Growing up, my sisters and I used to play all kinds of imaginary games. The tree in the garden became Robin Hood and his Merry Men’s secret hideaway (or if we were feeling particularly protective of our status as girls, it was Maid Marian and her Merry Women!); the old window-seat in the lounge was sometimes a pirate ship, sometimes a hospital; the amazing dens our Mum helped us make out of the dining-room table, (aka: junk-room – we never ate a meal in there the whole time we lived in that house!) washing racks, massive old bedspreads, chairs, bookcases and lots of clothes pegs, were used for a barge which helped smuggle King Charles II out of England during the Reformation, The Little Princess’ attic bedroom, a shop, sometimes a restaurant, a cave in Swiss Family Robinson, Uncle Jim’s houseboat in Swallows & Amazons and often a treehouse!
I had many favourite toys growing up (one was a little square catalogue from a hardware store, useful in so many games!) but I think the one which was the most consistent favourite with my sisters and I throughout the years, was the dressing-up box! Yup, a huge cardboard box (and I mean huge – it was often used as a boat by J and I when we were 5&3!) filled with all kinds of old clothes. I believe it started with two skirts that my Mum had worn as a teenager, but which on a 3-year-old was a beautiful swirly dress, all the way to the floor. unique find from charity shops, sewing failures and unwanted pass-ons from family and friends all made their way into the dressing-up box … sometimes by accident!! I remember numerous occasions when a lost item of everyday clothing was found buried amongst odd hats and silk skirts with holes in them!
The games we played with the dressing-up box are far too numerous to list – or even to remember every one! Jane Austen was a staple favourite as we grew older and for quite a number of years we had a passion for The Importance of Being Earnest. This led to tea-parties … Victorian ladies … and the creation of Lady Fortescue!
Lady Fortescue was a lady of high-society, living in a massive Victorian country estate and a luxurious town-house. In one of these two residences, she would throw tea-parties and garden-parties, and even the occasional ball, to entertain her friends. This is where my memory fails me – there was definitely a Lady Glastonbury, I’m pretty sure a Lady Mansfield (maybe?) and although I can see my sister N sitting there, waving one hand as she talked about her husband suffering from gout, while clutching a cup of tea with the other hand, which was encased in a glove which was far too big for her, I cannot remember her Lady’s name!! Oh, Big-something … 😛
This game was taken everywhere, all the way over to America and back and was played regardless of surrounding or the lack of props – all we needed was our four imaginations and some random story, and we would sit talking for hours on long car-journeys, or waiting in boarding-lounges.
Eventually of course, we grew out of playing this and Lady Fortescue was resigned to the box under my bed, along with the blue gloves she wore to drink tea.
We have never grown out of our fondness for tea-parties though! Now, instead of playing pretend Ladys, we catch up about our real lives. Instead of dressing up in hilarious combinations of clothes, we wear pretty skirts – just an excuse to have fun! 😉 And instead of drinking water out of mugs, and pretending it’s tea in fancy cups and saucers, we drink real tea out of real cups and saucers, dug out from under my bed just for special occasions like these!!
And yesterday, in honour of National Sibling Day (hey, any excuse to drink tea, dress up and have fun is a good one, right?! 😉 ), I hosted a tea-party for my sisters.
This was so much fun to plan, create and share with my sisters, who will always be my favourite tea-party companions!! 🙂
What did you and your siblings like playing when you were growing up?
Do you put cream on your scone first, then jam? Or jam first, topped with cream?
For me, I’m a cream-then-jam girl all the way!! Why would you put the jam on first anyway?!? 😛