Where Were You In The 80’s?

A while ago, Haylee from Aloada Bobbins did an awesome series of posts on 1980’s nostalgia and TV shows she watched as a kid. As another ’80s kid, I loved her posts so much that I decided to do a version of my own.

My family and I lived in Australia in the 1980’s. There was so much good stuff going on back then for us kids. My childhood memories include yummy, green, frog-shaped mint ice creams and home-made popsicles from juice; huge waterslides at Surfer’s Paradise, and smaller, pop-up style waterslides at school.

My 80’s life consisted mostly of school and playing outdoors in what seemed like an endless summer. To this day, the simple act of eating watermelon by the pool while dangling your feet in the water represents a perfect summer day to me. It all has to do with what you grow up with.

My favourite TV shows included:

  • Inspector Gadget – I can still remember the theme song – who could forget it?! My hair was similar to Penny’s so I obviously always imagined I was her
  • Maxwell Smart
  • Murder She Wrote (exciting for a kid, but not quite the same when I saw an episode as a grown-up!)
  • Transformers and He-Man (I guess they were meant for boys but I enjoyed them a lot)
  • Cartoons like The Jetsons, Astroboy, Yogi Bear, Scooby Doo (weren’t those the best!)
  • The Muppet Show and Sesame Street
  • A game show that was called It’s a Knockout (which seems pretty hilarious when you look at it now but let me tell you, it was entertaining!)
  • The Smurfs

Also loved:

  • Charmkins (they each had a unique perfume!)
  • Cabbage Patch Kids
  • Barbies
  • Monopoly and Chinese Checkers board games

A few memories that stuck:

School

We wore school uniforms and I was about 5 1/2 years old when I started school. Most of the time my mum packed my lunch to take with me (pineapple juice was a staple) but when she didn’t, she’d give me money to buy a sandwich from the school cafeteria.

The sandwiches were packed in brown paper bags and the whole buying process was exciting. I always had an egg salad sandwich, which was my favourite. To this day, whenever I go to London, I just have to get one of those! (In Finland, where I now live, you can’t get the right kind of soft bread to do them properly.)

My first book review was of Robinson Crusoe when I was in third grade. Our teacher gathered the class’s carefully crafted homework and without reading any of it, threw all of our book reports in the rubbish bin, while calmly looking us in the eye. I guess he had some kind of a pedagogic plan behind it, but all I remember was how much effort I’d put into that book review! Maybe he was just preparing us for later disappointments in life?

After school

I learned to swim at around the same age as I started school and many afternoons were spent splashing away in my best friend’s swimming pool. At home, we didn’t have a pool of our own, but our Scottish neighbours did. They cut a hole in the fence dividing our properties so that I could go swim in their pool anytime I liked.

As kids, we would spend lots of time outdoors and I was often at my friend’s house after school. They had this orange, fluffy rug in their living room which we’d sit on while we watched Knight Rider, after swimming and snacking had been taken care of. They had an old Apple computer on which we’d play stick figures’ Olympics or a lemonade-selling game, which I can’t quite remember the point of.

Sometimes we created a sort of obstacle course for the huge ants in my friend’s backyard and the ants would return the favour by biting us. My thumbs would be swollen but I deserved it for teasing them.

We would also feed toast to possums. Why toast? I don’t know, other than the fact that it was fun to take a slice of fresh bread to a sunny spot on the balcony in the afternoon and watch it turn into crisp toast by the evening. And when it got dark, a cute cuddly possum with huge eyes would come and eat it, unafraid of us. (By the way, these possums were different than the scary ones I’ve seen in some American blogs! Way cuter!)

There were, of course, occasional breaks in the weather: I also remember thick fogs, golf ball sized hail, and heavy rain causing a flood in our backyard, turning a small stairway into a waterfall. After rain, you’d spot huge toads by the side of the road, tragically squished by traffic.

My friend and I once watched a kangaroo through her second floor bedroom window. It was raining and the kangaroo was trying to cross the backyard but it fell into the swimming pool. Quickly, it got out of the pool by itself and jumped away over the fence across the yard, disappearing into the bush. This was the only time I saw a wild kangaroo.

