Make do and mend challenge: High as a kite

My entertainment task – along with hearing all your ideas for various frugal games and activities – got me feeling all nostalgic about my childhood this week. I grew up in the late seventies/early eighties and, although I had plenty of toys, back then I was just as happy playing with things I’d made myself. Whenever I wanted something new my mother would suggest to me that I tried to make it myself and – believe it or not, considering how poor my DIY skills are nowadays – I often did. I vaguely remember a furious period of making numerous dolls’ houses out of cardboard boxes, a bijou des res hideaway in the back garden composed of a few plastic bags tied to a bush and some old bricks as paving stones. I think I even tried (unsuccessfully) to install a primitive plumbing system using straws and an old lemonade bottle. There were also numerous dolls and dolls’ clothes made (no doubt appallingly) from old socks. I wonder why the trend never caught on? Or perhaps, judging from recent catwalk shows, it did…

Following my board game of Nine Mens’ Morris, I’d been wracking my brains to think of something different to do that would involve venturing out into the great British outdoors. The weather has been pretty lousy this week. Then it came to me – I would make a kite. After all, it’s been windy enough lately. I’m not very handy but it seemed fairly simple to do, even for a technically challenged individual such as myself. Once again, the internet was invaluable. I found a website showing me how to put a simple kite together using nothing but a plastic bag, some twigs from the garden, twine and sticky tape. I remember my Dad making me one when I was little with a bin bag and some bamboo canes, along with a catapult which probably wouldn’t be considered a very PC toy nowadays. But I was a big fan of the Beano and Dennis the Menace.

For once I found the instructions fairly easy to follow and in no time at all I was outside in the back garden trying to coax my new creation to take to the skies. The kite was slightly reluctant (I like to think it was shy) and so at DJ’s suggestion that it needed ‘more drag’ we tied on some extra bits of paper to the tail. Then he laughed at me as I ran around the garden like a lunatic trying to catch the wind with it and then (as you can see from the photo above) got it stuck on the washing line. It’s amazing how much fun you can have with something made entirely from rubbish, really. I’m tempted to take it out to a better kite-flying spot in the park over the weekend and see how the pair of us get on. We might get a few funny looks from those with smarter models, but who cares?

Did you make your own toys or other games as a child? With all the technology available to us have we forgotten how to be creative and have frugal fun? Leave a message and let me know your thoughts.

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One Response to Make do and mend challenge: High as a kite

  1. Bill says:

    In entertainment terms, I left home 3 years before my parents invested in telly, or \’phone, almost 50 years before text or Mobi, in order to begin my career in Boot Camp. We spent so much time outdoors in the yard or garden, also the allotment, with day trips in the car. We did most of our own household property repairs, service & maintenance, also car service & maintenance. We always needed to chop more sticks for kindling, as we suffered regular power cuts back then. We oft warmed beans or soup on top of the dining room fire, toasting doorsteps on long-handled forks, & eating in the firelight. Coal was also a major problem, not only expensive, but also subject to miner\’s, rail, as also delivery strikes. Home grown/poached chicken & rabbit were oft on the menu, as meat was also expensive, & rationed.We used to play shadow theatre with the firelight on the wall, & petrol was rationed until 1955, then again in \’57, due to Suez. We built our own bicycles from new, unused spares, scavenged from the skips behind both Phillips, as also Raleigh factories. They were only a few yards apart. Spare wheels had to be locked indoors at night, also batterries, in order to avoid theft. Some even left their cars parked with only 3 wheels, as a means of preventing car theft. Their were only 4 families in our street of over 200 with their own cars.I also remember kites, & the mini-skirts of the 60\’s, even better on a windy day!We also had a Joahna, & I began music lessons, also beginning to play brass & woodwind. At 5 years old, I was underneath the familly car, armed with a grease-gun, at 7 years I had driving lessons from my father on a long, quiet, secluded beach.As you see, I have always been outward bound, not much for the superflous arts or academics, although always top of the class in maths & technical drawing, also in carpentry/joinery & metalwork. Camping hols, including self-catering caravans always won over expensive hotels & B & B, also much more fun & freedom. I desperately need a few years of "t\’ good life" now, before I finally meet "t\’ Grim Reaper". Sadly, the civil service prefer to keep me tucked up in my batterrie cage/cave, 10 floors up, in the steel-concrete block from hell, for as long as possible, & then relocate me to the worst possible "auld nag\’s heim".Back then, times were hard, but many knew the true value of freedom & pride. They would soldier on, in any weather, at any cost, would make do & mend, & actually enjoy the hardships that they successfully conquered every day. In the case of injustice, the neighbours & friends would rally round, & face the culprit, en-force, same day, at the latest, next day, & sort it, on the spot.Today that is no longer possible, we have to find our way through such a maze of red tape, where no one takes any responsibility, & those who have a brain do not become involved, for fear of state reprisals. The legal aid system has completely collapsed, & those who make any attempt to complain on the subject of injustice, will suffer even worse. There is no hope of redress against any large public corporation, & even less hope against any gov/civil service department.They are responsible for the current depression, with their extortionate salaries, & expenses, & are so arrogant, they believe that they are correct, as also untouchable. Under such conditions, I see no hope of rectification any time soon.

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