In a basically secure childhood, it should not be so hard to think of a favourite memory. I had to dig deep and think hard. So much of childhood is defined by me as school; the homework, the bullying, the boredom, the lack of satisfaction and isolation, the shouting in the morning as we tried to be ready to hurry to leave to get to a place I didn’t want to go. When I think about childhood it is all school bags and unflattering uniform and being inside with an essay on a sunny day, revising not playing, missing out for the sake of things I saw no value in.
In the end though, I thought of times when I know I was perfectly happy and full of purpose and when I thought more about those memories, I could see why.
I’m 9 and staying with my Nana for a week in the summer; I own a bike there, a blue and gold one, resprayed and made to work by my Poppy, my pride and job and the garden where I can ride it is huge. Along the side grow in Spring, ranks of daffodils, pushing more strongly each year along the bank. In the summer I collect the knobbly oak twigs, roam the vegetable patch, clamber over rutted mud and meander through the greenhouses, flapping with thick,opaque sheeting and the cloying smell of tomatoes. I spend hours in a fantasy world on my swing, riding to worlds beyond sight, I’m alone for mornings and afternoons, safe in the garden confines but paddling in a stream, sliding down a bank, climbing a tree, in and out of the oil smelling workshops, making dens in rhododendrons, circling the house on the white speckled path until lunch time, out again till tea, with all the space and silence and time I could wish for. In Autumn there was the bonfire and leave sweeping, in Autumn there was smoke and there were acorns to gather, crackling of fire and crunching of the littered ground. Daffodils and acorns, the two things that would one day remind me of my son.
And oh, my bike. I rode in circles for a week at a time; it was a horse and dragon and a flying carpet. Around in circles on the lawn, around the house, in and out of the bushes and swish… swish… through the short evergreen trees that divided formal garden from the field at the back, needles brushing my face, branches scratching my sunned arms. Inside that garden I had more speed and freedom than in any other place in my life. I never rode my bike anywhere, but I rode it everywhere. My Nana, I think, would watch me from the window, hours of astonishment at how easy a house guest I was, I would imagine. Feed me, put me outside, give me time and conversation in the evenings and all the space and freedom and love I asked for.
My favourite ever memory of my Nana’s house is of a twilight evening, when the air was heavy and murky with the feel and smell of a storm. I was outside later than normal, sliding fish like in and out of the row of trees between,, the gardens, going at unnatural speed through the trees, floating up to the tree tops where the squirrels sat and the acorns grew. I’m peeping in through the windows of the house at the end of the garden, swerving around the tops of the fir trees by the railway line and then, with a twist and a flick, plunging back through the soft scratching limbs of the pampas grasses.
I was 25 before it occurred to me that this particular memory must have been a dream.
My Friend Next Door from QWERTY Mum.
My Mum was the best storyteller from Baby Budgeting.
A Favourite Childhood Memory from Patch of Puddles.
Domino Trails from Mummy From The Heart.
Freedom from Live Otherwise.
A Favourite Childhood Memory from The Gingerbread House.
Birthday Memories from The Diary of a Frugal Family.
Please Turn Over from Bibsey.
Not Tonight Josephine from Cheeky Wipes.
Freedom from Little Legends.
A Favourite Childhood Memory from Who Teaches Whom.
Holidays from Seasider In The City.
Making Paper Boats from Red Ted Art.
Remembering a Fishpond from Mymumdom.
Canada from South of the River Mum.
Goodbyes from Notes From Home.