As children my brother, sister and I loved books. There was a lot less choice than there is now and we were a long way from any shops so the books we had were read again and again. Enid Blyton featured largely in our lives; from the Noddy books when we were very young through to the adventures of the Secret Seven and the Famous Five. We even had a record of Noddy tales and songs read and played by Enid Blyton herself. When I was devouring Blyton adventure stories my sister, who was younger, adored Tales of Green Hedges. The books now referred to as ‘classics’ were also read and loved. Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland, The Water Babies, Black Beauty and King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are some I remember with great affection. My absolute favourites were the Heidi books. I had all of them and I believe I actually wanted to be Heidi!
My Princess cookbook and some of my A few of my childhood books. many recipes from Princess.
Once a week our comics were picked up from the local town when my mum went shopping on a Friday. The arrival of the weekly comic was so exciting! We had one each. My brother’s comic of choice was Hotspur. I took Princess magazine and my sister liked Bunty. We read every word. I can remember a family called the Days who were a cartoon strip in Princess. I still have a lot of my recipe cuttings and my Princess cookbook.
In later years, in the mid-sixties, I was in my early teens and took Jackie magazine. After a few years of enjoying Jackie, Honey magazine came out. I immediately switched from Jackie to Honey. When I left to go to university I had a complete set from Number 1. My mum and dad threw them out in a house move. I was mortified!
I love books to this day – and I still cut recipes out of magazines and save them!
I apologise for the first version of the title which had somehow become scrambled!
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It occurred to me recently that something which has changed a lot since I was a child is the birthday party. Parties today are often ‘themed’, they are sometimes held at a venue such as an indoor play centre, the cake will represent something (Barbie, Peppa Pig, Star Wars etc), there might be an entertainer hired to come to the home and – the biggest change of all – the guests leave with a gift in the shape of a party bag.
In my childhood birthday parties were every bit as enjoyable. These are my memories of our parties in ‘the old days’.
The party food was predictable, but we loved it. There would be sandwiches – egg and cress (my favourite to this day!), ham, cheese and Shipham’s paste are the ones I remember best.
Then there were home-baked cakes: butterfly cakes, fairy cakes, jam tarts. The birthday cakes were always home baked too. This is one of the biggest changes. We had a Victoria sponge, with jam in the middle, icing on the top, a cake band (anyone remember those?) and candles in little candle holders.
As for the entertainment: well, we didn’t have clowns, magicians or any other form of hired entertainer. We played games. There was usually a Pass the Parcel game – in those days there wasn’t a treat under each layer! We also played Musical Chairs, Statues, Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Blind Man’s Buff.
One thing which hasn’t changed – we loved birthday parties then and children love them now.
I covered Toys and Games in an earlier post and wrote about the toys and games which were available to buy. This time I’m looking at the games we played in the home, in the school playground, on a long journey or at a party.
During breaks at school, we never mooched around just chatting as many do today. We played games in groups which could be two, three or more than ten. The skipping games are the ones I remember best as I spent more time playing this than anything else. We had a number of games which involved two children twirling a long rope and a line of children running through or skipping in the middle.
The two I remember best are ‘Under the Moon and Over the Stars’ and ‘The Big Ship Sails through the Alley Alley-Oh’. I have looked up the origins of ‘The Big Ship’ and the most popular theory is that it originated from the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal. That canal opened in 1894 and Manchester is 150 miles away from where I lived. We had no idea what we were singing or where it came from!
We also played circle or ring games such as Lucy Locket and The Farmer Wants a Wife.
On long journeys we played I-Spy, alphabet games and we sang songs. She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain was one and another was Crawshay Bailey. Both songs could be extended indefinitely as we took turns to make up silly verses. I never gave a thought to who Crawshay Bailey was but I have looked him up and he was a 19thC industrialist in South Wales.
Board games, jig-saws and card games featured largely in our family, especially in winter. The main board games we played were Lotto, Draughts, Snakes and Ladders, Tiddly Winks and Solitaire. Later, when we were older, we loved Monopoly and Cluedo. Most people of my age will remember Old Maid and Happy Families. Who could forget Mr Bun the Baker and his family Mrs Bun, Master Bun and Miss Bun?