I have been away on a trip down Memory Lane in west London where I was born and spent my early years. I felt I had to go back and recapture something of those early days.
While there we were invited out to lunch and I must admit I had no idea where we were at the end of a car ride. It looked interesting as the family restaurant we stopped at was overlooking a lake. My photo above is just along from the restaurant.
We were chatting away and after ordering our meal I thought I'd better ask where we actually were. "Ruislip Lido," was the answer.
I was quite knocked out by this as when I was five, six and seven years old my parents used to take me to Ruislip Lido on the bus.
I explained to the others that I used to swim in the lake, sit on a sandy beach and go for a ride on a small train. They all looked at me at a bit blank, especially as I said I also remembered that we had to pay for entry back then.
Obviously my childhood memories must have been wrong and we moved on to another subject.
About ten minutes later a senior couple, on the table next to hours, got up to leave as they had finished their meal. The man tapped me on the shoulder and said, "You were right about the Lido."
He had overheard my conversation and went on to tell me that 'the beach' was on the other side of the lake (see small photo) where there was also a train station - though the train wasn't running at the moment as it is now winter. It used to be possible to swim in the lake but now it wasn't allowed because of the dreaded Health & Safety rules and regulations. He also confirmed that there used to be an entrance fee.
On the spot where we were sitting in the restaurant he described an imposing 1930s style building, which he was sure I would have remembered - and I did. It got knocked down a few years back and was replaced by the modern style eating house. He went on to explain how the lake was created in 1811 as a feeder for the Grand Junction canal and was full of all sorts of other interesting information.
Strangely he was only passing through the area as he had moved away to Oxford many years ago. He said he felt compelled to make a visit to Ruislip Lido. If he hadn't have been on the next table to ours I wouldn't have been able to re-kindle so many childhood memories.
My wife and I enjoyed our stay in west London and I visited the two homes where I lived until I was twenty-two. We even had a coffee in the pub where my dad would have his Sunday pint of beer. And then on to St. Mary's Church where my parents were married and I was Christened.
A bizarre thing happened on the last night in our hotel. I awoke during the night to a shrill noise, almost like a siren. It seemed to say over and over, "We're here ... we're here ... we're here ..." I sat up in bed and the noise stopped but as soon as my ear hit the pillow to try and sleep again the same 'noise' started up once more, "We're here ... we're here ... we're here ..." I sat up once more and it stopped.
Needless to say my wife was awake by now wondering what on earth I was doing. I asked if she'd heard anything - she hadn't. The spell was now broken and I was able to drift off to sleep. In the morning I asked the receptionist if there had been an alarm of some sort set off in the hotel, but there hadn't.
Maybe I was dreaming - but I don't believe I was - or maybe my memories were emphasising some sort of message. I'm still no sure exactly why I felt I had to return to Hayes and Hillingdon in west London.
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