Close your eyes. Go on…close them. Now cast your mind back to your childhood summers. What are your abiding memories? For many, some, if not all, of the following probably feature (warning: contains carefully selected pictures of me as a child!):
- Seemingly endless school holidays.
- Long, sunny days spent playing outdoors with friends.
- A family holiday, possibly to a beach, more than likely with a tent or caravan. If you were REALLY lucky, a trip abroad.
- Days out to the zoo/fair/park.
- Heading out on your bike in the mornings and only coming home when you got hungry.
- Learning to swim and spending so much time in the water that you thought you were turning into a prune.
- An ice cream as a treat on a hot day.
- A picnic lunch which would inevitably be washed out by torrential rain.
- Perhaps a family “meal out” to one of the well-known fast food chains or, if dad was feeling generous, a family friendly (but inexpensive) restaurant.
Sound familiar? We all look back on those childhood summers through the soft-focus lens of nostalgia, with just a tinge of regret that it can never be like that again, yet as my summer holidays come to an end and I reflect on how I’ve spent my time, I’ve come to realise that in many ways I have been unconsciously re-enacting some of the summer pursuits of my childhood! Allow me to explain…
Tell people you’re a teacher, particularly during the summer months, and the reply is fairly predictable: a comment on long holidays. And yes, we do have a long time off in the summer, but hey, I didn’t assign those holidays, it’s simply the system I work within! We all make a choice about our careers, and I chose teaching. Everyone else is perfectly free to make the same choice (although that suggestion is usually met with an equally predictable response: either “I couldn’t be a teacher” or “I don’t know how you have the patience”). Every job has its perks and equally, every job has its downsides. Holidays are probably the main perk of teaching and every year I like to make sure that I enjoy my time off, catch up on my life and create lovely memories to sustain me when the school year begins anew. Let’s face it, I need it!
Yes, I am lucky to have that time off and lucky that I have the means to have a holiday abroad, so that’s two items from the list above checked off already. Since returning from that holiday, I have focused a great deal on my training, and as my podiatrist told me not to run for four weeks but encouraged cross training, I have turned all my “running days” into “cycling days”. Two or three times a week I have been getting up, having a smoothie, then heading out on my bike for a couple of hours, quickly working up an appetite. Even better, for a good part of that time the weather was lovely and sunny and I tried to spend as much time outside as I could so that’s another two items on the list checked off!
Aside from cycling, I had a swimming lesson and have begun working on my front crawl. I’ll not be worrying any elite swimmers just yet, but at least I’m starting to get the basics! Learning to swim and spending ages at the pool? Check (only these days I tend to also go for a jacuzzi and sauna while I’m there!).
So far, so good. Activity-wise, a pretty decent summer for my inner child. But what about the food-related items on the list? These days I’m more likely to go in search of a frappuccino than an ice cream as an afternoon treat, but when my mum tried one her reaction was to describe it as a coffee ice cream, so I’d say that makes the grade.
A picnic? Well Steve and I did eat our lunch on the North Inch one sunny day and we have also, on a couple of occasions, had “picnic items” from a well-known UK purveyor of clothing and fine groceries for our lunch (mainly because if you bought enough of said items you got a free bottle of wine – a great way to re-stock the “wine cellar”!). We’ve also eaten out a few times, although my tastes these days are a little more upmarket than a burger from a fast food chain!
Frappuccinos, picnic food and eating out duly checked off the list, leaving just days out to consider. Our main days out this summer have been Commonwealth Games related. First, we saw the marathon, then I attended an athletics session and, just yesterday, headed back to Glasgow to watch the Team Scotland Athletes’ Parade.
I didn’t go to a fair, but I did go to two theme parks whilst on holiday, so I think that can be included!
There’s only one thing on my “childhood summer” list that I haven’t done – had a trip to the zoo. But the summer is not quite over yet! For several years now I have been an adopter of a King Penguin at Edinburgh Zoo, a benefit of which is a couple of complimentary tickets each year. My current tickets are just about to expire so a trip to the zoo is actually planned for tomorrow. I can’t wait to see those cheeky penguins and some of my other favourites the primates, big cats and koalas!
Putting all that together, my inner child is certainly happy. I’ve had a wonderful summer, had some fantastic experiences and created brilliant memories. I was feeling a little sad that it was finally coming to an end, until a very wise friend reminded me of the following. Thanks G!
Summer 2014, you’ve been “pure dead brilliant”!
I hope you’ve had a wonderful summer, however you spent it. I’d love you to share some of your memories in the comments below.
The Running Princess x