Fathers and sons together (including “Remembering loved ones that have passed away”)

In August of the same year my mum passed away, I took my son, Oliver, to my hometown in the UK, Goole (AKA Sleepy Hollow) for the first time; he was 12 years old then.  My daughter Emma has twice visited the UK, once when she was about 14 months old (my father was alive then and fortunately he was able to spend some time with here before he fell ill and shortly passed away thereafter); she again visited when she was 7, but only for 3 or 4 days: my mum was ill at that time and I paid her a fleeting visit to check on her to make sure all was well.  This time it was just myself and Oliver and I was really looking forward to showing him around the town in which I spent my salad years.

I’ve had an intention for quite some time to take Oliver to the UK, just he and I, and I thought I’d make a holiday of it and visit London at the same time.  Oliver wanted to ride on the London Eye, take a boat cruise down the Thames, ride on a London sightseeing bus, visit some of the famous parks that London has to offer and stay a couple of nights in posh London hotel; fortunately, we managed to do all these things and we had a very good time.  London was actually the second leg of our UK trip, the first leg was to visit and stay in Goole for 4 days.  My main plan was to tidy up mum’s garden and as it’s a big garden and it hadn’t been tended to for some months I knew it would be hard work fettling it and I wondered if 4 days would be enough considering I’d planned to take Oliver out for some sightseeing around Goole.  As it turned out, I took Oliver sightseeing first and then tackled the garden; it worked out very well because I was able to get all the gardening done whilst Oliver rested his weary sightseeing limbs reading, doing homework and playing on his computer.

It’s well known that there is isn’t much to do in Goole, it’s a quiet place, hence its nickname “Sleepy Hollow” but if you like walking and biking there are plenty of places that you can visit.  There are a few adjoining local villages (Airmyn, Reedness, Whitgift, Adlingfleet, Swinefleet, Howden, Eastrington, Newport and quite a few more that make good bike rides, but you need to make sure you take a picnic basket or a lunchbox as it’s not so easy to buy food.  You could drop into one of the many pubs that one encounters along the way for food and refreshments, but considering you often have to ride at the side of busy side roads I don’t think it‘s wise to mix bike riding and drinking beer.  There are also one or two river banks that you can walk on /around and also one or two parks that offer recreation activities such as crown green bowling and tennis.

When I was a kid, I used to go to a small village just outside of Goole called Airmyn to play with some of my school friends, I had about 3/4 friends that lived there and I just loved spending time in the place.  I used to ask my dad if we could move to Airmyn, but he always used to say the houses were too expensive.  I would sometimes walk or go by bicycle and if I took the short cut down the bridal path (many years ago, the bridal path was in fact a path that bridal processions would walk down, but that doesn’t happen so often these days, if at all) it would take me about 15 minutes by bicycle and about 30 minutes on foot; if I went the long way round it would take about 30 minutes by bicycle and about 45 minutes on foot.

There is a river bank that encircles the village of Airmyn and walking on it was one of my favourite pastimes as a kid.  Often there would be sheep grazing on the side of the river bank and wild field mushrooms that I would pick and take home to my mum to cook: you had to be up early in the morning to pick the mushrooms as a lot of people took early morning walks to try to find the mushrooms.  During the summer months strawberries would be growing in the surrounding fields and I could never resist the temptation of going into the fields and picking a few; however, I remember on one occasion when I was busy trying to find the most red, biggest and sweetest strawberries a farmer came up to me and in a loud angry voice said “Hey!  What do you think you’re doing?  As I recall, I don’t think I could say anything because I was so terrified of the farmer’s angry face looking at me, I believe he then said words to the effect of :”I’ll tell you what you’re doing, you’re stealing my strawberries” and I’m going to report you to the police.  I think at that time I started crying and begged the farmer not to report me to the police and then he said something like : “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t report you to the police?”  I think I may have replied : “I promise I won’t do it again, please don’t report me.”  I then believe the farmer replied : “If I see you stealing strawberries again I will report you and you’ll have a big fine to pay, you may even end up going into a remand home.”  That really scared me and from that point forward, I never ever stole another strawberry.  I think I was about 13/14 at the time.

As already mentioned, part of my plan was to take Oliver to show him all the places I hung out in when I was a kid, including Airmyn and the river bank, but I knew it involved a lot of walking and as Oliver is not such a big walking fan I thought I may just struggle getting him around to all these places.  As it turned out, Oliver did manage to see most of my old haunts, but what with regaling him with my running commentary of stories associated with many of the places I took him to, that and all the walking he did, by the time we got back to my mum’s home he was absolutely tired out and as soon as he sat down on the sofa he was immediately asleep.  The following morning Oliver was complaining that his legs ached and he blamed me for making him walk for such a long time and that was my que to get my gardening gloves on and go and tackle the garden.

After spending 4 days in Goole we then bid it a fair-thee-well and headed off to Goole station to pick up a train to London.  On the way to Goole station we dropped in to say hello to my half auntie Enid, my mum’s cousin; fortunately, Enid was in and as it was her first time to meet Oliver she was making a big fuss of him, she gave him a small gift of some “Avengers” stickers and

Wouldn’t stop talking to him.  Oliver can speak English, but he couldn’t always understand Enid because she talks with Yorkshire accent and she speaks quite quickly, he just smiled and pretended to understand by doing a lot of nodding and saying yes and no.  It was good to see Enid, the last time I saw here was at my mum’s funeral; she talked about my mum and about how much she missed visiting her for cups of tea and chats.  As we had a train to catch, we bid Enid a fair-thee-well and went on our merry way to Goole station.

When we got to Goole station the ticket office was closed and as I did not have any pre booked tickets I was forced to buy tickets from a ticket vending machine which sounds easy, but when you do not have a smart phone things can get quite complicated which is exactly what happened.  Because I didn’t have a smart phone I could not purchase actual rail tickets the only tickets I could purchase were ticket explaining to the ticket collector on the train that I couldn’t purchase tickets because I didn’t have a smart phone.  I then presented these tickets to the collector and paid him in cash for the tickets Oliver and I needed for our journey.  Because of a train problem which we were not responsible for Oliver and I ended up getting on the wrong train and as result we were forced to pay additional money, which I eventually received back, but it took many emails to British Rail before I did. The story is a bit more involved, but it made me think that for someone for like myself that doesn’t have a smart phone you really are handicapped in this day and age without one.

I was intending to write a poem about my mum this week, but as I don’t seen to have the right creative juices flowing today, I’ve decided to leave it until next week; hopefully next week, a poem will be crafted and presented to all of you out there that click on the link that brings you here to read this.  Until next week, Covid-19 is still with us, even in Japan, so take care and keep safe.