After moving back to Consett and especially over the last lockdown year I have taken up walking – very slowly at first – partly for health reasons and in an attempt to give my arthritic knees and feet a chance to start working properly again.
Ignoring the discomfort I headed up Medomsley Road towards Number One and then cut down to Aynsley Terrace. The streets were deserted, the air fresh and clear, and my mind wandered back to my childhood days, when I walked these streets with my family and friends. As my 64 year old legs struggled, I saw my 5 year old self bouncing on the flag stones before me, running and jumping over the cracks in the pavement, in a lovingly home made cotton dress, worn under a knitted cardigan overrun with buttons – which gave me a shiver – I don’t like buttons!
On my feet were scraped – toed start rite sandals with tiny diamond cut outs. My Uncle Pat referred to the colour as Ox Blood – which I thought was a very unfortunate name – as they reminded me of cherries. They were well worn as I climbed, ran, skipped, hopped, jumped and danced, as children do, often displaying gritty knees with purple and red scabs, which my friends and I compared at school.
I passed the block where Armstrong’s sweet shop used to be, which sold delights too delicious to describe, displayed in clear glass jars, filled to the brim with colourful boiled sweets and paper wrapped chocolate covered toffees. I remember my Mam liking Buttered Brazil’s which is exactly what they were, a whole Brazil nut covered in a hard butter shiny crust. It’s no wonder you don’t see them any more!
I then progressed by the old doctors building which is now a convenience store open 8 til late. Consett has changed so much over recent years but if you look up, a lot of the original buildings are still there – even though the ground floor frontage may have changed, – sparking poignant memories.
Unlike some, I have been lucky enough to spend a considerable amount of time with my family and baby granddaughters during these unprecedented times, and have watched them develop and grow up before my eyes, both of them blissfully unaware of pandemics, vaccines and social distancing. In fact the elder sister’s main preoccupation – when she is not playing shops or reading stories – is to bounce like Tigger.
Last weekend on my walk with my Fitbit set to count my steps, I tripped up and fell headlong on the cold tarmac pavement near Villa Real. In shock I rolled over and lay on my back like a stranded beetle; watching and feeling eternally grateful as a kind man stopped his car and offered to help me up. With battered knees and bruised pride I hobbled home via Superdrug to purchase Arnica Cream and Rescue Remedy.
Shocks like these give us all cause for reflection, was it just a simple accident or am I getting old and need to contemplate my mortality?
On my family’s arrival and a quick inspection of the treat box to see what was in it for later, they enquired why I was sitting with my legs raised. One pair of small ears listening intently to my story responded with outstretched arms, a cuddle and the phrase:
“Gwandma, I will kiss it better for oo”
I smiled and thanked her profusely, praising her for her healing powers.
Throwing all the cushions off the sofa and onto the floor, she shouted,
“Now, you can bounce wiff me”
I declined gracefully – rolled up my trouser leg and applying some arnica cream, responded with,
“Maybe, next time!”