In endless summers, we explored the arable land west of our village. Empty lanes reached out across chocolate coloured earth to the River Hull. In the woods near Heigholme Hall - where the Colonel lived with his mysterious daughter - we built dens and made our own adventure playground, hardly breathing when badgers investigated a clearing swathed in honey coloured sunshine that filtered through a canopy of beech, sycamore and horse chestnut.
At the canal, we requisitioned rowing boats and hurled oarfuls of green algae at each other, laughing in the heart of August, unconscious of time or what the future might hold for us. At school, Joyce guessed that Albert Hall was a great composer and in the annual sack race I waddled to another famous victory.
I am so grateful to have been raised in a secure and happy family, in a village where you literally didn't lock your doors - where I knew everybody and everyone knew me, a place where gipsies passed twice a year with their horses and dogs and ragamuffin children as we peered out from the school gates, safe in our certainties.
My childhood was how a childhood should be - a clean bed to sleep in, food on the table, a mother and father who loved me and looked out for me and encouraged me to grow, a rural environment without modern dangers, three brothers to jostle with, a cat called Oscar, vegetables in the garden and rooks in the trees, black and white television, books about pirates or children who lived in faraway places like Trinidad, Hong Kong, Swaziland. Many of us have blessings to count but we often forget to count them.
Images of Leven,
Above - Leven Canal.
Right - the school and schoolhouse where I was born.