Summer ’14: expansion set

You know those board games that are only good for a certain number of players? Or have limited numbers of plays, after a while?

Serious board game makers and players (and I hardly count myself among them, but I have learned this much) solve the problem with expansion sets.

That way, the game allows for more players. More moves. More rules. More complications too.

So here’s some more summer memories – expansion set style.


Indoor golf. It’s the way to go. It’s particularly the way to go when it feels safe, funny, good, day after day. As I write this, we’ve played it for three days straight, and I suspect we will do some more.

It works particularly well in a large hall with smooth floors. So well that we have to stop Junior Player from turning it more into something like hockey – or even lacrosse. (Not our paintwork, sweetie.)


Playdough. Making feasts. Particularly, making green spaghetti, cutting it up small, putting it in a pan, tipping it on to a plastic tray, and popping it in the pretend oven. For ten minutes.

(Everything is cooked for ten minutes. I checked with the head chef. Except, I think I got away with cooking pretend gingerbread men for twenty minutes, the other day. Mustn’t tell.)

We develop our own specialisms. Dan does well on fancy cakes and pies – particularly ones with an extra playdough cutout on top. Your age, your initial, whatever you fancy.


Cuddles the dog. He’s soft, he’s squishy, and he works well on a swing, or down a chute. Or sometimes dropped, head first, from a climbing frame.

(Lest you worry, gentle readers, Cuddles is a soft toy. All is well. Although his coat does pick up fluff at playgrounds quite effectively.)

On the day I am writing this, Cuddles gets his own bed. It’s a doll’s bed, but he doesn’t mind. In fact, we forget to bring him to the park this time – but we decide he is having a nap.

(He might equally be at the dog grooming parlour while we are out having fun on the swings.)


Tomato soup has become its own food group. It’s the cure for anything, really. Although, when an iPad is in the background, there are serious distractions. I know, because the
T-shirts have the stains to prove it.

It is also clear that, whatever is in Mummy’s snack box each day, however many varieties there are, they will all disappear. (But they may also get shared with friends at the park. Which is fine too.)


We are telling stories. Stories about us. Stories about what we did yesterday.

Stories about what we did ten minutes ago. We are building up a shared language. The subject matter circulates through the sunshine and the heat.

One day, I tell the story about how I put my watch through the washing machine by mistake.

The next day, the story is retold to me. But then I am given a replacement watch. It’s made out of a twig bent round my wrist, but it does the job just fine.

Because we are back at the park, and you don’t need too much precision when you are trying to keep playing for as long as you can.


Everything is of note in this new world. That Mummy wears the same earrings every day. That there are lots of taxis just now, and we can sit on the step and wait for the next one to come.

There are giggles. Misunderstandings. Hide and seek opportunities that were missed the first time and embraced the next. Discoveries that bath toys make interesting noises if you apply them to your tummy. Repeatedly.

We talk backwards about the drive being laid and forwards about significant birthdays next year. We learn new vocabulary for piggybacks and we discover that there are astrogators in the upper atmosphere, if only we look for them.

The summer is rich and full, and even the rain gives us something to talk about. Forwards and backwards, like the swing, going on up to the sky and back.

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