Trains were a major feature of my childhood. I don’t know how many times I’d actually been on a train before my first birthday, but I do know that I had already travelled from the south east of England all the way to the Highlands, a journey that, even today, would be likely to take the best part of a day.
Even when we returned to live in the south a few years later we didn’t own a car so my father commuted to London by train and underground each day, and any holiday we took tended to feature traditional black cabs and card games played in waiting rooms at railway junctions.
Continue reading “train of thought”
I was brought up in a time before coffee shops.
Well, not entirely before coffee shops, but certainly before the global phenomenon of American chains with their skinny ventis, Americanos, and tall decaf drips.
There were tea shops in my childhood – both independents and the ubiquitous ABCs; and I have fond memories of Saturday afternoons spent in the Kardomah in Nottingham. But children were given nursery tea, while coffee was a drink for adults; even then, it was as likely to be Maxwell House as anything. (Our kitchen did have a bottle of Camp Coffee tucked away, but although I remember the intense smell of chicory of the inky brown liquid, I think it was only brought out to make coffee cakes, not to serve as a drink for guests.)
Continue reading “milking it”
The long hot summer is forgotten, the grass is green and straggly again and there is a distinctly autumnal nip in the air.
The horse chestnuts seem to have really suffered from the drought – rather than turning colour with the season, their leaves are all shrivelled and mottled – and I’ve hardly seen any conkers, though there are at least some sweet chestnuts.
There’s also more beech mast than I thought possible, and a fair number of acorns, too, so hopefully the squirrels should have a reasonable chance of surviving the winter.
Continue reading “beginnings and endings”
Today I bought nectarines in the market. Five big, dark fruits that will need several days before they’re anywhere near ready for eating. Five fruits that cost me £2.50.
As I walked home, I was thinking that if they ripen properly, they will be well worth it, but if, like so much produce these days, they ripen unevenly, or rot before they are truly ripe, I won’t be very happy: after all, they cost ten shillings a piece, and that is a lot of money.
I’m not sure what triggered that reversion to old money, nor quite what path it was that my thoughts followed past the old-fashioned rambling rose draped over the wall to the fruit-filled memories of childhood.
Continue reading “assorted fruit”
I lived for many years in Spain and I don’t remember ever having a discussion about potatoes. In the UK, though, I’ve discovered that they are a perfectly valid topic for conversation.
Back in the day, there was a joke about the girl potato whose father forbade her to marry Eamonn Andrews – presenter of Sports Report on BBC’s Light Programme – because he was “only a commentator.”
Continue reading “the joy of spuds”
Finding a broken bicycle chain in the street today sent my mind spinning back into the past, when, many, many years ago I was employed through a temp agency during the Easter vacation to work in the Toy Division office at the TI Raleigh factory.
It was my first job and I enjoyed it so much that I was delighted to go back in the summer, this time employed directly by the company. It was only a holiday job, so I can’t really have worked there very long, particularly as there would have been a “factory fortnight” in August. It’s surprising, then, just how many thoughts and memories that chain has triggered.
Continue reading “links to the past”
It’s way later than I usually write the blog, but I’ve been out all day at a rehearsal for the local TEDx, which is coming up in a fortnight’s time and at which I’ll be reading – or perhaps performing – some poetry.
I won’t go into the details of what I’ll be doing, as I guess I will write about it all after the event (or not), but all the talks and performances are vaguely connected to and around the theme of the event, which is “home”.
Continue reading “late home”