You may remember stamp collecting - my parents probably thought it would keep me out of mischief and wouldn’t take up much space. It’s got a name too – philately (sounds like fuh-la-tuh-lee if you haven’t heard of it before).
Anyway, they were right – I spent hours sticking little hinges on the back of stamps and used up endless exercise books, each page headed up with the name of a country that I might get stamps from. I would then frustratingly find one from a country I hadn’t heard of and didn’t have a page for, so a big black line would be drawn halfway down the page devoted to say, Namibia to make way for, say, Nauru (yes, it’s a real place - a tiny island with a tiny population that probably doesn’t need to write much to the outside world). I would send off to Stanley Gibbons (famous stamp dealer) for packets of stamps and eventually realised that a rare Penny Black wasn’t going to end up being accidentally shipped to me, so I gave up.
Another hobby was crocheting, and in fact, this was one of my more enduring hobbies. From scrounged half-used balls of wooI I made countless squares, all to be finally joined together at some point in the future in an arty way when I had enough to make a blanket for my bed. Sadly, the colours left much to be desired, as the scraps of wool were usually remnants from boring school jumper projects, and this became another hobby discarded along the wayside. It did have a revival though, when crocheted clothing made an appearance (crikey, was that the 60’s?) and I managed to make a trendy waistcoat for myself when they were in fashion (which my daughter eventually found and claimed, when the fashion did a re-run many years later).
Steelers and Shooters
Marbles was another hobby, not very ‘girly’ I know, but there were loads of boys around that needed impressing, so I got adept at knowing a ‘steeler’ from a ‘shooter’. The ‘shooter’ had many names depending on where you were from – like masher, smasher, crock, bowler, giant or biggie. Even the little ones had names – and the most common were ‘onionskins’ - these were the glass ones, with a streak of colour in the centre, still around to this day. I didn’t last long in this traditional boys’ game if I remember rightly and moved on to girly ‘Jacks’, a game where randomly thrown six-sided pointy shapes had to be scooped up before your bouncy ball hit the ground.
Cut and Colour
Do any of you girls out there remember colouring cut-out clothes for cardboard figures? They had little tabs that folded over to keep the dress on the cardboard girl. I tried my hand at designing my own, painstakingly tracing the shapes out and putting my own designs on them. I probably had ideas of becoming a designer, but soon lost interest.
Autograph hunting was another – well I had the book, and after all my mates had signed, I never met anyone famous to add in. I probably forged quite a few just to fill the pages up. Another failed hobby.
Roller skating was an absolute favourite – can this be classed as a hobby? – they were an adjustable metal base with wheels and straps that fitted over your shoes. I don’t know how many pairs I got through. I then moved on to ice skating, though there wasn’t an ice rink for at least 30 miles, and got keen enough to get a second-hand pair of proper leather ones that had once belonged to a professional, and proudly skated around in circles over lumpy wet ice with everyone else once a fortnight, or whenever I was taken to wherever the nearest rink was.
When my kids were young, I borrowed my son’s inline skates and taught both kids to skate on a disused tennis court. But that was short-lived too, as a shocking fall on my backside made me realise I wasn’t a teenager any more, and maybe it was time I quit that too!
Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man.