Yesterday's post about long hot summer days playing out in the countryside, led to the farmer asking me what we did on long cold winter nights when we couldn't play outside.
I asked him what he did and he replied along the lines that they were always given something to do about the farm - the cows still wanted feeding and milking and there were all kinds of jobs about the place. Then they would play board games and card games around their big kitchen table (which we still use today.)
So I started thinking about what I did on such nights. Although I was the youngest of three children, my siblings were much older than me - my sister by twenty two years and my brother by eleven years, so I was virtually an only child for much of my childhood.
Chapel played a fairly large part in our lives - I played the organ from a very young age and there were things like choir practices to go to. Every Sunday evening my mother would light the fire in our sitting room, where my piano was, and I would bring my friends back after chapel and we would chat and sing round the piano.
For the rest of the week there were BOOKS of course. Books have always played an important part in my life - I was an avid reader, never lighting the fire without reading every piece of newspaper as I laid it ready to light; reading the instructions on the HP Sauce bottle (in French as well- do you remember those days?)
getting books from the library and buying books with my birthday money.
But my favourite activity on Winter nights was Pencil and Paper Games. Nobody seems to play them any more but I thank my parents for spending hours of their evenings encouraging me to take part because it gave me such a wide range of general knowledge and also a bit of a competitive spirit, which has probably stood me in good stead throughout my life.
We would each have a pencil and paper and we would play - say - wild flowers beginning with A and so on through the alphabet. Then we would read them out and cross out the ones others had on their lists. The winner would be the one with the most original ones left. We would do this with 'birds', 'towns in the UK',
'rivers of the world', 'countries of the world','girls' names', 'boys' names', 'animals' = the list is endless and provided me with hours of fun. We even used to go through the names of the houses in our village, starting at one end and going through to the other end - I could recite all the names off by heart .Itmay seem like a pointless activity in these days of computers, mobile phones and texting, but we had hours of fun and I look back with pleasure on those days and think how good my parents were to go to all that trouble and effort. They were into middle age when I came along and probably felt much more like going out and enjoying themselves.
It was pre-television of course, but we did listen to the radio an awful lot, gathering round it to enjoy various programmes. And then there was the Vicar's 'Threepenny Hop' every Wednesday night in the village hall, where we youngsters danced away to the vicar's dance music record collection throughout the Winter. I suppose he also thought of giving the village youngsters something to do in the Winter.
I wonder, have today's youngsters missed out on something - or have the things that have taken their place provided the young with different but equally important memories to look back on? I would be interested to hear what you think.