i Editor's letter: Summer holidays are here... so what to do with the children?

Without obliging grandparents, childcare can be a nightmare

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The Independent Online

“Are we nearly there?”

“No, we’re at Aylesbury.”

Remember those glorious  summers when six weeks opened up before you like an eternity? Envy blinds, so I salute all those i  readers – teachers, school staff and students – who will be skipping out through the gates, past  smouldering piles of exercise books, over the next few days.

For parents of young children, of  course, the last week of July arrives  with a mix of excitement and dread.  How can they be entertained for a  month-and-a-half? Without obliging grandparents, childcare can be a  nightmare. Even if you’re prepared  and able to pay the earth, there are  only enough holiday clubs or child-minders for one in every 15 kids. Recent research suggested that one  parent in six calls in sick in August  to look after their offspring.

I remember fondly the roar of Atlantic rain travelling horizontally across a Cornish beach. In time, of course, we became adept at entertaining ourselves. Gunge ’Em in the Dungeon was a favourite – sending the youngest brother to the bottom of the garage steps to await the bucket of cold mud and broken apples when he couldn’t name the capital of Peru. Then there was the memorable discovery, in undergrowth at the Rec, of a small library of gentlemen’s publications. One of the more excitable day trips was the afternoon at the brook, when middle-Duff blew off his eyebrows while experimenting with a Lynx can and a lighter.

For those with little monsters to entertain, you have all that to look forward to. As for this summer: the VisitBritain website is helpful, and later this week we will publish two pages of kids’ days out.