Boyhood Country Style
Yes we were poor, although we didn’t know it at the time. This was just life as we knew it, only as we grew older did we know anything different. But it didn’t matter we still knew how to enjoy our lives, we knew how to have fun, we knew how to make adventures for ourselves and we did! I feel sorry for the kids of today, I fear they are missing out on the fun times we had as youngsters. Yes today they have many things to occupy young minds, all the electronic gizmos and gadgetry, but what about climbing trees, building soap box carts and what about the games we all played. I’m not knocking the gizmos or gadgetry, heck, I’m writing this and sending it on an iPad ! Not bad for an old timer eh? Impressed? I am!
Living in the shadow of St Nicholas Church as I did offered many wonderful adventure opportunities. Having constructed my own soap box cart (Dad might have helped a bit) Church Hill presented a challenge not to be missed, start at the church steps, reach unknown speeds and then at the bottom, a little dogleg right then left into Markhams Chase. Sometimes I made it round, others I didn’t and often it hurt, but I’m gonna do it again, be better this time. The spinney on the corner of Markhams Chase hid a pond, not a big one but big enough to launch a tin bath ocean going liner and we did! Great fun until, owing to its flat bottom, it tipped over discharging its crew into the murky depths. We came out of there not only soaked but covered in black smelly slime. By the time we got home some of it had dried to a pale grey colour but it didn’t stop the sting when Mum gave you a whack!
Building camps in the bushes and tree houses in the huge Elms that once lined St Nicholas Lane, we didn’t have to wander far to find fun and excitement. When the “weekend huts” were being demolished along Church Avenue we would go along and help ourselves to much of the timber, well it was only going to be burned anyway. We had an open fire at home and this timber was destined to become firewood and heat our living room instead of being wasted (recycling). My job was to take all of the nails out before Dad sawed it into “logs”. I was to try to hammer the nails as straight as possible so Dad could keep them just in case he needed them for something? I swear we had three biscuit tins full of these rusty malformed nails, I may have used the odd 1 or 2 while conducting repairs to my soap box cart after not quite making it into Markhams Chase. For those who may not know, St Nicholas Lane/Church Hill was the main road at that time and that’s what made it so exciting/scary/dangerous! Looking back I was more of a man then than I am now. Please don’t tell me I grew up.