Posted by UsedCarCheck.info at 12:33 PM | Labels: abundance, back to school, bearings, conkers, dobber, earwigs, school
I can’t help noticing that there are a lot of berries hanging from trees and bushes. The rowan trees are fit to burst and although there are plenty to go at, the starlings are still fighting over the small red fruit. Blackberries are filling the hedgerows and the chestnut trees are bowing with the weight of their conkers….well apart from the tree in Swan Park. I didn’t see any there this morning, maybe there have been too many sticks thrown at the tree over the years and it’s decided to have a rest for a bit.
I used to enjoy this time of year when it was time to go back to school after the long summer holiday (well, after the initial shock of having to get up in the mornings). It wasn’t that I loved going to school or anything like that, it was more to see my friends again and find out what everyone was doing. I spent most of my early years thinking that everyone was having more fun than I was and I didn’t want to miss any craic…
From the age of four I walked the three miles to get to school. It sounds a bit historic now but all of us kids walked, the school run in the car wasn’t so common. We always managed to form into small groups for company as we walked along. I’m just grateful we had shoes for the journey and didn’t have to walk for ten miles over fields like all of the adults used to tell me that they had to do. Of course I’m carrying on this irritating tradition of telling children how good they have it now, albeit slightly toned down, although I do tell my lads that I wore potato sacking on my feet (in good old Monty Python tradition). They just roll their eyes and give me withering looks.
GETTING YOUR BEARINGS
There were plenty of distractions along the route to school. One of my favourite places to visit was the scrap yard that we passed half way to school. I would pop into there to get my weekly supply of ball bearings that came off of the scrap cars and machinery. I just loved the smoothness and feel of the solid balls of steel and used to trade them at school for coloured marbles and answers to homework questions. They weren’t the most practical things to collect, if you put too many of them in your pockets, your trousers tended to drop around your ankles.
Conkers were also a favourite. There was a great old tree on the way to school, and I would often be late to class as I had a good old scrummage amongst the leaves to find a casing that still had its shiny copper prize inside. Of course so did a lot of the other kids and the competition for them was as fierce as the tournaments we had in the playground. I confess to occasionally cheating though. There were times that I used a conker from the previous year, there was a name for them, (dobber, perhaps, but maybe that was something to do with marbles…..) These were supposed to be tougher in combat, but in my experience it just made them more brittle. I also baked them, pickled them in vinegar and occasionally chopped them in half and filled them up with plaster of paris and then stuck them back together again. Nothing really worked though. A two’er was as far as I went with any of my competitions; maybe it’s all in the wrist action. I didn’t ever get to defeat more than one other conker player until mine broke off its shoelace causing the shrapnel to fly off into someone’s face, ah those heady days before health and safety (and computer games).
Blackberries were always in big supply starting back to school too, they could be a bit messy though. One time I put a load of them into a plastic bag and left them too long in my schoolbag, the following day (well maybe it was a week or so), I got them out and the resulting mush was moving…..full of maggots. It put me off for a couple of days but learnt that you should either eat them straight away or not put them in plastic bags. It wasn’t as bad as the time someone intentionally left a tub of maggots and a bit of meat in someone’s school locker over the summer holiday. By the time the unsuspecting pupil went to put his books away after the summer break, he was greeted with a swarm of bluebottles flying into his face, they were flying around the school for weeks….such fun.
IN ONE EAR
There is one insect that I am still not fond of though, maybe it stems from sleeping in a friends garden shed when I was ten. The shed had just been put up and the smell of creosote was strong, but that didn’t put up us off wanting to camp out on the splintery wooden floor.
All went well until I woke up in the night itching. I was covered in earwigs…Apparently if you are unfortunate enough to crunch one in your mouth, it’s a taste you will never forget. I had them all in my sleeping bag but thankfully not in my mouth or ears….They don’t actually go in your ears (I didn’t know that at the time though) as they get their name from hiding in the ears of corn.
There seems to be a lot of them around this year though. The ones we have in the house though are hiding everywhere. If you open the back door, they come scurrying into the kitchen, pick up a towel in the bathroom and there are a couple of them having a party. Most of the lettuce and shallots from the garden have some hiding in the nooks and crannies too. It’s bad enough squishing a slug in the lettuce but when I get an earwig popping out of my perpetual spinach, I’m taken back to the night in the shed.
I should admire the way that the “wiggies” put up their pincers to scare you away, or thinking that they could tackle me into submission by looking aggressive. I don’t though and must confess that they are the only things I will intentionally tread on. It’s mainly due to shock though as they do tend to surprise me.
Check your clothes before you put them on in the morning…….