Tag Archives: Manchester

Old Comforts

Its strange, isn’t it, that even after years of being grown up, old favourite childhood toys can still bring some comfort. I’m currently sat on my bed at home with Red Ted, Pink Ted, two other teds (that I can’t remember the names of but they both squeak), a pink rabbit, Kanga and Roo (named after Kanga and Roo, but not actually them) and Little Bear (actually Little Bear). And Nicola, my favourite doll, is sat on my chair, fully dressed and presentable, looking at me intently.

Every so often I enjoy getting all my old toys out of the cupboard and remembering the happy times we spent together when I was little. To be fair though, most of the teddybears I listed above were Rachel’s, except for Little Bear, who was very definitely mine. Along with the extra sets of clothes, made specially for him, after I told my Gran how sad it was that he only had one pair of trousers.

So what is it about these toys which still, after all these years, provide comfort? Is it the sentimental value? The memories? The need to hang onto the innocence of childhood when life isn’t amazingly great? Is it just me who enjoys a good old play every now and then? One things for certain – I’m not going to get rid of these toys for a Very Long Time.


I have spent an hour or so this afternoon sorting out a cupboard with many of my childhood toys in. Board games from when I was younger, which my sister used to thrash me on. All of my playmobil and Brio train set, stacked up in boxes. Craft activities I’d been given for birthday presents, many of which were only ever half completed. My Dad’s weird and wonderful Christmas presents – exciting and unusual presents which were played with for a week or so, and then put away in the cupboard. I had great fun going through it all. Most of it I decided to hold onto, partly for sentimental reasons and partly because children in our house are quite common and games are very useful. But it certainly took me back a few years. Remembering all the hours of fun I had with everything in there.

Half way through this clear out I was reminded of just how much I’ve grown up. How much things have changed. Or not, as the case may be. The doorbell rang and I got up to answer it. There was a boy and his bike on our doorstep. I didn’t recognise this boy – there was a time when I knew all the children in the road, but since being at uni I don’t. He looked at me blankly and said ‘isn’t he in??!’ I replied ‘yes, he is – he’s just busy. Give him a minute’.

The boy was referring to my Dad. Who, ever since he used to fix mine and my friend’s bikes, has always been the resident bike fixer. His expertises have kinda been passed down through generations of children in our road. It always has been like that, but at the moment it seems to be more than ever. They’re always knocking on our door with flat tyres, dodgy bike fittings and even flat footballs. He seriously does have a little fan club of children!

As I said, hardly any of the children really know me anymore. Since I’ve been in Swansea there have been loads of new children on the street. There used to be a time when all the children looked up to me. I was the older, more responsible one, looking after the younger children. They all used to come calling at the door for me. Now children who call at the door only ever know and want, my Dad. I mean, its ok, because I’ve got my own life in Swansea now. Swansea is home. But it is just weird. How things change.

Watch out boys!

One of the good things about being home is that we get a chance to retell old family stories from when I was younger. Like the time my Grandad was up staying and in an attempt to take me out on my bike, climbed over all the junk in our garage to get to it, and then carried it back over all the junk. Only to be told my a 7 year old Jen that I’d grown out of that bike – my current one was even further towards the locked front garage door…. Oops. After the effort he had gone to get me a bike, whether the right size or not, I didn’t have any choice but to ride it!

The story that always surprises me the most is also about a bike, but not my bike. I was bought up in a cul-du-sac which had very little traffic, so all the children in the street would play together in the road. I think I must have been about 4 or 5, and I had decided to take Nicola, my precious doll out to play with me. At some point, I must have been distracted by a friend, and I left Nicola out in the road unattended. Also out playing, was an bigger, older boy. He was playing on his bike, and he had built a ramp in the middle of the road and he was seeing how far he could jump from it, on his bike. When he saw Nicola left unattended, he took her and placed her just beyond the ramp, and used her as an obstacle. I suddenly spotted him doing this to my poor, baby Nicola and was *not* impressed. According to my Dad, I picked up the nearest big stick and started hitting him with it. My Dad had to come and stop me from injurying him!

Anyone who knows me now, knows that this behaviour is completely out of character. Nowadays I would generally have to know somebody very well, before I would allow myself to display any anger – physically or verbally. And what I don’t understand about this story is that when I was 4 or 5, I was incredibly shy. I wouldn’t say boo to a goose. This boy I did know from the street, but I didn’t know him very well. I’m just surprised that I let my anger out in that way. I think it must have been a kind of motherly instinct. I really did treat Nicola like my child – except I suppose, leaving her in the street on her own! I was just enraged that somebody could have so little respect for my ‘baby’. Within my family, Nicola was usually treated with respect, and I wasn’t used to anybody putting her in ‘danger’ in that way.

But, in a way, part of me is quite proud of that 4 year old Jen. Standing up for her rights. Not being afraid to tell this bigger boy to leave my ‘baby’ alone. It is probably a good job my Dad intervened – as he says, his mum would have been after me, if I’d injured him! But I like to think I’d do the same now – not neccesssarily hit them with a stick, but if a boy mistreated myself or a good friend, then I would stand up for what is right. So watch out!

