Club Outdoor Tour 2017 Summary

A group of 43 people (30 players, 12 supporters and Steve the driver) set off from the club at 9.00am on Sunday 3 September in slightly overcast but dry weather. However, the further west we went the threat of rain became obvious and by the time we reached Winchester it was very wet. The planned walks around the historic city came to nothing although some people did visit the cathedral. Pubs, cafes, Marks & Spencer all did some business and we moved on to Bournemouth and our hotel, the Marsham Court, at about 5.00pm. Registration went smoothly and we were all down on time for our drinks reception and evening meal. Afterwards Pat Barton, with Carole Taylor’s determined assistance, held her first fines session and it was apparent that a few days of ruthless persecution lay ahead.

We had a free morning on Monday and took the opportunity of exploring Bournemouth, be it the pier, the beach, the town centre etc. Then to Redhill Park for our first match and what turned out to be our only win of the tour, largely thanks to a massive 38-9 win by Sylvia Parsons’ rink. Some good contests rook place on the other rinks. All the usual rituals of a tour were observed. Connaught pens were presented to opposite numbers on the green and afterwards John Winup spoke for Connaught and presented a club pennant and a club clock to our opponents. Sylvia and her rink won inscribed Connaught bowls muffs for best rink and to everybody’s great delight John Winup and his rink had to don Sad Loser T-Shirts for worst rink. We were well-entertained by Redhill on what for them had to be a sad occasion as the club of over 40 members was folding on account of the council closing the green. More agony with the fines!

Tuesday morning we went to Poole Harbour and had a fascinating boat trip round the harbour and surrounding islands. Brownsea Island and its association with the Scout movement was of particular interest. A quick visit to the Poole Pottery shop and back to Bournemouth and Knyveton Gardens for our second match. A lovely setting and the closest match of the week. Sylvia Parsons turned a somersault (not literally) as she became worst rink and earned the T-Shirts. Owen Secker was best rink. Again very pleasant and hospitable hosts. Torture with the fines in the evening

Wednesday morning we went to the delightful resort of Christchurch, with its estuary and priory. Then back to the hotel to change for the third match, at Bournemouth Electric. The bowls club no longer has anything to do with an electricity company and may be changing its name. Good facilities and what turned out to be a nicely-paced green to bowl on. A close final score in a match marked by a huge defeat for Mike Parsons’ worst rink almost offset by a big win for John Overton’s best rink. Again we were well-entertained in lovely surroundings. More fines – those two women seemed to observe everything about everybody and also overheard everything! Of course they were helped by people telling tales on each other!

Thursday morning saw packing and loading of cases and we left for Sunningdale at about 9.30am. The area of Royal Ascot and Wentworth Golf Club. Mind-boggling to see some of the large houses and to put a value on them! We arrived promptly at 11.30, immediately made for the bar and then sat down for lunch. Amazing. Expecting a finger buffet, we had plates of ham and beef, salads, new potatoes, freshly-baked rolls. To crown it all there were huge bowls of home-made apple pie with custard. It was a wonder that any Connaught player made it to the green. The green was soft after much rain and as a precaution nets were put down. No effect on what was a smashing match and the surface bowled very well. We lost 4 rinks and drew on 2 but the standard of bowling was pretty high on both sides for a touring game. Mike Parsons worst rink (2nd time!) and David Flatt was winning rink. Sunningdale have a lovely club, similar in size to our own and with the same volunteer ethos about it. Superb hosts and very friendly people

We left Sunningdale at 5.30 and encountered various traffic problems on the way back. A compulsory stop (driver hours) at a service station and then arrival at the club at 10.00pm. everyone tired but still in good humour.

General impression from experienced tour campaigners was that this was probably our best to date. Essentially a very happy tour with everybody pulling together and joining in-no factions. We all had a bit of space despite a busy schedule. New tourists still commented on that schedule – strict timetables and constant changing in and out of bowls gear.

Successful tours need preparation and organisation and huge thanks are due to Sylvia and Mike for everything they did. Carole Taylor, tour treasurer, and Pat Barton, fines officer, worked very hard and John Winup did his bit with the upfront stuff at every club. A bevy of supporters ensured that his various bags of presentational material etc were well looked after. Carol and Brian Matthews cared for mascot Bernard who faithfully tracked the losing rink. And everyone chipped in to help with these and other things.

Steve, our driver from Avanti, was absolutely superb. Affable, conscientious and very efficient, he helped to make the tour. He joined in and even paid his share of fines! Thank you again, Steve.

A word about fines. A bit of fun in the evenings which raised £193 for charity (the tour party voted for Star Throwers, the Wymondham-based cancer charity). Offences were mainly breaches of etiquette, bowling and social. Non-white socks, coloured underwear, illegal stickers, lateness etc etc. Sexual innuendo, abusive language and disrespect were among the more serious offences. Some very respectable citizens could not believe they had so misbehaved but still paid up in fear of Pat Barton!



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