During holidays we often went to stay with my Aunt Jean at her house in Scunthorpe. My own mother had died when I was 2 years old. Aunt Jean had been my late mother's oldest sister, and had a child of her own, Pauline, somewhat younger than my sister and I were. It was always a treat to stay with her, partly because the house in Church Lane was so much bigger than ours, and even had running hot water. But one of the most exciting things was what we always called the embankment.
In the back garden of the house, just beyond my uncle's shed that still bore the proud plate "Air Raid Warden," was a fence we could climb through. Beyond that fence was a steep slope covered in trees, bushes and thick ferns, leading down eventually to the main railway line. It was left wild, covered with undergrowth between the trees and bushes, and provided a haven for birds, insects and small wildlife. It was a child's paradise.
We were told not to cross the distant railway line in the valley below, but were otherwise left to roam free. We played hide and seek games in the woods, picked brambles, and went on imaginary jungle treks through the wilds. We tore our clothes on the thorns, and often came back with grazes and bruises, but always happy. Sometimes there would be stools awaiting us on the patio behind the house, where we would sit and eat chocolate spread sandwiches while we planned our next expedition into the unknown wilderness.