Setting your socks on fire

Looking through old PDS school photos  – pictures of children working with tools, wading waist deep in muddy ponds and handling a plank on a cabin roof –  started me thinking about risk.

Taking risks is an essential part of children’s play and overcoming fears and obstacles is how we all grow and learn.

Here’s a PDS picture that was used to publicize the school  probably in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s.


Think of the danger! The fall from the roof! The splinters!

Those old pictures of children playing bring back memories of childhood adventures – building forts, climbing trees, burrowing  into haystacks and digging for Australia.

These adventures taught the lessons that blackberries came with thorns, spawn grew to tadpoles and turned to frogs, skinned knees were not fatal and going too fast downhill inevitably led to a bed of stinging nettles.

And the socks?

I was lucky enough as a child to be trusted with tools, sharp objects and matches. I was adept at chopping kindling and had my own very sharp billook at the age of five.

I had a notion to track down the source of a stream that ran through the nearby fields. I filled a canteen with water and set off on this major solo expedition (oh! how I loved the sound of that word expedition.)

I never did get to the source but I did find a very muddy bank slippery with clay. Of course this had to be collected and molded and shaped and baked. This meant a home made brick kiln in the back garden. My fires didn’t usually turn dangerous but somehow I set my sock alight.  Very nice new beige socks recently purchased from Marks and Spencer’s in Regent Street, Swindon. I put the fire out. No harm done. Can’t remember what happened to the clay pots but I did cook a very nice baked potato in the kiln.

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