paper dolls

Simple, pleasing pastimes seem never to lose their charm. On a rainy day, my children teased their aunt to cut them paper dolls, then thoroughly enjoyed drawing on them. Aren’t they just? Soon they were cutting their own, all of them friendly round the table. Is there anything else required for an hour of happiness? Oh, tea? I made the tea.

paper dolls

If you missed a long line of paper-cutting traditions, you can pick it up now, particularly if there’s a small person in your life to convert to this little joy. Get scissors, paper, fold it into an accordion fold, just as you would a paper fan, back and forth. When you cut a figure, leave something touching either side, right to the edge, without slicing right through the fold in that spot. Hands are classic. The skirts on these dolls lend extra stability where they join. I experimented with puppy dogs, noses and tails connected. Then, the unfolding bit! Anticipation! Surprise!

Paper cutting of any sort is satisfyingly old fashioned in the most tactile, inventive sort of way. I like to think of adding these sorts of actions back into a life full of digital beeps and hums, until it is a life quite full and well balanced. Do you like traditional toys and games? I do – read some more about them here on appleturnover.


Playing with flight has been a human obsession for thousands of years. Around here, as in history, an adoration for good old fashioned kite-flying developed into a fascination with aviation. Our small girl has been experimenting with a light wooden aeroplane, taking off the twisting rubber bands that spin the propeller, and using it as a glider. Endless fun! My sweetheart made this little short for her, and I’ve borrowed it for you.

Occasionally our flying games require a ladder. But isn’t it pleasing?

toy wooden aeroplane

I’ve fished the tail out of the currant bush and rescued the propeller from the camellia, yet the tendency of this flying machine to come to pieces is also its strength. On meeting with a wall, it simply deconstructs instead of cracking, and we easily reassemble for the next flight.



p>A bit of glue will fix the wood, so it is quite trusty, and thoroughly beloved. No doubt there have been toy aeroplanes for nearly as long as the real thing, and probably one informed the other. After all, so much of learning is play. I’m waiting to hear requests to go up in a hot air balloon, next.

traditional ball

Football (soccer!) in England dates back to the eighth century though it seems that roots can be traced ten or eleven centuries earlier in China. Our beloved local traditional toy shop furnished a good old fashioned brown leather football, the hand-sewn sort that was played with clear through to 1950, when fans wanted a lighter shade to be able to distinguish it on the pitch from a distance.

old fashioned football © elisa rathje 2012

The old-time natural leather and laces are richly coloured and beautifully constructed. I like it, it looks to me as if I’m seeing the real thing, just the way I love to see a very simply constructed, undecorated hammer or spade. A handsome object.

old fashioned soccer ball © elisa rathje 2012

Astonishingly, the design of the football continues to change. Such a long history! A four-hundred-and-fifty-year old football was recently found in the rafters of a Scottish castle. It isn’t so different to this traditional ball that we play with in our garden.