When I first wrote this post, I didn’t think it was blog-worthy as it had no significance to the overall health I tend to blog about. Then as fate would have it, I was absolutely inspired by a lecture from Laul Epstein through my IIN study a couple of weeks ago about root causes. A quick example – he tells the story of a woman who had chronic neck pain. She had been to every imaginable Dr, chiro, massage to no avail. Once questioned by Paul (my new idol), it turned out as a child she had been seated next to her beside Father, who would turn to her & whack her if he was angry as an abusive alcoholic. Once she was able to let go of that & acknowledge, she was able to move beyond the neck pain.
My childhood was idyllic & this is not a post to boast about that. There were no private jets, 5 star hotels, Nannies chauffeur driven cars. I was a total tomboy & lived in swimmers, shorts or tracksuit pants.
I do all sorts of weird reminiscing about my childhood, but the most vivid memories I have are of my Grandparents house in Merimbula. Perhaps it was because we were always there on school holidays.
I have so many crazy memories, smell & texture being the most dominant senses. The feeling of the storage door that all our bikes / balls / outdoor games were stored in. The smell of the laundry (random when it was never a place I spent much time?!). I remember vividly the smell of my Grandpa’s shed – mostly of speed boat engines, with a vice, & various things strung around like life jackets & of course, a real set of shark jaws.
I remember the lock on the gate to go out to the jetty. We were so lucky to have at our disposal a speedboat (well 2, but I wasn’t allowed to take out the powerful one to my dismay). My Grandpa & Dad instilled the ‘speed demon’ in me, whether intentionally or not. I vividly remember my Grandpa in the powerful speedboat & me in the smaller one (35 horsepower) aged 7 & him just pushing me off & telling me to drive. I am eternally grateful for these opportunities – their confidence in me (whether warranted or not), made me believe I could do anything. This was to the dismay of my brother who I recall hiding at the bottom of the boat & possibly crying for me to slow down. I just wanted to push the boat to the limit.
We swam all year round (what winter?).
I once tried to jump off the front of the boat in anticipation of pulling up at a beach & in my excitement, got caught on the front of the boat, to my embarrassment having to be lifted off the metal frame that had just ripped the crutch of my swimmers!
I remember Dad coming in early (it was probably about 8am), opening the curtains & telling us to get up, while us moaning it was our holllllllidays & to go away. My cousins & I shared a dormitory, with up to 7 of us in one room. Without fail we fought over who would have the bed on top of the cupboard. It would be a death sentence to go to sleep early, meaning you would wake the following day covered in messily drawn phallic symbols or worse on your face. We were noisy, & were only silenced by the threat of Poppy coming downstairs – but I don’t recall ever being smacked.
In the garden we had a big trampoline, which miraculously saw no broken bones, despite many silly games. My cousin Camilla & i were once bouncing together & somehow she bounced off backwards, landing in a wooden billycart. Ow.
We also had 2 electric cars – in retrospect, how lucky were we, but at the time, this was normal. We ended up in the local newspaper riding them around Merimbula. My Grabdpa was a genius & a bit of a mad inventor.
I remember outings to Yellow Pinch Wildlife Park in the White Tarago with blue velour seats. I even remember buying the little bags of animal feed – white paper bags with pellets, to feed the animals.
On stormy winter days, we were allowed to use Poppy’s Apple computer playing our absolute favourite game “Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?”.
I remember cold wintry grey, rainy days with the fire raging; & summer days so hot that Poppy had to hose down the balcony to cool it down enough for us to walk on it. I’m guessing there was no question of shoes?!
Poppy let us basically do whatever we wanted – I don’t mean in a spoiled child way (we never, ever once had a babysitter or Nanny). He let us experiment in a way I can see my Dad now does with my sons. We were free-range, to the max. We would pull a metal slide onto the beach, attach a life raft & play for hours. We rode our bikes down onto the sand at low tide. We collected soldier crabs at low tide (I’ve never seen anything like it again). We were allowed to prawn off the end of the jetty late at night on full moons. We walked a few doors down to Spencer Park where they would hang up the ‘catch of the day’ which could be anything, even sharks. We caught fish ourselves, which I went straight to gut. We were made to go on the odd ‘cultural excursion’ like to the Whaling Station at Eden. We listened to records like Zorba the Greek & danced on the coffee table. Taking ‘dance like no one is watching’ to a whole new level’, except everyone was watching & we didn’t care! As I got slightly older, I played tennis nearly every day. When I was really young, there was even a cow I was able to milk. A school friend who came to Merimbula with us aged about 10 recently brought me some old photos she had found of the trip – Poppy setting off a (real) little cannon from the balcony. Of course it made a small hole which I recall was there forever. I cannot begin to imagine what my friend’s parents thought about this at the time. Perhaps just thankful that their daughter made it back alive. We visited the public pool in South Haven Caravan Park as a treat & found it amusing when Poppy decided to join us in the pool in a full length green frog-looking wetsuit. I have no recollection why he wore it, but pretty sure there’s photo evidence somewhere.
