When we were young…

Posted: April 25, 2012 by Ben Weber in Background, English
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

For the first eight years of my life, my family lived on the Orkney Islands, on a small island called Stronsay and then on the “mainland” in the fishing village of Stromness. It could probably be considered a pretty idyllic place for kids to grow up as we could wander around everywhere and always be able to get back home, and there were plenty of things to keep curious and adventurous children quite active. One day, my sister Lesley and I went to the beach with one of our elder brothers, Mark. When we got there, somehow we got separated from Mark near a grave-yard – Lesley and I thought that ghosts or something got him and made our worried way back home to tell mum what had happened. Mark came back hours later even more worried about how he would tell mum about how he had lost us!

Being the youngest of seven children, I would often wander off and get myself into bits of bother here and there (though I wasn’t the only one). I think it was Mark (I can’t remember, this is only what I was told) who had to wade into the sea after me when I had gone in and got a bit out of my depth with the sea dragging me away from the land. At another time, my parents had taken their eyes off of me and before they knew it, I was half way up a six foot wall (which had a ten foot drop on the other side). Apparently when my dad saw me, he almost panicked, but my mum stopped him from shouting at me for fear that startling me would make me lose my confidence and fall. So he rushed to get a camera and take a couple of photographs instead… Not sure as to exactly how I got down, but I survived to tell the tale.

These formative years of my life were when I started to be told tales of Scott of the Antarctic (watching the 1948 film on our old black and white TV), and the ascent of Everest by Hillary and Tenzing, and though we can be quick to dismiss childhood dreams of wanting to be explorers and the like (afterall, I imagine that so many children have these dreams), I remember distinctly saying I that I wanted to reach the South Pole and I wanted to climb Mount Everest. These dreams faded as we went away from the islands to England and the larger towns and cities, though I guess always lingered, and for me it’s great to have finally re-discovered them and to be in a position to work to make them happen. Hopefully it will all work out!

Have you any forgotten dreams that would love to make happen? Just curious to know…!!

  1. Jonathan Weber says:

    Hello again Ben! I know it’s not nice but have to tell you the island’s name was Stronsay, not Stronsea… I know, doesn’t really matter. Quite funny though to think that the village we lived in was called Whitehall – luckily nothing to do with its London namesake. You could probably fill a book of all the adventures us seven kids had there – it’s funny ready this and realising I never knew about Mark “losing” you… Reminds me of the time I waded neck deep to save another brother caught on a make-shift raft and being pulled out to sea (neither of us then able to swim)…. or all the times I used to love walking along the cliff-tops totally unable to understand why mum would get so agitated; now I’ve got my own kids it’s a little easier to understand parents’ reactions…

    • Ben Weber says:

      Oops! Will correct that! Such a long time ago, you see!
      Yeah, the tales of what you guys got up to on the islands make my adventures seem small scale!! Not sure what I will be like when I eventually have kids (after this expedition!) though I think letting us all loose like that had only positive effects in the end (though perhaps slightly lucky nothing bad happened!)

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