Some of my earliest childhood memories have sweet connotations.
I grew up in a sweet shop,or rather,my mother ran a grocery shop in rural Kildare alongside the family farm. The groceries however held no interest for me, they could not hope to compete against the rows of glass jars on the shelves: Bulls Eyes,Dolly Mixture,Liquorice Allsorts, Sherbet Lemons, Pink,White and Lemon Bonbons… and the rows and rows of brightly coloured packet sweets Smarties.
Nowadays I know what she meant as my four children absolutely love diving into The Little Coffee House (which is parked at our home) for sweet treats. Hard to stop them all the time though when I know what that feeling was like at their age. I love it when children see the sweet jars on display when they visit the Tea Rooms
My brother and I were very close growing up, that is when we weren’t fighting like mad we were the best of friends, there was no happy medium. We were very lucky living in the countryside, few restrictions on our free time, not for us the fun of xbox, Wii and Playstation, as theyhad not yet been invented, but we had tyre swings in trees, the river running through the farm, great for cooling down on what seemed to be endless sunny days, and great friends in our neighbours, there was always company.
A new stables opened up near home, and it was not long before all my friends and I got involved in the pony craze. We had a ‘nag’ of a pony, Queenie,a beautiful little black mare purchased locally. She was my best friend, my confidant, and very fast and so a great teacher of how to hang on under pressure! Lessons she taught me have served me well in life. When my brother and I became too old to ride her, she was given to a neighbouring family who had small children. It was the right thing to do but I have to admit that it was one of the saddest days of my life when we parted company.
The shop closed when I was about 8 years old, not sure when exactly but I remember it being open in the run up to my First Communion. I remember because of an incident that happened at Easter time. At Easter of that year my mother had a most glorious display of easter eggs on display in the grocery shop; fabulous baskets (containing lots of brightly coloured chocolate eggs), a selection of small eggs sold by weight, and a really amazing array of medium and large boxed eggs. The biggest display I had ever seen in my entire life.I stood transfixed at this cornucopia in wonderment. To my mind’s eye the shop was full of eggs and nothing else.
Today I am brought right back to my eight year old self who marvelled at this sight that would surely have given Willy Wonka a run for his money. Pure Heaven. I don’t exactly remember how it came about but my brother and I came to the conclusion that the large boxed eggs were so huge that no one person could possible finish them. Who would miss a little chocolate or maybe more than a little….?We thought that our plan had worked until irate shoppers returned the eggs to the shop,as each and every egg was missing half a shell..I don’t know how we thought our nefarious deed would go unnoticed..To this day my brother has no memory of this. I remember it because my mother scolded me for stealing and I patiently explained to her that teacher said it was not a sin until I received First Holy Confession,just before my First Communion. Teacher was ALWAYS right.
My father was an extraordinary man. Not content with being a farmer, he also made garden ornaments,using moulds brought in from England. The ornaments were made from cement, built to last. I spent a lot of time with him, helping (or hindering more like,though he never said) and I loved accompanying him on his trips, selling the ornaments door to door. I sat in the front seat of the estate car,and enjoyed listening to him chat with people about their garden, their family, and life in general.I never heard him try to sell the ornaments, people bought from him because they liked him, he was a genuine, easygoing likable person, hard not to like. I can always recognise those ornaments to this day. I thank him for his positivity and love of nature, and of course for all the sweets he bought me while we were on those trips! He passed away in 2003, a week short of his 85th birthday and I am so glad of all the time we spent together and of what he taught me. I was at the cash and carry recently and saw a box of giant lollipops for sale. Instantly I was transported back to my childhood…my father returning from a trip with big bag of fruit sweets just like the lollipops. Very exotic sweets at the time. Needless to say the lollipops are on sale at the Tea Rooms now.
I have really enjoyed my trip down memory lane, thank you for reading. What are your sweet memories? I would love to hear them!