There's something strange about going back to the place where you grew up, seeing shops, streets and playgrounds change, and people who are stuck in time as memories at school grow into middle age. We go to my mum's at Chalfont St Peter in Buckinghamshire fairly frequently, but every time something is different, or I spot an old half-remembered face, now etched with fine lines or, in the case of most of the males, sporting the Grant brothers' look.
Having travelled far and wide, I am fascinated by the people who have stayed so long in one place, who have gone on to raise their own children there, and even grandchildren now. (Anyone remember the apocryphal 'Happy 30th Birthday Great Granny' banner allegedly spotted in Liverpool?) Strangest of all, perhaps, is taking my own children to the places I frequented as a child, places awash with memories and ghosts of the past. I often dream that I go to my grandparents' house there and they are still there, nothing changed, us thinking they had died just being a dreadful mistake. If only!
One of those memory-filled places is the common round the corner from us, a large expanse of grass used for sport and recreation, a wooded area, and a lovely playground. I went to nursery across the other side of the common, and my earliest memory is of sitting, aged 3, on the seat atop our old Silver Cross pram, my new baby brother lying inside it. We were taken to the playground often, and as we grew began to go on our own, ending in our teenage years idly twisting on the swings, bag of chips in hand.
The girls love going to the playground there and, because there are a few weeks in between our visits, each time their climbing skills have improved and they are braver and more daring. Here's Lara having now confidently conquered climbing up to the big slide by herself:
My mum isn't always the most hands-on of grandmothers, at least with my children, but she actually looks like she's enjoying herself pushing Sophia on the swing here. And Sophia is definitely having fun!
Tatiana is nearly 6 months old now, and already loves being balanced in the baby swing. As you hold her or carry her in the sling, her little legs start to go as she watches her big sisters run and climb. I'm sure there will be no holding her back when she gets going!
And here's all of my little family together on the big rocking horse. If I knew how to do a heart sign I would!
Do you still live in the place where you grew up, or do you go back there often? How do you find it?