Memories are funny things.
So many of my childhood memories are just snapshots. A picture in my head, a scent, a fleeting sensation of a touch. Sometimes just the memory of a moment that stops me in my tracks before it disperses like mist in the morning sun.
Time has no real meaning in these memories.
Like a wall that has been decorated many times over the years they reveal themselves in layer upon layer of faded paint that has been chipped over times reaching back to forgotten days.
I could have been three or seven or nine ...
I remember sitting on a low stool in front of an open fire. Draped across the fireguard was a pair of white lacy tights steaming gently as they dried in the heat from the flames. My Grandmother stroking my hair gently and telling me to watch them carefully so they didn't singe.
The tights were for me to wear to a party that afternoon.
I don't remember the party at all. I don't remember pulling the tights on or putting on a party dress.
I do remember the touch of her hand on my hair and the feeling of proud responsibility that she should trust me to watch the tights as they dried.
I remember holding Grandads hand in the garden as he pointed out the sharp thorns on the gooseberry bushes that edges his vegetable garden and I remember him telling me to take care not to scratch myself as he let me pick the very first of the plump yellow berries so different from their smaller green sour cousins that had to be cooked before you could eat them.
I remember popping the large berry into my mouth. The feel of the tight skin covered in soft downy hairs that burst in my mouth like sunshine as I bit through it.
I remember the dusty darkness of the garage only lit only by a shaft of light from the open door and the slightly musty earthy smell of the sacks of potatoes still covered in mud from the garden, the sweet scent of onions hanging from hooks in the rafters plaited together to form long ropes from which you could break one with a sharp twist of your wrist.
I remember how the smell of mint filled the air as the green carpet that spread under the red currents was crushed underfoot as we plucked the tiny red berries from the bushes and how the soft fronds of lavender brushed against my arm as I passed by sending a cloud of bees buzzing into the air briefly before they settled again in the purple haze.
I remember the heat from the oven as my Grandmother baked and the yeasty smell of fresh bread wafting through the open door making my mouth water.
I remember the smell of Pears soap, the feel of the smooth oval tablet the colour of topaz, so big in my small hands.
I remember the huge storage heater filled with bricks that heated up over many hours and stayed so hot you could barely touch them. I remember my Grandmother taking the butter dish out of the fridge and placing on the top of the heater with strict instructions to watch it carefully as it softened and to not allow it to melt. I remember putting cushions on top of the heater to warm on cold mornings and hugging them tightly to me.
I remember the bright blue cornflowers that my Grandmother loved whilst deploring the untidy way that they grew.
I remember the Rhododendron hedge that surrounded the back garden a riot of red flowers with drooping purple centres and the sweet smelling Daphne that filled the air by the kitchen window with a wondrous smell.
I remember the chuckle of the chickens as they scratched the ground looking for worms and the smooth feel of warm, freshly laid eggs in the palm of my hand.
I remember the fascination I had for the the huge water butt that caught the rain from the down pipe over the outhouse. A whole world lived in that water butt. Pond skaters lying on their backs busily rowing from side to side, water fleas hoping around on the top of the water as though it were dry land, newts that had found their way there somehow from a nearby pond. I could watch them for hours ...
A huge washing line ran along the path at the far end of the garden. It must have been 20ft long. The post for the line were telegraph pole cut to maybe 15ft lengths and there were two lines strung between them. One was low enough to hang washing from standing on the path and the other was lowered on a pulley system so the sheets soared high above the rows of cabbages and lines of runner beans growing up poles fashioned into wigwams. There they dried as they flapped with a sound like ships sails in the breeze.
All of these memories and many more were gathered over time, maybe many years, I really don't know but they all come together as the story of childhood innocence and happy times.