Growing up I spent a lot of time up and down the country with my Grandparents. My city lungs would hop in the car with my mum (for 6 hours) to leave the hussle and bussle of city life in Manchester and be on the gorgeous southern coast of England where they lived.
It was bliss, my mum would drive back to Manchester after a couple of days and go back to work and when she was gone my Grandma would sneak sugar into my cereal and make me promise not to tell her. My grandma has always been a bit sneaky really, she would sneak me new toys or an extra £1 coin for the vending machines without anyone knowing. Grandma bought me endless amounts of colouring books and toffees from the market stalls near her home and we’d spend the day colouring in together or knitting with the bent knitting needles she gifted me.
My Grandad (the only one of the 2 that can drive, and a retired taxi driver) would chauffeur me to the swimming baths nearby where they would enroll me onto a week long summer camp. I’d get teased for my Manchester accent whilst all these posh little southerners would be teaching me the rules of squash, a game I’d never really heard of. Unsurprisingly, I could always swim longer under water, maybe it’s because my lungs were used to the fumes and pollution of living in a city maybe it was just because I was born for an underwater swimming race in the Olympics. (Is that a thing)?
My Grandad, who has retired more times than anyone I know refuses to give up work ‘properly’ and still works at the sailing club nearby to their home. One year me and Grandma were up all night making mince pies so he could take them to the club house and more than likely pass them off as his own. Apparently they went down a treat. My Grandad is the smartest dressed gentleman around and still wears braces on his trousers, vests and metal sleeve garters for his plain white shirts. I can assure you, you’ll never see him without his hat on outside of the house.
We also spent a lot of time in the town centre near to their house. Now, unlike Manchester there wasn’t an array of shops and having to deal with a small Woolworths and a retro cinema was fine for me and Grandma. We’d hop on the bus and be there for the whole day, a girl’s day out! Grandma would show me off to all her friends we walked past and they’d all ask me how school was. ‘It’s the holidays I don’t want to speak about school Grandma’ I’d mutter after the 3rd friend was asking me. Within the town centre there was a Royal British Legion, and that’s where we would meet up with Grandad and get something to eat – I was always fussy with food. We would all read papers and chatter away until my Grandad drove us all home again.
Grandma and Grandad also had a beach hut near their home, we’d go to the beach early morning until late at night. I still remember the smell of the beach hut and the little stove grandma would use to make us something to eat. One time, there was a women sunbathing on the beach in front of the beach hut completely naked – my grandma’s face was a bloody picture. I’d spend the whole day in and out the sea on a polystyrene surfboard and make new friends every day I was there. After a long day on the beach, we’d lock up the beach hut and walk to Harry Ramsdens’ for fish and chips. Then we would make the long walk up the steep hill to Grandad’s Renault Laguna car and go home.
After a few weeks of spending time at their house on the coast, we’d all drive up to their caravan in the Cotswolds. Hobourne Caravan Park. It was great, it boasted an outdoor and indoor pool (neither had heating), games room, club house, kids club and plenty of space for me to run a wild and live life like an independent bitch at 9 years old. As I got older I wasn’t spending time in the kids club and probably around the back of the campsite or over at the fishing lake flirting with the boys on the site with my girls.
My Grandparents had a lot on the caravan park from when I was a baby up until I was around 18 and I spent a lot of time there and made some great friends over those 18 years. I was the only northern person on the site and everyone constantly used to ask me to say things in my ‘funny accent’. I do have quite a strong Manc accent.
My Grandma would force me to eat breakfast, open the curtains and the front door of the caravan and I’d be out. All day and all night, they’d never see me. My Grandma and Grandad occupied their time reading newspapers outside and ringing me constantly to get them tea, milk, sugar and bread from the shop near the club house. They’d bribe me with 20p where I’d get a small pick and mix that would see me through until tea time.
There are so many great memories and adventures I could tell you about places I’ve seen and things I’ve been up too with my grandparents and the amazing things they have done for me. From my Grandma getting the train up to Manchester numerous times whilst my mum worked away to take me to and from primary school on the bus, to my Grandad calling me up to teach me that my ‘body is a plant’ and I need to eat healthy to flourish and grow (I’m 5’2 and taller than my Grandad).
The repetitive quotes my Grandad always said growing up were ‘there’s no laughing in this house’ which isn’t funny when I say it but as a child that is the funniest thing to hear when you are in fits of laughter. He would also tell me (and all my cousins) that he’d give us £5 if we grew taller than him, he clearly never believed I would grow taller as I was the only cousin that actually got the prize when I made it!
My Grandparents are literally the loves of my life, and I am so grateful for the relationship I have and still have with them both.
I’d love to know if you are close to your Grandparents and the amazing memories you have with them.
Anyway, I’ll love you and leave you and speak to you all next Sunday!