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Once upon a time kids played outdoors all day

Posted on 22 October 2015

Marbles, hopscotch, knock-down-ginger, skipping, tag, jacks…

The list is endless isn’t it? Hard to believe it was only a few decades ago when we were free to roam outside unsupervised, even when we were just a few years old. We’d be off for hours with no way to let mum know where we were and would only pop home for a snack or a plaster for yet another grazed knee.

There was fun to be had everywhere we went. Pavements for hopscotch, walls for ball games and handstands. Railings for clambering on or tying skipping ropes to and big open spaces for mass games of tig, British bulldog and kiss chase.

These were the days when the ultimate temptation wasn’t the latest PlayStation or Xbox but a shiny new doorbell and an easy escape route! Here are just a few of the wonderful ways we used to entertain ourselves.

Jacks and marbles

We played Jacks in the street and saved our pocket money to buy the best dobber we could find, ready for the marbles tournament on a manhole cover.

Boy-with-his-tongue-out-ready-to-fire-off-a-marble,-with-group-of-kids
Source: www.watoday.com.au

 

Ball games

Time flew playing with a ball up against a wall. Two, even three balls at a time if you were really good. Bouncing the ball under your leg to ‘one, two, three O’Leary’ or was it Alairy? I was never sure.

Girl-in-back-alley-playing-with-ball-against-a-wall
Source: manchesterhistory.net

 

Hopscotch and skipping

All of us played hopscotch but girls ruled the pavement chalk board. Probably because they actually knew the rules, had smaller feet and were just better at hopping! The same went for skipping games.

Girl-playing-hopscotch-on-pavement-in-front-of-crowd-of-kids
Source: express.co.uk

 

Cowboys and Indians

The westerns we loved at the pictures spilled out onto the streets and fields. Boys always wanted to be the hero of the latest movie and girls were lucky to get a look in.

Close-up-of-boy’s-face,-dressed-as-cowboy-and-aiming-toy-gun
Source: walesonline.co.uk

 

Football and conkers

Boys played football everywhere, even in the road. But come autumn nothing was more important than the playground conker fights. No such thing as health and safety back then.

Large-group-of-school-boys-around-two-boys-having-conker-fight
Source: bbc.co.uk © Getty Images

 

Handstands and hanging

Anything we could possibly dangle, swing or spin on, we did. Nothing stopped us. If a girl wanted to do a handstand she’d just tuck her dress in her knickers and get on with it.

2-boys-hanging-from-climbing-frame-holding-a-girl-dangling-below-them
Source: dailymail.co.uk

 

Swinging from ropes

Cross bars on old gas lamps made great swings as long as you could get a skipping rope up that high. It was a sad day when they disappeared.

3-girls-swinging-from-old-lamp-post-on-knotted-ropes
Source: architectureireland.ie

 

Action and adventure

Our imaginations saw adventure everywhere. Parks, fields and streets became jungles, battlefields and racetracks.

4-boys-on-racing-go-kart-made-from-old-butcher’s-box-and-pram-wheels
Source: blinddragonmetalart.tumblr.com

 

Expeditions of discovery

We explored our home territory and knew it inside out. Climbing trees, paddling in streams, daring missions into deserted buildings and bringing tadpoles home in jam jars.

3-boys-lying-on-the-dock-side-staring-intently-into-the-water
Source: thehistorypress.co.uk

 

Whatever the temperature

We were outdoors come snow or shine, with bare legs whatever the temperature. But it must have been too cold for cameras on the days our legs turned blue. Photos of the time always make it look like the weather was as lovely then as our memories are now.

A-group-of-young-children-with-bare-legs-playing-on-a-roundabout
Source: feistybluegeckofightsback.wordpress.com

 

We spent so much time playing outside this list could go on forever, but sadly we have to end it here. We’d love to hear about your favourite outdoor pastimes when you were a kid. When did you have to be home? Were there any other ‘rules’ you had to abide by? Do you still bear the scars of some legendary fall, bang or scrape?

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