Ahh, the Summer Holidays. Six gloriously long weeks of freedom and self exploration…or 42 terrifying days of tearing your hair out trying to find out how to entertain your (and possibly your friends’) children. But whether you see the opportunities as endless, or overwhelming, there are certain summer memories we will always treasure forever. We asked two very different bloggers to give us the lowdown on theirs.

Abbie Button

20 year old Social Sciences student and lover of tea, theatre, stationery and nights in, Abbie has been running Another Student Blog since 2014. This year, she chose to spend her summer among a myriad of thespians, tourists, travellers and other weird and wonderful types at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

1 city, 25 days and over 3000 shows in 313 venues. Over the entire month of August, theatre and arts lovers flock to Edinburgh to take part in the largest arts festival in the world. And of course, I was one of them.

Choosing to spend the majority of my university summer holidays in Edinburgh was an easy decision. Having the chance to see some amazing (and some questionable) theatre and meet likeminded people is such an amazing opportunity that I couldn’t turn it down. However, venturing to Edinburgh for an entire month may seem to some as a relaxing holiday to some, but honestly, it was anything but.

My Edinburgh Fringe festival journey started way before the beginning of August. As the producer of a show, as soon as I got the go ahead, I was booking accommodation, renting cars , sorting out budgets and overseeing the rest of the production team. Although most of my hard work was over by the time that we arrived, it honestly didn’t stop there. Once the festival got into full swing, myself and the rest of the cast and crew would head out for what felt like hours flyering on the Royal Mile. Trying to sell your show to unenthusiastic members of the general public was not a fun task – you have to get over the fear of rejection instantly.

The festival is incredibly demanding and hard work, something that people don’t realise. I spent every waking hour worrying about something, whether it was budget, or making sure that equipment and set were being couriered to the right places. But would I have change my summer plans? No! It is all worth it when everything falls into place. When people come up to you in the street and say how much they enjoyed the show, commending the cast and making them feel like celebrities. Walking to the top of Arthur’s seat with your best friends feeling like you can concur anything. And when you see that piece of theatre that made you cry with laughter, you realise that Edinburgh really is the best place to be.

Between busy schedules, time was allowed to see some amazing shows. My particular highlights were Christina Bianco, a youtube sensation and incredibly talented impressionist and singer. Her one woman show Party of One described how she got into impressions, singing some of her favourite songs and telling her story. It was inspirational and I could only sit in awe of her incredible vocal chords. Additionally, Baby Wants Candy, a company from America bringing a full band improvised musical to the Fringe were equally amazing. Their improvisation skills and voices were stunning, and their comedy timing was absolutely perfect. I don’t think I have laughed so much watching a show before.

The Edinburgh Fringe was the perfect way to spend my summer holidays. I got the chance to hang out with my best friends and do something that I love. I would also love to go into arts management/production, so also, whilst not the conventional way to carry out work experience, I also have something amazing to put on my CV, whilst having fun.

Feeling inspired? Read more about Abbie’s experiences in Edinburgh and ask her anything over on Twitter @a_student_blog.

Leta Elliot

Leta is a full-time writer, cat mama, Master’s educated historian and professional blogger at the critically acclaimed Attachment Mummy. Some of her greatest summers were spent during the hazy days of the 1970s, when life was just that little bit simpler.  

What did your kids get up to this summer?  Were their holidays a whirlwind of planned activities, exciting road trips, playdates, scheduled fun, and educational activities?  Did you spend the last few weeks of term scouring Pinterest for all the wonderful arts and crafts you would create together; and the fun but nutritional foods you would offer them and they would willingly imbibe?  Perhaps every day was going to be a themed frenzy of pirate, princess, mermaid, safari and Hogwarts fun? Or in the end, did you just collapse in a heap like the rest of us and enjoy lie-ins and lazy days, marvelling at how very quickly a week passes when nothing seems to happen?  I bet you felt guilty though, and felt you should be entertaining them, or felt even worse guilt if you were working.

Most of us look back on our childhoods with rose-tinted spectacles, eulogizing about the long, hot summers full of endless days of fun and laughter, without a cloud or a rainy day in sight.  For those of us around in the 1970s this is actually pretty true, with 1976 bringing a three month heatwave.  And I’m sure my birthday in the middle of August was always a sunny day, or is that just nostalgia…

It’s not just the weather that is different these days, of course, we live in a very different world.  For us it was the click clack of a typewriter not the tap tap of a laptop, not that anyone worked from home then!  The sound would probably have been drowned out by ABBA on the teak-encased stereo anyway.

For me, those long hot summers were full of driving toy cars through the dirt, creating nests for fairies and dollies, eating sandy egg Mother’s Pride sandwiches on the beach, playing in sprinklers and paddling pools, cold Lemonade and Cream Soda being poured from bobbly glass Corona bottles, chocolate bars costing 4½p, and being outside pretty much all the time.  Riding on bikes, kicking a ball about, playing in our little cul-de-sac with friends, picnics, paddling in streams and at lakesides, running, jumping, skipping: always outside and always moving.

What about children nowadays?  How many hours did they spend in front of screens this summer?  How many hours being occupied, with activities and educational days out, and classes and all the rest?  How much time did they spend being free?  Because that’s the main thing I remember, that sense of freedom.  No-one entertained us, you found other kids and got on with it. We played cars and dollies, jacks and marbles; skipped, rode bikes and climbed trees; chalked galleries of art, noughts & crosses, and hopscotch lines on the pavement; played Oranges & Lemons, Stuck in the Mud and British Bulldog in the street; hunted for bugs and seed pods, and made imaginary shops, cafes and houses from nothing.

No-one worried about us being out in the road because it was a cul-de-sac and there were so few cars around, plus some of the ‘new’ houses had kitchens at the front so those mums could keep an eye on us through the window.  There was only one mother in our road who worked full-time, and she was a teacher, so around during holidays anyway.  All the other mums were at home all day, or worked part-time, and we were in and out of each other’s houses and gardens all the time. Even the dads were home a lot of the time.  People still worked to live then, not the other way round.  Leisure time, even though there was less to do and less money to do it with, was all.

A couple of years ago, 1976 was declared to have been the best year ever to be a child and, despite the political and economic problems of the time, I think perhaps it was.  We were free.  The Wombles were on the telly, and you could buy 4 aniseed balls for a penny at ‘the little shop’.  Life was good.

Things have changed, there are it seems a lot more ‘funny people’ about and there aren’t enough mums and dads around to keep an eye on everyone. Mothers have since been pulled into the workplace with the carrot of economic benefit, and the stick of a skewed kind of feminism which insisted they should ‘have it all’, whatever the cost.  Freedom, for parents and children, comes at great cost these days.  And let’s not even get on to the crowing spectre of ‘elf and safety! (Clackers anyone?!)

So what can we learn from a 1970s summer?  More freedom, less planning; more fun, more spontaneity, less stress; a revival of old-style games and play, and put the SmartPhones, tablets, Wiis and all the rest away?  Maybe.  Take from it what you will, but I wonder how many lifelong memories those computer games are giving our kids. Maybe letting them loose with no agenda and just a few simple toys would be the making of them.  The summer holidays may be over, but why not try it this weekend?

Oh, and please let them and their clothes get dirty, preferably caked in mud; and say they can use anything from your house that doesn’t cost more than £50 or have lots of sentimental value.  No plans, no electronics, no schedule, just imagination, dirt and fun. Wouldn’t it be wonderful?

Read more reminiscing from Leta on her award-winning blog and have a chat over on Twitter @AttachmentMumma.

IMAGE CREDITS

Empty Classroom – Mississippi Mike

Summer in the 1970s – David Prasad