In these days of hustle and bustle how much thought is given to the time we have to relax as a family? Do we set aside hours every day or week to enjoy the pleasures available to us and do things we all like doing together? Or do we all go our own separate ways?

In small Towns and Villages throughout the ages people have found ways of enjoying themselves. They got together to join in communal activities as well as those organised regularly by local associations such as the British Legion, St John’s Ambulance Brigade etc…church feteThe Churches and Chapels all played a big part in this. During the daytime they would have Fetes and Garden Parties with competitions to challenge both young and old. Roundabouts, swings and the like kept the children amused while the adults tried their hand at darts, knocking over tin cans and other activities which demanded skill but was usually left to chance. The greasy pole with a live pig donated for first prize was always an attraction.

In the evenings there were the Scouts, Guides, Boys Brigade, Army Cadets and other organisations and clubs to take up the youngsters time. Governed by their age and circumstances adults had their own pastimes. Socials, Whist Drives and Dances were always popular. Such events were organised and run by members of groups to boost their funds and patrons attending had to pay, just as they did for professional events like the Circus and the Fair who were regular visitors to most Towns. Posters were pasted up everywhere several weeks before they were due to arrive which gave everyone keen to attend the time to save up.

The Cinema was probably the most popular entertainment. Especially the Saturday afternoon matinee for the youngsters who were charged threepence to get in.

Of course, there were a great number of people who could not afford such pleasures for themselves or their children. They had to find their own way to create enjoyment and put their pennies aside for those things they looked forward to most. When the weather was fine there was no problem. All they needed was a bat and ball, a few packed sandwiches and off they all went onto the common where, if they wished to join in, there were always other children to play with while mother got on with her knitting or sewing.

The river was another option provided the children were older and could swim. Then they would need a rod, line and hook. If there was no time to dig up a worm or two before they went, they could always make do with a slice of stale bread which, after soaking and squeezing tight, would roll into little balls and stay on the hook.

seasideAfter they were about twelve most youngsters were allowed to go off and amuse themselves, but no matter what their age, none of them would miss those rare family outings like their annual trip on the coach or train to the seaside. There they could watch Punch and Judy, smell the candy floss, cockles and jellied eels, as they ate fish and chips out of a newspaper with their fingers. Such a day was always one to remember!

One of the many popular pleasures for adults these days is eating out and sampling the various cuisines which have sprung up everywhere.

What do we look forward to most as a family? Going away for a holiday with all the packing to do and arrangements to make. Oh! And the thought of unpacking in a week or two when everything will have to be washed and put away again.

At weekends some parents spend much of their time catching up on the housework, shopping and driving their children to their many venues. Today we are an affluent society. We have our own transport and there is an endless list of things we can do and places to go with unlimited pleasures to enjoy. Why is it we never seem to have the time to fit anything in?

valley lad – [EIGHT]