Friday, 22 April 2011

Long Winter Evenings.

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.


Elizabeth said...

Did you play "Consequences"? such a wonderfully funny paper and pencil game.......
HE met SHE
where they met.....
etc etc.
Adult supervision needed or else it gets a bit rude!!

Of course reading will serve one well almost anywhere.
Easter greetings.

Heather said...

I remember family sing-songs round the piano, card games, board games and like you I loved books. It's hard to know whether today's youngsters have missed out because I prefer what I had, to what they have. I daresay tomorrow's youngsters will have even more up to date pastimes and their parents will reminisce about laptops, mobile phones, ipods, etc.

Gwil W said...

Most evenings we boys played football with a lumpy ball fastened with a shoelace. It was on a frozen patch of mud and we kicked and ran until we nearly dropped from exhaustion or the last remnant of moonlight gave out; whichever came first.

Cloudia said...

Sadly, i think the web destroys our attention span. Read a book? Been a while. gotta go!
Other blogger friends to visit!

Warm Aloha from Honolulu

Comfort Spiral




Tom Stephenson said...

We used to play 'Hide the Sausage' with my wicked uncle Max.

steven said...

weaver thanks for continuing this lovely rich remembering. the children of today will remember the games they played. they will be digital more often than analogue. they will be a more provided form of fantasy rather than self-created. i predict that the world you came from and the wolrd of these children will meld in some form within a generation or two! steven

H said...

I still love the chance to play pen and paper games like your alphabet one. It was always such a challenge to think of names others would not have considered.

Nowadays, my son is into online gaming, but when he was younger he was a Monoploy addict. I think he will remember that will much happiness.

Hildred said...

On nights when the local skating rink was open we never failed to go skating, - if not after supper then always for the hour or so after we got home from school. Can't remember too many paper and pencil games, but I read constantly.

Von said...

One of the delights of visiting my young godson is that he and his brother love pencil and paper games and know a variety.They're never stuck for something to do as they love to draw, paint, model,play games and eat!

Amanda Sheridan said...

We still play "Town, City, Country ..." every Christmas when the whole family gets together - all 3 generations love it!

MorningAJ said...

I love the sound of that alphabet game. We had an old Dansette record player ("the finest that Woolworth's could sell")and mum was a fan of musicals.

We had South Pacific and the Desert Song and Oklahoma and I remember the Mikado among the collection. And we would all sing along to them. Not to mention the Black and White Minstrels.

We didn't realise then that they were offensive to anyone. It all semed very innocent and the music was good. Such a shame that politics intervened when there was surely no offence intended.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I fought hard to keep my kids from sitting in front of the TV (no cable.) Video games they did not have (didn't stop them from knowing how to play them.) Also tried to limit computer time. Made them play outside - and they did for the most part.

We traveled quite a bit with them, driving our van around the country. Not tv in the car, so books, puzzles, books on tape filled the time. It was a hard fight. When I read of your nights, they sound magical. I recall playing outside, as long as we could. Even in winter.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Variety of games here - seems we were always well occupied on winter nights even if we didn;t have TV and computer games. Nice also to know that pencil and paper games are still going strong.

Mary said...

Lovely memories, thanks for sharing. We played guessing games too, altho' my only sibling was 8 yrs. after me so I had to cater to him!

During the Winter, when stuck indoors, I loved sewing clothes for my doll - mum being a dressmaker helped, playing hospitals and shops (with saved packets etc.). Good weather took us outside, Cowboys and Indians with neighboring kids, and of course hours at the beach when warm. We always walked to the beach from primary school, with my neighbor who didn't work, she would bring our bathing suits, towels, tomato sandwiches, and we'd sit on the rocks scoffing them down after a swim. Mum worked full time, Dad split shifts - they didn't have much free time so we got used to making our own entertainment.

No TV, but always read tons of books, listened to radio, The Archers, Journey Into Space, Desert Island Discs - remember those programs (is the Archers still on?).

It was a lovely post-war English childhood where life was hard financially but oh so good surrounded by thankful and loving people. Thanks for making me recall some favorite pastimes.

Hugs, Mary