Tips on how to wash your hair in the kitchen sink

• Ensure the sink is clear of all food remains and washing up
• Make sure the temperature is reasonable
• Wear something which you don't mind getting covered in water
• Don't use excess soap – it makes it even harder to get it all out
• Ensure eyes, mouth, ears and nose are closed – soapy water leaking into all 6 holes at once is NOT nice. (not entirely sure how you could close ears, but never mind….)
• Have someone nearby to help when you realise that without them you will NEVER get all the soap out
• Preferably this person shouldn't be your dad….

Please note: Kitchen sinks are NOT designed for washing hair.

Take Time

I was sorting through my chest of drawers in my bedroom at home this afternoon. Most of it was full of old clothes that I was trying to decide whether to keep or give to a charity shop. But the bottom drawer had a lot of personal items – cards people had given me, school certificates, old photographs from holidays and other general clutter that hadn’t come to uni with me. I quite enjoyed looking through this drawer and reading and remembering past occasions. Amongst all of this, I found a peice of card with a poem on it, given to me by my RE teacher at sixth form college. Its called, ‘Take Time’, and reminded me of a friend in Swansea.

Take time to think –
it is the source of power.
Take time to read –
it is the foundation of wisdom.

Take time to play –
it is the secret of staying young.
Take time to be quiet –
it is the opportunity to seek God.

Take time to be aware –
it is the opportunity to help others.
Take time to love and bve loved –
it is God’s greatest gift.

Take timne to laugh –
it is the music of the soul.
Take time to be friendly –
it is the road to happiness.

Take time to dream –
it is what the future is made of.
take time to pray –
it is the greatest power on earth.

There is time for everything…

I often think in Swansea that I don’t have enough time. I’m always rushing from one place to another, and when I am in one place for any length of time its because I’ve got to work. And as people who know me well know, I am not the most patient person on this world. Quite often there is something inside of me which just wants to get things done. Doesn’t want to take excess time over things. Doesn’t want to hang around thinking when I could be doing. And I do think its something I need to improve. I need to learn to be patient. To relax and trust that it will be ok, if I take my time.

Hopefully these 5 weeks at home will give me some time to take things a bit slower. I’m away most of the weekends and during the week I have got things I want to do, but I should be able relax and take time to do the things I never get chance to do in Swansea. Time to read a book. Time to play games with my parents. Time to think. Time to pray. Time to refresh myself.


I finished my lectures on Tuesday and after a mad few days cleaning, packing and trying to see as many Swansea friends as possible, I made it home this afternoon. In traditional Jen style, I made myself at home by spilling a plate of spaghetti bolognse all over my parents’ cream dinning room chair, within minutes of walking in the house. Oops.

Its a bit mad here at the moment. Our bathroom is being re-done, which means we currently have NO bath, shower or sink. Thankfully we still have a toilet…. except its missing a door. We aren’t going to have the shower/bath/sink etc fitted until Thursday or Friday next week. Eugh. Luckily we have friends who live locally and offered the use of their facilities…but still. Its a pain. Tomorrow I believe I’m expected to paint the ceiling in there, so that will be fun! (I wonder if I’ll make as much mess as I did with the spag bol…. 😉 ).

I wasn’t sure before I left how much internet access I would have here. And I’m still not entirely sure. The windows PC that I usually use whilst at home, has completely died. Just like that. Dead. I’m now on a Linux PC which I was always under the impression that my Dad couldn’t connect to the internet…. but it appears he can now. Shrug. The only thing is that because its Linux, it refuses to open some mircosoft websites and email accounts, and I can’t get msn on here. I should, in theory, be able to connect my laptop up whilst I’m here. My Dad has the broadband internet connection and I brought home my laptop and my ethernet cable. But we tried it earlier and it wouldn’t work. It just said that it couldn’t connect to the server. I think I just need to fiddle with the internet settings, but when I tried playing with them I was unsuccessful. Any suggestions???

Home sweet home. Sort of.

Well, its confusing, being a student away at uni – you have two homes. At the moment I feel that Swansea is more ‘home home’, but its still good to come back ‘home’ (to Manchester).

It does take time to adjust to the different way of life, when you come back to your parents home. Generally seems slower somehow. As a student I’m often rushing around constantly for some reason or another, whereas its nice to take things slower at home. Its hard, once you’ve lived your own life, without your parents, to come back and get used to living with them again. Getting used to my Dad’s comments (they are unique to him, impossible to describe) and Mum’s mumness (is that a word? oh, well, i think I’ve just made it one – like swip ;)!).

At church this morning it was strange. All the kids have grown up – one that I remember starting high school not long ago, is just entering the privileged ‘black jumper’ stage (basically year 10, the younger years have to wear BRIGHT red jumpers that everyone hates). Where does the time go? There were lots of old friends who I enjoyed seeing this morning. People who have seen me develop from a very shy toddler to a reasonably confident young adult. It seems weird that I’m only at home for one church service, throughout the whole of the summer. But at the same time I’m missing out on things at my church in Swansea, and wishing I was back there. I want to be able to split my body in half! (I felt similar feelings at greenbelt, though there it was more like quarters!)

I know its something that most students have to deal with, and I know i will. Its just strange.