My Nan and Granddad lived in a typical two-up-two-down in Sheffield. When my family made the trip from Aberdeen at various points throughout the year, my grandparents would give up their room for Mum and Dad, and Granddad would take up residence on the sofa. Nan, D- and I would all bunk down in the spare room.

My nan was an incredibly calm lady and enjoyed life’s simple pleasures. She and I would share the fold-out bed, and D- would sleep alongside it, cocooned in a mass of brown and orange sleeping bags.  Nan always slept with the curtains, “open a crack to let the light in,” and my memories of those hazy mornings are always of the first dawn glow, projected on the wall above us. When she became aware that I was no longer sleeping, we would often lie and talk, listening for the tell-tale sounds from downstairs of Granddad making breakfast.

One year, we went down for the May Day weekend, and – being the curious child that I was – I asked Nan what May Day was all about. As we lay there, chattering in hushed tones and drinking in the early morning light, she painted the most wonderful picture for me. She told me about her childhood in one of the nearby villages. She spoke of the floats pulled by shire-horses, made from spring-time petals. She told me how she and her friends would dance around the May Pole, weaving patterns on the wood with their brightly coloured ribbons.  She spoke of watching the older girls compete to be crowned the May Queen, and of how everyone in the village would be out in force, singing songs and making merry.

That wonderful shade of golden light which shone on us that morning as Nan recalled her youth will always conjure images of simpler times for me, and though I didn’t live them, I feel as though I can remember them. May Day, as a result is something of a special holiday for me…

And being up to watch the dawn creep through the curtains, just like that day all those years ago, was something of a real treat.

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