It was 4 o’clock; the sun still high in the sky, as Grandad dropped me off at Nanny’s house, after a few hours in the Forest of bere. I had a carrier bag stuffed full of woodland goodies; moss covered sticks, twigs and bright orange leaves; holly, pine cones and large shiny stones; some with holes in, collected from the forest floor. I ran into the side gate, bag slung around my back, excited to show everyone what I had collected. Through the conservatory, narrowly avoiding tripping, on the step to the kitchen; I emptied the contents of the bag on the dining room floor, satisfied with my Saturday afternoon hall!
It took about fifteen minutes to wander home from Nan and Grandad’s, walking up Fareham Park Road, bags of shopping in hand, right to the very top. Fareham was a small place, where everyone knew each other, exchanging greetings as we walked by. Mrs Adams rubbing my head furiously as Mother and Father passed the time of day; a welcome breather from carrying the bags of shopping home; panting, sore feet, runny nose. As we approached our house, children were playing in the street, neighbours chatting over a garden hedge, others were proudly cleaning their cars or walking an unruly dog. In the distance, I could here the faint humming of a lawn mower; Shirley next door pottering down her path, waving us through the door!
On Saturday evening, we would always have a ‘make do’ meal; Mum, having cooked all week, took respite. A Vesta Curry for Dad, a sandwich for mum, a boiled egg for my brother and I; something simple, non taxing, before a large Sunday Dinner tomorrow; my favourite meal of the week. Mum made up a salad, some ham cut from the bone, hot, spicy home made pickled onions and a jar of piccalilli, sat chatting at the dining room table, looking out across the garden. Ben our cat sat at the window, looking in hungrily as we finished our meal; the sun gently fading away as day turned to dusk.
Television turned on, Dad listened to the final half hour of Grandstand; football results displayed across the screen. Familiar music signalled the end of a sports filled afternoon; football, wrestling with Big Daddy, horse racing on ITV. At just gone five o’clock the news came on; Dad and I both glued to the box. Even at ten years old I was a political animal; listening to my Father raging, banging his fists, sighing loudly; Margaret Thatcher on the TV!
All was quiet on the Avenue, street lamps turned on, illuminating the empty road. Mother drew the curtains; lifting the nets briefly, head bobbing from side to side, checking to see who was about outside. Sat quietly, my back against a chair, Mum lit the fire, smoke filling the air. It was a chilly night as the wind whistled, down the chimney, gently rattling the metal framed windows, blowing into the lounge. Running upstairs, I quickly grabbed my dressing gown, tying it tightly around my waste, pulling the collar upwards, protecting my chest, trying to keep warm. Suitably attired, I ran back down, not wanting to miss the beginning of ‘The Generation Game’ with Larry Grayson, who always made my laugh; ‘shut that door,’ his spectacles dangling from his neck on a beaded chain, slightly camp lisp and kick of the heal.
I could hear Mum in the kitchen making a mug of coffee, immediately I asked for a cup of tea; hot, strong without sugar, accompanied by a milk chocolate digestive and custard cream. Dad shouted from his chair near the fire; ‘a plain crisp and brown sauce sandwich please Mary and a cheeky half a pint of beer.’ This was my Saturday night, relaxing with Mum and Dad, talking, watching the TV. Fond memories with loved ones, recollections from times gone by; happy, carefree childhood, full of contentment, precious memories, with family!
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