When children’s fun cost almost nothing

By Keith Newbery

Published on Friday, January 20, 2012 - 11:15


THIS ISLAND LIFESOUNDS as if it’s going to be fun at Appley Park in June, where a 1950s’-themed event is going to be held as part of the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations.

There’s mention of a tug-of-war competition, egg and spoon races and something called a 'pop-up’ high street.

I’m not entirely sure whether this is to be a generic high street of the time, with shops such Maypole, Home and Colonial, Liptons, International Stores and even Woolworths.

But if it is to be a representation of Ryde High Street of 60 years ago, the organisers (who look worryingly young for such an ambitious exercise in raw nostalgia) could do worse than pick my mother’s 88-year-old brains.

About ten years ago, Grumpy Greening asked me to knock out a small piece on my memories of Ryde High Street for inclusion in one of his books.

I immediately sought help from

Mrs N senior who, in a remarkable display of virtuoso recall, took herself back to the 50s and named virtually every shop from the post office in West Street, down through the High Street and Union Street and back up the other side.

But it’s the youngsters who have most to gain if the Appley Park extravaganza really intends to deliver.

They should be shown toys which do not necessarily have to beep, flash, be worked with thumbs or cost in excess of £100 to be totally absorbing.

For example, when I was a kid, the girls came up with all sorts of complex and ingenious games involving a simple skipping-rope.

We boys used to look on in slack-jawed amazement as they launched themselves into the midst of these whirling cords (two at a time was par for the course), chanting and jumping for hours on end.

Remember jacks, that weird game in which girls also specialised? Or hopscotch? Or hula-hoops? All required a degree of fitness and hand-eye co-ordination upon which an entire generation thrived — and they cost virtually nothing.

Perhaps the health and safety commissars could be persuaded to turn a blind eye for a couple of days and let today’s lads loose with some pea-shooters, catapults and spud guns.

And what about fish and chips eaten out of real newspaper?

It would be an honour to have this column wrapping a vinegar-soaked cod and four penn’orth.

A belly pork to test the Island’s 'high-end cuisine’

ANGELA Hewitt, the self-appointed arbiter of all that is acceptable in 'high-end cuisine’ on the Island, has delivered her annual verdict — and most of the usual suspects get a pat on the back.Unfortunately, and by her own admission, no-one seems to be taking any notice of her.

She said: "Sadly, nothing has changed since 2010 and I have to reiterate all I said in 2010."

Please don’t bother, dear. There’s only one thing worse than food which repeats on you — and that’s food judges who do the same thing.

Angela (who is nothing if not modest) said she had scoured the Island in an attempt to find slow-cooked belly pork as good as her own but so far her quest had been in vain.

Far be it from me to inflict the opinion of my own untutored taste-buds on an expert but perhaps she should take her delicate palate along to The Pointer Inn, Newchurch.

There she will find chef Rob Burrows serves up a version of the aforementioned dish so delightful that consuming it rendered my mate Malc Lawrence silent for a good ten minutes.

It’s worth a five-star rating for that alone.

Tales of Island horses coming to the starting line

TALES about horses and their valiant exploits are everywhere at the moment.Steven Spielberg’s latest film, War Horse, is playing to packed houses and the share price of Kleenex is said to be going through the roof.

The book about Warrior, the Island’s own equine hero, which also emerged from the carnage of the First World War, flew off the shelves in the County Press shop last week at such a rate a total restock was required.

Having returned from the battlefields of Europe, Warrior turned his attention to the somewhat more sedate challenge of the IW Point to Point.

He finished second in 1921 and won the race the following year — which fired the imagination of a young farmer who had just arrived on the Island in the 70s to make his fortune.

Howard Johnson told me: "I just loved the story of Warrior, so I bought myself an old race-horse and we won the Island Point to Point in 1978."

Howard will be chatting about Warrior, and the history of horse-racing on the Island, when he is guest speaker at the latest Newclose fish and chip supper on Wednesday.

All profits go to charity and tickets (which must be booked in advance) can be obtained from Ken and Jackie Hamblin, on 01983 524267.

More Features

View our Elgin Traffic & Travel Map
Travel News