At the bottom of our road was a park area with the usual swings; slide; roundabout, and it was a fun place to go on my bike.
At this time, other houses were being completed in our area including a large house next door to us. The owners were the Sainsburys. Mr. Sainsbury was a carpentry teacher at Walton Secondary School and stories were told that he would throw chisels at students that did not pay attention! I have no recollections of Mrs. Sainsbury, but there were two children. Richard was around my age, and Wendy was older.
One afternoon Richard and I went down to the park with me pushing my bike. Richard did not have a bike at that time and it was made very clear to me some time earlier that bikes were designed for one person only. When we were in the park, we decided it would be fun for us both to ride at the same time so I got the seat and the pedals (it was my bike!), while Richard was perched on the cross-bar.
We no doubt had a lot of fun until I lost control of the bike and we both fell off and into a patch of stinging nettles. They caused a large amount of white lumps to appear on our arms and legs (not to mention the discomfort) in the relatively short time it took us to get back home. I have no memory of punishment but then, we had successfully punished ourselves. I do remember being told that Richard was “trouble” ………… and that proved to be quite true!
That same park also provided Richard and I the opportunity to practice our “dare-devil” abilities. One of us would to get on the roundabout while the other one would spin it as fast as he could. This would be done by grabbing one of the handrails and slowly pushing (so the roundabout started turning) until you were running as fast as you could. At that time you shouted “JUMP!”
Photo courtesy http://www.dailymail.co.uk
The swings were even better as we would get them swinging as high as we could (standing on the seat), and then simply leap off into space at the appropriate time.
This all sounds very risky but, during a trip to England in the 1990’s, I revisited that park. The swings and the roundabout were looking really old and tired (maybe the originals?), and were extremely small and clearly designed for young children. I would speculate that when we were leaping off the swing at a great height, we were probably only three or four feet off the ground!