Thinking About – Childhood Adventures

Yup. Feeling a bit nostalgic today and this old advert is about as nostalgic as it gets.

I was thinking about the places I used to go when I was a child. It seemed that I could walk just a few minutes and I’d find some wild place. Sometimes a wood, other times a piece of barren land, or even an old derelict house. One of our favourite haunts was The Dump, an old piece of scrub just outside my old primary school in Haywards Heath. It wasn’t supposed to be a dump, but people left all sorts of rubbish there. I remember finding an old Christmas Tree that had gone brown, and dragging it all the way home, and I just didn’t understand when my Mum told me to take it back. I found some old lawn-edging shears. They looked alright to me, but they were a bit rusty I suppose. And we were always told not to hide in the fridges when we were playing hide and seek, just in case the door slammed and locked, and we would be strapped inside. Of course The Dump is now a housing estate.

IMG_7555There were a lot more derelict houses back then too. I know it’s good to make use of brown field places and rebuild on them, but man we loved finding an old empty building. Again we were told not to go in, but that’s a red rag to a bull to a young boy and his mates. I had two favourites. One was the old fire station just at the edge of Victoria Park, the other a huge abandoned girl’s school called Trevelyan. The fire station was on the main road of the high street, but once you got inside it was quiet, dark, broken, and hugely exciting. Vampires lived there. I was sure of that. We explored each room by torchlight. We never found their coffins, but they were there all right.

The old school was a massive multi-storey building. You had to slide under a couple of barbed wire fences, but then you were in the grounds. It had a grand entrance hall, and in many of the rooms the bookshelves lay broken, spilling books onto the floor, as if they had just fallen just a few days before. Floorboards had gone in many of the rooms and walking across them, with the drop to the room below clearly visible… Man, the crazy things kids do.

There were ghosts there, that’s for sure. These were more real than the Firehouse Vampires (what a great name for a band!!) By the time you climbed the high staircase up the seven floors to the roof you had walked through countless cold-spots, heard the sound of feet on broken glass and, somewhere in the building the creaking of a door. It was very spooky at night. I remember going there once after dark, sliding under the wires, walking up the steps towards the entrance hall, and stepping inside. My friend froze. Bid me to stop. To stay still. Then a voice, booming, “What do you think you’re doing in here AAAAAGGGHHH!! What do you think you’re doing in here AAAAAGGGHHH!!” We ran.

It was a ghost of course.

Did you ever pack a survival kit – water, some crisps, a pen knife, you know, all of the important stuff, and head out into The Wild? We did that a lot. The Wild was often a woods near Franklyn Village. It wasn’t big, but it felt big to us back then, everything did. We talked of how we would survive there. We cut spears to hunt, lit a small fire, and ate our crisps. We told spooky stories. Life was going to be tough, but we would do it. We were ready.

But then it got dark, and we had to get home for tea.

Next time I’d bring a yoghurt.

By | 2016-10-14T11:00:14+00:00 August 15th, 2016|Categories: Nature, Story|12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Nancy Wisser August 15, 2016 at 11:52 am - Reply

    Childhood adventures! I grew up in the country, so my adventures were to the woods. I was the only girl around, so I was always by myself, down by the little streams, up between the hills where no one searching would ever find you, or hiding under thick bushes and pretending you would never go home. I’ll bet no one even lets little girls do those things now, but for me it was the best thing of all. I felt like the sky and the earth and the trees were my best friends and I could tell them anything. With home the way it was, that was the only safety and peace I got. It was a wonderful gift.

  2. Pamela Williams August 15, 2016 at 12:25 pm - Reply

    Lovely blog….brought back memories of the woods and derelict house that myself and my friend had our adventures in.
    I’ve just returned from a nostalgic trip on Ynys Mon where I grew up visiting my favourite places…..definately my home.

  3. Billie Wilson August 15, 2016 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    Love this! Me and my sister used to go on adventures on our bikes – we’d pack little picnics and just go off exploring. One time, we heard a rabbit screaming, looked in the hedge and saw it in the jaws of a ferret. We yelled and shouted at the ferret and it dropped the rabbit, which darted off. The ferret just stayed where it was, rabbitless and with a look of disdain on it’s wee face! We had a few little hideouts, usually little clearings in the woods, but they were always magical places to us – as was Fittleworth Common, which we called Pogle Wood (after the TV show). I went there recently, and it’s so much smaller than I remember it. Not sure if that’s because I’m bigger now, or if it actually IS smaller!

  4. Susan Chandler August 15, 2016 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    Delightful reminiscence that brings back memories of my own girlhood rambles. Thanks.

  5. Leonore August 15, 2016 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    I remember walking miles and miles with friends and my siblings along the banks of the Water of Leith, from Balgreen all the way to Slateford in Edinburgh where there was an interesting arrangement of concrete piers into the river. They were shaped like lolllipops so were always known as the lollipop stones. Great in the autumn as we picked and ate brambles from the bushes , coming home with bramble stained fingers and clothes and the odd ( many) scratches from the bramble bushes . It was, as I discovered a round trip of nearly ten miles! How old was the eldest of us enjoying our “nature walks” ? I was 9 and the youngest of our motley bunch was 5 !

