Walking down Memory Lane

Loss is a funny thing.

I’m always a little sad when I think about Ross, one of two of my brothers who didn’t live nearly long enough. Ross died at 27, from a brain tumour. We were very close, and I know my life would have been better in oh, so many ways if he was still in it.

But it’s hard to say that I miss him. My life’s moved on and there’s no longer a Ross-shaped hole in it. There’s not much I do now that I remember doing with Ross. Our relationship was one of childhood and young adulthood. We played video games, and went to nightclubs. Before that, we shared toys, and sneaked into each others’ beds to tell stories in the dark. We played out.

In that sense, it’s hard for me to give Flea a sense of who my brother was. And I want her to have one. I want her to understand the things we did, to know the family we were before we became the family we are now.

So today, we took a bit of a walk down memory lane. Literally.

We drove to the town where I grew up, and I talked to Flea about the things I did when I was a kid, and the games I played with my brothers, and especially with Ross.

We parked outside the house where I grew up, and played a game of ‘kerby’ (I don’t know if that’s an official game name, but it’s what we called it).

playing kerby

We walked from the house to my old primary school and I showed Flea all the places where we played along the way. When we got to school, she was most interested in seeing where we managed to climb on the school roof, and where exactly in the playground we got spanked when I got caught.


We kept walking, past the church where I went to Sunday School as a child, and where we all went to cubs. I showed her the chip shop we went to on Saturday afternoons after we’d been swimming with my Dad, and the house we moved to when I started junior school.

After lunch, we wandered over to the big old Victorian park where I played as a child. It’s a huge park – more than 250 acres – and every inch seems to hold a memory. I remember going there as a pre-schooler and I was still going there to read Thomas Hardy novels and feel sad and alone when I was an overly-dramatic 17 year old. There are huge wooded areas, open lawns, gardens, fountains and miles of pathways perfect for scooting. We always stop for crossing squirrels, naturally.

we stop for squirrels

We started at the bus shelter we used to climb on to sneak into the park when it was closed, and the roof Ross jumped off and broke his leg (he shouted “catch me!” as he jumped off, and was amazed when his friend jumped out of the way, instead).

Then we wandered through the greens and trees where Ross and I used to walk our demented rescue dog, past the hockey pitches where I played school matches and Ross would watch, while all my friends giggled and tried to flirt with him. We walked, and scooted, and stopped to explore along the way.


The park has barely changed in 30 years. Of course the playground has been upgraded a bit since the 1980s but brilliantly, some of the old equipment is still there, including the train climbing frame from my childhood, and the old trampolines. It rained. It hailed. But in between that, the sun shone and we made the very most of it.


So now Flea knows the steepest (and therefore most fun) paths in the park to ride down on a skateboard or scooter. And as an added bonus, I earned about a gazillion points when Flea realised I used to skateboard.

Today was the first time Flea’s ever hit a ball with a baseball bat. That’s a pretty big moment. She even knows which direction to hit the ball so it doesn’t land in the trees. I wish I’d remembered that.

Luckily, we brought a spare ball.

flea hits baseball

Even more luckily, we brought spare clothes. There may have been a few spills and tumbles along the way…



I wonder… have you ever given your kids a day where they get to experience YOUR childhood?




Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. Dan Thornton
    28th October 2013 / 7:42 pm

    Great post – and interesting timing, given that I just blogged about the experience of taking both my son and my dad to Chatham Dockyard, which was where he worked until around the time I was born. It was great to see one of them clambering around and having fun, and his grandson enjoying himself too…

    • Sally
      29th October 2013 / 12:36 am

      Thanks Dan – it’s so nice to see Flea doing things we did as kids, and seeing they’re just as much fun as they were 20 or more years ago. Glad you had a good day too 🙂

  2. 28th October 2013 / 7:43 pm

    I feel I was there with you, what a wonderful thing to do, maybe I should do the same with my teen so she knows I wasn’t always a boring stuffy Mum 😉 x
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    • Sally
      29th October 2013 / 12:36 am

      Flea was gob-smacked that I was a skateboarder!

  3. 28th October 2013 / 8:15 pm

    Ah, so much I love about this post. The pics, the games, the tales of your awesome brother. But what on EARTH is kerby?! PS not sure if you and Flea have had the chance yet, but Mark Warner San Lucianu was, without doubt, the most memorable holiday as a family we ever had. You need to go – if only because you can earn more legend points attempting to water ski and inevitably cap-sizing during a sailing lesson.
    Ruth recently posted..Shoreditch House talk – Paleo according to Let Her Eat CleanMy Profile

    • Sally
      29th October 2013 / 12:37 am

      Thanks Ruth. Kerby, as EVERYONE knows (possibly) is a street game where you stand on one side of the road and throw a ball towards the kerb on the opposite side, with the aim of hitting the kerb and getting the ball to bounce back to you. Get it right, and you score a point, and go again. Winner is the first one to 10 points.

      Maybe it’s Northern?

  4. Nikki
    28th October 2013 / 8:40 pm

    What a fabulous day you both had!

    My two love hearing the naughty things I did with (er actually ‘to’) my brother like er um – volunteering my own plimsoll to the head teacher to whack my brother with after he’d been naughty in assembly – well, he did deserve it for pushing my treasured shopping trolley down the stairs and breaking it!

    Precious sibling moments 🙂 Well done on sharing yours so preciously.

    • Sally
      29th October 2013 / 12:38 am

      Flea is fascinated by my naughty schooldays and fortunately for her there were plenty of naughty days!

