I've spent a lot of these past few days looking at the photo albums, watching home videos of my brother and I when we were little and generally wallowing in nostalgia. All this inspired me to compile a list of things which remind me of my childhood, some of which are great to fill the endless days stretching out in front of you.
1. Build a den
I used to do this all the time with my brother. In can be done inside or outside, but either way all you need is a few blankets, rope, garden pegs, a chair or two and some creativity - we used to use our old climbing frame to make one space on the flat square part, and another directly beneath it, then set up a pulley system to transport stuff from one level to the other. You can use anything from sofa cushions to large books to create a den, including tables, broom handles, and coat stands - as long as the finished product is your space where you can spend a few quiet hours undisturbed.
2. Make mud pies
Since my garden is mostly in the shade and therefore perpetually damp, a part of it has soil which is more or less pure clay. I used to collect this in bucketfuls, and then model it into different shapes with my hands and a little water. This is best done on the hottest of days, as your creations can be left to bake hard on a patio or similarly sunny place. I still have stacks of painted clay pots hanging around somewhere!
3. Watch Disney movies
An idea for when the weather is a little less kind, perhaps. I did this at a friend's house a few months ago, and it was a lot more fun than you might expect. If you can, try and find one of the older Disney movies, none of this new-fangled 'The Princess and the Frog' or 'Tangled' nonsense - think Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Bambi, Peter Pan, The Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book, or even the first ever Disney picture film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). If you have a VCR, better still is to watch something on a video cassette! Sure, it's not high-res, but it's great fun and a real blast from the past to watch a film with retro 80s/90s quality.
4. Make a car from cardboard boxes
The last time we moved house, I remember there being tons of massive cardboard removal boxes being left around - at age 6, for me the obvious thing to do was turn one of them into a car for my 2-year-old brother. Just cut parts of the cardboard out until the shape resembles a car (or any other vehicle, I particularly remember creating a train during my brother's train driver phase), decorate it however you like, insert a wriggly toddler and away you go!
5. Run through water from a hosepipe
Only for those very hot summer days here in Northern Europe! I have tons of videos of my mum watering the garden with the hosepipe and me running and cartwheeling through the spray. More pleasant if the hose has been warming up in the sun for a few hours, but certainly bracing even otherwise, and an entertaining way to cool down on a hot day.
6. Make fairy cakes
One of my earliest memories of baking was no doubt making a batch of fairy cakes with the help of my grandma, complete with pink icing and sprinkles. That was by no means the last time I've made cupcakes (they're definitely a baking staple), but I still associate them with my childhood - being allowed to crack the eggs over the mixing bowl, laboriously mixing the batter while gripping the spoon with both hands, putting it into paper cases and finally tasting the rather wonky results.
7. Build a chain reaction
This is something I did a lot when I was younger, and bored. Just assemble a heap of random items, from books and tennis balls to pipes and skittles, and try and set up a system that will act as a chain reaction, each stage triggering the next, when you set off the first part. Very time consuming, quite frustrating, yet strangely satisfying when it goes without a hitch - although then you have to rebuild it, of course!
8. Play board games
From The Game of Life to Snakes & Ladders, we have a cupboard stuffed with every board game imaginable, all of which feature heavily in my childhood memories. As soon as my brother was old enough to understand concepts such as taking it in turns and fair play, I roped him into lengthy game of Ludo or Draughts, after my parents' refusals to take part in games where I constantly made up new rules or modified the existing ones. Not content with the ones we already owned, I even made up a few games, loosely based on the format of Monopoly but with themes like shopping, cooking, or (once, memorably) Harry Potter, all of which involved travelling around a game board and collecting items or cards. So for a true childhood experience, get off the computer and get out a few family games.
I used to spend a great deal of time drawing or painting when I was younger, and most of my creations are still around somewhere, even if only buried under a heap of other stuff in a draw. Grab a pen or pencil, or even a set of paints if you're feeling adventurous, and release your inner child onto paper.
10. Go to the park or forest
Visits to parks or the forest were an integral part of my childhood. Equipped with little more than a skipping rope and a plastic hoop, I would spend hours running around, then sit down to a picnic with my family.
I hope my nostalgic ramblings have inspired you to engage in some wonderfully childish activities this summer. Please note that none of the photos are mine, they're all from Google images.