I realised the other day that I was rarely lonely growing up (back before iPad’s and flat screen TV’s:)). With four siblings, there was always someone to talk to, and we were lucky enough to find a lovely house in the countryside with a big garden for getting rid of our energy. I often think the reason we could afford it is because nothing works! The cupboards fall off the walls when you touch them, and the heating breaks every winter, but when I was younger, the most important thing was being able to run around. Our favourite activity was drawing big squares on the pavement. Each area became a different shop, and with the help of a few plastic chairs and plates, we got to work decorating. Then, we would hop onto our bikes/very fast racing cars and drive around town. My middle sister was always “Lavinya the hairdresser”, and you could pop in for a quick hair brush while my eldest sister ran a restaurant. This was brilliant, as somehow our mum let us eat as much of the restaurant food as we wanted. Endless plates of oats mixed with apple and grape (the chefs speciality). However, the town was far from peaceful, suddenly, a ten year old robber would steal a hairbrush, or somebodies high speed motorbike (scooter) and chaos erupted. Lavinya hid under her table, the chef yelled and along came a tall, lanky policeman (my eldest brother) to sort out the crime. of course, he couldn’t go anywhere without the detective – which is where 4 year old me comes in! I would run into the madness flail my arms while craning my neck to see what was going on. This simple action must have been magic, as the robber was then captured and locked behind the garden gate. Peace was restored (until someone found a red towel and decided the garage was going to be set on fire).
I spent most of my childhood outside. My sister and I used to have a little kitchen hidden behind a bush. It comprised of half a brick wall counter, a concrete slab table, and an iron grill over two bricks for cooking everything. Not quite the plastic playhouses of today, but it was perfect for making mud pies, chocolate mousse and garden salads. I recently found out that my brother had broken the concrete table in a fit of anger once, I was very surprised, as I’ve spent my life believing his version of a coincidental lightning strike!
Remembering stories like this never fails to cheer me up, we by no means had the perfect childhood – but thinking back to the simple joys of playing outside with no worries other than whether we can have ice cream for tea somehow seems to make all the bad bits of life look temporarily inferior. I think we’ve probably all had moments where we wish we could go back to a simpler time, or forwards to a hopefully more exciting one, but I feel like having good and bad times is what makes life interesting. If only it could be a little less one-sided!