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.

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