In the wartime and post war there was only a limited supply of new toys so we either “inherited”  toys from older family members, made our own or made up games that didn’t need much equipment. Some of the traditional games seemed to go in cycles at various times of the year. I don’t know how we knew when to change but one day we would be playing with whips and tops and the next day the girls would all have skipping ropes out, sometimes a long rope turned by two people and the rest skipped in and out whilst chanting an old rhyme, or  individual efforts where we performed complicated steps whilst turning our ropes at increasing speeds to show off our prowess.

Another season the pavements and school yard would be marked out with hopscotch grids and we would jump or hop around and balance, sometimes precariously, while we picked up our markers.

We did a kind of juggling game with two balls against a wall, again performing acrobatic stunts at the same time. One of my friends was the supreme champion as she could juggle three balls!

The streets were much safer to play in then as very few in my neighbourhood had cars and the only regular through traffic during the war were the horse drawn delivery vans, milk, bread, coal e.t.c. and those were usually in the mornings. After the war the only horse drawn vehicles were the brewery wagons. Two of my neighbours were keen gardeners and used to rush out with dustpan and bucket whenever the horse went by and sometimes had heated arguments about whose house was nearer to the little pile donated by the horses.  One of the boys in my brother’s gang realised that he could make a bit of pocket money and joined in the rush, much to the annoyance of two elderly gents:)

We played cricket against a wicket chalked on the wall opposite, or “French cricket” which needed no wicket, and rounders when there were enough of us. If I was on my own I either practised to improve my “two balls” skills or a kind of tennis against a wall. I didn’t have a racquet so I used a table tennis bat!

I wasn’t much into dolls but I did have one which was the size of a newborn baby which had been donated one Christmas by my mother’s friend who ran a shop selling knitting wool and had originally used it to display baby clothes. I wasn’t much interested in it and I don’t even remember the poor thing having a name. I did have a (non PC) golliwog imaginatively named Golly and a panda, which was the nearest thing my mother could get to the teddy bear I craved. These two and next door’s dog were my “pupils” when I played school and my customers when I played shop with empty boxes and money made from mum’s  button box.

We were quite safe playing out, not only because of the lack of traffic, but from the  attentions of any predatory adults as most of the mothers were home and kept a weather eye on all of us. I think that if anyone had tried any funny business  they would have been given short shrift from these sometimes quite fierce females (as indeed were any of the children who misbehaved!) They seemed to feel a collective responsibility for all of us.