I've been having a lot of fun on google maps (pathetic, I know), attempting to catch snippets and peeps of my childhood neighbourhood (mouthful) in good old Blighty. If you click on the arrows, you can actually cyber-walk down the old familiar streets, even though quite a few of the buildings have changed. There are still the damp, moss covered, red bricked terraced houses, their colourful front doors being the only source of individuality. There are still the semi-detached houses with side entries and coal / coke holes(like our own family home). Most of the corner shops, however, are either closed and boarded up, or have been returned to family dwellings.
Everything seems a lot smaller now. When I was a child, the streets were wider; the places we walked to seemed so far away and taxing for our tiny legs. The shopping districts (not malls) were widespread, the parks were vast, the ponds were lakes and the canal was full.
Aaahh.. the canal. Nowadays, the canal has been filled in and replaced with a 'bicycle' path. I remember it with reeds and grasses, frogs and spawn, tadpoles and mud - with the odd rusty child's tricycle or pram or car protruding from the middle - always a source of mystery and intrigue; "Who's was it?" and "Who put it there?" and "I dare you to wade out and get it" and "I dare you!"
At the side of the canal was a series of hedges, all connected, all intertwined. In autumn and winter, we would have races as to who could clamber the WHOLE LENGTH of the hedgerow in the SHORTEST POSSIBLE TIME. No child would be in that game to come second place, and this tenacity resulted in many - many - scratched, bruised, grazed, cut and bleeding limb to run home with, determined not to cry until home came into view.
There are so many memories from the first 13 years of my life in England, but the one that always comes to mind and which brings me a great source of joy and chuckles as I recollect the picture in my mind's eye is that of a series of carved-in-stone graffitti on an ancient bridge over the River Derwent. Three of my four brothers had plotted to carve our five sibling's names as a memorial to our family in the early days of hearing about my parent's intentions to leave Mother England. Each brother took it in turns to hang upside down to carve, held only by the strength of the other two, as they grasped an ankle with all their might. The height of the bridge, the body of water underneath the bridge, the constant traffic over the bridge played no part in their determination to complete their task.
The ancient bridge still stands today. If you look to the top of the bridge, amidst the weathered and lichen covered stone, you will see something written there and if you look very carefully, the names will become apparent:
Atts Batts = Alan
Keamo = Brian
Gaz = Gary
Root = Robin
Tammy Lock = Helen