Archive for the ‘Childhood memories’ Category


Girls reading, a painting by Henri Lebasque (1865-1937) (Source:Wikimedia Commons)

Once upon a training course we were asked to think back to the earliest stories we could remember. Some people recalled true stories, some recalled fairy stories. When we revealed our most persistent memories we realised they seemed to say something about ourselves and what drives us. (more…)

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I could have been an Esmeralda – this is Disney’s interpretation in The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1996

Forgive me for being self-indulgent, but I am going to write occasional blog posts about the people or things without which I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

First of all, I found out only in recent years that I was named after somebody. (more…)

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The Indonesian volcano of Rinjani in 1994, by Oliver Spalt on Wikimedia Commons

STOP PRESS: Moments after I published this, reports came in of a volcano erupting in Sumatra – so best wishes to everyone struggling there…

Did you have an irrational fear of something when you were a child? In my case, for a while at least, I was terrified of volcanoes. You might say that’s not so crazy. But as I lived in Wales, where an eruption would be pretty near impossible, I think it was.

So this post is all about what (more…)

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In November 1963, 50 years ago, John Kennedy was assassinated and Doctor Who hit our TV screens…

OK, this will probably be very boring for you, but I am going to explore some big moments in history from my childhood perspective.

If I don’t do this now I never will, for there can never be a better time than the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F Kennedy and the first episode of Doctor Who on TV. Those events happened in this week and I’m sure most people will have noticed the coverage in the media.

I don’t have any huge insights into history, just a few moments frozen in time. In my mind and heart I can still (more…)

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My old iron…

The other day, when I was in the middle of ironing, all the electrical power went off in the house. I assumed it was a power cut and checked with neighbours. I was surprised to find it affected only our house.

I turned the power-supply trip-switches off and back on. Nothing. I switched off the lights, radio, iron, etc and tried again, realising I had missed one of the trip-switches the first time. Hooray! Let there be light!

I switched the iron back on. Bang! Everything went again. But (more…)

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The All Saints window in the Hayes, Cardiff

I think I must be in possession of the only old Singer sewing machine still in the wild. All the others have been rounded up and herded into the windows of All Saints fashion stores throughout the land.


My Singer sewing machine - with apologies to Henri Rousseau's Tiger in a Tropical Storm painting of 1891...

My mother’s machine still (more…)

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The booklet every household in Britain received in preparation for decimalisation

On Monday, February 15, 1971, Britain’s currency went decimal. Forty years on, it’s an ideal opportunity for nostalgia about the wonderful coins we had before that Decimal Day.

The £1 remained the basic unit of our currency and in those days we had green £1 notes, rather than the brassy coins we have today – those were introduced in 1983 and the £1 note was withdrawn in 1988.


The £1 note of my childhood – it was changed to a smaller one in 1978 and £1 notes were eventually withdrawn in 1988

But now the £1 was divided into 100 new pennies. Previously there had been 240 old pennies, not that we thought of it like that. There were 12 pennies in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound.

We had our complicated (imperial) weights and measures tables on the back of every red exercise book and many was the childhood hour we spent memorising them.

Coins were so much bigger then, and the non-decimal system made sure we were good at arithmetic. No wonder our “times tables” went up to 12, rather than the obvious 10 (obvious because we have 10 digits on hands and feet, made for counting on).


Pennies of Edward VII (1906), George V (1933), George VI (1948) and Elizabeth II (1953)

A pocketful of pennies also contained the history of our kings and queens for more than a century. Before decimalisation came in, we were able to amass portraits in copper of Queen Victoria, Edward VII, George V, George VI and Queen Elizabeth II. Of course George VI is much in the news in 2011 with the success of the film The King’s Speech.

As for Edward VIII (of Mrs Simpson fame), (more…)

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To me Bird's was always the make for custard and blancmange powders


Squelchy green jelly - or jello, if you are American

I was thinking back to childhood birthday parties with “jelly and ice-cream”. Then I thought further back and remembered we didn’t have a fridge, let alone a freezer or ice-box. No, we used to have “jelly and blancmange”.

The jelly was ever present when I was a child. We made it every (more…)

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Snowberries (Symphoricarpos albus) I saw in a city hedge the other day - they make a satisfying pop when you stamp on them

The other day I spotted some snowberries in the hedge of a city terrace and it took me right back to my childhood in the country and how we played with any natural materials that came to hand.

Snowberries (Symphoricarpos albus) are also called waxberries as they (more…)

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A surprisingly brown house...

When I passed this house the other day I was shocked to see it had been repainted in an unusual chocolate-brown colour. More than anything I was surprised because it took me back immediately to a childhood story I remember.

My Auntie Edna (same one who made the lavender bags, see last blog post), always encouraged me to read and one Christmas she gave me a big blue-cloth-bound book called something like “365 stories – one for every day of the year” (not sure about leap years). It was a modern book with very short stories and colour drawings in an almost cartoon style.

One or two stories were memorable and this is one of them. A family wanted to repaint their house but they couldn’t decide what colour. The mother wanted blue, the father wanted red and the children wanted yellow.

So eventually they decided to compromise. They got a big bucket and poured into it the blue paint, the red paint and the yellow paint. They gave it a big stir. And they ended up with what they considered a very satisfactory chocolate-brown house…

The one pictured above looks a lot like the drawing in the book. It’s actually not a house any more but a nursery school. Maybe they asked all the toddlers what colour they wanted?


The mother wanted blue, the father wanted red and the children wanted yellow...

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