Picnics of yore: red lemonade, crisps and an apple or two stolen from the orchard

Family Fortunes: I don’t think a summer went by without a variety concert being staged in a neighbour’s shed

 Families picking their own fruit at Lambert’s Fruit Farm in the Dublin Mountains above Rathfarnham, Co Dublin. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Families picking their own fruit at Lambert’s Fruit Farm in the Dublin Mountains above Rathfarnham, Co Dublin. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

The first of July was a wonderful day in my childhood years. It was the start of my summer holidays from school. There were 15 families on the street where I lived and summer days were full of activities and mischief. I roamed with my friends through fields and woods, picked daisies and created daisy necklaces and bracelets.

We played Hide and Seek, Statues, Hopscotch, Rounders, Marbles, Simon Says and Tag. In Tag, one person chased the children around trying to tip one of them with their hand. The newly tagged person repeated the same thing. The game continued until everyone got bored with it. Skipping ropes were very popular. My favourite skipping rhyme was Teddy Bear Teddy Bear run up stairs, Teddy Bear Teddy Bear say your prayers, Teddy Bear Teddy Bear switch off the light, Teddy Bear Teddy Bear say goodnight. We played into the evening hours until our parents called us in for bed.

On afternoon walks orchards laden with red juicy apples and gardens full of raspberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries and pea pods beckoned us and they satisfied our hunger pangs. A picnic containing a bottle of red TK lemonade, a bottle of water, a packet of crisps and an apple or two stolen from an orchard provided a feast for us.

I don’t think a summer went by without a variety concert being staged in a neighbour’s shed. We sang songs, recited poetry, showed off our Irish dancing skills, dressed up in our parents’ clothes and performed a short play. Every child in the neighbourhood turned up and they booed and clapped to show their approval or disapproval at our performances. Entrance fee was a penny.

While the boys enjoyed playing football and Cowboys and Indians attired in outfits from Santa Claus, the girls sewed garments for their dolls from old material.

There was great community spirit among neighbours. During the summer, every household on our street had a load of turf delivered at their back gate and adults and children worked hard all day until the last sod was in the shed. We were rewarded with a penny or tuppence. We made a beeline to the sweetshop, stopping beforehand at the water pump on the street to wash our hands. The freedom to roam safely through fields and play games on the street was blissful in those summer days of the Sixties.

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