School’s out for Summer: playing out

THE school summer holidays are here! It’s a joyful time for loads of kids – ditching the school uniform and classroom for six whole weeks. For parents, it can be a bit mixed: quality family time or six weeks of torture and frustration! Keeping the kids occupied can be a bit of a challenge.

80s style summer holidays

The huge chunk of the summer holidays were spent playing outside – it was common for a friend to knock on the front door and ask if you were playing out. Below are a few playing out activities that kept the kids occupied for hours and provided breathing space for parents.


Get your bike out, call for your mates and cycle the pavements in a pack for hours. Who could do the best trick on their bike? Who could do the longest wheelie?  Whether you had a BMX, Chopper, Grifter or Boxer, the days would be fun and time would whizz by.

Danger level: Low to medium – danger to crashing into a pedestrian or a stunt going horribly wrong.

Roller Skates


Get your skates on and skate up and down the pavement. Can you build a miniature obstacle course (pieces of stick and a few stones) then twist and swivel your way around them?

Danger level: Low to medium – expect a few scuffed knees and elbows and ensure the medical cabinet at home is stocked with elastoplasts.

Knock Down Ginger

How to play:

  1. Approach someones front door (Ideally someone you don’t know)
  2. Ring the bell or knock on the door
  3. Run like mad to a safe place – ideally to a place where you can see the occupant but they can’t see you.
  4. Watch as the occupant opens the door, looks around whilst looking bewildered, then heads back indoors.
  5. If you’re brave enough, repeat the process.

Danger level: Medium to high – expect to be dragged home to your parents if caught by a swift occupant!


Types of marbles

Find a decent sized manhole cover and challenge you mates to a game of marbles. Make sure the rules are clear from the onset and get rolling! After a few hours, are you able to walk away with pockets bulging after a successful session?

Danger level: pretty low but could send a passer-by flying if they accidentally stood on a stray marble.

In a nutshell …

Laughs and fun, cuts and bruises, telling offs and punishment: all part of playing out during the summer holidays back in the day.

Enjoyed the post? A nostalgic collection of stories featuring a fun and factual look back at British advertising, leisure and entertainment from the 70s and 80s are featured in the new hardback book, Section N Underpass. Get the rundown by clicking the front cover below:

Thinking of a family holiday during the summer holidays? How about Butlins or Hoseasons?

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