The glorious days of summer...
When we were kids it seemed like summer went on forever. Each new day delivered us a great big dollop of fun and adventure. But it wasn't about jetting off to exotic places – instead we found our entertainment in the nearest field, wood, street or empty building. It was DIY fun and it was brilliant!
While the girls skipped, hopscotched and crafted daisy chain necklaces, the boys (and tomboys) were busy seeing off pirates, conquering new lands and playing cowboys and indians. Adults were nowhere to be seen, but that was fine – we knew not to talk to strangers and the local 'bobby' was never far away. Life seemed so simple.
In the height of summer, if we were lucky, we might be treated to a family day out at the seaside, experience the thrill of the funfair or venture into the countryside for a picnic. These times were special and we'll cherish the memories as long as we live.
Out early and home in time for tea
Not a minute of summer was wasted. It was get up, do your chores, then rush out the door to a shout of 'be home in time for tea!'. Even the little ones would tag along, ready to take on whatever the day had in store.
You'd play out all day without a care in the world – and mum couldn't call or text you to find out where you were, or what you were up to. You just better not be late for tea, or there'd be a search party out, and a right royal telling off waiting for you at home.
Armed only with a jam sandwich
Whether setting off on your bike or on Shanks' pony, the intrepid explorer's fuel of choice was a jam sandwich wrapped in greaseproof paper, accompanied by a bottle of pop. For many kids, the jam was probably courtesy of a fruit picking trip to a local hedgerow the year before. I still don't think you can beat bramble jelly, what about you?
If we were thirsty on the way home, a hosepipe came in handy for a drink. Thinking about it, it's amazing that any of us are still here to tell the tale!
Messing about on the river
When the weather was hot enough for you to drip dry, the best thing ever was getting wet. Wherever there was water, you'd find kids stripped off down to their pants and having a right old time splashing about. If you were near a lido, stream, canal or boating lake that was perfect, if not a horse trough, fountain or even a puddle would have to do.
At one with nature
Any old patch of grass meant endless hours of fun. You'd always see little girls 'telling the time' with dandelion clocks, checking if they liked butter by holding buttercups under their chin, searching for lucky four-leafed clovers or seeing who could make the longest daisy chain.
Farmland wasn’t off limits (even if it was meant to be!) and it was always a thrill walking between corn crops tall enough to hide you from view. Sometimes we flattened the wheat to create a secret den, just to lie down and watch the clouds float by. You just hoped the farmer didn't catch you!
A very British picnic
There was never much money around, so for most people, eating out was almost unheard of. A family day out usually meant packing a picnic and sitting on a tartan blanket or a deckchair. You wouldn't believe how great a hard boiled egg, some home-grown tomatoes and a few slices of cold meat could taste. And of course there was always some homemade cake and a cup of tea from a flask to round it all off.
All the fun of the fair
Roll up, roll up! Everything about the funfair was so exciting. You'd dare your dad to try the test of strength or take on the champ in the boxing booth, and try to get your mum to go on the rides. The smell of candyfloss was magnificent, but the best bit was going on the swing boats, whizzing on the chairoplanes or whirling on the waltzers, and trying not to be sick!
The journey was part of the fun
Any journey to the seaside or to visit relatives was a treat in itself. Not many people had cars so it was always exciting when we got to go on a train or coach. Clutching a bag of sweets for the journey, we tried our best to get a seat by the window and then stared transfixed at the changing scenery, as we left the familiar sights of home behind. It was magical.
Dressing up to go to the seaside
It seems hard to believe now, but there was no such thing as beachwear back in the day. Instead mum and dad would don their Sunday best for a day at the coast. Dad might take off his shoes and socks, roll up his trousers and have a paddle, but the suit stayed on no matter what. Us kids weren’t quite so restrained, but we did have to put up with those awful soggy, knitted swimsuits!
And finally… ice cream
The chime of the ice cream van coming down your street heralded the arrival of summer. You’d be sent out to buy a block of Neapolitan and some wafers to have after tea. Or be treated to a slider – those ice cream sandwiches you'd lick until nothing was left apart from two soggy wafers. That is of course, if your dad wasn't one of those who claimed the ice cream man only played the tune when he'd sold out!
There are so many happy memories of childhood summers, it’s hard to know which to choose. How did you while away the long days? And what about the weather? Did it seem to always be sunny back then, or did you spend most of the time sheltering from the rain or cowering behind a windbreak? We’d love to hear all about your summertime memories.
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