Some days when I walk on the beach, often I'm reminded of my childhood. Holidaying (pretty much every other weekend or school break) at my Nanna and Granddad's place at Phillip Island.
I'm not sure if it's the smell of the beach (how would you explain that smell - and when I say 'beach smell' I'm not really referring to a fishy or seaweed smell - I'm thinking more along the lines of that fresh, summer smell of sand, surf and sun) but on certain days it's like a taking a trip back in time and the vibrant memories come flooding back.
These were the good ol' days... Life was simple. The biggest worry you had was whether Nan would give you a handful of lollies from the orange sliding lid container (racing cars, red frogs, snakes alive. strawberries and cream - you know... the good stuff!) which she kept in the 'medicine cabinet' - a sideboard that she kept her wine and brandy in (her medicine) - a nip before bed each night.
Instead of watching TV (I know there was one there but we really only watched Young Talent Time on it) my cousin and I would draw pictures on cardboard (mainly seaside themes) and try to sell them to the neighbours... The ones across the road were, incredibly, called Arthur and Martha Hindgarther - true story, poor old souls!
My brothers and I would chase skinks, lifting up rocks then quickly cupping our hands over the little lizards and chucking them in a bucket (with grass, twigs, dead flies and a lid full of water). Some would drop there tails in fear, other would happily run around in the bucket until we let them go.
Every day Mum would pack us up in the car - no seat belts, or air con for that matter! We'd have the seats flattened in the back of the station wagon and piled in there would be me, my brothers and some cousins along with our towels, bathers, sunscreen, hats, cricket set, buckets and shovels... Mum (she was young and way cool) would have Eurythmics cranking and we'd all be singing along to 'Thorn in My Side' or 'Missionary Man'. Once at the beach, my brothers and I would chase crabs in a similar fashion to our skink catching episodes - although it was a matter of picking the crabs up so their claws would nip us.
In the backyard, in a tree, lived a Koala. He was there all the time... definitely had set up his position and was staying put! Granddad actually picked him up on a few occassions (I still can't believe he did that - now more so than in those days) while Mum and Nanna looked on in horror. Old Koala would crawl around in the backyard and when he decided to wander, we were to stay well away. Most of the time, he'd be found sitting up in the gum around the side of the house, eating his eucalypt leaves or sleeping... mostly he was sleeping!
There was this place, that I'd try to make Mum take me to every time, we used to call it the Shell House. The fence was made of shells, along with the path and a few bird baths and things in the front yard. They sold all kinds of shells and ornaments - beachy theme stuff. I think they might have closed it down, or destroyed it because I can't find any info or pics (if anyone knows what I'm talking about - help me out here).
It's this last memory that pops into my head more often than the others... the house made of sea shells - a dream come true for this little princess - it was magical and I'd always dreamed it would be my castle one day. I recently bought a man made out of Cowry Shells, with a hat and a ciggie hanging out of his mouth, just because it reminded me of those days. Tacky, but totally cool (well in my book anyway). He reminds me that while sometimes I feel like a fish out of water, I am home. I'm living by the sea (exactly as I always wanted to), soaking up the sights, sounds and scents that comfort me when I feel alone. They take me back to a time when I was young, happy, free and surrounded by love...
and remind me that not a lot has changed...
I might have a mortgage, bills to pay, and more than just lollies on my mind... but I am still all of those things... Young, happy, free and surrounded by love.
Thank you Mr Cowry (you might be missing a nose, but you are my kind of man)...