Thursday, 21 January 2016

Down Memory Lane...

...or to be more precise, down Leicester's Gipsy Lane.

Last week I had to go to a meeting on the other side of town. This meant driving past the street where I was born and along the road that I used to cross on my way to school (I really mean the road that Mum used to drag me across. I hated school), the same road where I used to trail after Mum from shop to shop on her daily trip to buy food (no fridges in those days). There are still shops there but the grocers and greengrocers have gone.

I used to wait for the bus to Grandma's house on Gipsy Lane. The bus stop is still there. I can remember holding Mum's hand, looking forward to being at Grandma's, trying not to turn and look at the Towers Hospital behind me.

An old photograph of The Towers Hospital
 from The Leicester Mercury archives
Last week, as I crawled along in a line of traffic, I glanced at that same Towers Hospital. It stands in its own grounds and, although it is no longer a mental institution (formerly referred to as a lunatic asylum), it is still largely unchanged from the outside. I was surprised at how close the building was to the road. In infant school, we were taken there each Spring for nature walks. I remember walking along a little piece of woodland beside an iron-railed perimeter with the scarily imposing building safely at a distance. I know a lot has changed but the iron-railed perimeter hasn't moved and the building hasn't moved. It's only my memory that has had a size-change. That 'little piece of woodland' is merely a narrow path with trees and bushes alongside it.

It's strange how we remember things from long ago as being smaller or larger, nearer or further away. Maybe our memories can't retain size proportions accurately. Have you ever returned to a childhood location and been surprised by your memory's inaccuracies?


  1. No, I've not been back. Didn't have that much fun as a child - I'd be curious to see just how small the common was where we used to play, but have no wish to see the house.

    1. I think I understand, Jo. I've never been back to the house but living in the same City all my life, there's sometimes no way out of passing by those old familiar places.

  2. Whenever I go to PA to visit my dad and family, I'm back at the old childhood home, neighborhood, etc. Trees are bigger, house seems smaller, and the basement is still scary. It is funny about child perception vs. the here and now. Thanks for taking us down your memory lane.

  3. Hi Ros - I've been past our old place and it did look the same .. but I'm sure it's as you describe. I did take my uncle back to my old school and we walked around - yes there were more buildings - I knew that .. but I thought the grounds were enormous - not so!! I hated running round them when it snowed ... a horror associated for ever more ...

    Cheers - but am glad you have those memories as you are still in the town and certain things are still in place ... cheers Hilary

  4. Mwmories inaccuracies.....but we were so much smaller then..and it's all about scale! A couple of months ago I drove to where I lived until I was nine...and then retraced the walk to school I did every day from time I was three.then it seemed such a long tiring fact it was nt long at all, but then my legs were so much smaller!

  5. I frequently visit Welwyn Garden City, where I was born. Lots of it look exactly the same...though I agree, it has got smaller over time. I like going round John Lewis, that used to be Welwyn Department Store and locating all the 'old' departments....still do able. There used to be a 'teenage boutique' in the mens' department. Ooh what trendy things I used to see and covet!Unfortunately I was made to wear 'Cresta' dresses, which were soo old fashioned.

  6. I am now living on the same side of the city as the place I grew up in and intend to take the bus there when the weather is better.It's about twelve years since we even drove thorugh the town and as you say everything looks smaller. I just love the memories that come flooding back and it also provokes memories that were long forgotten.