As a kid, I loved the school holidays. I never got bored, even in the six weeks off during the summer. I was lucky enough to grow up in a house with a large garden and lots of brothers that helped to keep me occupied. Some of my best memories from childhood come from being off school and the things we got up to in order to keep ourselves from boredom. There were no mobile phones or social media pages to turn to, nor many electronic toys. Even the TV channels were much more limited so we actually had to use our imaginations to make our fun.
Have you even been a kid if you haven’t made a den from chairs and blankets?! This was our turn-to activity on rainy days. My little brother and I used to spend hours in the den even though it was essentially an empty piece of floor! We even used to sleep in it and I don’t remember how we suddenly became too old for this and stopped making them but it is definitely one of my fondest and deepest memories from the 80’s.
How I loved making up dance routines with my friends in the weeks off school. We would call for each other; yes! we were actually allowed to leave the house unaccompanied in those days. Then we would spend hours listening to the same song on our cassette recorders over and over again whilst making up our moves. We thought we were fantastic. The great thing was that nobody recorded us or put us on the internet for all to see. We didn’t do it for how many likes we could get, but purely for the pleasure of living in the moment. My favourite tunes were by Bananarama and Madonna, how about you?
Jump, swing, fly! The pleasure of swinging on a dodgy piece of rope hanging from a tree was endless. It was made all the more fun if it was over a pond, stream or river where the risk of falling in and getting soaked heightened the laughter; especially if we got to watch our friends fall in. My best friend had a tarzie in her back garden and we used to love swinging over the trees. Our parents never even told us to be careful. They just trusted that if we fell and broke an arm or leg we would learn a valuable lesson in taking more care. Where did you used to swing from and who with?
Buying Mixups For 10p
If your Mum and Dad were feeling generous, they would give you 10p to spend on a mix up at a local sweet shop or newsagents. I used to walk to the shop with my brother, filled with excitement of the freedom we were given to walk alone and spend our money. We used to take our time choosing our sweets. There weren’t even plastic tongs to pick them up with as health and safety wasn’t too concerned with germs then. Some of the sweets were only half a penny so you could get twice as many for your money. Half a penny! Do kids now even know that this coin existed? What were your sweets of choice in that magical, paper bag?
Renting a Video
It was such a treat to rent out a video in the school holidays. Some of them could be rented for a week or 48 hours, but the really new ones could only be rented for a day. If you returned the video late, there was a fine to pay. I doubt if children now could understand the sheer excitement of walking to a rental shop and browsing through the videos by categories of film. I used to rent out the same one over and over without tiring of watching the film. Particular favourites were The Goonies and The Breakfast Club. Can you remember which your favourite videos were back in the day?
Going For A Bike Ride
Going for a bike ride in the school holidays was absolute heaven. Alone or with friends, it didn’t matter. The sheer freedom of getting out the house and cycling around until you grew tired was good for the body and mind! We didn’t even wear helmets in our family and nowadays this would be massively frowned upon. Where did you love to ride off to and who with?
We had a swingball in our back garden for a decade. It stayed out, rain or shine and took an absolute thrashing from a family of five children and all our friends! These days, swingballs just don’t seem built to last. My kids are already on their third one and they don’t even play it as often as we did. This was a game that brought out the really competitive side to us all and we would play it until we cried with laughter, fell out arguing or our arms and wrists ached and we just couldn’t hit the ball one more time. We had big tournaments in the summer holidays that would go on for days.
Kids in the 80’s loved to climb trees. We did it without even thinking. If we could get up there, we would. There wasn’t a tree around that my eldest brother couldn’t get up and whilst my skills were more limited, I gave it a good go. We used to climb apple, pear and plum trees and eat the fruit or throw it at our friends, starting a rotten fruit war. You didn’t need a penny to enjoy this activity and it was all part of the school holiday fun.
So many children now have been on foreign holidays. This was much more rare when we were children. If we were lucky enough to be taken away it would normally be on a camping trip, or if you were very posh, a caravan. I wouldn’t give up the wonderful memories of camping for anything. Needing a pee in the middle of the freezing cold night, waking up to a puddle from the rain inside your tent, eating bacon from a little gas grill, going on long walks with a bag of 30p chips at the end; no holiday in Mauritius could compare with the character building camping holidays of our youth. Where did you used to go camping and did you have a posh caravan or a dodgy tent?
Playing On The Arcades
We used to save up our change in a big jar to spend on arcades in the summer holidays. Pac-Man, the coin dozer, fruit machines; we loved them all. Who else used to give the machines a little nudge when they thought nobody was looking? There was nothing more satisfying than a load of 10p coins falling into the tray at the bottom of the machine and scooping them up, only to put them straight back in again!
We would love to hear your memories and comments about how you used to spend the school holidays. Did we mention your favourite activities? Tag a friend that you used to climb trees with or go on bike rides together. Let them know you still remember the good old days.