Ode to tromping

I was a bit of a tomboy as a child and spent most of my time outside in the garden in a pair of wellingtons looking after what I called ‘my animals’ which consisted of snails, woodlice and worms. ‘Tromping’ (or walking through mud) was also one of my favourite past times (still is if I’m honest) and I was always at my happiest tromping round the garden with a bucket in my hand collecting dandelion leaves for my pets. The house we lived in was surrounded by fields and often hoards of young bullocks would strain their heads over our fence trying to reach the longer and tastier grass in our garden. They were inquisitive and I liked to pick long blades of grass for them and watch as their long, rough tongues wound around my offering and I stroked their big wet noses.

I remember the summer being so warm and sunny, and my sister being a two year old baby following me around in her own tiny willies. Days seemed to last so much longer. Around about one o’clock on these days my mum would always appear with lunch. Small pieces of apple, cheese, bread, cucumber and raisons eaten on a blanket on the grass, and I would always save the cucumber for the snails.

We used to have an old caravan in the garden at that house and one of my best memories is when my dad told me he had a surprise for me and there under a heat lamp in the caravan were two tiny yellow chicks. I called them Hettie and Nellie. They used to follow me around the garden (as well as my sister) once they had gotten big enough, and if they could see me through the glass back door they used to tap their small beaks against the glass so I would come out and see them. Often I would sit on a small stool and read to them, which they seemed to like, and they would jump up onto my knee and sit down. They were much more like dogs than chickens.

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