lived just two doors away from school which had its advantages. We used to have a lot of fun making use of the sandpit and hurdles and running away from the school caretaker when he decided to turn up on his ride on lawnmower! We had numerous trees to climb there and that is where we started our first famous five den, right at the top of a huge pine tree. We had a biscuit tin to store important supplies, all we were missing was a dog!
We would have family games of cricket on this school playing field with cousins, aunts and uncles all joining in. These were the best days and looking back I think it was probably because all of the adults were laughing and having fun too. It makes me realise how important it is to have fun with my children now so that they will also have these happy times to remember. Note to self: make more time for fun!
Other memories I will cherish
Oh how I would love to experience a real blizzard again. I remember being out all day sledging with my dad and brother, screaming with delight and terror as we approached the massive hedge at the bottom of the hill.We didn’t realise until we got in the door just how frozen we were. Mum had to try and extract us from our icy clothing to warm up in front of the fire. We built a snowman that was bigger than me and it lasted for days.
Rummy, Canasta, Seven of Diamonds, we loved them all and still do. We try to fit in a game whenever we meet up with Dad. He has taken over from my Gran when it comes to being the most competitive card player.
Our holidays were normally kept fairly local. We didn’t go abroad and normally went to Butlins or hired a holiday cottage in Newquay. Holidays were just fantastic as a child. In Newquay we would swim in the sea for hours and in the evening we would walk the headland, go to a Punch and Judy show or play crazy golf. At night we would sink into our beds exhausted, happy and smelling of the beach. Morning would bring the sound of gulls and the excitement of a whole new day of adventure.
My Gran, who lived slightly further away from us, would take me on holidays by train which was such a treat. We spent the whole day travelling to Blackpool. I remember listening to Mel and Kim on my Walkman, eating all the lovely snacks prepared by my gran and nodding off to sleep with the gentle rocking of the carriage. We took a tram to see the Blackpool illuminations and I remember being wide-eyed with wonder at how fantastic they were. We visited the Blackpool Tower Circus which was a real eye opener for my younger self. I imagine Blackpool is very different now so I’m not tempted to go back with my children. I want to keep it in my memory just as it was.
If I think really hard I can still remember that butterfly feeling that you get when you wake up in the night and realise Santa has been. I am sure I could smell the wrapping paper at the end of the bed. I remember how even the smallest presents would fill me with happiness. I had a beautiful Jemima Puddle Duck bottle of perfume which I treasured for years and a Victoria Plum notebook which I just loved. I love seeing this same joy in my children now when they open their presents.
Looking back, It feels like the majority of my childhood was spent outside. We had a nice big garden so we would play on our scooters, make obstacle courses and in good weather play in the paddling pool. There were lots of children nearby so we were often in and out of each other’s houses. I enjoyed getting involved with the gardening and I remember one night being in the green house until it was getting dark. I was sieving the earth ready to plant tomatoes and I did not want to go to bed until I was done.
Lily and Thomas haven’t quite got this eagerness to help in the garden (where did I go wrong?) but hopefully we are now creating similar happy memories for them.
This post is dedicated to my lovely grandparents!