Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Summer of ‘76

A huge wave of nostalgia hits me,
for the lanes and the fields
we played in as children.
Trap Lane,
Ivy Cottage Lane,
Common Lane,
Hangram Lane,
Ringinglow Road
leading out to Ringinglow Village and the quirky Round House.

Whitley Wood Road leading down to Wire Mill Dam,
where the trees were so tall
I felt they would abandon their static-ness,
leave their roots and jump on our heads!
When we had survived those seemingly menacing trees
we wandered by the river to Forge Dam
with its death-defying playground;
the wild swinging horse and the slide built into the hillside,
twice as long as any I had ever seen.
Later, we took our children there,
to the café for fried egg sandwiches,
and the dam where our daughter fed herself to the ducks, forgetting to let go of the bread in her hand!

Trap Lane, with its secret ending through woods and past the farm
where hopefully there would be horses.
Pretending to be horses, we cantered down Huntley Road to school.

The riding school where we spent many a Saturday, despite being thrown on my very first lesson!
It was a shabby, unkempt place, which mattered not because it had horses,
until one day we arrived to find it empty.
The horses had gone and the people had gone, all that was left abandoned was a few odd bits of tack, stirrup leathers that we gladly plundered.

Hangram Lane and over the fields
was another way down to the Dams, with its breath-taking views from the hill.

Common Lane with its real fairy ring of trees, and the field we camped in as Girl Guides.
We once took a picnic to Common Lane, intending to make a day of it.
By 11am everything had been eaten and, bored, we wandered down to the Co-op
where my friend’s Mum worked, to see what we could scavenge.

And the most magical place, although a drive rather than a walk from home,
was to keep going up the straight, Roman, Ringinglow Road and out to Burbage Rocks.
And when we were older and had friends who drove, onward out over the moors into irresistible Derbyshire and the magnificent Peak District.

At other times we wandered down Highcliffe Road, past the Roughs and the allotments and through the field where I had my sledging accident.
Playing in the Roughs was a deliciously scary place to be, with the supposed ‘mental hospital’ on the far side, and the time my brother and his friends set fire to a tree.

Down to the river.
One summer we paddled in the river, ruining our sandals, much to the later horror of our Mums, all the way to Endcliffe Park.

These memories seem to fill a vast space of endless summer days, but was it all just one summer?
The summer of ’76, with its heat wave, and drought and standpipes to collect water from.
That summer we had left Junior School and were about to enter the terrifying walls of Senior School,
and have to grow up and stop playing.

Trap Lane was special because of a boy who lived there.
Ivy Cottage sounded like something from a fairy-tale,
and Common Lane was far from common.

We could look across the valley from our windows and see the hospital, which became tinged with sadness as the place Mum spent months recovering from debilitating bouts of MS.
A place we both longed to be and dreaded, as she looked so frail and vulnerable lying there.

As I reminisce I am looking at these places on the Internet,
the safe and secure lanes and fields,
the playground of my childhood.

© 20 June 2013.

No comments:

Post a Comment