On Friday 1st May an intrepid team of Victoria Hotel staff took on a team of visually handicapped guests for a pool match in Arena Games. This was the year the Victoria were motivated to win, having been defeated in the 2008 match. Martin Cornish, Victoria Hotel Bars Manger reports as follows:
“The Victoria team members were given special glasses to wear to match the sight of their opposing visually impaired player. The game got off to a good start with Rheda, from the Victoria Restaurant winning the first game. But our winning streak didn’t last long as, much to the delight of the visually handicapped team, I lost my game. This took an agonising 30 minutes as I am definitely not a pool wizard!
“However – it wasn’t long before we pulled back thanks to Chris Brimicombe from the bars winning his game and putting the Victoria ahead by 2-1. However, our hopes were dashed once again when Barrington, our Restaurant Manager took a trashing making it 2-2.
L to R Martin, Barrington & Rheda, our VIP opponents, and far right Chris
“All hopes now lay on our last 2 players to take us to victory. We started off well with Steve Armstrong winning his game, which then left it to Matt Billage to finish things off. No pressure Matt – came the cry – but after a shaky start he eventually came through with the winning shots which gave the Victoria team the match. We were delighted to receive the trophy which we will now hold until next year when the VIP team will no doubt come back fighting – but we’ll be ready for them”
Team member Chris Brimicombe takes up the tale: “When I was asked to take part in the competition, our team of 6 headed up by Martin headed off to Arena Games with great expectation. We had to play one game each, with a real responsibility of becoming the 2009 champions. To make the games fair we had to wear glasses which limited our vision to match the people we were playing. SOME staff did not have to wear glasses and still managed to lose their game – mentioning no names Barrington!
The games were close but the night ended in victory for the Victoria Hotel. As Martin said on the night – It was great fun and a good way for staff to get more incolved with the guests, and the outstanding player on the night was Chris Brimicombe, whose play was exceptional. I just hope I can play as well as that next year!”
Are you sure you said that Martin?? Well done guys and good luck next year.
A packed suitcase under one arm and my bowls bag under the other, I set off for Exeter Airport to catch the Flybe flight to Belfast City where I am to play with my other team members, Ruth Rogers, Barbara Bellamy and Sian Gordon in the British Isles Championships. We are playing in the 4’s and will be facing teams from Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Channel Islands.
It’s been a long time since I have been anywhere on a plane and things are not as they were when I last flew. Electronic ‘check in’ for a start, and it’s a good job there was someone there who understood where I was going or I could have ended up in Dubai.
Body search, shoes off and handbag X rayed, followed by a very strange look from the man as my hand luggage goes through the X-ray machine. They are bowls, I explain, and he gives me a strange look, but as there is no long fizzing fuse on them he lets them pass. Everything is fine and I eventually board the plane. Window seat? Not sure if that is a good idea but hey ho, and suddenly we are rushing along the runway. I had forgotten how wonderful it feels to be travelling at such speed and then that glorious feeling of a power charged lift off. The sky is clear and as Devon slips away beneath me I am mesmerised by the spectacular views. It looks just like a patchwork quilt. Within 10 minutes we are over the Bristol Channel and I look west and can clearly see Lundy Island. Wales and her moorlands pass 23,000 feet below as we race along at 350 mph. I’m like a gleeful kid.
Then it’s a gradual decent into George Best Belfast City Airport, the home of the Irish Assembly at Stormont and where Edward Harland and Gustav Wolfe built the White Star Liner, Titanic. It’s also the birthplace of Van Morrison (I’ve always been a fan).
I catch a taxi to the Stormont Hotel, which is opposite the Assembly building, and I settle in, having met some of the other English Competitors and the team manager Edna Bessell. (On our free day we went on an open top bus and saw all this first hand – Falls Road area and all the murals etc)
The Opening Ceremony – Monday. Having arrived at the Stadium the English team line up behind the Channel Islands for the march on, and when Land of Hope and Glory begins to play, we start to parade onto the arena. I have always been patriotic, and I am full. It’s a moment never to be forgotten. I march with my team mates in my England uniform and I feel like great.
Then the games begin. We watch as the Irish 4’s play against Scotland who win, and we know we will play them next, tomorrow. As this is the first joint (men’s and womem’s) Indoor International Championships we are able to watch our men compete as well. It promises to be a fantastic 4 days.
Then it’s our turn to play, and we know that if we beat Scotland we will play against the Welsh team with Betty Morgan MBE as their skip, who have just beaten the Channel Islands.
We beat Scotland with a narrow margin and we go on to beat Wales as well and as I stand with my arms around the rest of the team I can hardly believe it – we’ve done it, we are the British Isles Champions. WOW. No one can describe to you how you would feel – I can’t really tell you either, but my Mum, who is the first person I call, is almost in tears, she is so proud. We laugh together and then its up to the bar for a celebration. Guinness, you can’t come to Ireland without having the famous brew.
The other English team members, men and women, play out their disciplines along with us and we are their to support and cheer, and before we really know it we are taking part in the closing ceremony with the presentations: We again line up for this, in the same order, and to Land of Hope and Glory we file onto the arena once more. England have played exceptionally well in all the disciplines, 4’s, triples, pairs and under 25 singles all won their events. Our names are read out and we go forward to the President of the BIIBA and receive our medals and the trophy. Photo’s are taken and hands are shaken. I almost have to keep pinching myself to make sure this is not a dream.
We, all the team, have our last dinner at the Hotel and then on Friday we must all fly home. I have met some wonderful new friends and I hope that we can keep in touch.
