I thought it would be lovely to re visit a place I have not been back to for many years. When I was given the address of the cafe where we would meet I nearly fell over...it was in the same road as my old primary school! What a coincidence! I could not wait for my trip down memory lane.......
The journey to East Dulwich is just under an hour from my home. When I arrived the first thing which struck me was how condensed the housing is, but how well kept the properties now are. When I was young this was not a prosperous area but it is now very "gentrified".
The other thing which was obvious was the amount of bonnet to boot car parking...as a 5 year old in 1966 there were not that many cars. Now everyone drives and as the housing is terraced it's not possible to park off road. So the cars line every available space on the roads.
I was sad to see no sign of any of the original shops. We used to have a butchers, green grocer, pet shop etc etc near school. The shops now are very "boutique" and there were also many coffee shops, cafes etc.
These are a couple of the boutiques where I think originally was a toy shop and a shoe menders.
On the right is the cafe where we met. I have a feeling that in my day it was one of the old sweet shops where everyone would pile into at the end of the school day to spend their loose coins. We bought things like sherbet fountains, jelly snakes, flying saucers, marshmallow shrimps, gob stoppers, bubble gum and everything designed to decay our young teeth!
It is now a very pleasant cafe which serves much healthier options than a sweet shop in the 1960s and early 1970s! I should think that if we had come across the word "cappucino" then we would have guessed it was something to wear on our heads!
After our lunch, before I drove home, I decided to take a look at my little primary school which has sadly been turned into housing. The old playground now serves as a car park for the residents.
Another obvious realisation was how tiny the school really was. When I was a pupil it seemed so vast. Running across the playground took lots of my tiny steps! I noticed that just the few cars now parked there filled it. As I stood there looking at the shadow of my dear old school the silence deafened me. Old memories in the playground were of lots of laughter and shouting. I actually felt quite sad that the old school had gone. The only reminder of it's existence was the new name; St Clement's Yard (my primary school was called St.John's and St Clements).
At this point I decided that I must retrace my original walk to school from our old house. I drove, what is actually quite a short distance, again to my little legs all those years ago it seemed like miles! I found my old road and was greeted by a blank, cream painted wall where the old "corner shop" had stood. It again has been converted into housing.
I used to regularly be sent on errands to pick up items of shopping for my Mum from the corner shop. It sold everything from milk to cold meats, fresh vegetables,bread , tinned food etc etc. Everything would be weighed out, very little was pre packaged. Whilst I was looking I noticed that the old run, down high school which had stood at the end of my road opposite the corner shop had been completely re vamped. Guess which school is now situated there..............................................yes my old primary school St. John's and St.Clements!
As it was summer holidays it was closed but it must be thriving as it is now occupies a building many, many times bigger than my old original. How convenient it would have been had it moved to this site when I was a child. I could almost have fallen out of bed and into the class room. I was so pleased to find that the spirit of my old school still lives on in a larger and grander building.
Before I drove home I just checked out the local green, Goose Green, and was delighted to see even the same trees still growing there but obviously they won't tell you they are 30 years older! Thankfully some things don't change although it was good to see a few new saplings planted.
So I had a wonderful trip down Memory Lane. It's amazing how many pleasant childhood memories can be stirred up by such a journey. I am so pleased I took it. How strange coincidences are - what started as lunch with an old friend turned into me finding my dear old primary school living a new life at the end of my old road...!
Bye for now,