"Summertime, and the livin’ is easy…" penned by Dubose Heyward and Ira Gershwin, those six simple words immediately conjure up the wonderful deep husky voice of Ella Fitzgerald, or instrumental versions on a sultry saxophone.
The lyrics in Summertime were highly praised by Stephen Sondheim, who commented that the use of the word "and" was worth a great deal of attention. "Summertime, when" would be boring, but he claimed using "and" sets up a whole poetic tone. He also said the choices of "ands" and "buts" become almost traumatic as you are writing a lyric – or should, anyway – because each one weighs so much.
My summertime has been a "Summertime, and...", certainly far from boring, and a nice mix of looking after grandson, Fraser, days out and as much time in the garden as possible!
The bizarre thing is how quickly the time has passed. As a child I well remember the excitement of the start of the school holidays, which seemed to stretch endlessly ahead, and were naturally filled with nothing but sunshine and happy memories.
Fraser is too young yet to have any concept of time, but his holidays were spent criss-crossing the country and being introduced to lots of activities - some new, and some tried and tested favourites. These included hotel stays, visits to a safari park, soft plays, swimming, gymnastics, museum and art gallery, strawberry picking, Truckfest and farm parks.
"Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child's soul."
I am obviously keenly tuned into facilities and opportunities for under-fives, but I was really amazed at the range of well-designed and well-run centres and organisations catering for this age-group. Not all are weather-dependent either, with clever and careful design offering indoor and outdoor play on the same sites.
For today’s businesses, especially those in the experience economy, the buzz of social media is (or should be) constantly on their radar. With real-time reviews, comments, clicks and shares, businesses are under pressure to perform better than their competitors. It’s not an easy space to occupy, but for those that get it right, the rewards can be high.
One visit which deserves a mention was to Monty’s Farm Park at Ardarden Estate just outside Cardross. With the ubiquitous “jumping pillow” which is Fraser’s favourite activity, they offer an indoor play barn as well as outdoor climbing frames, slides, pedal go-karts and a variety of animals.
Food (and decent coffee) is always an important consideration on days out (mainly for the grown-ups). Monty’s have thought this through carefully, and staff bring food from the Ardarden tea room which can be enjoyed on picnic benches which are dotted about and offer a mix of sun or shelter.
“The playing adult steps sideward into another reality; the playing child advances forward to new stages of mastery.”
Erik H. Erikson
The Kelvin Hall offered an under-fives session with more advanced gymnastic apparatus including trampolines, beams and rings.
Both of these venues were staffed, but parents/grandparent etc were responsible for the supervision and care of the children.
So, now it's back to nursery, and into a different routine. Even if Fraser doesn't remember his third summer, the introduction of new experiences and different environments will impact his development in ways that will unfold in years to come. I'm grateful to have been able to share in his fun and enjoyment.
I certainly won't forget my "Summertime, and..."
"Time is a game played beautifully by children."
Take care, lead well