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This summer I've started to go to a new table tennis club in our local village hall. I hadn't played table tennis since I was a child and I don't think I'd ever played on a proper table. As children we had the net with fixings at either end that you could attached to your own table but as our kitchen table was more square than oblong and was against the wall on one and a half sides it wasn't always a fair game! I'm still learning the rules and techniques but I have managed to have a reasonable game, win a few points, stretch some muscles and have lots of laughs. Table tennis started in the 1880s as a parlour game for outdoor tennis players to play during the winter months. Over 130 years later it is still popular, there are a couple of thriving clubs within a few miles of home.
My new found sport, and the fact that I have been adding a few games books into stock recently, lead me to reminisce about the other games we played as children both in and out of school. Our playtime favourites used to come and go but I remember we were fanatical about them when they were 'in'. We used to play hopscotch, we skipped, we played hide and seek, tag, conkers, hula hoops and the more sedate jacks and cat's cradle. One of our most popular games was marbles but even though we played year after year I can't recall much about the rules we used. What I do remember is that our school yard had a long straight wall and it was in the gutter at the base of this wall that most of the marble games took place. Marbles are by no means a recent invention, archaeologists have found evidence in the earliest excavated graves in many parts of the world including Egypt and the Middle East. The early Greeks used nuts to play marble type games and children playing marbles feature in Roman murals. Marbles have been made from stone, clay, china and real marble.
According to my sister during wet playtimes, although I have no recollection of this, we played various board games including snakes and ladders, ludo, frustration and tiddlywinks. We also learnt how to play chess and draughts, I still have my draughts set from childhood which my grandfather gave me, they are made of wood and are kept in a tobacco tin.
I wonder if children play board games as much these days in this electronic age? It is a shame if they don't because we had hours of fun and, of course, we didn't cheat at all...
Contributed by Lorna