Were our summers longer?
In the days when there were no mobile phone or games consoles
As a child I all through the school holidays i would leave the house after rushing breakfast or taking it with me,
Running through the woods with a piece of burnt toast in my hand
Toby my dog at my heel
Heading for the huge oak tree at the top of the hill that held our rope swing.
Huge and beautiful ever changing I loved that tree swinging climbing sitting in it’s branches with a book. When we had rope for a swing and a good strong stick I’d sit with my back pressed against it huge trunk at least five feet wide watching as friends swung out over the high drop where the stream ran below.
Bright pink rhodadendron bushes and spiky Holly would break our fall if we fell.
Red Sandy soil tall green grass bright blue sky.
It wasn’t a massive woodland and it was in the middle of a council estate but it was our paradise I loved it.
When it was my turn I’d grab the thick blue rope and swing as high as I could. Legs strieght out leaning back, long hair blowing in the warm summer breeze and for a few minutes I was free, I was flying.
The stream meandered below we would build dams from large stones and sticks the lads would steal cargo nets off the lorries that would park up on east lancs road
Then they would tie them high up between four trees we would bounce about up there it was more luck than our knot tying skills that prevented us from falling!
Crank caverns we’re a few miles from the estate another favourite place I loved it there I’d often set off with a Terry prachett book a bottle of water and walk the few miles spend the day up there.
The lane to the caverns started between two old farm houses Mrs Hewitt one of our teachers lived in one with her daughter Sally she would wave as I passed by. Behind her house where the horses fields and the most beautiful Chestnut mare I’d stop for a chat feeding her handfuls of lush green grass from my side of the fence she couldn’t quite reach. Her warm breath and soft nuzzle rubbing against my face
If I was lucky enough to have custard cream buiscuits I’d share them too and she would rest her huge head on my shoulder and I’d tell her anything and everything. Dogs and horses were always my confidants.
The next part of the walk was through beautiful golden fields thin strieght path through swaying wheat fields I’d sometimes walk into the field and lie down in a cocoon of earthy smelling golden wheat corn or barley reading my book I never felt alone or afraid.
Often falling asleep book in hand . Thankfully never when the combine was working
The caverns (caves) we’re in a small valley surrounded by a small dence disiduous woodland
Trees so close there was places that where almost darkness then another few steps bright sunlight flooded in. I would try to have one food in dark the other in light. Shady and cool on a hot summers day
It was said that the caves were once connected to a hall in Rainford the next village over the years they had become blocked but I would still venture inside as far as I could go.
Feeling my way along the cold stone graffitied walls.
The energy inside there was palpable.
They fasanated me.
I’d stay as long as possible lighting a small fire as night closed in.
No light pollution the sky on a clear night was light a black stary blanket only the sound of crickets and shuffle of nocturnal creatures hedgehogs foxes Badgers
Earthy smell of fallen leaves and thick grass that seemed to grow moss like that was often my bed.
I always slept well outside.
I’m sure this magical place sparked my absolute love of camping, walking and being outside any chance I have.
If you have ever been woken gently by the dawn chorus around you, you’ll know what I mean.
All this magic I was around eleven years old no one missed me whilst I was gone and I know look on that as a blessing.
I always had my dog and carried a small folding pen knife gifted to me by my Nan.
She gave it to me with a wink and a ‘dont tell your mam.’
I’d pull up a swede or carrots peel and eat vegetables taste amazing when eaten as you pick them .
In the next village Rainford there was a huge field of peas
They are one of nicest sweetest things I’ve ever eaten. I’d walk home with my pockets full.
Do my chores then leave again for another adventure.
I’m so very glad I was a sixty’s child
For life was and continues to be beautiful if you go outside look at the sky walk touch the earth talk to animas connect with guardian trees lie in fields of gold
It’s never too late. What are you waiting for?