As I write this (well past my deadline yet again, Fact Fans) Beeston is due for what will apparently be the hottest day of the year so far – and judging by how hot yesterday was, today will be baking.
Then again Scarlett (my nine-year old daughter) and I have just got back from our first Big Holiday, a couple of weeks in sunny Egypt – and when I say ‘sunny’, I mean daily temperatures of 44 degrees, it was sweltering. And yes, we did see the Pyramids, although it took longer to get to them (sadly in an un-airconditioned minibus) than it took to get to Egypt from East Midlands Airport… over seven hours each way! And yet, it was well worth it, and making memories she may actually recall when she’s older is a distinct bonus too!
I know my parents used to take me and my sister on caravanning holidays to France every year when we were very young and I don’t remember much about any of them, sadly – just what seemed tedious, never-ending days of sitting in the back of the car watching seemingly endless fields of corn drift by occasionally punctuated by a village with the word ‘Meubles’ painted on the side of a large house and (when we got to the campsite) my Dad giving me some francs every morning to make my way across pine-cone and -needle filled sand to go to the campsites’ visiting corrugated iron van and ask for “Un litre de lait et quatre croissants s’il vous plaît”. Good times.
The only other memory I have of any of that was when my tiny six year old brain made a brilliant (if entirely erroneous) deduction – I’d somehow found out that the year I was adopted (something my parents had always been very open about and I was and am still very happy about) was the same year my Mum was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a bloody awful disease then – and sadly still is now. So having realised both things happened in the same year I (to my mind entirely logically) assumed I was the cause of the MS and thus decided to run away, because if I left so would Mum’s MS. Six year olds, eh? So my only other early holiday memory is of my little bare feet running down a hot French road thinking I was doing some good – entirely oblivious to everything else of course, until my Dad eventually found me and gently explained Mum’s illness wasn’t actually my fault.
So yes, hopefully at this age Scarlett will remember the good, fun bits (all the swimming pools and waterslides at the waterpark hotel, the Valley of the Kings and the camel-riding at the Pyramids, the friends we went with and the ones she made there) and just have the ‘sweating in a bumpy metal box for over fourteen hours in a day and absolutely desperate for the loo’ and ‘me breaking my mobile ‘phone on day one’ (actually not such a bad thing as the friends we’d gone with took photos of us together, meaning I was actually in some with her for once) as anecdote-fodder.
And of course I appreciate that with the climate getting hotter generally maybe it should be not just our ‘first’ big holiday but maybe our last, at least by ‘plane. This year has already seen the hottest day of the year and for only the third time ever it’s been in September (one was a couple of years ago, the other in the 50’s), so maybe long haul flights should become a memory too…
Getting back to Beeston was awesome though, albeit at 4am in the morning after a delayed flight (and Scarlett losing her Nintendo Switch on the ‘plane, thankfully subsequently recovered a week or so later). And during the day time it was ‘only’ 21 degrees (the temperature we’d had the Egyptian aircon on at overnight to keep us cool as that was the lowest it would go). But… it was BEESTON!
Honestly, I’ve realised I take this place for granted but even after only two weeks there were changes – most obviously Anna Wheelhouse’s utterly brilliant new mural on The Commercial Inn which is just stunning, sadly all the ‘Sale’ posters in Wilkos, and more changes on the High Street too (oh, and the great help from the guys at Mobiles Plus repair shop too, who rather brilliantly managed to fix my ‘phone)… and it made me think about the constant changes you see daily (for instance Kings Carpets on Broadgate and the Snooker Hall and garage on Villa Street going) but don’t really notice until years later when looking back at your memories of an almost mythical Beeston of earlier times.
I remember Fords, and the record shop over the Co-op, and my Mum driving (when she still could) around the multi-storey cark park where the cinema now is, Walter Hayes and Willoughby Garages petrol station where Lidl is now… oh, and that lovely old rose-covered cottage on Wollaton Road that’s now flats, and the big fires at Swiss Mills and Anglo-Scotian Mills… and… and… and…
There are so many of my memories tied up here it’s no wonder I love the place so much – and as Scarlett excitedly starts a brand new school year (at the same school I was at fifty years ago) I see her making her own Beeston memories too – and it’s truly wonderful.