- About the Author
- On Active Service
I remember, I remember,
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;
It’s easy for me to remember the house where I was born, or more accurately the house where I grew up. It’s less than five miles from where we live now. With its situation behind Vivary Park, yet right in the centre of Taunton, it was a wonderful place to spend my childhood.
My parents bought it in the late 1950’s for the princely sum of £3,600. Up until then they had rented a house just outside town in Stoke St Mary, “The Cedars”, my only memories of that house being of sweeping green lawns and big shady trees. So to be exact , “The Cedars” is the house where I was born, but we moved to 17 Mount Street when I was eighteen months old. My sister therefore would have been three years old and my brother only just born. My earliest proper memory is of my mother manoeuvring the pram out of the back gate, my sister on her high seat opposite me, my brother next to me. I can remember the jolting of the pram and how annoyed I was because my brother, squashed in next to me, was allowed to sit forward and could see more than I could, whereas I had to sit right at the back. When I complained my mother told me that I had to sit at the back because Robin would pull my hair otherwise. The perceived injustice has stayed with me all these years.
My husband and I walked through Vivary Park the other day, past the Golf Course where my brother, sister and I used to play on the putting green, (now no longer there, replaced by an Adventure Playground; youngsters nowadays are obviously more intrepid than we were); past the Ice Cream kiosk where we ran to buy neapolitan family blocks wrapped in newspaper as a special treat for pudding, racing back home with them before they could melt; past the tennis courts where my friend Rosemary and I played tennis in the school holidays, and the playground with its swings and slides from our younger days.
We had an idyllic childhood, the park an extension of our garden. “No further than the bandstand.”My mother used to say when we asked if we could go and play in the park, “I’ll ring the bell when supper’s ready.” I don’t know where she got the old school bell that she stood and rang from the back doorway, but we hared back at the first sound of it, knowing there would be trouble if she had to come and look for us.
Number 17 is at the very end of the Park. The gate we used to swing on is still there, the spikes at the top sawn off by the gardener when he found my sister trying to climb over it one day. The garden looks smaller than it did when we used to cycle around it on our bikes. The fir tree I climbed up one day as a dare has gone, also the sycamore that we called “Thunderbird One.”
The house is now a Bed and Breakfast, reverting to its original name of “Lyndale”. The rooms in the photos on the website look eerily the same yet different. I didn’t have the courage to ask if I could go in and look around but maybe one day I will….
My brother and I with our aunt in the garden of our childhood home
Bethany Askew is the author of five novels:
The Time Before, The World Within, Out of Step, Counting the Days and Poppy’s Seed.
She has also written a short story, The Night of the Storm, and she writes poetry.
Future projects include a new short story, this one for the young adult market, and another full-length novel.
In her spare time she enjoys reading, music, theatre, walking, Pilates, dancing and voluntary work.
Bethany is married and lives in Somerset.