In a recent comment on my post Being Lazy Without the Guarantee of Tomorrow, Noah over at noahswritersblock gave me a lovely little insight to life growing up and the outings he used to have to various places with his grandmother, places she enjoyed throughout her life. It made me think of the various memories I had growing up with the people that formed my childhood.
The very first picture that comes to mind when I think the word ‘childhood’ is similar to the one above. I guess that is the best way to think of my favourite memory, if one comes to mind first and regularly there is little reason to think harder and for longer. That’s probably the one.
I was born in the rolling hills of Country Durham in North East England. A small village called Coundon, the name coming from its old English name ‘Cunadun’ meaning ‘cows hill’. This makes sense, the village is on the edge of a big v-shaped valley with a small stream at the bottom, both sides of the valley linked with a small wooden bridge probably six feet long at most. The steep terrains of the hills as far as the eyes can see made cycling in summer and sledging in winter very popular for us kids. Like the beaten track above, a path at the bottom of my street would start and wind all the way down to this bridge and woods, and after school we would regularly head down here to build dens, ride the hills and make tarzan swings in the trees.
Childhood is such a strange time. One moment you don’t exist and the next you are riding these things called bikes in some new world with other beings that have only just sprung into existence. I love video games for the fact that we can escape reality and enter a new exciting world never seen before, but life is just like this too. A huge world suddenly opens up in front of us and as children we have a big desire to explore it. How crazy is that?
I grew up just as mobile phones were becoming mainstream. But without cameras and decent internet, there was little reason to take those chunky bits of plastic out with us other than to show off our skills on Snake or the fact that we could compose the theme tune to Mission Impossible with the right combination of buttons. It literally weighed us down as we ran through the fields hoping not to be caught by the farmers. Instead, listening out at 5pm for our parents to shout at the top of their voice from the front door was when we knew tea was ready*. Communication was primitive.
Already, the act of having to physically shout from the front door and hope that we were in close enough proximity to hear it echo throughout the hills seems so old fashioned. Despite being a 90’s child, my childhood is becoming ‘the olden days’ pretty damn fast.
I loved that we were probably the last generation to not have this reliance on technology in our lives. It was at the point when phones were becoming increasingly more convenient and useful, but not enough to have us distracted. Video games kept us indoors a lot of the time, but no child from any generation is exempt from this desire to hide away and become immersed in some kind of technology. Whether it be a novel or smart phone, it is just the nature of curiosity and a desire to find new worlds. As the internet wasn’t really incorporated into video games, online gaming wasn’t a thing. This kept our addiction at bay I am sure looking back and kept us out of the house.
So I feel this is my fondest memory growing up, playing in the countryside around my home no matter the weather. We had the perfect balance of a great outdoor lifestyle but had enough technology to grow with it and see it evolve to what it is today without it being alien to us. Video games weren’t as open world as they are today and this limitation meant we used our imagination in reality, the actual world was so much larger than any game. Reality was our video game. But saying that, my family gathering around the Nintendo 64 to play Zelda and Goldeneye are also incredible memories. Those games despite the limitations still inspire me today with the levels of creativity and innovation they possessed. As a family we have regularly talked about how amazing these games are even by today’s standards and since my dad passed these have been precious memories to recall.
I just loved that time in life. Exploring the nature around our house that was so new and mysterious to our developing minds and having a loving family to go back to. Technology fast developing however not enough to keep us detached from the outside world but enough to be excited about the possibilities. Being blown away by the graphics that we laugh at now. The best of both worlds I guess. A time when we had to physically knock on a friends door to find out where they were and if they weren’t in, had to follow the sounds echoing through the backstreets to join them. A great era linking the past to the future with an ever increasing list of things that children would consider ‘old fashioned’ today. This makes my childhood seem so alien to what it is today, even if it does feel like yesterday. And that makes it so magical to look back on.
And with that, what was your favourite memory?
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