My first home was in Shirley, Christchurch, NZ. It was just a short walk to the local butcher, biker and a spacious green park which was our shortcut to the local primary school. Being a state housing area there were naturally lots of kids to play with in our street alone. 

Our red brick house looked exactly like all the other houses in the street except for a wooden 2- storey house right next door. Number 55 had Rimu wooden floors, 3 bedrooms, a small kitchen with a red Formica bench. Our kitchen table was chrome legs with the same red Formica and matching chairs. This was squashed into the little dining space alongside the kitchen. Just outside the back door was the washhouse with two concrete tubs and a copper for heating the water for the Monday and Friday wash days. 

Childhood games

Out the back was a good sized backyard with a garden shed. A concrete path to the rotary clothesline separated the  lawn from the vegetable patch. The low galvanized rail and wire netting fences kept us retained but not for long. The clothesline was just the right height for us kids to swing on but woe betide if you got caught.  The garden shed door was adorned with a dartboard although the darts usually embedded into the door rather than the actual dartboard, more often than not.

I  remember being envious of the three girls who lived in the house next door as their bedrooms were upstairs. I enjoyed going to play up there. We practiced filling our doll’s teeth as we roleplayed the terror we experienced at the ‘murder house’ aka the dental nurse training college at St Albans just along the road.

 I had to share a bedroom with my sister. That wasn’t fair as my brother had a room all to himself. There was a kidney- shaped dresser with a curtain to hide our treasures. We shared that too but not very amicably. A couple of crochet doilies on the top with just enough room for a book or my china horse statue. No bedside light to read by so when it was ‘lights out’, I hid under the blankets with a torch to keep reading my favourite book which was most likely about horses or maybe the Famous Five’s adventures. 

Oh how I loved to read. Reading, reading and more reading was my all-time favourite activity.I devoured The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, Rupert, Anne of Green Gables, Girl magazines and anything to do with horses and ponies!  I escaped into the world of fantasy through the imagination of others. 

My childhood love of reading has been an ongoing source of great personal pleasure, a trigger for ongoing learning and an endless supply of general knowledge. 

How has reading impacted your life?

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