We have just enjoyed another busy Christmas and new year period – this time though we had the joy of a toddler to spoil and be enthralled by. It was hearing about the tot’s exploits, working out how to unwrap the gifts, the shortest route to success, that was the most amusing. Of course, as is always the case, the actual contents of the boxes recovered from the ripping and shredding exercise were less interesting than the cartons – nothing new there then! the point though for all of us somewhat jaded adults, was seeing the innocent joy on the toddler’s face when encounraged to show us all what was inside each box. The vast selection of toys was impressive, only one minor duplication! What pleased me was that each giver had thoroughly enjoyed looking for their gift, really remembering their own very happy childhood christmas experiences. They even recalled some of the reasons for the celebration !
This must surely be the most favourite time of year for children of any age – 1 year up to 101 years and more! The lure of the Christmas parcel pile is overwhelming sometimes. I was watching a programme on families who had been affected badly in the blitz of WW2, they were so cheerful all the time, keeping their spirits up was a way of life and no one wanted to be seen moaning about their lot. The mother was standing in her coat and wellies, having come straight up from the Anderson shelter in the garden. The look of sadness and horror on her face was almost too much to watch, but she still managed to smile about finding a very favourite old Teddy.
The wonders of the internet these days mean toy stores can supply absolutely every kind of teddy, doll, toy, game, whatever. A paradise on earth, that’s for sure.
Oh the joys of playing with proper toys when you get the chance! There are some great kids that live in my neighbourhood – all ages from late teens down to the tiny tots. Most of the time I don’t see them at all – they get ferried to and from school in the family taxi, scurrying in from car to house. Weekends are much the same, not very much evidence of childhood existence. But lately there has been a very obvious shift away from the electronic gizmo entertainment that keeps them so silently hidden. We have enjoyed belated cricket on the village green – someone was obviously bought two sets of bails during the summer! I have enjoyed watching the various dads collectively rying to remind themselves of their own happy teen years – showing off their bowling skills. I hope this theme continues, it’s wonderful to hear and see families really enjoying quality playtime!
Having just returned from a family jauant down to the wet country, where we were housed in two small cottages with walls ten inches thick and low rooflines, it was momentarily fab to get back to normal communiations and use of phones. Although the holiday was tremendous fun, there were times when one of our number needed daily business dealings.
But all was not lost – in the cabinet next to the quaint old fireplace was a brilliant selection of jigsaws and board games. Yeah – salvation. This made us realise how much fun it is when you can’t sit just staring down at a screen on a lap. We had such a laugh, playing strategic games needing thought, guile and not a small amount of complete bare faced cheek. We played ludo, snakes and ladders, Salem (bizarre role play game taking its toll on our limited acting skills). We also had skittles, footballs, tennis raquets etc. A truly exhiliarating few days!
Wooh, well the change in the summer weather in this very tiny part of the world is quite astonishing. We sailed through August with absolute amazement. There was one small calm patch at the beginning, a little bit chilly but on the whole reliably warm once the overnight mists or rain had cleared. This happy situation only lasted the first week or ten days, then back to the most frustrating mixed weather bag of all. The toys out in the garden were especially welcomed after being cooped up indoors for a couple of extra weeks plenty of fun was to be had on the sunny warm school holidays. Climbing frames very popular this year – possibly because one of the younger ‘royals’ had got a garden based fort and the press were treated to the royal ensemble partaking of this feature. That one was a little more ambition than the local toy store’s version though!
The need to keep on top of the games and toy buying in this household has never been greater. There is an incessant move towards all things electronic. Grandchildren have now swapped the books and card games of our youth – they seem perfectly at east just plugging in their earphones and playing a tactical game on the tablet, or in fact reading a book on there. They are learning a different set of skills of course, but interaction between children in that generation is slowly getting lost.
The joy of asking a bunch of pals over and getting down favourite board games, puzzles or qizzes and having a really good tussle over them cannot be replaced so easily. Oh the joy when mum brought out the snacks and a half time truce would be called! I love choosing toys and games for youngsters – it is a really good excuse to jog the memory bank and return to some seriously joyous days !
The world of small toys isn’t all there is in the massive business market of toys. Games, sports, hobbies, but mostly toys, are what young people and their extended families all need to keep their collective feet on the ground. We can have far too much tv, game consult hugging, sports analysing etc. Getting to grips with a good toy or climbing frame, be it huge or really tiny, can make a real difference to a family during the summer.
In theevenings there is something really magical about being outside – being able to race around the garden, perhaps down to the summer house, or a less elaborate fixture up in the old oak tree, especially if dad has rigged up some simple lighting. Getting a swing arrangement to hang from the mid branches can be enchanting. All these outdoor ideas can be gained from an online toy and game outfit. Supper by solar light anyone??
Making sure the summer months off school are happy, incident free, expenditure free and full of child happiness is possibly one of the most oft desires amongst mums, grans and childminders. There is a definite need for children to get out there and explore during their play times. In a recent waltz down my local high street, I ventured to each of the charity shops to see what they’d got by way of bouncy balls and old toy cricket themed toys. I had a truly magical time talking to all the volunteers behind each counter. I checked toy baskets, games and puzzles, all sorts of abandoned toys came thrust out to me.
Fun that this was however, there can be no alternative to getting to a proper legit toy emporium! The choice of all my sought after items was fantastic – as was their quality. The yearly match can proceed with decorum and a decent set of bales!
Oh the simple pleasures of a beetle drive – this was on the entertainment agenda of our local gathering of worthy females in the village here. This is such a great sight – groups of usually serious ladies sat round a table, pencil and paper in front of them with a die in a cup, and the essential prize at hand. The beetle drive commences. As with all games, various rules prevail, like having to throw a six for the body to start, five for the head – you cannot draw the two antennae or 2 eyes until you’ve thrown that five . . . . . but with your body, you can draw each of the six legs, and the tail when each of the needed threes and four are thrown. My word, it is a fast and furious game and all this fun from a simple game idea from a book bought in the much loved local toy shop!
There is nothing more thrilling than getting up, throwing off that quilt, swiping the curtains open and seeing glorious dewy sunshine filling the landscape as far as our eye can see. However we are feeling prior to that moment, it matters not for the sight of that glorious sunlight instantly brings joy and prospects for a happy and warm few weeks ahead.
There are so many toys out there on the market only suited to indoor play – and many hundreds of these are likely to involve sitting on our sofas with controllers or playstation devices in hand and a massive screen ahead of us. There is no doubt that the explosion of online gaming has changed the world of play – sometimes for the better, mentally perhaps. But for all the oldies out there, nothing will ever be able to replace the joy to be had from outside play with a scooter, or those noisy but speedy roller skates and skipping ropes. Whooh. Heaven.