The Big 5 - 0! Chapter 1

Have been pondering a lot the past few days - well since I turned 50, that is. Maybe pondering is what you do when you reach a milestone age! When I turned 40 it was quite liberating but I didn't make a big deal out of it. It was sort of "Thank goodness I don't have to worry about what other's think anymore and I can just get on with being myself". I then made the life changing decision to change countries!! However, 50 is quite significant and made me wonder exactly what I have done with my 50 years. . . . .

When I was born it was 1962 and midwives were District Nurses who came round on a bicycle to deliver babies in people's homes. My District Nurse's name was Connie apparently and she delivered me into the world at about twenty past twelve p.m. on the 10th of July! That must have been in the days when we still had summer in July at least in Cumbria because I was told that it was a lovely day! I don't remember an awful lot from living in Appleby as we left when I was three but I remember the lad with a motor bike next door that used to rev the thing and scare me; I remember being in a car going over some hump bridge somewhere and daffodils all over the place; I remember the sound of horses thundering past at the Appleby Horse Fair and playing outside with my doll. Interestingly I was born in a place known for it's Gypsy get togethers and my mother was told by two fortune tellers that she would have a daughter (and Mum was in her late 30's then and had three almost grown lads) and that she would be moving to a country with a new flag! Well, those were great fortune tellers! A lot of my life has been spent moving around myself!

Next on my list of places to live was at the opposite end of the country - Uckfield in Sussex.  I was almost three when we moved there. My father had gone to Malawi to start a new job and check out whether or not a newly independent African country would be suitable for his wife and daughter to go and live in. For some unknown reason my mother, youngest brother and I moved to Uckfield to a flat over a shop and my mother took a job at Sheffield Park. That park would influence me for the rest of my life. I recall my mother encouraging me to walk the long distance to work with her (yes she could take me with her) by singing "These boots are made for walking" as I trudged along in my wellies as swiftly as I could past a huge bull with a ring in his nose who terrified me and lived in one of the fields that we passed by. I have wonderful memories of my mother's little wooden ticket box where she used to sell entrance tickets to loads of tourists that visited the Park. Outside the little ticket hut was a large tree stump where I used to play with my cars and sit and eat sandwiches and drink milky coffee (a no-no now for children!) when lunch time rolled around. I had free range of the park as we knew all the gardeners and rangers and somehow with all its hazards of lakes, swans and the possibility of getting lost, I survived in an idyllic environment with the scents of flowers, trees and grass that remain with me always. I used to earn coins and sweets from the American tourists who loved having a little English girl as their tour guide.  I revisited Sheffield Park a few years ago and gone is my mothers little wooden hut and in it's place is a large modern tourist information centre but the park in essence still has the same "feel" and smells!

In September of 1965 we went to Africa - some aspects of that journey still remain in my somewhat menopausal memory bank. I recollect sitting in a very hot plane on a runway in Congo waiting to take off for Blantyre in Malawi. My mother was so excited about being on board a BOAC Comet - at the time I was just hot and bothered and needing to get up and run around and the little lemon "flavoured" face towels the cabin crew handed out were not doing it for me. I now realise how lucky I was to have flown on such a significant aircraft! The next thing I remember was landing at Chileka Airport in Blantyre and racing through customs to look for my father whom I hadn't seen in ages. I had a little handbag with a picture of him in it and double checked the picture against him before I allowed him to sweep me off my feet in this strange land.......

.....To be continued for my own amusement soon :)




Comments

  1. mum that is beautiful...you are such a good writer and I can't wait to read more!

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