Considering I suffer quite significant memory loss, due in large part to epileptic seizures which started in my teenage years, it’s amazing how many memories my brain can cling to.
Recently with us starting a family of our own I’ve been thinking a lot about growing up with my crazy bunch and it’s made me realise how lucky I am.
This is a fairly self-indulgent blog as I’m going to use it to write down some of the lovely things I remember about them, but hopefully it will inspire you to dig into your own memory bank and reminisce about growing up.
For most of my life I’ve had four, healthy, happy grandparents. Infact I still have managed the fairly incredible feat (by the age of 28 anyway!) of only having lost one grandparent, my grandad Peter. It happened a little over a year ago and having never really lost a loved one I knew that well, was heart breaking. But I have wonderful memories of him. As I do of all of them.
My mum only worked two days a week when we were all much younger and they’d take it in turns to keep us occupied and out of trouble when she did. My grandma and grandad Peter keeping a watchful eye on us on a Tuesday and my nonna and grandad Tony taking their turn on a Wednesday.
There’s FAR too many memories between the two days to cram into one blog, so first let’s do Tuesday. School holidays were always a lot of fun because instead of coming home to post school day pocket money, sweets (apple bon bons or aniseed balls!) and just an hour or so of giggles we usually had a whole day of adventuring lined up.
Tuesday during summer holidays normally meant touring grand old houses, visiting Beamish or even – on one occasion – heading down a coal mine with my grandma and grandad Peter. No easy task considering my grandad was always a tall man and had to walk round the underground tunnels, stooping over all the way so he didn’t hit his head!
I remember strolling round one particular old house (I think it was possibly Castle Howard) and trying to convince my little brother that my grandma and grandad were thinking about buying it.
Whilst we always went somewhere different the pattern of the days was always the same. They’d pick us up at some horrifically early hour – which naturally became more of a challenge as we became teenagers! – and my grandad Peter would drive us up and down the country to wherever we were headed. My grandma shouting instructions at him from the back of the car, in spite of the fact that she had never learned to drive and had even less idea than him of where we were supposed to be going.
Naturally their banter had my brother, sister and I in hysterics for most of the journey and I remember one particular time (I am still giggling to myself as I type this!) of my grandma pointing out of the car window and saying “Oh look, a snail just went past!” in an attempt at criticising my grandad’s slow driving.
On arrival at our destination we’d normally hunt out the closest toilet (“You never know where your next one’s coming from!”) followed by a café as my grandma was always “Dying for a coffee!” Cue toasted teacakes all round.
After a bit of a stroll we’d tuck into homemade sarnies – always with far too much butter! – pick at Lunchables, crisps, chocolate and anything else considered remotely unhealthy which my mum normally rationed! Then before you knew it the day was done and we’d be back in the car on our way home.
As we got older our activities changed fairly significantly, by the time we were all at secondary school in the nearby town of Beverley where my grandparents actually lived, we were old enough to probably look after ourselves but stubborn enough to cling to our Tuesday tradition. We’d meet for a coffee (or more likely hot chocolate, covered in cream and marshmallows) then stroll through town to pick up a couple of pizzas to share. I’m probably wrong but I don’t actually remember giving up this Tuesday night tradition until I left for university!
There’s lots more I remember about spending time with my grandma and granddad at their house too:
The polished wooden staircase in their living room that we spent hours playing on – building forts underneath it, sending baskets tied to pieces of string over the edge to deliver notes to those sat in the living room, even polishing them just because we wanted to slide up and down them more easily.
A painting in their spare bedroom of a dock that I used to make up pirate stories about to tell my little sister when we were small and sleeping over.
An old fashioned crystal perfume bottle and big pink powder puff that sat on my grandma’s dressing table which we used to love playing with.
The huge garden that surrounded the house and how much fun we used to have chasing each other around it.
The two armchairs, one for each of them, that no-one else ever sat in. Both with a borrowed library book sat next to them on the retro coffee tables stuffed with books, television magazines, boxes of tissues and anything else you could possibly imagine.
A ‘smoking man’ that we used to stuff with incense at Christmas and fight over who got to light.
Drawers in the fridge full of every imaginable shade of pink nail varnish and fridge doors stuffed with unopened packets of my grandparents greatest vice – butter!
Being allowed golden syrup on toast as a perfectly acceptable breakfast choice (my mum would probably still not allow this!) when we had spent the night.
But probably my favourite memory came from what should have been a horrible evening. When I ran to my grandad in floods of tears after my sister had been hurt on Bonfire Night and he just hugged me. He loved us to pieces but he wasn’t a particularly demonstrative man and I can still remember burying my face in his pudgy belly, probably wiping tears all over his pristine shirt in the process, while he just hugged me. He was pretty awesome.