Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Memories - Oasis and ice cream drinks...

Oh, something was needed to kickstart a slacker-blogger out of inertia. Thank goodness for Sticky Fingers' weekly photo Gallery from the lovely Tara. It's now Week 23 and the theme for this week is A Memory. Beautiful. So simple and yet so challenging. I've had a difficult couple of months and still trying to find my feet again, but things seem to be on the up. I was driving home from work on Monday and thinking about my poor barren blog when the light went on and my 'memory' was there. I couldn't wait to get back home and post - it's been weeks since I felt like that.

So - the memory. The photo is of (from left to right) Track, me, Wee and M, on 4 August 1996, up at Loch Lomond watching Oasis in concert. The photo is old and a bit blurry as I was holding the camera and M looks a bit distracted, but the joy of that weekend all floods back for me when I see it.

A wonderful two days, filled with friendship, drinking (but not too much as poor Wee was recovering from salmonella) and the joy of seeing Oasis live and lairy and full of Mancunian swagger. We danced and sang ourselves hoarse, I swooned at Liam's ape-like charms and we marvelled at the amazing fireworks at the end of the concert. Sod Knebworth - this was where it was at...

But the trip up to Scotland wasn't just about the Oasis concert, although that was the main reason for going. My mum's side of the family used to live not far away from Loch Lomond up in Gourock and I'd spent happy summer holidays up there staying with the family at my great-grandad's house.

They were such happy holidays. Great Grandad was gruff and old, funny and sarcastic and often a bit scary, but how I loved visiting him and playing in his garden where the wild raspberrries grew.  The last time we were leaving after another holiday, I remember waving goodbye to him through the car back window and suddenly my gran was crying and saying "I'll not see my dad again" and I felt a grip of terror. Such a vivid memory - it is as clear as a bell. She was right too - he died in July 1981.

So, a pilgrimage to Gourock seemed like the right thing to do whilst we were up there in 1996 and so on the Saturday before the concert, M & I drove through Port Glasgow, through Greenock and along to Gourock, following the River Clyde all the way.

Memory - such a powerful thing. In all my life I have never felt the rush of buried memories returning like I did as we drove through the main road through Gourock. It had been 16 years since I'd been there and the torrent of emotion and remembrance took my breath away. It was visceral and strange, but somehow exhilarating at the same time. I have never experienced anything remotely like it since.

Mum and Dad used to take me and my little sister for ice cream drinks when we were up visiting Great Grandad in the summer. I never had such luxurious delights at home and the glamour and magical taste of fizzy lemonade mixed with vanilla ice cream was something to be savoured (come on, it was the late seventies - times were hard!).

So when M and I were in Skipton with O last week on our wet caravan week in the Dales, I was delighted to see that the cafe we had picked for much needed refreshments served ice cream sodas. Hurray - ice cream drinks! It was O's first time.

The look on his face in this picture is priceless and I can feel the passing down of a special tradition has begun. The memory of the fabulous ice cream drink of my childhood is something shared and special and I can confirm that the Skipton 2010 is just as good as the Gourock 1979 vintage...

Monday, 16 August 2010

Camping with the NCT ninjas...

We had a fab, if slightly moist time up in Nether Wassdale on our NCT camping trip. It was so good to get back under the canvas with the gang and see the children rediscover their friendships and develop new ones. O was so happy that the 'little' boys were now able to play cool games like warrior ninjas and secret agents and spent ages running about with Laura's four year old and assisting in his muddy scab development. There were also endless games of cricket and football, played with verve by the secret agents. Here are several of the daring ninjas on the shores of Ennerdale.

One of the men of the party devised a child friendly two mile walk (with the help of Albert Wainwright), which in reality involved scary stepping stones and wading and a long, fairly tortuous slog up one of Scafell Pike's foothills. There was hardy walking, piteous weeping and domestic drama, but the children made it. Here's a picture of them celebrating their achievement. Even the cool teenagers are looking pleased with themselves in the background.

While we were on the shores of Ennerdale, I took some footage of the waves lapping against the stones with my phone. When I'd been ill I had some hypnotherapy and the sound of the water in the Lakes was the soundtrack of my 'special place'. I thought I'd capture this sound and drift off there again. Sadly, this footage is marred by the sound of Laura bellowing soothing entreaties to her children...

Other honourable mentions are:

The ladies toilets in the pub, with their pictorial and vaguely disturbing homage to the female bottom.

Our virgin camper, Solicitor Friend, getting down and dirty with the campers, but still bringing olives and hummous to the picnic table. After two days picnicking on curled-up cheese sandwiches we fell upon this bounty like campers possessed.

Peanut, the hapless and adorable hound, who endured gender confusion for the whole trip. "She's a SHE!" was the oft-repeated cry of the Drivers.

And finally, TFMo3 who entertained ten children for over an hour at bedtime with the power of songs and one chocolate biscuit each.

I can't wait for the next one...