Thursday, 11 July 2013

First Days Of The Holidays

The first days of the school holidays have a magic all their own. Even though I am working and not on holiday myself, the shift in routine that the arrival of the school summer holidays brings, is delightfully welcome - the daily morning scramble to evict a reluctant teenager from the bed to which he was equally reluctant to retire, only hours before, is gone; those dreaded last minute interrogations before leaving the house, "What have you done with my ..... ?"(supply "physics book", "chemistry homework", "rowing kit", "water bottle", "tie" as applicable) no longer figure; I no longer have to keep one eye on the clock in the afternoons when I have to make the three quarters of an hour round trip of the school run; there is the delightful but also slightly disconcerting frisson of unstructured days to fill differently.

When my sister and I were small we had an engaging Ladybird Storybook entitled "The First Day Of The Holidays". One of those ones told in sing-song rhyme for small persons'  easy reading. It was about two penguins, slightly unimaginatively named "Pen" and "Gwen". I expect my mother still has it squirrelled away in the loft, at home. As far as I recall, Pen and Gwen were asked by their mother to help pick and / or shell peas on the first day of the long summer holidays. Pea-picking and pea-shelling being too much like hard work, Pen and Gwen decide to look for alternative entertainment and go off for a joy-ride on a tempting and conveniently located, shiny, new motorbike. Initially all goes swimmingly and they whizz off down winding country lanes with the sun on their backs and a summer breeze in their feathers but inevitably the escapade ends in disaster and they come a cropper on a sharp bend and end up in the ditch! (Ladybird Storybooks were always hugely moral - bad behaviour always did you no good! Anyone remember the naughty kittens, "Smoke and Fluff"?!) 

I rather liked shelling peas although we never grew any for me to pick when I was a child and I've never longed to ride a motorbike. But the delicious sense of adventure that the break in routine offers by the arrival of the school summer holidays, even these days, when the school holidays are H's, not mine I can easily identify with and it's good.

So this first week of school holidays, when the weather has been glorious, every bit as good as Pen and Gwen had it, we have not stolen a motorbike and ridden off over the Berkshire Downs (tempting though that might be!) but we have enjoyed small and holidayish delights nonetheless such as:

spending time outside in the sunshine whenever possible - away from the computer screen and anything electronic apart from a camera;

"reading lunches" in the garden - H and I often read together over lunch in the school holidays and in the garden on a hot sunny day, it's a perfect interlude in the middle of the day;

evening walks in the sun under fabulously clear blue skies, watching and trying to photograph the swallows dipping and wheeling like miniature Spitfires over the crest of the hill that rises from the fields below, as they gather easy meals of flighty evening insects. Photographng them is not easy. H did better than me as he is quicker and has a better eye but these pics are my best efforts;

eating local ice cream in biscuity waffle cones from the farm shop; no pics, I am afraid - too difficult to wield ice cream and camera at the same time!;

picking flowers that are now covering the lime trees down the road in scented clouds to dry and make lime-flower tea.

What small things do you delight in when the holidays, school or otherwise, come?

Wishing you happy moments in a sunny week!
E x


  1. Dear E
    Beautiful photos. I do indeed remember 'Smoke and Fluff' - now I am showing my age, I think! I particularly like the photos of the swallows which really show their speed.
    Enjoy your sunny moments.
    Best wishes

  2. We have the "Smoke and Fluff" book in the bookcase. As well as the little kittens one where they knock the helmet off the policeman's head. Teaching right from wrong, for sure.

    We have one more week to go before our first day of holidays. Can't wait but in the meantime I'm loving your photos.

  3. Lovely photos and I remember those moralistic Ladybird books well!
    We've been on holiday for two weeks already up in Scotland and so feeling suitably relaxed now and enjoying the amazing weather (very unusual for this part of the world!) - Helen

  4. Lovely photo, great to be able to go on a virtual walk about.

  5. Oh, the poppy is so pretty! And the walk so calming. Love your days, Elizabeth. You get so much done!

  6. One more week to go until school holidays! I've just finished a PGCE course and am now in my new school starting to get ready for September. Sleep is one thing I am looking forward to this time. Preferably in a deck chair in the sunshine! x

  7. Now my children are past school age, I really miss the summer holidays. You now have me wondering if one of my daughters chose today as the time to leave her job and seek adventure elsewhere because July end of term is hard wired into her brain.
    Lime flower tea? Do tell us more.

  8. Dear E - you are beginning your hols and we are winding ours down. Boys go back to school on Monday so that hectic morning mania will begin once more .... think of me...! x

  9. A quintessential summer! Like Anne I kinda miss those midsummer weeks of School Holidays now my lot are grown! Just not the rainy ones!

  10. A beautiful start to your holidays! I have not made enough of an effort to find the small pleasures lately. Your post is kindly nudging my conscience to rejoice in the days that the Lord has made:)

  11. I remember that book!! I don't know if it was ours or a library copy but I distinctly remember reading it, and enjoying it. That poppy photo is stunning.

    I delight in slower mornings, not having to make packed lunches, a slower pace and time with the little people generally. Enjoy your (well, H's) holidays. x

  12. I used to dread the first week of the holidays - my children loved routine and it always took them a little while to settle into the holidays . We often had little accidents and I quickly learnt that taking them out and wearing them out was the best way forward . I love the idea of making lime blossom tea - I do hope I haven't missed the boat on his one


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