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 !
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.
It seems unbelievable that the much longed for Christmas and New Year period has arrived, been dealt with and rapidly moved on – how did that happen? We spend all that time getting ourselves geared up for it too Almost before the summer holidays have arrived, and the children are pond dipping and beach combing or sitting on deck chairs by the villa pool, the matter of Christmas is never far away as shops start their campaigns as early as possible. apparently to meet customer demand.
These days with so many different kinds of toys, games, hobbies etc. it is no longer just at Christmas time that we can revel in the joy of a gorgeously stocked toy shop. There are birthdays throughout the year and asstores need support all year round, to combat these challenging trading conditions, we need to keep buying. Spread the joy of toys and games all year long.
Just entering one particularly old, traditional, family run and family led, toy emporium has been a source of joy three times a year since the year dot. Having several younger members of the family now leaving behind the toddler stage, this means that good sturdy toys are needed, ones that are obvious how to engage with them. Games that have reasonsble playing rules that don’t take all day and a science graduate to understand them. One such fantastic shop is still open in my high street. Definitely a family firm with two of the grandchilren helping out on Saturdays and weekends.
What those family members don’t know about toys and games in this country is not worth knowing. The matriach now looks after the store – she has a very soft but very welcoming voice and before long she’s extacted information about who the gift is for, age, boy or girl. Fantastic knowledge then guides to the absolutely perfect present.
Who can imagine the approach to Christmas without the familiar presence of toys, games and all manner of gizmos to keep the young and old entertained. Since Victorian times, regularly portrayed on the glittery Christmas cards, parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents are shown happily, standing around the new fangled Christmas tree, looking dotingly down on their little cherubs at play. Usually, it has to be said, with only one or two boxes of delights. The change in this, to each child being crushed under the weight of a hundred presents each year seems to have come with the 1980s onwards.
Getting he right present and toy is always matter of major importance in the senior households. Being able to see and feel the toys is critical. There is something about being able to go down to a proper toy shop and games supplier and actually see hundreds and hundreds of gorgeous toys stacked up to the ceiling. Ah the memories of our own Christmas joys!