Saturday, 5 May 2018

Of such days as these are adventures made of

Now, another thing about an adventure when you are ten is the sun, which brings with it the promise of a blistering day of walking, some peculiar discoveries and the sheer pleasure of being somewhere you have never been before.

We were always up early in our house; and so on those mornings when the sun was already cracking the paving stones by 7, I was ready.

Of course not everyone else shared that early morning wish to be out on the road, and more than once I was shouted at by parents of friends for knocking on at 7.30.

But from May onwards when the sun was climbing in the sky I was off, knowing that the slight sharpness in the air would give over to a warm if not hot day.

An old canvas ammunition bag which was ex war surplus and could be bought for a shilling was filled with a bottle of tap water, an apple and maybe a sandwich.

Some days flush with pocket money it might a trip across town using a Red Rover, or more likely a train ride.

But on those days when I was out with John and Jimmy it was one of those wandering adventures, usually based on the knowledge of the other two, which would still be vague, and as a result took us off into many dead ends.

But like as not there was always something to see, including a new park, a different bombsite or just an unfamiliar row of streets.

Overlaid with the fun and the curiosity there was always that slight anticipation that you were in someone else’s territory and they might not take to three Peckham lads.

That said I can’t remember any scrapes we got into and pretty much they were days of endless pleasure which seemed to last all day.

Occasionally we might just have enough money to buy three bread rolls and later a packet of chips.  The inside of the rolls we ate on the journey and if we were lucky enough to find a chip shop which was open at midday, we would share out the bag, filling the hollowed out rolls with chips.

Such provisions kept us going on long walks along Nunhead and out to Peckham Rye and Dulwich or off up to Blackheath and Greenwich.

And then we left Lausanne Road for Well Hall.  I was older and those early adventures were left behind for the sheer pleasure of exploring Eltham, always on my own and with that keen eye of seeing new places for the first time.

The trips may have been shorter but the experience of walking up behind the Progress into the woods, or the long walk from the High Street to Avery Hill was magic, and unlike being ten I could find my way home and more to the point knew how to recreate the journey another day.

And now a full half century since those early adventures, I just have to wake to a bright sunny May day and I am back with John and Jimmy or stepping out across Eltham armed with nothing more than a heap of curiosity and the promise of something new.

Location; pretty much every where I knew from aged six to nineteen

Pictures; Well Hall 2018 from the collection of Paula Nottle.

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