‘Memory can’t be stored, ready for retrieval like images on a videotape […] memory is fallible, dependent on mood and circumstance, and subject to distortion.’
– Margaret Murphy
The object that is important to me; and others in my family; is our static caravan. It was bought by us in 2004 and is basically our second home. The caravan is located on a site in mid Wales, with a five minute walk to the beach. It provides us with somewhere we can escape to whenever and for however long we choose. A sense of freedom and flexibility. This caravan is not our first; our first was situated on the caravan site next door and bought when I was barely two. Our caravan now always reminds me of our previous one, especially since the site we were on is adjacent.
The old caravan is a symbol of my childhood. It reminds me of when six weeks in summer stretched out before me, a time for not just a break from school, but endless days of sun and playing out. It also gave me priceless time with my grandparents. The six weeks would be filled with playing outside in the sun, from my plastic Wendy house with dolls tea parties, to being chased around the caravan! Then on rainy days, games with toy cars, pretend shops and picture playing cards. It was a time when I thought being able to stay up until 9.30pm on a Friday night was dad on his way to us was the best thing ever; but him leaving Sunday night was a time for tears, I was soon distracted by mum or nan or grandad with a board game to play though. I even achieved a milestone in my childhood there – I learnt to ride a bike. Friends were made, memories were made, and most importantly – I grew up.
The caravan now though, not only evokes these memories, but it is filled with plenty more. This one is a much more relaxed time; except for when me and my best friend were here in half terms! Here, I have learnt why it means so much to my parents; a place to escape, which is ours, no-one else’s, to do with what we please. There are no check-in times or check-out dates or booking fees. No planes to catch or receptions to book in. It is our base, we can explore the rest of Wales, but we will always have this place to come back to. Unfortunately, nan and grandad don’t come here, but it’s ok because I only have to look up to our old pitch to remember all the good times we had. Here I can reflect, read and be inspired, in a place we can call home.
Mum’s view of our caravan: “It meant that we could enjoy a leisurely family holiday whenever we wanted. A home from home by the sea something I had always imagined but never thought I would attain. Freedom for Amber to have the bucket and spade holiday by the sea, without the constraints of renting. The caravan gives me memories of Amber running around on the beach making sandcastles and digging moats around them so the sea could fill it. Playing with her new friends on the caravan site and learning to ride a two wheeled bike; setting of at the top of the site and by the time she got to the bottom coming back so excited that she could really do it. Real family holidays, like I remember from being a child, when it always seemed to be sunny.”
Both memories and what the caravan means to us are similar. We both feel a sense of freedom – not having to book our holidays etc. It also generates for us memories of my childhood. For mum though, it reminds her of when she was young and makes her content that I got to have family holidays like those she enjoyed as a child.
I feel Murphy is partly correct in her statement. Memory is dependent on mood and circumstance, on how you felt at the time, where you were and what the memory means to you. But I think that this helps you to log and store the memories, like images on a videotape. You can remember certain feelings or where you were and recall the memory. However, if those feelings occur again or you revisit a place, those memories can be evoked spontaneously.