Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Gallery: Like a duck to water

Growing up in England, water was everywhere - even where we didn't want it.

It was also at the heart of much of our childhood joy, the basic element of much of our play - and our occasional downfall when a puddle proved deeper than we thought or a lakeside footpath more slippery than it looked.

No sunny day in June was complete without an inpromptu water fight with the garden hose when you're supposed to be saving Dad's hydraengas and snapdragons from dehydration (the best part was putting your thumb over the end of the hose to produce and fine but powerful spray, then aim it skywards and delight in your own man-made shower surrounded by a million mini-rainbows).

Exploring the woods felt so much closer to a Famous Five adventure (Gawd bless dear old Enid Blyton - she hasn't aged well, as I found out when I started reading her to my young son) when there was a stream to ford, bridge or flop about in.

The 'drought' of 1976 was made more exciting (for us kids anyway) by the necessity of trundling down the street to fill up canisters, kettles and bowls with water from the stand-pipe manned by the neighbourhood jobs-worth.

And then there was the thrill of feeding the ducks.

Even on the rawest of winter days, we would gather together all those rock-hard discarded bread crusts and nag Mum or Dad until they agreed to take us to The Priory in Reigate or Tilgate Park near Crawley.

Once there, we would flap our arms like mad and make deranged noises at the local wildlife until they came waddling across the lake so we could chuck our dough-based missiles at them.

We'd been thoroughly briefed on how aggressive swans could be, thanks to Nannie's dire warnings ("They can put your eye out, or beat you to death with their wings"), so we tried our best not to aim the crusts at their stately noggins.

The same couldn't be said for the poor old coots and moorhens.

They didn't seem to mind, though. So long as they got their fair share of Mother's pride drenched in pondwater.

It was cheap, simple, outdoors and we loved it.
I wonder if today's youngsters get the joy from it that we did?

I hope so.


  1. lovely photos, your description of summer and childhood is how I hope my children will remember and look back over their childhoods :)

  2. Great memories, I'm sure Leo will have lots of water memories when he is older but they will be very different.

  3. Photos are fab but your words are better, really lovely heartfelt post