One of the more exciting things about Christmas is the packaging on the toys! We used to love ripping open the wrappings, all pictures of Father Christmas and little animals. Then inside would be a tantalising sight. A carton of some sort – brightly coloured and made very robustly. There would always be te explanation of how to work the beast inside too. We used to be told endlessly to keep the cartons to put the toys back in – being careful with our toys ensured we got bought more the following year. As it happens of course, anyone who has watched any antique programmes lately will know that the most critical part about taking a toy in for valuation is the state of the packaging – if it still exists. It’s rather too late for most post war children now – but generally the better the box, the more valuable and interesting the contents will prove to be!
There’s a brilliant programme that I sometimes catch on a daytime lifestyle channel – one of those easy to watch little numbers that shows off the talents of artisans and skilled craftsmen and women. The idea is that folk bring their dead and dying old pocessions such as toys, pictures, clocks etc. to the ‘Repair Shop’ and any one of the many specialist repairers and restorers is given the opportunity to show off their immense talent in bringing the article back to life. I’ve seen some amazing transformations from seriously battered and mishapen items. We see some of the processes and progress as the camera shifts from one expert job to another. The expressions of gratitude and incredulity from the owers when they come to collect are priceless! The programme is useful also for reminding everyone that new toys and future heirlooms are also available and out there in the best shops!
There’s something wonderful about sharing a coach trip with several folk you’ve never met before but you find you have a lot in common with. this happens to everyone at some time or another when they go abroad for a short holiday. We all seem to go into over drive with the polite niceness. This definitely happened to me recently on a coach trip to germany, I knew no one when I got on the first of 3 feeder coaches . . . . . but after the first day of heavy travelling was over, and we wer on our first true excursion, I bonded with one couple who’s enthusiasm for life and anything new was utterly infectious. They had me trolling around looking at toy trains and model kits galore. Neither have I done much of before but with these new buddies, it opened my eyes to the fantastic world of model railways and everything that they encompass.
There are times throughout a year when playing near water is safer than at others. Now is just when youngsters and teenage men should not go near it. Why, year after year, do young adult men think it’s ok to jump into a largebody of water – to go for a free cooling swim? We are warned every single year about the dangers of unexpectedly deep water pockets, it makes the swimmer suddenly panic and they take in water with each breath. Very often cramp will get them aswell – the sheer cold and panic together make them move in unnatural ways, thus causing the muscles to move oddly. There are usually a lot by this time of the year. Swimming needs to be in safe public pools or lidos – never gravel pits, ponds, lagoons or lakes unless there are signs saying it is safe and legal to swim there. Get swimming lessons. If you can’t swim, don’t dump in anything!
I have spent a gloriously happy easter weekend away from home staying with relatives. There were no children around and although it was busy, it did seem to be missing this essential element. We made up for it though, happily joking and playing around as grown up kiddies might! The amount of chocolate scoffed was much less than in the day when my siblings and I managed to eat our way through 3 eggs before lunch! The children today seem less likely to be demanding of the chocolate egg – they seem perfectly happy with a new toy or a game that can be shared with pals. Outside my house beyond the normal driveway, there is plenty of safe area and children the other side of us really love this. Perfect for playing black jack, skipping and hopscotch. All these fabulously old fashioned games have come back into fashion big time.
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!