Tuesday, 28 July 2009

50 things I remember about Mrs Hollins' Nursery School at Great Pagehurst

This is part of my 50 things I remember project. Here is a list of all the 50 things posts.
  1. The builders found a mummified cat in the attic, and we buried it by the pond. We had to be careful to only throw earth -- and not grass -- into the grave.
  2. The minnows in the sink by the french windows died in the frost. Some of the other children took them from the compost heap and pretended to fry them in the wendy house.
  3. The chimney of the stove in the wendy house was always full of sand, and so was the rug on the floor.
  4. They brought out a giant blue paddling pool one day. We took off our clothes, folded them and left the bundles in a line on the lawn. Priscilla said: 'I'm going to put my clothes next to yours, because you're nice.'
  5. Running across the lawn on a cloudy day with Claire chasing me. She was wearing green dungarees, and her long hair was flying.
  6. Mrs Hollins wore a large timer -- the colour and shape of an orange lentil -- round her neck so she knew when to take the bread out of the oven.
  7. One day, I was brave and asked for hot milk with Ovaltine. It was one of the most delicious things I've ever tasted.
  8. They took us up into the attic to look at some very old toys. There was a red cloak draped over a trunk, and I thought it might be a ghost. We found a very old gollywog doll, and Georgina liked it so much, and was so good and careful with it that Mrs Hollins said she could bring it downstairs.
  9. A boy called Ned (who had red hair) made a set of traffic lights out of painted round margarine tubs, a piece of wood and some little bulbs.
  10. Tapping nails through bottle tops in the woodwork room, and sawing bits of wood to make a rattle.
  11. The sound of wind in the poplar trees, and the smell of them.
  12. One day, we played with shells. Mrs Hollins said that she liked to arrange little ones in the bigger shells and pretend they were food.
  13. A girl called Lisa who was a bit naughty. She painted over someone else's art.
  14. At clearing up time, washing purple paint off a brush in the sink.
  15. Making tiny cottage loaves to eat at elevensies time.
  16. Warm bread, spread with butter and marmite and a mug of cold milk.
  17. Sitting in a circle and playing musical instruments.
  18. The musty smell of the dressing up box -- which was in the dining room.
  19. Hamish and Georgina and some other children made masks and dressed up as the Scooby Doo gang. They wanted elastic to hold the masks on, but Mrs Hollins only had thread.
  20. Mrs Hollins could hop round in a circle on the square paving stones by the door.
  21. There was a picture of a girl with a hoop on my peg. I shared it with Anna. It was the first peg next to the door. Claire had the next peg along -- it was a blue-green picture of a child holding a dove.
  22. I took a seat for elevensies, and Saskia said that she should have my seat, as it was higher, and she was older. I said that I needed the higher seat because I was younger.
  23. Walking down the crunchy gravel drive.
  24. Mrs Hollins had a lady to help her who was called Molly.
  25. There was a bouncy horse that made a wonderful squeaky-squeaky noise.
  26. Going on the royal blue trampoline.
  27. Wondering at the air wobbling over the heater.
  28. The smell of the old yew tree on the terrace.
  29. Playing in the snow -- a boy hit Mrs Hollins in the face with a snowball, and she helped him to say he was sorry. I thought he was very grown-up, and that she was very kind.
  30. Vicky the black and white dog who lived near the back door and barked a lot.
  31. Claire sitting on the back step and stroking Vicky -- I thought she was very brave.
  32. Going to the top of the climbing frame.
  33. The dining room carpet was grey, and the furniture was black oak.
  34. There was a secret compartment in the coffer where the dressing-ups were kept. It had necklaces in it.
  35. I liked the dry sand indoors -- it was in a baby's bath.
  36. We played in the indoor wendy house, and Anna said that she should be the father, because she had short hair.
  37. Remembering not to leave the lids of the empty perfume bottles so that the smell didn't escape.
  38. There was a red bicycle.
  39. We went to visit Mrs Thomas -- but I didn't fancy it, so when we walked past our house, I escaped from the end of the line with Claire, and we went and hid round the back among my father's cuttings. We heard my mother come out to the dustbin, but I was too scared of her seeing us. I told her later, and she was cross and said I shouldn't run away.
  40. Dipping my hands into the sink of minnows on the terrace to feel how cool the water was.
  41. Georgina taught me, with a grass seed head: "Here's a tree in summer, here's a tree in winter, here's a pretty flower and here's an April shower."
  42. The smell of poster paint in those safety posts with the slit in the top of the lid.
  43. Remembering to wash our hands before we made bread buns.
  44. Hoping I would get a pretty mug at elevensies time.
  45. The hall where the rocking horse and the sand tray was had a polished wooden floor and seemed to stretch out forever into darkness -- but if the kitchen door was open, there was a rectangle of daylight at the end of it.
  46. There was a door out of the woodwork room into the parts of the house weren't nursery school. And another door out of the dining room. I always wondered where they went.
  47. Priscilla saying that her brother was big enough to throw me where the monsters were.
  48. A boy called Kevin playing with an old saucepan in the sandpit. He had a coat with a fur-lined hood.
  49. The garage was in a barn, and when there were no cars in it, you could see bright dots of light shining through the black back wall.
  50. Sitting on the window seat in the dining room and watching all the mothers pulling up in their cars to collect us.


  1. Wow so many memories of your early years. I don't think I could remember this much, but then you never know till you try. Sometimes once you start images come flooding and you really don't know that they are all there inside you just waiting for you to dust them off.

    Love the bits where you've shared your perceptions of people. It's funny what we saw as brave or grown-up back then.

  2. It was strange some of the things that came rushing back once I started thinking on it. It was as if I was in a trance.