We were very lucky to grow up where we did. Leamington isn’t a bad place to be brought up, North Leamington even more so and Lillington, with its abundance of trees and playing fields and close proximity to the countryside was, in my opinion, the best.
Our house backed onto one of those playing fields. In fact, it was known as The Field, even though it was one of the smaller playing areas around. At one end, there were two swings and what we called the ‘Long John’ – a plank of wood suspended so that it swung backwards and forwards like, well, a large, long swing.
At the other end were three metal tunnels, one stacked on top of the other two. And a couple of large old tree trunks laid on the ground.
And that was it. The Field was about an acre in size and everywhere else was open for playing games in. At one time there was a large oval worn into the middle where we used our bikes to imitate speedway riding, but that game fell out of favour and the ‘track’ had grassed over well before we moved on in 1984.
The two things I remember most about The Field, though, are the things that always puzzled me about it. First of all, why did so few people use it? On one of the long sides, and both of the short ones, the gardens of the surrounding houses backed onto it. I think fewer than half a dozen of the thirty or so houses ever used the field and the woman who had a house which bordered half of the fourth side spent the entire time whinging about it. Even as a kid I wondered why she had bought the house, given that its proximity to a playing field wasn’t exactly a secret.
The second thing was the sheer number of stinging nettles. I never did understand why, if the council cut the grass in the field, they didn’t cut down the nettles as well. Summer time was particularly hazardous, as our games of cricket would launch tennis ball after tennis ball into the evil things. I had many a day interrupted by the need to run indoors and rub soap onto the stings.
The Field left me with many happy memories, and even though I made less and less use of it as I grew older. I wish that every kid could have a Field of their own.