    Taking the neighbours baby in it’s pram or walking their dogs for miles …. again things which just couldn’t / wouldn’t happen now. We always went to the park …. with the swings and the witches hat roundabout and the grumpy parky !

    And the abandoned cottage with the apple trees …. treasure indeed . Taking the picnic of jam sandwiches and water , we were fine for the day.

    Then as we were older, we had the fields of the Trent Valley to explore . By now I was 14 and my youngest sibling 9 or 10 , but we would stravaige across the fields to a part of the river known locally as The Shallows … apparently safe enough to swim there , well, we survived ! Late in the day, Mum and dad would bring sausages beans and a loaf , light a fire and tea was made .

    Halcyon days which children today cannot even contemplate . Were we badly treated ? I dont think so, but given the freedom to roam , use our imagination and somehow stayed safe .

    Thank you Damh for opening the pictures of memory, of a childhood long gone, but which helped make me who I am today.

  6. Louise August 15, 2016 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    Ahhh what lovely memories – childhood – if only we realised just how special it was when we were in it. I remember fields of cowslips, apple scrumping, and spending time gazing at a magical tower (Banwell tower) that peeked up above the tree line like a magical fortress – too far away for me at a young age to ever reach. It is sad that today’s children have lost so much

  7. Elowen August 15, 2016 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    My childhood memories were of getting up at 4 or 5am to “run away” before school (the neighbour opposite was always calling my parents to ask if they knew I was sitting on the front doorstep with a small suitcase, which they always did as their bedroom was right next to the front door so they heard it open!), or roam the streets before anything was open pretending to be a homeless Victorian street urchin!
    From the age of 4-5 I’d walk to the beach, (2 miles crossing busy main roads!) or take the cliff path to the next cove from our usual beach, without telling anyone, often dragging my younger sibling along for good measure! How my poor mother didn’t have grey hair form a very early age I’ll never know!
    Happy days.

  8. Char Lewis August 15, 2016 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    I lived in the countryside when I was very young. And I would explore my surroundings by myself, because my two younger siblings were 4 and 3 years old. I was only 5, but I thought I was old enough to venture out on my own and explore.
    In the summer, I would follow the birds into the forest and somehow find my way back. In the winter, I would follow the tracks of animals into the forest. Sometimes I would feed seeds and things to the blue birds straight from my hand, and on one occasion, I found a ‘nest’ of newborn rats, their skin shining in the sun, because they had no fur yet. I left them alone, and returned later to find that mother had moved them, probably because she caught my scent too near her babies.
    I also spent a lot of time at the seaside, finding shells and pretty pebbles and watching tiny creatures in the tide pools. I would even eat snails right off the rocks. I loved going to the ocean with my father and watch him while he speared eels. Other times my parents would cook our dinner on a fire right on the shore. Sometimes it would be boiled dinner (an Eastern Canadian dish ) other timesit would be lobster. All cooked in the sea water. What great memories.
    My mother owned 49 acres of land, all forest and lakes and streams. So I had a huge territory to explore. Needless to say, I never covered very much of it, because I was so young. But I will always cherish my time there,and to this day, I love the forest and wild places and the sea.

  9. Ellie Robson August 15, 2016 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    Running up and down the street on a pretend horse, neighing and whinnying.
    making mud pies in the gutter with a lolly stick to stir it!
    watching the boys climb up the walls in the passageway between two houses and finding a loose railing on the wooden fence into the next street. A secret opening until the lady across the way nailed it up!
    As you can tell I lived in the city, no woods only a nearby park. Still good memories.
    Thank you for sharing yours.

  10. Sonia Smith August 15, 2016 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    Oh those Blue Remembered Hills…

    Not the Forest of Dean for me, Stonehenge out on the rolling downland and a picnic with my big brother, no one in sight, just the larksong, and a thousand grasshoppers.

    And nearer to home the woodland glades where we dammed up the streams like little beavers to see them overflow…

    Bread and cheese, and once a bottle of cider, all stolen from the larders of our parents. Oh… I still can not smell the juice of the apple without the heady sweetness of those golden days when I was very young and free!

  11. Bronzewing August 16, 2016 at 1:25 am - Reply

    I grew up with a lot of bush around me, and a pony, and wild a imagination, so for me it was adventures into the bush with Chubby, where we were Indians or Pony Express riders, anything you could be with a horse, really. There was an old sand mine down the road and that was a favorite place for my sister and my friends and I. Digging into the walls to make caves. Argh, imagine the safety aspects of that! I don’t remember any ruined, haunted houses, though, not til i was an ‘adult’ of 17 or so.

  12. The History Anorak August 16, 2016 at 9:38 am - Reply

    There was an abandoned house a mile or so from where I grew up and we all used to go there, but never inside. Instead we used to help ourselves to the free food in the garden. There were wonderful gooseberry bushes and raspberry canes and all kinds of other fruit. It had been the railway crossing keeper’s house but no-one lived there any more. I vaguely remember them putting automatic gates in. We could stand on the bottom rung and ride to the edges when the trains were coming through.

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