Image: (Credits photo: Time)
Mum was in such a spin.
She kept repeating the need for urgency.
‘The train,’ she said. ‘We can’t be missing the train.’
Relax we told her it was only six o’clock, the sun was just rising and we had a good twenty –six hours before the thirty-three o’ seven.
But mum was adamant we get a move on, as our holiday was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see one of the great spectacles of our time.
Uncle Tom’s Fairy Garden.
Uncle Tom was mum’s older brother. A likeable fellow if not a tad eccentric. He lived in the country in a little old house that mum had been brought up in.
The problem of course was getting there. Uncle you see had passed away some twenty years prior and the only way to get there was on the Time Train.
Only one Time Train ran backwards through time and it was the one mum was beginning to get paranoid about.
But of course all was in readiness as it always is with mum organising things and we arrived at the station with plenty of minutes to spare.
The thirty-three 0 seven was a very imposing steam locomotive resting on Platform Upper Level six.
We lugged out luggage up the stairs and found our seats.
The journey would take a few hours and mum had arranged for Uncle Tom to collect us at the station. I was never sure how mum managed that but there he was, a tall and imposing man, waiting at the station ready to pile us all into his old Chev.
We kids stayed out in the sleep out.
We had stepped out of 2015 and back into 1960. As Uncle Tom was always saying in the good old day’s life was slower, I tended to think of it as standing still.
Uncle Tom had the most wonderful garden. He grew all manner of vegetables, he had a very alluring cactus garden, and one I was often afraid to enter for fear of injuring myself.
But our favourite was his fern garden.
This garden always had a charm and attraction for me. Set back into a back corner of his yard and shaded by large banksias and a massive tree fern it always gave off an air of peace and excitement.
It was the coolest place on a hot summers day and the warmest place to be in winter.
But it was the fairies we most loved to see.
Uncle Tom would tell us to go out into the garden and see if there were any about which was one way he knew to get us out of the house so he and mum could have a real chinwag.
I often wondered what they did talk about when they were both fifty odd years into their pasts.
We would poke about in the ferns calling and looking under each fern but we could never see anything or anyone.
This led us to wander back in and inform Uncle Tom that there were no fairies.
He would then come out with us and before we knew it there were fairies everywhere.
They would come out and sit on our shoulders, try and sell us their wares, sing to us and one would always try and sell one of their kids to us.
I asked Uncle Tom if the fairies were still here in the present time.
He had an infectious smile and gave me one before telling me that they are here but as I had grew older they would be more invisible to me then than they were now.
‘They only come out to kids and me and one other.’ He said.
We played amongst the ferns each day of our holiday. On the last day mum came into the garden with us. She sat with the fairies and spoke to them in a language I had not heard before. They sat around her listening as she held court among them.
When she was finished she stood up and the fairies as one bowed to her before disappearing into the garden.
We kids were dumbfounded.
Mum looked around us, smiled and giggled to herself and said: ‘Time to go. Pack your things, we have a train to catch.’
‘But?’ we all stammered.
She looked at each of us and then at Uncle Tom. ‘Every fifty years they look forward to a visit from their Fairy Queen.’
As we packed we were speechless. Our mother, the Fairy Queen?
All this happened when I was six years old.
I took more notice of mum after that, discovering she was a constant source of surprise.