Five childhood memories

Elizabethd came up with the idea of writing about five special childhood memories. This was supposed to be on purplecoo but I got so carried away that I thought I had better move it here.

Being picked up from school by my grandmother on a Monday. In winter she would wear her fur coat which I thought was the most beautiful thing I had ever felt. I used to sit next to her on the bus and rub my cheek against the sleeve. Sometimes we would go into town to the toy shop. It was unutterably exciting to know that she would buy me something, unlike the occasions when we passed by with my mother who was always saying "We'll see". I used to hug the excitment to me as we walked up the street. I never asked for anything because it was best to just look longingly and wait for the glorious moment when she would say "Do you like that, love? Shall I buy it for you for a treat?" Looking back they would be little things. I don't imagine a lot of money was ever spent because there wasn't a lot but it was the precious sense of knowing that I would walk away with a tiny doll, a little wooden horse or best of all a kaleidoscope that made me all warm and glowy with excitement. And all without asking.

Making a den under the scrubby bush on the common land opposite our house with my brother and my friend Carol. We would gather long grass to make a bed and stones to define the doorway. We would make a pretend fire with sticks and crumpled cigarette packets and sit inside the bush convinced no one could see us. For days we would bring out sandwiches and watery orange cordial and eat every meal we could hidden under the leaves. When I first saw the place again having been away between the ages of eleven and nineteen I was astonished at how close the bush was to the road and at how small it was, even ten years on. I have a scar on my knee from falling out of it but it was hard to see how I could have got high enough up to fall for more than about two feet.

Tending my little plot of garden at my Nana's house, decorating the edge with shells brought back from a cold and windy holiday in Scarborough. She planted some lily of the valley for me and let me have marigolds and love in a mist to put in a neat row behind the shells. She loved to garden. When I remember her I see her on her knees on her foam kneeler, pushing her hair back from her eyes. "How do you know which are weeds Nana?" I asked her once. "I don't know" she said, "I have just learnt from watching I suppose. Shall I teach you?" And she taught me to identify chickweed and dandelions and many that I still don't know the names of, after twenty years of gardening my own garden. I think my love of gardening started there wielding my own little trowel.

The utter excitement of going along to join the library by myself after school. I must have been about nine or ten. The library was a grand stone building and I had carefully brought along with me everything I needed to join. I spent ages ecstatic at the shelves, taking out books, making a pile, putting something back and adding to it and then carefully balanced the four books which the sign said you could take out at a time and carried them to the desk. The librarian slowly filled in my details and looked over her glasses at me. "You will have to come back for your cards." I couldn't understand. "You can't take any books out now," she said sharply. "You will have to come back next week to pick up your cards." I managed to get out of the big heavy wooden door before the tears came.

Poached eggs, perfectly cooked, on buttery toast, my favourite tea at Nana's, surpassed only by being allowed to stay up and watch The Black and White Minstrels.

Comments

  1. Did you have an enchanted childhood, Elizabeth? It sounds lovely - the memories that you've offered sound lovely, so thank you for sharing them. I've read back over your last few posts and have to say that I was touched by the one about what you saw from the taxi window. I love the way that you can take a seemingly small event and bring it alive to us.
    xo

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  2. What a sweet look into your childhood.

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  3. Oh EM, this really did rather choke me up as could very nearly have been written by me. My grandmother didn't have a fur coat but I adored the feel of fur and once hugely embarrassed my mother by stroking the coat of a woman at the bus stop! But otherwise, oh yes - the dens, the garden (with shells at the edge), the library (place of magic and freedom) and, oh indeed, poached eggs on toast.
    Lovely, lovely, lovely. jxxxx

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  4. I worry that you will think me dull, or worse, stalker material, because I keep gushing on about your brilliant writing and how much I love your blog, etc etc.

    Anyway, it's all true (apart from being a stalker). I do love it, and I loved this post. I also love poached eggs, dens, libraries, furcoats and gardening. Perhaps we all do secretly? I think you touch a chord in many of us Elizabeth.

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  5. Hi sue
    Absolutely not feeling anything other than rather pleased you like it. I have added you to my blog roll. Liked your take on the slow blog idea!

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  6. I love these memories - each one conjures up a delightful picture of days gone by. Thank you for sharing them.

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  7. That little trip down your memory lane also took me back to mine!
    I did enjoy that!

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  8. took me back too, libaries and dens and granny features large in me. lovely

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  9. What a sweet, mild and lovely little girl you must have been. I'm angry at that darn librarian!

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  10. Oooh, what a lovely hug-post. It brought the memories tumbling in. I think this time of year makes for very poignant memories - smell, touch, feel, hairs-on-the-back-of the-neck-intense ones. Lovely xx

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  11. Oh! that made so many memories come tumbling from my mind! Especially the dens, and the poached eggs!
    I'm so pleased I have found your blog!

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  12. Lovely post Elizabeth.
    It was alive!
    Have you read " Bad Blood" by LOrna SAge ??
    If not you would love it.
    Superb and set almost in your neck of the woods..

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  13. Hi thanks for coming over and having a look, I got your comment thanks but like a stupid .... LOL I deleted it instead of publish. Hangs head in shame

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  14. That was absolutely beautiful, Elizabeth! I can almost feel your child's disappointment over the misunderstanding over the library books. Those ladies could be so sharp. I have lots of library memories, too - carefully searching out all the fairy tale books and reading them again and again. And a mysterious book called "Noreen and the Henry Affair", which I thought must have been about my mum's friend Noreen, and kept wondering, how could they know?

    Gorgeously written. xx

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  15. I still love going to the library. - I remember my Dad taking me even before I could read. They had a book reading area and I would sit there for hours reading and looking at pictures.

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  16. I had a better experience with our librarian who let me take my books out immediately (or maybe she took one look at Ma who enrolled me and thought better of saying anything) but I absolutely share your excitment about being able to take books home.

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  17. I adore poached eggs, and had 2 delicious ones today. What an old bag that librarian was, a dreary jobsworth. My granny battled with one for years, the librarian "wouldn't let" her take out Ed McBains because she thought they weren't suitable, and my granny did love her American thrilers!

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  18. Lovely childhood memories Elizabeth. I miss my Grandma, have fond memories of visiting her when I was a child.

    xx

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  19. Oh yes, dens. We had some cracking ones, now largely built on top of. We climbed trees and rode on the boys' go-carts, and made rafts on barrels and rescued the boys when their raft sank in the middle of the pond. We knew every pony by name for miles around and walked for miles, sustained by jam sandwiches wrapped in tin foil and orange squash in bottles. Jubblies were for the hottest summer days and lasted ages. Mum's Nasturtiums growing up the trellis between the house and the garage. The year she bought a blue rose and how disappointingly un-blue it was!

    Don't get me started, there's a book in here somewhere . . .

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  20. Lovely to hear others' memories too! Grandparents seem to feature quite large.
    Bovey Belle, your childhood sounded remarkably like mine, sinking raft and all!

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