What to do in the holidays…

…1970s style! Without Xboxes, smartphones or social media, how did we ever get by? Sally Evans takes a look back at summer holidays past

Breaking up from school for the six-week holiday was an exciting time, with the lead up featuring the annual school trip to the zoo and perhaps an end of term disco in the hall on the last day. But once that final bell rang, it heralded a whole summer of fun. Here’s what we remember…


Come and see my den!

We built dens in the lounge if it was raining, using mum’s clothes maiden and kitchen chairs covered in sheets and blankets. If it was sunny, it’d be outside in the hedge, where Dad would shout at us for ruining the privet. We’d eat jam sandwiches under cover and pretend to be intrepid explorers surviving alone in the wilderness.

Join the club

If the weather was good we set up secret clubs in the shed and a password was required to enter. Official club memberships were printed using a toy Mettoy Secretary typewriter, though as you had to turn a dial for each letter to be printed, it could take a while for your club membership to be issued…

On your bike…

We’d gather a group of friends (plans made the day before, because kids using the landline to call friends was basically unheard of), get on our Raleigh bikes – or a Chopper if you were really lucky – and head off on an adventure. With a jam buttie picnic, a packet of Ringos and 10p for a lolly, you were set for a day of fun and fresh air with not a mobile phone in sight!

Catch me if you can!

Tick was a favourite game for kids in the street. Off-ground tick was great fun – a garden wall or pavement was “barley” which meant you were untouchable.

British Bull Dog was popular too, but you had to be quick to get through the barricade of bodies blocking your way to the other side of the road. The winners were either top sprinters or built like rugby players and nothing could bring them down.

Let’s build a go-kart

Boys would politely ask their neighbours if they had an old pram that could be converted into a state-of-the-art go-kart. Prams in the 70s had big sturdy wheels – perfect for attaching to an old crate (sorry – “the chassis”), Dad’s tool kit would then be borrowed and around 5,000 nails would be needed to create the ultimate speed demon. On completion, kids would take turns to push the driver until they could gather enough momentum for a decent ride. Germolene and plasters were on hand for the subsequent scrapes and bruises that ensued.

Let the show begin…

This was one for the girls and would take weeks of planning and rehearsing. The show always involved singing and dancing, with a skipping rope handle as a microphone – it was simply a matter of deciding who was going to be Lena Zavoroni or Agnetha or Anni-Frid for an Abba line-up. Song lyrics and dance routines would have to be learnt by heart before any costumes and hair and make-up could be considered – much to the chagrin of any older sisters who didn’t lock their bedroom doors!

Going swimming

A cossie or trunks wrapped in a towel, 2p for the locker and you were good to go. The local baths was always full of kids doing all the things the sign told you not to – bombing, diving, splashing, running (even some petting with the teenagers in the deep end). The weary lifeguard was forever blowing his whistle and the whole place stank of chlorine, to sterilise the plasters that came regularly bobbing past. You’d need change for the vending machine’s Monster Munch on the way out and you’d smell like the aftermath of an industrial hose-down for hours.

Let’s play out

At the end of the day we simply played out sometimes with our skate boards, roller skates, space hoppers, skipping ropes, footballs and hula-hoops and sometimes just with each other – because we wanted to.

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