Treats were being given a couple of dollars to go to the Kite Shop where we would buy some kind of crap (like a bouncy ball), which inevitably didn’t last very long. We also got to do the Putt-Putt golf at Top Fun about once a year.
Depending on which way the wind was blowing, we would decide which balcony to have lunch on. This was more often than not a relaxed but big affair with 12 or sometimes more people for any given meal. Lucky for us that Poppy was so good on the BBQ – sausages were only ever cooked one way – black. Grandma would buy 6 different types of sausages & neatly lay them out on the BBQ only to be mixed into a big black pile by Poppy. No meal was complete without a trip to the Bakery, which in retrospect must have given them the majority of their business.
I remember the noise of the bell you could ring to signify meal time.
I remember turquoise – the sofas, the rug, the curtains. I remember the brown cord that opened & closed the curtain. The feeling of the ‘bobbly’ sofas. Just a small (major) colour theme running through the house. If we were lucky, Grandma would even wear her (immaculate) turquoise slacks & matching woollen cardigan.
There was a cat door through to the upstairs guest loo which we would poke our heads through when someone tried to use the loo. There was NO privacy, at all.
My Grandma didn’t believe the water was suitable for drinking so there was an ice machine installed with ice cubes made (not sure how this is any different in retrospect?!). We had to put the ice cubes in glass jugs then let it melt for drinking water.
I remember sneaking jars of Monte Carlos & Kingston biscuits (Poppy’s favourites). It’s funny how I love food now & am pretty sure I did then but I have no memory of what we had for breakfast (probably good old toast or cereal). We did try to break records of who could eat the most toasted cheese sandwiches for lunch. Dinner was a mass meal for the 6 children – lasagna, sausages or good old spag Bol. It was a huge treat if we were allowed hot chips, from over near Fishpen, wrapped in newspaper & with a generous pour of white vinegar. We were all lean, energetic, mostly healthy, apart from the cycle every few days to the sweet shop which to our joy, we could get to without crossing one road. My brother was obsessed with Zappos.
We used to fly to Merimbula. My Grandma & Grandpa were both extremely accomplished pilots, flying round the world in a Cessna 310 (6 seater). To anyone who thinks this sounds glamorous, I wish web cams had been around in the day. The flight was about 1hr15 minutes. We always had to wait at the Airport for Poppy (who was a successful QC & often came straight from court). This would give us ample time to sneak many more packets of biscuits than we could stomach from the waiting room, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t meant for us. I only remember once ever having to stop mid-flight due to terrible conditions but having said that, in that little 6 seater, we often squashed 10 or so of us – thankfully 6 of us were children & just shared seats. Oh, did I also mention the cat came with us? Poor old Cecilia even vomited sometimes, which would just then set off a chain of vomiting. No problem, Poppy would just open the window & drop the sick bags out. He even let the kids ‘fly’ the plane, until Hugo stalled it once.
It was idyllic, there’s no doubting it. We never felt privileged, in fact as I entered my teen years I complained bitterly that all my friends got to be in Sydney while I was stuck on family holiday. Ironically as the house was sold in my Grandpa’s decline in 1999, I had just been thinking how amazing a holiday with friends would have been.
I still can’t work out whether I should let sleeping dogs lie & appreciate the time for what it was. I would really like to re-create similar childhood memories for my sons, rather than our current situation of a holiday overseas every 2 years. When I mentioned to my Dad on the weekend that I saw a house for sale in Merimbula, he reminded me a 6 hour drive is a long way. I agree, but can you put a price on eternal memories?
Our childhoods are all different, but I believe they have a big part in who we’ve ended up as today.