Friday, 17 June 2011

Back in the Summer of '99

Something magical used it happen about this time every year. It was the feeling the month of June used to have - it was a kind of building excitement that grew every day.. It was the feeling of doing less work in school and being able to watch videos and play with your toys in class. It was the feeling of knowing, that in a few short weeks you would reach the start of a long, long summer filled simply with fun.
But that was when you were eight years old. Now, on the brink of another summer, it has dawned on me that that simple jittery happiness you got at this time of year just isn’t the same when you’re nineteen.
Memories of my childhood summers always amuse me - they were so simple but at the time I was literally having the time of my life. The year I discovered how to build the perfect fort in the back garden, is a perfect example.  Turns out, all I needed was two large umbrellas and a picnic rug and I had the most amazing make-shift house for myself and my children (two teddies and a Barbie doll).
Another good one was the summer my sisters and I made a tyre swing on an apple tree in the orchard behind our house. Thinking about it now, I don’t know how a dirty rubber hoop and piece of rope gave us the full two months of fun it did – but being the country-bumpkin kids we were I guess it was more than enough.
                                         Loving life with a picnic and my older and younger sister

But the absolute highlight of the summer was almost as simplistic as our back garden antics. Each year we would drive up to the north coast of Northern Ireland to cram into a tiny three bedroomed holiday home with as many of our extended family as we could fit. I remember the drive there would feel like the longest ever, and when we finally saw the sea we would practically wet ourselves with excitement.
Whilst there, we would spend our days on the beach – and this was back when a day at the beach was a full blown swimsuit-picnic-beach ball-bucket and spade event. We would bring every beach-related item we could carry and make the most of every minute of it.
Now though, in my 19th summer of life, there’s definitely something different about those holiday months. It seems like there is no such thing as that “school’s out for summer” feeling and there definitely isn’t a reason to wet yourself when you see the sea. Honestly, all I’m thinking about is working and money, and if I can afford a week’s escapism in the form of a cheap holiday package to any given Spanish destination.
So is this what getting older is going to be? Gradually watching all excitement disappear from everything you loved as a child? If this is has happened to my summers, I’m worried for my Christmases…
I’m determined not to let it happen. So I’m realising I need to embrace the free months I have at home – and though building myself a fort in the garden might lead to a few weird looks from the neighbours; I’m determined to bring back the simple fun. Could be time to grab the bucket and spade…