Monday, 9 November 2009
When I was a lad, I lived in a small village in Hertfordshire, called Pirton and as you know, when you remember your childhood, it was always sunny.
We lived in a fourteenth century thatched cottage where the back garden was bounded by the village pond.
I remember it as being quite large since there were thirteen weeping willow trees overhanging the pond.
Come rain or shine, my days were always spent outside.
My best mate was called Pete and he and I used to disappear off into the Pegston Hills on our bikes, each with a bag of sandwiches and pop that our Mums had prepared for us.
Racing down country lanes devoid of cars, lying face upwards in cornfields listening to the skylarks that flew so high, you couldn't see them.
Digging for fossils in an old disused quarry.
Our bags always contained our Observers books, little pocket sized volumes on subjects like native bird species, butterflies and wild flowers.
The hills around the village were of chalk and grazed by sheep, with the woods being mainly of beech.
For sport we used to go scrumping, nicking ( Stealing ) apples from the Vicar's orchard, I'm quite sure he new what we were up to, but we never got caught.
In those days every village had it's characters and ours was an old man called Will, who in his seventies had never been further than the local market town of Hitchin, just five miles away.
The village lads used to tease him, but he was a crack shot with a catapult and would invariably hit them on the backside as they were running away!
Of course you would never tell your parents, otherwise you'd get another crack when you got home!
On Saturday mornings Mum would give me a half crown to go and by some fresh bread from the bakery, it was so hot I had to run all the way home because I could hardly hold it and I can still taste that wonderful flavour that only truly fresh bread has.
Later in life I read Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee, evoking his childhood in the Westcountry and all the memories came flooding back.
The richness of childhood before the advent of technology is something I feel privileged to have experienced, sadly it is lost to the young today.