I saw a post on Facebook this morning asking people what their favourite ever present was. I knew immediately what my answer would be. I mean, not that anyone asked, but still …
I was 12, and I was lucky enough to have been allowed a party at home. These were the best of times, because not only did I get to have my close friends around me, some of whom I’m still in touch with, but Mum was an amazing cook, and she really came into her own when it came to parties. Sausage rolls and egg sandwiches, birthday cake and jelly and ice cream (don’t forget, I was born in the 70s!), but the pièce de résistance was a tray of apple pie covered in fluorescent pink icing. Cut into squares. Absolute heaven – 80s food at its best.
CUE 80S FLASHBACK:
Anyway, I digress. After the wonderful food, it was time to exchange gifts. Although come to think of it, how patient was I waiting until after tea?! I don’t remember what my friends bought me. Thinking back, I think I was on the cusp of falling out of love with Tiny Tears and falling in love with Madness – a silk ‘Madness’ scarf being a particular favourite item. (I really wasn’t a cool child.) But when it came to Mum and Dad giving me their present, they told me to read the first clue.
OH MY GOD … IT’S A TREASURE HUNT!
This was beyond exciting and I think my girlfriends were just as excited for me. All of us sat round the dining room table in our weird Little House on the Prairie/Laura Ashley-esque floral tea dresses … we’d probably be rather fasionable now, then … not so much. Although Mum did make my dress, so it will always hold a special place in my heart.
The first clue took me to Tom’s Liqorice Allsorts that were on the kitchen windowsill. Tom was who I thought of as my Granddad, Big Nan’s second husband. Short, bald and very smiley, I loved Tom, although no idea why his sweets were in our kitchen, he didn’t live with us!
And so it began. From one clue to the next, I was running around the house with such joy, not explaining what any of the clues meant to my loyal friends running behind me, because I was just so bloody excited to find my present.
And then the final clue came, and it took me outside to the garden shed.
I look around and around, but couldn’t see the present anywhere. “You’re getting warmer, warmer, HOOOOTTTTTT!!!” Mum exclaimed, and I still couldn’t see it. That’s because I was leaning on my birthday present, under an old piece of material my parents used to cover the floor when decorating.
When I finally realised what and where it was, I was over the moon. There I stood, looking at my very first, proper big bike … a mid-green Racer. Not mint-green, nor emerald, but I remember the exact colour of the bike as if it was yesterday.
And so began a new set of adventures. Cycling to the next town with my older brother for picnics – aka, a sweaty egg sandwich and a bottle of orange squash (we were big on egg sandwiches in our house!). Cycling up to the local cricket club to watch my Dad and brother play cricket on a Summer’s Sunday afternoon, and cycling to the local shops every day to buy Mum cigarettes. But the less said about that the better!
Suffice to say, that bike gave me freedom. I was a girl becoming a young woman and I was stretching the boundaries, looking for more independence and I found it with my new green racer.
If you’re still deciding what to buy your child for Christmas this year, you couldn’t buy a more perfect present than a bike. Dexter and I got our bikes from Halfords last year and we’ve been really happy with them (although mine is now away for the winter!).
* Collaborative post