One of my favourite childhood memories is not full of sugar and spice and all things nice like you might expect. It does involve a lot of sugar though.
When I was little, my grandparents owned a house by the sea about a two hour drive south of the city which my grandfather had built himself and they used to invite their grandkids to stay there frequently. One summer, when I was six, my cousin and I stayed there together for about a week.
My cousin had come all the way from Sydney on the other side of Australia to visit my grandparents. He was two years older than I was, the only child of a lawyer and an ex-model, extremely well travelled and spoilt rotten. I was the third child of two former librarians from the 'burbs and the furthest I'd ever travelled was down to my grandparent's house.
Even at six years old, I understood that his world and mine were light years apart. I remember overhearing my grandfather telling my mum that they had taken him into Kmart and whenever my cousin had seen something he fancied, he just popped it into the trolley, no questions asked. That's just what he was used to.
Now that particular summer, one of the extraordinary things my cousin produced from his suitcase when he unveiled its contents was an absolutely enormous glass jar full of lollies (that's Aussie for candy, for my American friends). Inside the jar was every type of scrumptious, sticky sweet you can possibly imagine. There were chewy toffees and chocolate truffles, jelly beans and jelly frogs, minties and marshmallows, lollipops and liquorice. You name it, it was there.
I innocently assumed that because my cousin was the proud owner of every gadget and gizmo that opened and shut and could have anything his heart desired at the click of his fingers, that he would have no problem at all with sharing the contents of the jar with me. I assumed wrong.
On the first day of our visit, he did, to his credit, willingly offer me one red jelly frog, but after that it became quite clear that the lollies were for him to eat and for me to watch him eat. Several times over the following week I asked him shyly if I could please have a lolly, to which I was answered with a gigantic sigh and the words "They're mine, not yours!"
After I'd had a grand total of three lollies, my cousin decided it was necessary to hide the still almost full-to- the-brim jar from me. Now I think I should make it perfectly clear here that I was not nagging him constantly to share his sweets. I was quite a shy little girl and I knew it was rude to ask repeatedly for something. I was quite put out that he thought it necessary to command me to stay in the room we were sharing while he went off to hide the jar in a place where I would never, ever find it in a million years. I distinctly remember my lower lip quivering slightly as I waited in the bedroom for him to hide it from me - not so much because it meant I couldn't have any more lollies, but because I couldn't believe he actually thought I would steal from him.
The rest of the week came and went and I didn't see the jar again, nor did I go looking for it. At the end of the week, my mum came and picked me up and took me back home and my cousin stayed on with my grandparents for another week. Life went back to normal, my cousin flew back to Sydney, school started again and I all but forgot about that magnificent jar until one day, about a month after I'd got back from visiting my grandparents house by the sea, my nanna and grandfather drove up to our house to visit us.
My nanna gave me a huge hug and kiss then said "I've got something here that I think you might like". She smiled a knowing smile and unzipped her handbag.
"I found this under my bed this morning. I think your cousin must have left it there by mistake".
Out of her handbag she produced the still almost full-to-the-brim jar of glorious goodies.
And I ran off with it into the backyard, climbed up to my favourite branch of my favourite tree, took out a red jelly frog, popped it into my mouth and had myself a lovely little gloat.