East of the M60’s back with some more indoor amusement ideas
If you haven’t noticed, the warm spring weather couldn’t have come at a worse time. Deep down, you want to enjoy the weather, but there is one massive problem. The matter of a global pandemic, with Britain in near-lockdown. This means only going out for an hour’s exercise, or your only outdoor trip being to the chemist or local shops.
Thankfully at this time of writing, we are in the midst of the Easter school holidays. In a normal scenario, we would be planning trips to local parks, seaside locations, or going on holiday. Or be stuck at home with children saying “Mum (other family members are available), I’m bored…”
We at East of the M60 have a few outlandish and not-so-outlandish ideas that could keep everyone amused.
Sometimes you might enjoy going to the library. With that option no longer available till lockdown ceases, there is a viable alternative. If you have your own library card, Borrow Box enables you to borrow e-books – with your own Tameside MBC Library Card.
All you need to do is download the app onto your tablet or smartphone. It is free to download, whether you have an iOS or Android device. After adding your app, you can borrow up to six e-books – and six audiobooks.
Another way of enjoying your bedtime stories is StoriiTime’s app. Instead of celebrities, StoriiTime enables you to set up a video link between your child and a senior citizen. If I wanted, I could get one of my octogenarian friends from Whitstable to read a bedtime store to my nephew. Or I could enrol my father to do the same and get him to read The Three Railway Engines.
An Easter themed treasure hunt
With this time of the year, this is probably the most unoriginal thing to suggest in Escape To The Pantry. Many children enjoy treasure hunts. With a massive Easter Egg at the end of the quest, you could have (for example) ten to twelve clues. There could be Creme Eggs (other hen’s egg-sized ovoid chocolate confectionery items are available) dotted around.
The scale of your Easter Egg hunt varies on the size of your house. With a semi-detached three bedroomed house, there is scope for hiding goodies in the garden, garage or the under stairs cupboard. Linen baskets and under bed divan drawers can be good locations. If you have a dog, it may be best to refrain from having chocolate based goodies within easy reach of your furry friend.
Play 1980s and 1990s video games
Fortnite? What’s that? Candy Crush Saga? Nah, could be bad for Type 2 Diabetes. If you are fed up of modern day offerings, you could introduce your children to the classics. Well, classical works in video gaming.
The easiest way to do this, without extra hardware, is by going to Archive.org’s video games archive. The Internet Arcade has a wealth of classic coin-op games by Williams, Atari, Midway, etc. If you dig even deeper, you can play ancient video games from the BBC Micro, MS-DOS PC clones, and the Commodore 64 (from my experience, I tried to stop myself from playing Motor Mania for too long).
The best way, supposing it is in good working order, is to dust down your old micro. That way you could show them how long it took to load a game (though you might lose friends that way) on the 8-bit computers. Or get them dancing to Martin Galway’s Ocean Loading Theme before Hyper Sports. If you have an old cartridge based system (i.e. Atari VCS, Super Nintendo, Sega Mega Drive), the experience is better still due to the lack of waiting.
If you are stuck on any of the games, Archive.org has a Computer Magazine archive. When your 13-year-old daughter is stuck on Fantasy World Dizzy, you could search Archive.org for every single back issue of Crash, Commodore Format or Amstrad Action.
Play charades online – with other family members
With affordable videoconferencing options for business and pleasure, it is possible to talk to most of your family online. Whereas Skype and Facetime offer one-to-one communication options, Zoom enables you to have more than two screens on your monitor or tablet. What’s more, you can add your own backdrop (such as the set from Give Us A Clue or Hilda Ogden’s ‘Muriel’).
Charades works well with videoconferencing apps. You could either play between two or three people or have two teams of four (and a Michael Parkinson or Michael Aspel type figure being a chairperson). Alternatively, the person that gets the first clue right could set the second one.
Any more suggestions?
Feel free to elaborate on our four boredom busters. If you have any suggestions of your own, feel free to send them our way. We might consider them for another post under the Escape To The Pantry banner.
S.V., 08 April 2020.