When I was a kid a Chomp cost 10p

I’m not quite sure how I follow those amazing blogs from my colleagues, but I will have a go. When I reminisce on my childhood I often remember my journeys to and from school. To be honest, it was often the best part of the school day (apart from the epic playground football games at break and lunchtime of course).

Ashley and his BMXAnyway, I was allowed to walk to and from school from the age of seven (with a mate at first), and the journey was done on foot, and later on, by bmx, and was no more than a mile or so. Now, I wouldn’t say that I was a naughty schoolboy (well not all the time anyway!), but I was certainly one for pushing my social and physical boundaries. Maybe this is why I still have such a healthy appetite for experiencing and talking about risk.

When I started jotting down a list of things I used to do on the way to and from school, more and more funny memories started jumping out of my brain onto the pad. In the interest of keeping this to a blog length piece, as opposed to full biography of my childhood, I have decided to list my top ten in a sort of ‘risk continuum’, starting with the more tame memories, and finishing with ones that may, quite frankly, make some parents break out in a cold sweat!

So here goes…

  1. Scrabbling together our remaining pennies to buy some classic penny sweets (white mice, flying saucers, shrimps, cola bottles, and those white chocolate buttons covered in hundreds and thousands – can anyone remember what they were called?)
  2. Jumping in EVERY single puddle we saw on the way home, and the pure satisfaction of totally saturating my friends school uniform
  3. Dribbling a football all the way to school without it touching anything other than the path
  4. Playing ‘knock down ginger’ and once very nearly getting caught by a very angry man!
  5. Climbing trees – any tree will do as long as you can get to the first branch!
  6. Taking a run up and sliding as far as possible on an icy path (even better with smooth bottomed school shoes)
  7. Walking over the lock gates (yes gates, not bridge…although I never had the guts to cycle across it)
  8. Hopping the whole way across the lock gates
  9. Running full speed to the middle of the lock gates, and jumping from the middle, right to the other side of the canal (how??)
  10. Hanging by my fingertips from the canal bridge (only maybe 6 feet from the water), and ‘walking’ from one side to the other

As far as I am concerned, you can’t put a price on these experiences. They simply would not have happened if I went and sat in a car in a traffic jam twice a day for those eight years of my school life. They are part of what makes me the man I am today, and I can’t thank my parents enough for having the sense to allow me this freedom in my daily life (not just to and from school).

I call on anyone reading this blog to do something (many things if you like) to help kids have the same freedom I had to Love Outdoor Play! (Disclaimer: everyone has different levels of ability and confidence – the ten examples above are experiences I enjoyed…not necessarily ones I would encourage any child to engage in – they will make those decisions themselves).

Ashley Rogers is Senior Development Officer at Play England. To mark the launch of the Policy Studies Institute (PSI) research on independent mobility, Play England staff will be sharing their personal stories and thoughts on the subject throughout the week on this blog, we hope you enjoy them.

5 Responses to “When I was a kid a Chomp cost 10p”
  1. Congrats on such a fab site. We love your old fashioned pictures of you playing when you were kids, not least because the one in the tree looks remarkable like my own older brother? scarily so in fact lol. We at Garden Climbing Frames know only too well the importance of children having fun through stimulating and imaginative outdoor play. You wouldn’t believe the difference something as simple as a pendulum tyre swing would make. If you can’t afford a new one, why not pop to your local garage and ask nicely if they have an old tyre going space. with a little elbow greese (and one of our fab rope conversion kits) it can be cleaned and wrapped around a large tree in your garden or local park in no time at all. On a seperate issue, we are planning to run free play days throughout the summer to promote our climbing frames and garden games by letting kids play for free as long as they like. the only catch is that we will give a brochure to mum and dad who will hopefully visit us in the future. if anybody has any ideas of venues that would be great? we are currently planning to take part in the playday in oxford this year.
    have fun playing outdoors 🙂

  2. Fab Ash, had a good chuckle at some of those on your list!! My daughter still loves going to the local shop and choosing her mix up, white mice, cola bottles and a load of other rubbish (of which she must share with her mother LOL)!!!

  3. Ashley Rogers says:

    Glad you both enjoyed it 🙂 I was never under any illusions to why the PSF was so important Robin. You can now see a few more reasons why I am so happy to be involved! Jane…jazzles? Think they may be one of those things that has a different name in a different part of the UK? I think I knew them as snowies?!

  4. Fantastic, Ashley, I think we should all do this sometime. I just hope that you cansee now why the Play safety Forum is so important to me!

  5. janeplayengland says:

    Totally priceless .. and as you say those kind of freedoms and experiences help to shape young lives and skill them up for the now, and the future .. and best of all “It’s just playing”! .. PS they are called Jazzles! …..

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