Throughout my very early years my family were gypsies. Unfortunately this does not mean we lived in a caravan drawn by a faithful carthorse called Neddy. What it did mean was that we moved five times before I was seven. I know just what you are thinking, we were not on the run from the police. At least that was what I was led to believe. Come to think of it …. Anyway, the story I was told was that we had to keep relocating for my Dad’s job, who was an aeronautical draughtsman. Eventually we settled in Cornwall and my Dad commuted weekly. Neddy went to the home for retired carthorses.
An advantage of living in the home counties was that we were taken on frequent trips to London. It was my Dad’s home city and my parents had lived there when they were first married, so they enjoyed revisiting and showing us the sights. To a small child who lived in rural Sussex it all seemed very big and noisy and slightly scary. To a middle aged gardener who lives in North Devon it seems pretty much the same. We visited the museums, Oxford Street, the Tower of London. We also took a trip to the planetarium. The word alone is almost good enough, a word full of mystery and magic. I can remember quite clearly, head tipped back, mesmerised by the voice that came from the stars, watching the solar systems and planets move across the pseudo-sky. I didn’t understand a word but I was hypnotised and thrilled. Years later I revisited with my partner. We were just as thrilled. I may have understood a little more.