It was the summer of 1976. I was six and my Brother was four. We were a bit different from most families because we lived in a big mobile home in the garden. For twelve months we lived in our back garden, while our Dad built our house. Hardly anyone self built during that period, especially in a London borough, so our Mum & Dad were quite the brave couple.
|Mum & Dad|
The caravan in the garden was big and it was green, with all the mod cons needed for a family to live very comfortably and when my memory wanders back to our time living there, I can hear the radio playing Leo Sayer's 'You Make Me Feel Like Dancing' and I can see my Mum doing her keep fit exercises wearing her bold 70's bikini, every time she flew into a jumping jack the whole caravan shook and we would giggle hysterically. Looking red faced and flustered Mum shooed us outside.
London suffered a heatwave that year, (the reason Mum was bouncing around in her bikini), so it was a long hot summer, this meant that we could spend most of our time playing outside. The surrounding garden was fenced off all the way around with six foot high wooden fence & trellis and a gate in the middle that had a big, black cast iron latch, the smell of creosote was intense. It was a very plain garden, with grass that had turned a dusty brown due to the hose pipe ban and the dry desert like conditions. Bright orange marigolds stood to attention around the fence, alongside tomato's and spring onions. My old grey rocking horse stood rusty and faded in the corner, my Brothers yellow Tonka dump truck left abandoned and full of sand, an Action Man precariously sat on top.
From the other side of the fence we could hear the noisy crunching sound of Dads churning cement mixer and the tapping of the trowel as bricks were being laid. We chased our yellow Labrador Biscuit round in circles until we were dizzy and then we tried hopelessly to coax our tortoise, Catherine out from underneath the caravan, where she peacefully lived. Mum suddenly appears from inside the caravan, this time wearing a long, flower patterned, flowing skirt over the top of her bikini bottoms, her hair black and wavy, she is carrying a tray of tea for Dad and uncle Tom. I always thought my Mum looked beautiful. We were happy kids with dirty knee's and grubby hands because our life was an adventure growing up on the building site, that was our back garden.