I’ve got a house full of memories, that other people might see as tat or junk, but each item has its own special place in my heart. Not neccesarily for the item’s value in itself, but for the memories it links to by a silken wistful thread. I have camel bells from Israel, a Tanoa (kava bowl) from Fiji, volcanic rocks from Tenerife..the list goes on.
These past four years have been rich with memories, some so vivid I need not put them away in a box. The wedding bands on my finger, the ocicat and the husband I ‘acquired’. They wouldn’t even fit in the box!
But what about the other things that will remind me of life here, in the future when I am living somewhere else – perhaps even back home Down Under?
Here’s my list:
1. Oyster card – The first time I bought an Oyster card and used it on the heaving Tube I felt I had truly arrived. I made my first trip on the Tube on my very first day at work over here, which was only three days after arriving from New Zealand. Oh, and it was a pitch presentation. There could not have been more pressure on me that day. Even driving to work up the M3 was stressful, and then there was the confusion of which train to take, which line, which platform. I travel so regularly to London for work now, four years later, that an Oyster card has became an essential part of my work kit. It belongs in the memory box because -somewhat strangely – it reminds me of how I managed to find my way around London. How I stopped feeling perpetually lost, sometimes I even feel I’ve found my confidence.
2. My Henley Hat – In 2010 the lovely London City Mum invited me up to the Henley Regatta to sip Pimms and hang out with her rowing chums. Of course the dress rules for Henley are notoriously strict, so much so that there’s even an elderly gent on his knees measuring the length of women’s skirts (must be below the knee) at the entrance, and of course a decent hat is required. I had a ball at Henley ooohing and aahing at the ladies and gents at play and being reminded that this traditional English world is alive and well and eating cucumber sandwiches even in this day and age. That’s somehow reassuring, that the England of Enid Blyton and Jeeves and Wooster is still there, albeit lurking in Henley on Thames.
3. My ski jacket – Obviously I knew England was a great deal colder than Auckland, but I really had no idea how cold it could be here. It has snowed, even down here in the supposedly milder South of England, every winter we’ve lived here. One winter we were ‘snowed in’ for a couple of days as transport all ground to a halt, though we managed to thoroughly enjoy ourselves in the icing sugared world. My ski jacket may make me look like a small round little red riding hood, but it does keep me warm, and I’ve practically lived in it for the past four years. It reminds me of days like these when the snow does fall and how painting every thing white can somehow refresh and renew our world.
4.Union Picnic Blanket – This was my one concession to Jubilee fever, a plastic backed Union Jack printed picnic rug. The plan was of course to take the appropriately monikered rug to have a glorious summer picnic in London and watch the royals parade up the Thames on a barge. Needless to say, it has never been used. The day of the procession it poured cats and dogs and was a chilly 8 degrees Celsius. My Englishman headed up to London but I preferred the home comforts of the flat screen TV and the central heating. The picnic blanket will be my little ironic joke when I unwrap it on a stinking hot summer’s day in Australia or New Zealand, one day.
5. Heather – ‘lucky ‘eather’ might seem a strange thing for the memory box but I’m not putting it away because of the association with gypsies or its reputed lucky charms, rather it reminds me of North Yorkshire where my Englishman is from and where we married. The look on his face when we finally drove up there and he was able to show me around the land of his boyhood was absolutely lovely, and seeing him in his element reminded me then, as it does now, of how much he treasures North Yorkshire.
Of course these aren’t the only memories I’ll take with me. There’ll be countless books, and DVDs and photos…all those wonderful photos of country lanes and pebbly beaches. Of piers and cobbles and country pubs. Of Shakespeare’s England and the Red Arrows, the yellow rapeseed fields and Bonfire Night rugged up in scarves, hats and gloves around a huge fire. Of white Christmases and Christmas lights and watching the fireworks burst in New Year joy over Big Ben.
What things would you take with you to remind you of your time living in or travelling through another country? And why would you choose those five things?
Update: I’ve had so much interest in this post I’ve decided to open a linky so that others can link up their blog posts about what they would put in the memory box. Please add your details to your post in the Linky Tools below.