May 28, 2012

Victorian Indoor Pastimes

written by Rosa Morgan
Gentle Readers,
Herein follows the promised post for whiling away the hours indoors. I hope you will find it amusing and applicable to your situation. Let's begin with darts. This challenging pursuit originated in Medieval times when soldiers threw arrows or crossbow bolts at upturned wine barrels. It proceeded to tree cross sections and is now found at every respectable pub, but the homeowner can also share the fun in the privacy of their own domicile. The gentleman's back parlor after port and cigars is the most advantageous location, and imported French missiles with split turkey feathers are preferred.

Scrap-booking is a hobby enjoyed by young and old. Flowers, angels, and kittens are popular motifs, but men should not despair, for military and naval themes are equally engaging.

There are far too many delightful card games to list here, however, the following standards are ones that every host should be well versed in. Whist, derived from the older game Ruff and Honours, is a deceptively simple game for beginners, but decidedly complex for the advanced player. Two-handed Bezique is quite fun and enjoyed by the likes of writers, Wilkie Collins and Christina Rossetti. Faro has become extremely popular out West with the Gold Rush prospectors.

Backgammon can be a lively diversion, especially at country house weekend parties, though the gambling aspect may be objected to by the overly religious.

Chess is for the cerebral inclined and not recommended for large gatherings. The first tournament was held in London in 1851 and
won by the brilliant German chess master, Adolf Anderssen.

Draughts is another game of skill that can be played by the youngest members of the family.

Whatever your choice of folly, I hope you and your friends and family will share the hours of camaraderie in joyful abandon.

May 14, 2012

Victorian Outdoor Pastimes

written by Rosa Morgan
If you are of a certain class and can afford a cook to prepare meals, a maid or two to tend domestic matters, and a gardener for the grounds, you may find yourself after the de rigueur dinner parties and pursuit of scholarly endeavors that are not too taxing, that you still have hours in the day to while away. It is then I kindly recommend the following physical exertions, which will stimulate the humors and offer alternative opportunities for socializing amongst other ladies and gentlemen of leisure.

Croquet is a brilliant choice; allowing men and women to exchange light repartee whilst limbering their lax limbs. Avoid cumbersome conversational topics such as women's right to vote, lest you find yourself in a sticky wicket.

Archery is at the height of fashion, exemplified by Queen Victoria, who is patron of The Society of Saint Leonard's Archers. In H. A. Ford's book, Archery, its Theory and Practice, he writes, "There is no exercise more healthy or rational or which returns more true and genuine gratification to the man who practices it." I may add this is equally true for women.

In the 1890's William Morgan invented a game called mintonette that combined elements of basketball, tennis and handball. This highly active pursuit, later to become known as volleyball, should be practiced with caution by the fairer sex as irrevocable damage may be done to the reproductive organs.

Whether you own an old boneshaker such as a Draisienne, or one of Reynolds' and Mays' rubber-tired Phantom, you will find countless hours of enjoyment whilst cycling. Goggles are highly recommended for eye protection, and the matter of skirt versus bloomer is still in heated debate.

Whatever your outdoor pursuit is, you will inevitably end the day in the parlor with ever more hours to fill. I will address this worrisome predicament in the next installment.

Gentle Readers, pray leave a comment as to what your favorite pastimes are.