Just a little glimpse into the past.
A photo of me and my little brother Graham with Aunty Ida and Uncle Harold. It was their caravan and the time spent with them, that I think started my lifelong desire to live a Smaller life ... and eventually in the same place.
I was four when my brother was born and to give my parents a rest from their headstrong and tomboyish little girl, Ida and Harold would take me, along with my Nana, to their caravan most weekends. I was a self-sufficient little girl and would play happily on my own while the 'grown-ups' did whatever it was they did ... knit, read newspapers and make sandwiches most days if I remember correctly. Some days though, we would drive to the coast and sit in the car opposite the sea, eat the sandwiches, drink lukewarm tea from the flask, marvel at the wind, the rain or the waves crashing on the beach ... and then drive back to the caravan. That bit always baffled me ... why didn't we get out and run along the beach getting wet and having fun?
Oh well, that's the only time the age divide was ever a problem!
Back at the caravan park I had a best friend in the little boy that also came to stay most weekends with his granny who owned the caravan directly opposite. Me and Nigel would befriend the newer children on their once a year holidays and show them the ropes, the best places to play and the adventures that unsupervised children could get up to. We felt like 'old-timers' that knew everything and all the best secret hideouts.
As well as my weekends away, I came to the caravan park for a family holiday each year. A two-week break that we looked forward to, even in the days of no television, crackly radio and rain, usually rain. Well me and Graham looked forward to the holiday. How my Mum felt about this regular break, confined to a small van with two young children for two rainy weeks I have only realised in recent years.
Emptying our piggy banks (a batman bank in Grahams case) in anticipation of the money we had saved week in week out from our pocket money ... 1s 3d pocket money in my case, the 3d always going to the 'holiday fund' the rest being frittered away on Beano's, Dandy's, Bunty's and penny sweets ... being used to buy ice-creams, sticks of rock and a gift to treat ourselves to while we were away.
There were family walks in the evenings, usually to feed a horse called Fred.
All the horses were called Fred by my parents in those days, whether they actually were or not I have no idea. Also, some years Fred changed colour and was brown ... we didn't question the obvious!!
There were days out to the local agricultural show which usually coincided with our annual holiday.
I don't know why there are so many photos of us with horses ... maybe that's what put me off horses for life ... being made to feed, stroke and be brave around these huge animals for the photo opportunity it gave my Dad :-)
And then there were the 'hikes'. Long, long walks wearing 'pac a macs' and rain-hoods against the persistent rain. Dad usually saying we were lost and would never find our way back ... was that ever the case, we never knew ... but always feared the worst. And just as the sweat on the inside of our plastic body coverings made us as wet as the rain on the outside would have done, out would come the sunshine, a safe place to sit would be found and a picnic would materialise.
There's a comedy show somewhere in this little tale!!
Talking of Dad ... please look at my Dad in this photo and not my knobbly knees, I shouldn't have mentioned the knees should I, now you've looked twice as hard!!
Mum will kill me for this bit.
Here she is sat on the edge of Greenhalgh Castle, when you used to be able to go right up the footpath to see it and explore. You can almost read her thoughts ... why am I here?
Why am I trapped in a tiny four berth caravan for two weeks every Summer with two bloody annoying children?
Why is there no heating in the van, no electricity, no television, no running water, no toilet?
Why is Syd taking so long to get this bloody photo of me?
When can I get down off this bloody rock?
Here we all are peeking out of the ruins of the castle.
They were good holidays from a child's point of view and lead to other more 'upmarket' holidays at Pontins as my parents finances improved and we got older. But it was these holidays and the weekends ... the weekends of freedom from doing anything but appearing for meals and bedtime ... that have always stayed with me, and perhaps nurtured the need for a smaller and simpler life that has been held in check for far too long.
And if you haven't already guessed, the header photo of the gate leading to the field, leading to a Smaller and Simpler life ... also leads to Greenhalgh Castle.