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Holiday games for harassed Parents and Grand-Parents

1. This is for that fractious toddler. Take a piece of sellotape or double sided tape the stickier the better. Roll of fold it into a small square or ball. Stick it to the toddlers finger and watch him/her try to put it down.

2. Cowboys and Indians. Before their arrival purchase a cheap feather duster and shorten the stick to a few inches and tie a ribbon to it. Tie a handkerchief around each child's neck for a neckerchief. Explain they are cowboys who have been caught by the Indians tie each child securely to the leg of a dining table with their hands behind them. Every half hour or so tie the feather duster round your head and whoop Indian fashion and come back into the room where they are, dance Indian fashion around the table a couple of times then depart to carry on with what you were doing for another half hour or so.

3. For this you need an old fashioned tin bath which you place in the garden, a parched lawn is ideal. Explain to the children that this is a canoe on a crocodile infested river and to get out is to die. Further explain that there are many waterfalls on the river and they will need to bail constantly, for this give them each a small cup. Half fill the bath with water with the children in it, carry on with what you were doing but every so often throw a couple of buckets of water over them to simulate the waterfalls. It is best to terminate this game when the children start turning blue.

4. For this you need an empty room and a friend or colleague. Make a show of placing lots of tins and bottles on the floor and tell the children that there will be a prize for the first child to make it from one end of the room to the other without knocking over any of the objects on the floor. Take the children into another room and blindfold them. Whilst you are doing this your friend removes all the obstacles. Lead the children carefully to one end of the room and tell the to start. If you have managed to down a couple of gins the sight of the children avoiding non- existent obstacles can be hilarious. Every time a child gets near the end creep out and place a bottle in their direct path so that it is knocked down and the child has to start again.

5. While you have got the room empty blindfold the children with their hands tied behind their backs. Explain that a present on a string will be suspended from the ceiling approximately three inches above their heads. The first child to hit it with their head will win the prize. To get a bit of time for yourself it's a good idea to let them jump about for an hour or so before actually suspending the prize from the ceiling.

6.Another jolly jape to win yourself some peace. Take the children to one of those new maize mazes or failing that one of the traditional ones. Make sure you put a couple of folding chairs and something to read in the boot. When you get there explain that because you're older you will give them a start. As they enter the maze one of you counts loudly to 100 while the other fetches the chairs and books from the car and sets them up by the exit from the maze. Every so often take it in turns to walk round the outside of the maze to different spots and call out you need to be over this way, this will prolong their escape. After a while you can just sit by the exit. When they eventually find their way out ask them what took them so long.

The Passing of Country Life

Last week we noticed that blackberries seemed to have ripened much earlier this year and on Sunday we collected enough to make four pounds of bramble jelly. This got us thinking what else might be ripe. This morning we went to investigate and collected a large bin bag full of bullaces (enough to make 96lbs of jam) and noticed that the sloes were nearly ripe as well.
A lady even older than ourselves stopped to tell us that there was a hedge full of hazel nuts on the nearby village common. She lamented that less than two decades ago all the hedgerow fruit and nuts would be collected by the villagers but now with all the incomers and week-end cottagers they were just left to rot.

This afternoon we went back and directed by the good lady harvested another bin bag full of hazel nuts. The bullaces will make a delicious jam and keep us, and my wife's W.I., going for most of the coming year and if we can get more jam jars there's plenty more fruit where that lot came from. As to the hazel nuts, Cadburys wont be the only one covering them with chocolate, some of the rest will be used to embellish home made chocolate cakes and to make tasty praline. Beth the younger of my grand-daughters and is staying with us and has a recipe for ground hazel nuts in fudge and this she is doing as I type with the sound of hazel nuts in a large polythene bag being bashed with a steak hammer in the kitchen.

Just the sloes for sloe gin remain to be gathered in a few weeks time and chestnuts later in the autumn.

A tip regarding hedgerow fruit for jam and sloes for sloe gin. After washing them put them in the freezer for a few days the action of freezing and then thawing reduces them to a pulp and releases more of their flavour; it also makes the removal of stones much easier.

It's sad to see the decline in these natural rhythms of country life. Are people too busy or too idle to bother or is it that the culture of the supermarket shop followed by an evening of soap operas on the box has taken over?

It makes me sad.

Curious Fact

The British and others write books about living in France and Italy such as Peter Mayle's "A Year in Provence" and others, Carol Drinkwater's "The Olive Farm" and others and Frances Mayes (she's American) "Under a Tuscan Sun" and others. But you don't get the French and Italians writing in the same way about moving to Britain. Books such as "A Year in Cleethorpes" "The Turkey Farm" and "Under a North Yorkshire Mist" just don't seem to get written. Wonder why that is?

That March

(A few thoughts on the so called Countryside Alliance)

My cards on the table I am against hunting.
I have lived in rural Norfolk most of my adult life first in a village and now in a small market town and can honestly say that had it not been for the fact that come Monday the pro-hunting lobby will claim that everyone who turned out for the march was supporting them I might have been persuaded to march as well.

There are four main types of people who live in rural England :-
1. The second home owners who come down for the weekend and holidays now and again.
2. The people who live rurally and travel into towns and cities to earn their living.
3. the Pensioners who retire to the small towns and villages.
4. The people who actually live and work in rural England and rely on agriculture and allied trades for their livelihood.

It is obvious that there are some issues that these groupings will disagree on. People in group 4 who want their children to be able to afford to live locally will be in favour of full Council Tax to be paid on all properties rather than the 50% on second homes that is currently charged, I doubt if many in Group 1 would support that. That is only one example. Many of you will no doubt have heard or read stories about the people who have moved to the country who have complained about farmers driving their tractors and other machinery too early for their liking, complaining about the noise animals make even to the extent of asking why cows can?t be milked later in the day.

But back to hunting-the overwhelming majority have no firm opinions on hunting one way or the other, but when asked that question specifically will, like me, instinctively be prejudiced about the cruelty involved.

The real issues that concern country people are far more basic :-
1. The state of English agriculture an issue that should concern us all.
2. The state of rural services; public transport, rural post offices, medical services, village schools and school buses etc.
3. Yes even issues such as the need to raise funds to keep the village hall going, funds for the church roof, the state of the children?s play area (if they are lucky enough to have one) and the state of the village bowling green., how are the village quiz team and the village darts and domino team faring in the local leagues. Are the W.I. and the horticultural Society going to be able to find enough committee members and ordinary members to keep going. This is the very fabric of rural life.

We have one party in opposition who will support those with the money who are not too concerned with these issues and the other party in government whose interest runs out where the pavements and street lights stop. Which leaves the Lib Dems an untried party who just might have the answer.
(My reference to England throughout this piece is not to slight the other countries making up the United Kingdom but an admission by myself that I don?t know how many of these problems are an issue for them and what other extra issues they would include.)

What the answer is I don?t know but some things are obvious:-
1. The supermarkets have too much power in the determining of farm prices.
2. The fox hunting issue must be separated from the issues effecting the (I hesitate to use the word ) ordinary country dweller.
3. People other than the monied classes and lawyers who seem to make up the majority of our parliament need to be consulted.
4. People in general to realise that the countryside is not a Jigsaw puzzle picture frozen in time.

Just a few thoughts before the pro hunting lobby claim that this march is a massive vote for hunting in this country.

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