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Party games

We like games at our parties and over the years we have included more of them and local rules and preferences have evolved.

We also realise that we fall into two distinct camps in our choice of what and how to play. The Smiths like competitive games with clear winners, tight rules and strict record keeping. The Leadbeaters tend towards non-competitive activities without outcomes or winners though in most of our games we proclaim Rosemary to be the winner whether she has played or not.

You can decide for yourselves which category the following fit into.

Garden games


Our version of this game is now called 'Crochet' to distinguish it from another game with a similar name and in recognition of Sj's claim that her [American] spell checker contains no such word as 'croquet'.

The object of this game is to knock a coloured ball through a series of hoops, set out in defined order and direction of play around the garden.

knock a coloured ball through a series of hoops

Local Rules

Only the mallet head may be used to strike your own ball and nothing else.
No obstructions to play, of any sort, may be moved.
Any ball stolen by dog or child must be played from where it lands regardless of whether you hit it there yourself or not. Players smearing chocolate or meat on their ball in the hopes of reprieve, in this way, from the game will be banished to the barrel.
Balls lost in flower beds may be retrieved and dropped on the fairway at the cost of a turn.
Opponent's balls may be deliberately knocked out of place by the your own ball but a warning to you opponent must be given in the form used in Ingmar Bergman's 'Smiles of a summer night'.
This entails informing your opponent of your intention by standing to attention and uttering the phrase: "As you know it is my right to knock your ball away" in a Prussian accent before saluting and clicking your heels.

As the party is in the summer, here are the three 'Smiles of a Summer Night'.
The first smile smiles at the young, who know nothing.
The second, at the fools who know too little.
The third, for the sad, the depressed, the sleepless, the confused, the frightened and the lonely.
Here is a clip from the final scene from the film which sums up very well where we like to be.

No obstructions to play may be moved.

Any ball stolen by dog or child must be played from where it lands once recovered from the thief

Aunt Sally

This is a popular Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire pub game in which wooden sticks or batons are thrown at a 'doll' on a post with the intention of knocking it off.

We rarely play this, as intended, between competing teams, though sometimes people like to organise themselves in this way. Usually we take turns to throw the 6 battens at the doll and note how many times we manage to knock it off. If we want a winner, it is the person with the most strikes per 6 battens who wins or the winner of a best of three knock out in the case of a tie.

Take turns to throw the 6 battens at the doll

Louise demonstrates how it is done

Local rules allow shorter pitches for children and women.

There is a variation, called 'Strip Aunt Sally' in which any player failing to score any strikes in a set of six, called a blob, has to remove one article of clothing after each blob round.


Our thanks to Christianne and Mick who brought this game to last year's [2011] party. So far we play it by the rules but we now have our own, indoor, version so who knows?

So far we play it by the rules.

Pat ball


We are absolutely pathetic at this game which consists of simply patting a soft ball between each other with tennis rackets. We count how many times we can do it and regard 20 as 'good'.

Probably, we will not be able to play this game again as our faithful ball-dog is no longer with us as finding lost balls takes up more time than playing the game.

We have one local rule, whenever a player misses an easy, or an impossible, return, the phrase 'Kola would have got that one' is cried out with much glee.

Kola always gets it back

Other activities

We also like some gentle activities, to aid recovery, on sunday morning especially.

breakfast fry-up


more juggling


pat ball

House and campfire games

Round the firepit


Our summer parties usually end with the 'late night crew' sitting round the fire and entertaining themselves in a good old fashioned way, without a television. This always includes a round or two of 'Prince of Wales' We are pretty pathetic at this but it's always good noisy fun with lots of elbow pointing , accusation and outright confusion. The links are to two websites with the rules of this game which used to be a regular feature of fraternity parties in the 60s when I was at Cortland.

Drawing in the dark

This is usually an inside game.

Each person is issued with a slip of paper and asked to write on it what they would like another player to draw for them.
These slips are put into a hat and all players draw a slip from the hat.
All players are then issued with a long strip of paper, eg an A4 sheet cut in half lenghthways, the lights are turned off and each player tries to draw what was written on their slip at the top of the strip. After a short interval, the lights are turned back on and the masterpiece is passed onto the person to the left. This person looks at the drawing and writes AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STRIP, what they think has been drawn. They then fold over their interpretation and pass it on to the next person who does the same until the drawing gets back to its originator.

Each person then unfolds the strip and in turn, shows their drawing to the assembled company and reads aloud the interpretations written below it.

As some people seem quite adept at drawing in the dark, the game usually works best when slightly more challenging drawing subjects are suggested. For example something like: 'Dawn breaking over reactor number 2 at Chernobyl' will probably be a bigger challenge than 'Snowman'.

Eevoh, eevoh what noise does a _______ make?

This game evolved one evening on Cribbit when Sj's Dutch boyfriend Ivo [eevoh] was staying with us. We had not realised the extent to which the noises that animals and other things make is culturally, generationally and regionally determined.

The game is simplicity itself, one person directs to another for example, the phrase 'Eevoh, eevoh what noise does a cow make?', Ivo answers with the correct answer 'boo'. We all go home and the game ends.
I have just come across
these pages which my very well put and end to this little game!.

Mornington Crescent

We usually play the Lyttelton variation of this game but we are always ready to play variations suggested by our visitors. We normally use the London Underground as well though we have tried the New York subway version, Lexington Avenue, but we find we get easily confused with the prolixity of numbers with this variation so tend to stay with Mornington Crescent.

The game is simple enough to play and people quickly get the hang of it after observing a few rounds. The full set of rules with all known variations was published in 2043 on the 'World compendium of Games' website for those who would like a complete and accurate description of the game.

Racing Demons

This multi-pack card game is well understood by the Smiths but largely incomprehensible to the rest of us. The only local variation is that the party is split into two, those who play the game and those who don't. The latter group repairs to the pub. The first time this variation was played the pub group felt a little guilty for leaving the other group so returned early. They found the players in vehement argument about the scoring of the game but when it was explained that the game in question had taken place in 1983, the pub group decided that there was no chance of them ever being able to understand the game so now they go to the pub without guilt and stay until closing time.

Racing Demons

rd4021 rd4022

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