The first I knew of the children being up this morning was when I heard an almighty clatter coming from the living room closely followed by a wail of frustration and disappointment. I immediately staggered through to investigate and found Buddy and Daisy prostrate and sad amongst scattered pieces of brightly coloured plastic. Now, I'm no Miss Marple at the best of times, and this was pre-caffeine, but I managed to establish that an ambitious marble-run had toppled over in its last stages of construction. There had been no foul-play on this occasion, so there was nothing to sort out on that front, thank goodness. My offer to help with reassembly was accepted (providing no changes were made to the design of course) and before long the tower was back to its former glory and ready for action. The photograph shows Buddy's total concentration in launching the maiden marble. Their marble-runs are becoming increasingly ambitious. I marvel at the ingenuity and audacity of their designs and it's not surprising they sometimes come a bit unstuck. But once they achieve a successful set-up they love watching the marble complete its course again and again; they are simply mesmerised.
We have recently started making our own marble-runs from scratch. By gluing some smallish long narrow boxes (halved lengthwise to make kind of guttering) to the front of a large cereal box we once created a very satisfying zig-zag path for the marbles to travel down. A yoghurt pot was the marble catcher at the bottom. Some marble-runs can involve complete raids of the recycling box and stretch from the top of the stairs down to the front door (definitely a rainy day activity, this one.)
Our collection of marbles is on permanent display in our living room and bathroom, just because we think they are such beautiful baubles. They often get used though, sometimes in play-doh sculptures, sometimes dipped in thin poster paint, rolled around on paper in a shoe box to make lovely colourful tracks. If you tape a strip of card around two of them you can make miniature cars to roll around. And I haven't even mentioned the traditional game of marbles yet, which actually I don't think my two have ever played. There are so many other brilliant ways of using them; once children are old enough to remember they are not to be eaten, marbles are pretty marvellous things.