I was born in a large city in the Midlands but at the age of six, after the death of my father and re-marriage of my mother, we moved to a small Derbyshire village where I stayed, apart from a couple of years living in Nottingham, for over twenty years. When Mum and I moved to the village I gained a step-father, a step-sister and a new family of uncles, aunts and cousins.
Earlier last week we went over to Chesterfield to visit my sister and she wanted to go to the village, just a few miles away, where she was born and where we both grew up. We wandered around the old childhood haunts taking photographs.
Visiting the church where we were both married and where our parents (except for my father) are buried. In my sister's case there are two or three generations of family burials in the churchyard.
We remembered when we could play in the street with hardly any cars to bother us. We used to walk down this street from top to bottom twice a day to school and back. Past open fields, market gardens, farm houses and little stone cottages on our way down past the church, the shop and post office and the pub on our way to school.
The building on the left was the shop and post office, now just a private home. We children would sometimes call at the shop after school to buy sweets like aniseed balls, gob stoppers, sherbet dabs or penny chews.
The school is twice the size it was when we were there. It looks as if a couple of extensions have been added and there is a fenced off garden area. The grass in front is the school field. We used to play in here on warm summer days, making daisy chains, testing each other with buttercups under the chin to see if we liked butter. We played 'cowboys and indians' (apologies if that is now non PC but that is what it was called and I have no other name for it), 'tiggy off the ground', 'tag' and 'tin-can a-lurky' (not sure how to spell that!). In the playground itself on colder days we had some climbing frames but what the girls liked best was skipping - running in and out of the circling rope and chanting verses which I can't remember but I do remember how we worked out who was 'on' when we played 'tag' or 'tiggy' by standing in a ring holding out both fists and taping them saying 'one potato, two potato' etc or 'ittle, ottle, chocolate bottle, ittle ottle out' The one with a fist left at the end was 'on' and had to run after and touch or tag the others until all were caught.
Both my sister and I remember an idyllic childhood of being allowed to play down the lanes and in the woods, by the brook and near the sheep dip. Most weeks we would be lined up in twos to attend a church service or to go on a 'nature walk' after which we'd come back to school and place all our findings on the nature table, usually in jam jars. We used to sprout beans in jam jars with damp blotting paper in them on the table too.
It was a lovely warm day when we had our wander around so memories of spring in the village came pouring back, the primroses, violets, 'egg and bacon', bluebells and daffodils in the woods. The fields full of cowslips with peewits (Lapwings) flying overhead and the call of the cuckoo, heard often in those days and rarely heard now. Is there any wonder I have such happy memories of Spring in the village?