Horse Chestnut

Horse Chestnut leaf today. On a sapling. The leaves are larger than a man’s hand, deeply segmented and split into seven sections. The tree will grow very large and when it starts to flower it will grow large white flowering bracts. Then in the autumn it develops nuts called Conkers. These are encased in a spikey shell that you have to peel off. This is the thing that children make holes through and then use to play the game conkers. Basically each person has one of them. They drill or pierce the nut with a skewer fron the top to the base. It is then threaded onto a string. Two children / people stand opposite each other. One holds up their conker and swings it at the other one. If it hits it can either knock the other conker or split it. If it doesn’t break the other person takes a turn. The conker is called a “one-er” if it survives. Each time it doesn’t break the number goes up, so “two-er” and so on. Some people bake conkers or soak them in vinegar to strengthen them.

So basically when you hear about a game of conkers that’s what it is. The trouble comes when you try and get them off the trees. We have a row of them on the main road. Children throw sticks and stones up at the branches to get them down which can be a hazard if you walk or drive underneath them.

Four eyes

When I was little I used to get called ‘four eyes’ because I was wearing glasses. It was hurtful and upsetting but I don’t think I really understood why other children were calling me that. It didn’t help having an unusual name. Kids would shout names at me like ‘blueband’ (a name of a margarine). I realise now I was being bullied. I was only about seven or eight and I hated it.

The Cavern and the Beatles

When the Beatles were famous I was a child. By the time they split up I was still not very old. One of my earliest memories was hearing them on the radio. ‘Help’, Love me do’, ‘Yesterday’, I can still remember a lot of the words and tunes and I really feel nostalgic when I hear their songs.

I was a bit older when I heard of the Cavern Club in Liverpool, Merseyside. I never went there but cavern came up as a word prompt for a friend and suddenly I remembered where I’d heard the word. So I looked it up on the Internet (where I got the photo). The original club opened in 1957 as a jazz club. They didn’t like rock and roll but when it was taken over the Beatles started to play there in 1961 (they were previously known as the Quarrymen). Apparently they played there over 270 times. The club itself was a cellar with a curved arched ceiling. It closed in 1973 and was demolished so a railway line could be laid. The Cavern club did reopen but I’m not sure if it still is open.

How lucky

How lucky to have glasses, to be able to see. I didn’t always wear glasses. My poor eyesight was only picked up in eye screening at school. I don’t remember things being blurred or hard to see. Did I sit at the front of the class? I don’t know. I remember my first glasses. They had beautiful blue frames. I learnt to be patient as the optician looked into the back of my eyes. Shining a light so I could see the blood vessels reflected somehow onto my retinas.

Rugby ball shaped eyes were the diagnosis. Short sighted. Suddenly I could see the world clearly. I felt freed from a struggle I did not know I had been going through. I only realised how bad my eyesight was when I learnt to swim. I couldn’t wear my glasses in the swimming pool and I could not recognise my friends unless they came close.

Now I understand why I got lost on a beach a few years before! I could not see my family when I wandered off. And why I got lost on a caravan site. I could not see the numbers on the vans…. Yes I am lucky. I wish others could be too…

Reading

A friend here, @stoneronarollercoaster just asked what book got people into reading as a child.

I remember reading Myths and Legends books from quite early on. The story of Pandora box for instance. I remember them when I was about eight or nine. And when I was older I liked the Nancy Drew Mysteries then Agatha Christie stories.

But the main book that got me was when I was about ten I read ‘Old Yeller’ a book that shocked me as it was about a dog that had caught rabies. I remember it was very sad and made me really aware of death. I’ve never read it again. Maybe I should. I’ve been a bibliophile ever since.

Seaside colours

Just drawing in these colours gives me memories of sunny days at the seaside. If the colours were greys and turq, with some white added I would think of wild stormy days.

I remember a seaside holiday in the summer that was very grey and wet. The rain started as we arrived and took a taxi from the station to the chalet we were staying in. I was about eleven and I remember staring out of single glazed windows down a steep hill. I can’t remember a beach? I do remember mom having to put coins in a box on the back of a TV so we could watch it.w

Eventually the weather cleared up m I remember a harbour with lots of sailing boats. I think we went mackerel fishing but all my family got seasick except for me. The fishing lines kept catching fish and I pulled them in. When we got back the fisherman tried to give mom all the old fish but she insisted we got the ones I had caught. I don’t know what happened to them.

I also remember a hovercraft trip on a very choppy sea and eating egg and chips in a rough cafe. Funny what comes back when you see an image..

Being polite

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘I was dragged up to be polite’?

But I think I was taught to be polite from an early age. Things like being told not to answer back, don’t speak until you’re spoken to, children should be seen and not heard. In some ways those are very old fashioned values, but then I was born decades ago. I was the child of parents born in the 1920’s a different era. Me before Thatchers children were born, my parents before Churchill.

Politeness is important to me. Caring about things, being or trying to be aware of things, but sometimes I don’t notice. I don’t always pick up on what has happened, but at least I have politeness to fall back on. Politeness and politics must be verbally linked. Police is to do with being of the people, perhaps polite has the same root?

F. R. O. G. Plane

FROG stands for ‘flies right of the ground’ this plane was just on the TV. The body was aluminium and the wings and tail were made of paper.

This was made in the 1930’s? You put the body of the plane in the box with the propellar attached. There is a handle on the front of the box and a mechanism that holds the propellar. You turn the handle and it winds up a rubber band. Then you peg the wings and tail on and let it loose to fly up off the ground.

Our forebears may not have had the Internet but they knew how to have fun!

Remembered scary tree

Oh I used to run past this tree. I was convinced as a child that it was inhabited by a ghost. As part of this terms college work we had to remember some landscape from our childhood and this was what I thought of.

I’ve probably missed out trees and I can’t remember if there were houses in the background. But it will remain with me forever!