  5. 28th October 2013 / 9:28 pm

    Really enjoyed reading this, and travelling through your childhood with you. We still live in the town that I grew up in, so Boo knows where we went to school and my mum lives in the house we (mainly) grew up in. Though I think the idea of actually taking her through things I got up to us a lovely one, and I’m sure she’s be fascinated.
    The Reading Residence recently posted..Easy Chocolate Chip CookiesMy Profile

    • Sally
      29th October 2013 / 12:38 am

      Thanks – there’s something really lovely about seeing your child enjoy the very things you did, in the very same place. A lovely experience, for both of us, I think.

    • Sally
      29th October 2013 / 12:39 am

      Thanks. I am sad that my brother didn’t get to experience the later stages of his life – he’d have loved being a husband and father, I think. But we’re lucky to have lots of happy memories, I know.

  6. 28th October 2013 / 10:09 pm

    Oh this is fabulous!!! I have taken my kids on visits into the past, but a whole day trip is a great idea!!! Very, very special way to connect the past with the present… well done you, creating beautiful connections, I love it!!!
    se7en recently posted..Whatever Happened to Good Enough…My Profile

    • Sally
      29th October 2013 / 12:39 am

      Thanks, it was a fab day, in all sort of ways. Thoroughly recommended as an activity.

  7. 29th October 2013 / 12:23 pm

    Yes we played Kerby too. My boys are lucky in the sense that they experienced the house I grew up in and I used to take them to the same park I used too. We even fished for guppies in same pond. I am sure that Ross would have adored Flea. My brother took the boys crabbing. We both returned to very near to our home town, so in many ways they are experiencing the same childhood we are. They even had their beavers and cubs sleepover where Drew did!
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    • Sally
      29th October 2013 / 6:38 pm

      Thanks Jen.

  8. 29th October 2013 / 12:27 pm

    What a lovely post. I’m sorry about your brother.

    I think Kirby was one of my favourite games – I also loved knock-door-bunk but got caught by an angry old man once who marched my friend and I home to tell my parents how dreadful I was.

    • Sally
      29th October 2013 / 6:39 pm

      Ha! We played that but I didn’t share the stories with Flea…

  9. 29th October 2013 / 1:04 pm

    I remember kerby! Maybe it is a Northern thing as I grew up in Newcastle. It was so satisfying when the ball hit the kerb just right and bounced back. How can I have never taught my own son this…
    Really lovely post, Sally.

    • Sally
      29th October 2013 / 6:39 pm

      Flea thought it was a brilliant game, asked to play again today.

  10. 29th October 2013 / 4:20 pm

    I’ve been longing to do similar for ages – a trip down memory lane ending with the Blackpool illuminations. Nice insight Sally 🙂
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    • Sally
      29th October 2013 / 6:39 pm

      Thanks Helen – there’s never a bad time to go through the Illuminations, if you ask Flea’s opinion on the matter…

  11. 29th October 2013 / 5:14 pm

    Lovely, lovely, LOVELY post. It’s made me feel a bit sad that my parents no longer live where I grew up, although I took F to some of the places I used to play before they moved – doubt she’ll remember though, as she was tiny. We’re going up north to my husband’s home town this week and I expect F will play at the park where he used to run around with his brothers, and roll around on the moor where he used to get into all sorts of scrapes as a kid. At the age of 30, I’m still fascinated about hearing stories from when my parents were kids – this post has made me want to explore their old stomping grounds.
    Molly recently posted..Pumpkins – why I don’t do facesMy Profile

    • Sally
      29th October 2013 / 6:40 pm

      Thanks Molly – I loved just having a day of walking the route we used to walk, and playing the games we played. It’s a fab thing to do with kids, I reckon.

  12. Slummy single mummy
    29th October 2013 / 6:46 pm

    I haven’t, but I love the idea. I actually have a list of 40 things I want to do before I’m 40 and one of them is to revisit every house I have ever lived in. There are nearly 30 of them so it could be a bit of a road trip!

    • Sally
      31st October 2013 / 2:17 pm

      Blimey, that’s a road trip and a half. Must have been hard to move so much.

  13. 29th October 2013 / 9:01 pm

    What a fantastic idea for a day out, I really loved reading this post and it’s totally inspired me to do something similar with my two girls when they are older – I think it’s a great idea to take them around all your old childhood haunts and tell them tales of their mum (although I might have to edit somewhat!!) growing up 🙂
    So sorry to read about your brother, how sad that you lost him at such a young age. Great to treasure the memories you have though xx
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    • Sally
      31st October 2013 / 2:17 pm

      Thanks Richmond Mummy, I guess having done it, it’s a lovely way to let kids walk in your shoes, for a day – bit more engaging than my rabbiting on with old stories…

  14. 30th October 2013 / 4:49 pm

    Looks like a great time and what a lovely way to share your memories.

    Also, I hereby hand you a kick ass parenting award. spare clothes and spare ball. Very well done!

    (oh and Kirby totally is the name of the game)

    • Sally
      31st October 2013 / 2:18 pm

      Thanks Denise. I knew it couldn’t be just me who remembers kerby!

  15. Isobel
    31st October 2013 / 8:56 pm

    Love this post. I also lost one of my 3 brothers when I was 15 – he was on the Piper Alpha oil rig. Fred knows little about Uncle M yet, but I too hope to head back North to do a ‘trip down memory lane’. And I agree with so much in your first paragraph – my life too would be so much better with him still in it, but life moves on, and memories are that – memories. Do I miss him? yes – but in a ‘past’ type of way.

  16. Rachel Horne
    1st November 2013 / 2:03 pm

    I haven’t shown my kids where my brothers, sister and I grew up – I was just so desperate to get away I didn’t look back but reading this makes me think it is probably very important.