Whenever my parents picked me up from my friend’s place, we’d drive past a fruit tree of some kind. I can’t remember the fruit but I vividly remember that the tree was always covered in flying foxes hanging upside down. I must’ve kept my nose glued to the car window each time.

Another friend had a cockatoo as a pet, and sitting next to the bird cage, we’d play for hours with play dough. There was also a magical kind of play dough… or maybe it was some kind of sand which changed color when you dropped it in water. It seemed very cool back then. Then there was the type which you could put in the oven and it’d become solid. Do kids these days still play with play dough?

At home

In our backyard, we had all sorts of interesting birds, insects, and plants. There was always lots to explore, it was like a miniature jungle to a kid. We’d play Uno cards outside and listen to the laugh of kookaburras. We’d see parrots fly by. We grew passionfruit vines, banana trees, pineapples (which didn’t produce any fruit), and edible rosebuds. My grandparents had boysenberry bushes.

I learned early on to love papaya (paw paw) and passionfruit, as well as beetroot which we added to pretty much every meal. A yummy breakfast classic was baked beans on toast and scrambled eggs. (I just remembered alphabet soup! Do they still make that?)

Huge caterpillars and lots of ugly critters lived in our garden; I was taught to always check my shoes before I put them on. Spider sightings were not unusual, and my grandparents had seen snake skins in their backyard. I even stepped barefoot on a snake once at school, by accident, but it was too stunned to do anything.

My parents took me and my brother to a windy little island sometimes and all I can remember is that they had hairy Chinese chickens there. I always needed to see the chickens! On the ferry ride over, we’d see swarms of jellyfish endlessly bobbing around. I knew they were stingy and was pleased to look at them safely from aboard.

On Thursdays, there was late night shopping. “Togs” (swimsuits) were entirely appropriate attire for a child to wear whilst accompanying her mother to the local supermarket on a hot day, and in the evenings, you’d see kids in the supermarket in their pajamas. Maybe they still do that over there, but here in Finland it seems a bit exotic – it would never work because of the weather! Speaking of swimsuits, I seem to remember that Gold Coast had a campaign in the 80’s, where young ladies in golden bikinis would drop coins into cars’ parking meters to encourage more Gold Coast visits.

I used to love writing stories as a child. I had a little notebook in which I’d write with a scented, multi-coloured pen. I finished some stories, but most of them were left unfinished, childhood time running out. Sometimes they were just titles and ideas – very similar to my blog, actually. I have tons of unfinished drafts and ideas for blog posts – and I doubt I’ll ever have the time to finish them all.

All this happened before I turned nine – the year we moved to Finland.

Where were you in the eighties?

The photos are from a 6-week vacation to Australia in 1999-2000. I toured the East Coast, visiting Sydney, Brisbane, Byron Bay, the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays, the Daintree Rainforest, Cairns, and other places I can’t remember. I also met up with relatives and my childhood best friend.

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72 responses to “Where Were You In The 80’s?

  1. I love all things nostalgic, and obviously loved this post! I grew up in the 90s, but some of the stuff in here brought back memories. Like The Jetsons and He-man for example! And you were lucky to have had those nice Scottish neighbours who cut through the fence and all.. somehow I can’t imagine people doing the same these days 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hahah, I agree about the fence! Life seemed very laid-back those days, though maybe it was just from my perspective as a child 😉 I love 90’s music and have lots of nostalgia for the stuff I listened to as a teenager. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting! Have a great weekend and hope to see you here again! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What fantastic childhood memories, so glad my post gave you some inspiration! Apart from the weather and more exotic wildlife, there are similarities with my upbringing. I remember spending a lot of time outdoors, running through the sprinklers in the garden and huge games of ‘block 1,2,3’ tag or rounders with everyone in the neighbourhood. It’s a shame that for many children these days, they spend their free time cooped up inside. They still like play dough though – but it doesn’t smell of almond anymore!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is an amazing throw-back. Sounds like a very happy childhood. And after this Finland, hmm? 😉 As for me, Captain Apollo died a few days ago, from Battlestar Galactica (that is, actor Richard Hatch). He was my first celebrity crush and looked just like my real first crush from school. I think it was 1982 and the sky was the limit. So great you shared this with us!

