To Norfolk on holiday we pass through my beloved Lincolnshire. It doesn't seem all that much changed although it is more than fifty years since I left it behind.
Being a passenger in the car allows me to look around and everywhere there are memory triggers. Signposts - Bishop Norton - I remember a girl at school from there. Twenty minutes later her name pops into my head - Phyllis Sellars - wonder where she is now.
Potterhanworth. The self-important Bus Inspector at the Lincolnshire Road Car company bus station. In those days everyone used the bus and we knew the services off by heart. But that didn't stop him standing by the steps before we were allowed on and reciting = The Sleaford Bus, calling at Washingborough, Heighington, Branston, Potterhanworth, Nocton, Dunston, Metheringham, Digby, Blankney, Scopwick, Ruskington, Dorrington and Sleaford. I count the names off as we pass by. No Lincolnshire Road Car these days - we all travel by car.
We make a detour to my home village. It is unrecognisable. What was a village of 300 souls is now a Dormitory Town of over twenty thousand. In knew everyone. I was always a gregarious child, some would call it nosey, and I would call in on people unannounced. Usually I was pushing my doll's pram and I would be welcomed and would sit in the garden with a glass of something or other, or a cake, or a sweetie.
At night, in the Winter months, we would play Pencil and Paper games - wildflowers beginning with each letter of the alphabet, birds, countries, and (my favourite) naming all the houses in the village from 'The Bridge' to the end of 'Fen Road'. I could name them all, and in the right order. I expect that was why it was my favourite game.
My favourite house name was 'Emoclew'. Mr and Mrs Ellam lived there. Few people noticed that it was 'Welcome' spelt backwards!
Everywhere is built up now apart from the flood meadows beside the River Witham. They often flood in Winter so are no good for building land. We pass them and I look at the trees and hedges. They look just the same. We would build endless dens in Summer. We would fill jam jars with cow parsley to make them look homely. We would cadge bits of old crockery from home so that we could sit at a table (an old bit of wood) and eat our sandwiches (playing at houses.)
I don't suppose children play there any more. They will be inside with their Play Stations. They will be missing all the thousands of tadpoles in the Sincil Drain - and later on, little frogs. They will be missing the sense of freedom, the muddy feet after rain, the joy of jumping on icy puddles after a hard frost.
You can't put the clock back and no doubt I look at the past through rose-tinted specs. But as I pass those road signs again on my way home at the end of the holiday, I feel an intense nostalgia for those early days.