My little angel Molly broke up from school this week for the summer holidays (how did that school year go by so fast?) and we now have eight long weeks stretched out ahead.
It’s tough for us parents though, kids nowadays expect every day of their holidays to be filled with an exciting and varied array of entertainment. Fine if you happen to be the parents of Suri Cruise, but for us mere mortals, it might necessitate a re-mortgage.
The fear of trying to fill these next 8 weeks, without the bank manager hunting me down in September, has got me thinking back to summers when I was a child. It’s weird though, for some reason the picture that appears in my head when I think of my childhood summers seems to be a scene out of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ and frankly I don’t think Cardiff in the 1970’s was much like that.
However, I was lucky enough to go on a family holiday abroad most summers when I was a child. We often went to Majorca with several other families and we had a ball. Us kids spent all day in the pool or on the beach, or making friends with other children of all nationalities, and we wouldn’t see our parents for hours at a time. And then in the evenings we were able to sit on our own ‘kids’ dinner table in the hotel restaurant. We felt so grown up.
In fact, the only thing that ruined those holidays was my mother’s insistence that my sister and I wore matching outfits each evening. Ghastly matching summer frocks that even the Nolan Sisters would have turned down. My sister, all skinny and brown, looking lovely, and me, the tubby, gap toothed, fair skinned one, stretching the seams of the appalling frocks after far too many patatas fritas and helado.
But apart from the embarrassment of my sartorial inelegance, the main memories about those holidays, and in fact the rest of the summer spent at home, can be summed up in one word – freedom. We were allowed (in fact positively encouraged) to go off and explore for whole days at a time, without any worry about getting lost, hurt or god forbid, abducted. We would leave home on our bikes first thing in the morning and arrive home whenever we got hungry. Those days mainly consisted of racing our bikes, picking blackberries, building camps and playing in the park for hours – really simple activities. I know I’m sounding distinctly middle aged, but kids today wouldn’t have a clue what that kind of easy freedom felt like, and sadly I don’t think they ever will again.
And then there was the weather. I’m absolutely convinced that every single day of my childhood summers in the 70’s had glorious weather from the day we broke up until the day we went back to school. Now, I’m sure Michael Fish would tell me that I’m looking back at this period through rose tinted sunglasses, but that’s how I recall it. And this year we seem to be having a similar kind of summer to those that I remember. As I write it’s 30 degrees outside, and we’ve had several weeks of glorious weather, so I’ve jumped on the UK holiday bandwagon like so many other people and Molly and I are heading down to Devon in August with my sister and some friends. (Actually I might suggest that my sister and I wear matching outfits, just for old time’s sake)
So what else does the summer have in store for Molly? Well along with some ‘ordinary’ days at home, she has a holiday abroad with her Dad, a four day Latin and Ballroom Dancing course, a week in Brighton being spoilt rotten by her Grandma and our holiday in Devon. Then there’ll be the play-dates, sleepovers and day trips. Not bad going for an eight year old, but will it be as memorable as our carefree summers of old? I think not. As Mary Hopkin so succinctly put it, ‘Those Were The Days My Friend’.
NOTE TO SELF: Remember, Summertime and the living is (supposed to be) easy.