    Liked by 3 people

      • Now I see that Suvi did her post on the subject too. I enjoyed both yours and hers very much and was spurred to write this comment which I repeat here, because I would have written it before if I wasn’t too lazy. So here is my longer comment:

        I was age 10-20 in the 80’s, so in a way everything happened to me then. I went to school in Ljubljana, Slovenia – then still divinely peaceful Socialist Yugoslavia. Summers we spent by the sea in Croatia, winters skiing in Austria or Italy, New Year Eves in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. I watched series like Pippi, Den vita stenen, Verano azul (Spanish, “Blue Summer”), whole lot of Yugoslav Partisan series, How the West Was Won, Battleship Galactica. I listened to Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Wham and Prince. (The Doors came at about age 19.) At 18, university, there I met my first live-in boyfriend, half Croatian, half Italian. At 20 we had a school of Italian language together, he was our first teacher. I was the director and I never listened in during the classes we organised, that’s why I still don’t know how to speak Italian now that I live here. 😀 (The last time I heard from him, his message was: “Serves you right!”)

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve only visited Cannes for a day, but it was very posh. I don’t know if I would’ve liked to live there, either. Kind of amazing to imagine you were already doing the same job back then, when I was just playing around in the backyard 😊 Hope you like your job! I keep changing jobs, though mostly they involve the same things, I guess. Merci, Gilles, pour ce commentaire – bon weekend!

      Like

  4. You remember those time so vividly. I tried to remember times at about the same age as yours but not much came up. Those are lovely time and life was so full of fun when you looked back. I thought I was always bored and was looking for more fun things to do then. Oh yes, I love Jetson!

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Jetsons were great! 😉 I probably remember so much because I can place it easily on a timeline because of the move from one corner of the world to the other. You probably remember many things, too, but maybe there’s no time indicator for you to place your memories? That’s my theory, at least! Anyway, thanks for stopping by! 😊 Enjoy your Sunday!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a lovely post! I’d be spooked if I stepped on a snake – snakes are my biggest fears until now. Spending your afternoons swimming with a friend sounds like a perfect way to spend day (child or adult.. ). And pineapple juice – that sounds delicious! 🙂 I actually love pineapples and the ones I find here never taste the same like in Nepal 😦 I really enjoyed visualizing your childhood days in sunny (mostly sunny right? 🙂 ) Australia as I read through. I do wonder what 80s was like in Nepal for my parents, it wasn’t until 90s that I was born, hehe.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’d love to know what Nepal was like in the 80’s, too (or even today!) 🙂 Australia was mostly sunny, yes, and the fruit tasted very different than it does up here in the north, like you said. Even ordinary fruit, like oranges, are completely different when you eat them fresh and locally, instead of eating them after they were shipped across the globe half raw and frozen. Well, that’s life, I guess! 🙂 Thanks so much for reading and commenting, again, Pooja! Enjoy your evening 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. love the photos, give such sense of freedom, much in line with what you’ve written 🙂 do you still keep that little book where you wrote those stories as a kid? 🙂
    in the 80s I was right where I’m now, in this same urban jungle of Sofia… I wish to believe I’m yet to be travellin 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure you’ll get to travel if that’s what you really want! I was actually just thinking about that little book – I don’t really know where it is but I’m hoping it’ll turn up one day! Thanks so much for your comment, Alexandra, and enjoy your evening!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I started college in 1980 but still have some of the same fun references. I loved The Jetsons and to this day refer to one of my brothers as Inspector Gadget!
    Ours was a somewhat urban childhood. I loved playing tag (basically, chasing each other), jump rope, Barbies, Monopoly and Scrabble. Yeah, ya think? Didn’t all us bloggers play Scrabble?
    Your Australian childhood sounds idyllic. Looking forward to learning about the rest of your childhood, in Finland!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lots of similarities! 😊 Board games were so much fun. Maybe there’ll be a part 2 someday, from the Finland part. It didn’t involve as many outdoors activities though and might be quite a boring read, hahah! 😉 Thanks, Linda, for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Definitely share those childhood memories of playing outside in the dirt and bushes and experiencing a lot of local wildlife. Also had the same experience with childhood TV shows or movies, many of which don’t hold up on an adult re-viewing.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Oh my gosh, that was fun! So much of your childhood could have been mine here in the US, but possums were (are) not cute and cuddly (they are totally awful) and we don’t have the occasional kangaroo or kookaburra passing by (although one of my favorite elementary school songs was about a kookaburra)! I loved reading about your neighbor who cut a hole in the fence so you could use his pool. Lawsuit-happy Americans would never go for that, so my friends and I just waited until after dark and then went “pool-hopping,” climbing over those fences and taking a dip all around the neighborhood!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hahahah! That sounds even better, the pool-hopping!! Something to remember, for sure!! So happy to hear you could relate, it’s interesting how you can have had such similar experiences in different countries. Then again, lots of those childhood memories are about basic things, which we knew how to appreciate even more back then than we do later on in life. Savouring the moment. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I grew up in Belgium (where I lived until 2003) in the eighties. Like you wrote, so many ideas and memories depend on where you lived. Cultures are so different from each other. It is something I experience every day, here in the States and I find it sad in a way that my husband and I cannot relate to the same TV programs and songs of our youth.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I know what you mean! I’ve had that experience over and over again in Finland. I never learned to play outdoors in the winter or to do winter sports and have no nostalgia for the local music or other pop culture from the time we were gone. Every now and then, these things come up again and I have no memories of my own to contribute. My memories, on the other hand, don’t ring a bell with other Finns. So I’m happy I could at least share them on the blog! Thanks for your comment! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I was a baby/toddler/young kid growing up in Switzerland in the 80’s 🙂 I can relate to: Inspector Gadget, The Jetsons, Yogi Bear, Scooby Doo, The Smurfs, and Barbies! So many Barbies…! 😀
    It was really nice to read a bit about you and where you come from – thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Really? 😊 They still have meter maids? That’s kind of fun, in a way. I remember bits an pieces of the Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise quite well, I must’ve been a beach person from the start. How nice it must be to live near the ocean! With your garden, too 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  12. OMG! 80’s ! those funky hits..Purple rain, Beat it!!
    This made me think what am I doing at this time..maybe too busy playing, exploring, not a care in the world.
    I love this nostalgic way of sharing your childhood memories. It’s fun getting to know you, really!
    I smiled when I read that you love papaya! It is a tropical fruit that is so expensive here in Germany along with avocados.
    You are such an interesting person Snow..with your posts I am totally loving your lifestyle , so relax and yet wild-spirited: just my kind of person!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’ve never even seen papaya in a grocery store in Finland! They do have other tropical fruits here, though, but they’re expensive and often bad, ie they were picked raw and never became ripe, then they just go bad… so it’s not the same as eating them where they actually grow! But sometimes, if I’m lucky, I’ll find a nice mango over here 😉 Or passionfruit. — The music, oh yes! I was thinking of including 80’s hits into this post but it would’ve become too long! There were just so many! Billie Jean, Stevie Wonder’s I Just Called, Wham… 🙂 Thanks for reading this and commenting, Christina! It’s been very interesting getting to know you through our blogs, too! 🙂 Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 2 people

  13. sounds like you had a great childhood from the way you describe it! I’m an 80s kid too. my favorite TV show was Little House on the Prairie. I grew up in New York City, so I’m unsure that show played anywhere abroad.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh my, I want to write a post like this too! And how fun that you loved the Cabbage Patch Kids too 🙂 I had two with red hair. No-one in Finland understood the hype. I even went to a Cabbage Patch Kids hospital in NYC!!! I guess I was a bit spoilt 😛

    Liked by 1 person

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  16. It’s so interesting to hear how different your childhood in tropical Australia was to my childhood in surburban Adelaide (in the 90s)!

    I would love to hear the next chapter of your story when you moved to Finland! We will be moving there with our 7yo to be, so I would be fascinated to hear your experience 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • How interesting to learn your childhood was so different! 😊 I’ll have to explore more of your blog (later, after work), I’m intrigued! So cool to meet people online with all kinds of experiences, similar yet so different. I might do a part 2 themed “Culture Shock in Finland” but I must warn you, I never got over moving here! It might not be an inspirational read…
      which is why I’m holding back… 😊 Anyway, good luck and I’ll definitely be following you with interest!

      Like

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