Ruth, who has been sharing a room with me, and I have till 2pm when our flight leaves Belfast so we decide to cram as much into this time as possible. We go into the City to look around and discover Belfast Market. It is wonderful, street cafes with skillets of Irish stew and Paella are being cooked in full view, it would never happen here. The Irish are a colourful and garrulous people, kind and welcoming, I’ll be going back soon, I know. Ruth and I buy some beads for our bowls shoelaces (its all the rage out there) and wonder how it will be greeted in Devon. I expect the worse.
And so, its back to England. The flight is just as exhilarating as the trip out and I made sure I had a window seat. The Irish Sea which can be notorislously rough looks like a millpond, so the girls returning home on the ferry will be fine.
Devon comes up to meet me as we descend into Exeter airport and having landed we say goodbye to Edna, who was on the same flight as us. Ruth has her husband David with her, and we hug each other and make our farewells. I want to get home now.
Home: my friends at the club and in the office where I work, are all so pleased – I have loads of congrats cards and a bottle of champagne and some chocolates. I didn’t know I had so many friends.
You are all terrific people.
What more can I say, I’m home, plenty more bowling to come this indoor season and the outdoor season to look forward too: That’s another story.
Until next time……….
Dru Close signing off,
Feet not quite firmly on the ground,
But still grinning!
I was quite delighted to be asked to play in the National 4’s with club mates, Barbara Bellamy, Ruth Rogers and Sian Gordon, and we went out to dinner to celebrate as a team.
I was even more delighted to qualify with this team to play in the National Finals at Lawson Park, Bedford. I subbed in one of the qualifying games for Ruth, who was on holiday in Tasmania, and then again for Natalie Melmore who was on International duty in Australia, practicing for the Commonwealth Games.
We arrived at Lawson Park IBC on Friday 27th to play the first round against Fairford IBC. The umpire calls for the woods to be put out on the rinks so that they can be checked. We leave our bowls on the end of rink 8 and regroup for a team chat before start of play.
Shock and horror, Ruthies bowls have failed the Umpires inspection, ‘Why?’ we ask. They are out of date. They bear a 2007 date stamp. We are about 5 minutes from playing and need to find bowls that have a current stamp. I usually travel with all my bowls in my bowls bag, but on this one occasion had left the other 2 back in my hotel room. Barbs only had her two bowls with her Fortunately Sian has a spare set of bowls in her car which were in date, so, we hurriedly change the stickers over and
re-present them to the umpire – they pass. Of course this caused a chuckle in the team as Ruthie is an Umpire herself. Anyway, it must have got our adrenalin running because we won the first round against Fairford Ladies (Gloucestershire)
It’s always nice to get the first game under your belt, but we knew that the opposition would get stronger and stronger as we progressed through the competition. We went on to beat City of Ely (Cambridgeshire), then North Wilts (that was a bit of revenge for hammering us in the Yetton last 16, 3 weeks before).
Then it comes to the final against South Forrest (Nottinghamshire), and we are against another set of International players. But at the same time we are playing the Under 25’s finals are taking place just a rink away and Torquay United juniors are taking on the might of Wellingborough. The noise from the youngsters is great to hear. You can’t complain, it’s the enthusiasm of youth. Both sides are having a great game.
But in the 4’s it’s a slow start for us. We lose 1 shot on each of the first 5 ends, but we claw it back over the next 12 ends and by the last end we are 3 up on the game. We are all playing well, all living up to Dru’s name.
So it’s the last end, and if anyone had cared to take my blood pressure it would have blown mercury up to the roof.
Barbie who is leading puts one of her woods on the jack, Ruthie drops about 18 inches behind the head, these are good covering bowls. The opposition draw 2 shots, we are 2 shots down, and my first bowl drops a bit short, no matter, got another one. I manage to draw 2nd wood with my last bowl of the match. Now it’s the Skips turn. They need to draw 2 more shots to force us into playing and extra end. I’m not sure what happened with Sians 1st bowl but it was a very close head and with none of the counting bowls outside 18 inches, you can tell it was pretty tense. Pat Oliver, the opposition skip (International skip), plays her last bowl. She needs to draw one more bowl to force the extra end and they have 2 shots already in the head. The bowl is played and starts its journey up the green and it looks awesome. (You don’t get to be an International bowler for nothing) Its just a fraction, and I mean a fraction, over weight and unluckily for them she just moves the jack which sits right between our 2 back bowls. We win, and of course we are delighted, but they are very disappointed as we shake hands and they congratulate us. It’s a hard way to lose a game. However, I must mention that Jeanie Baker, herself an International bowler, was a pleasure to be on the green with. I don’t think you ever stop learning about bowling and bowlers.
In amongst all of this furore we are aware the Torquay United has won the Under 25 double rink Championship – well done guys, you were all superb. The players were Craig Down, Sophie and Sam Tolchard, Sam just back from Africa where he was on international duty, Joe Melmore, Gareth Riddel, Amanda Higginbotham, Hannah Tucker and making her debut was our 14 year old Cassidy Lenton. We are all so very proud of you.
And so to the presentations, we line up with our youngsters on the winners side of the arena and get to touch the trophy and have our photo’s taken. Then we are told that we will be playing in Ireland, in 2 weeks, representing our Country. I am stunned, it is so wonderful. I am so pleased for the team, words fail me, but a few tears say it all for us. Torquay supporters who travelled up in a coach to watch us are ecstatic. Mothers, Fathers and Grans look on with pride (my Mum amongst them) and the cheering…….. what a day.
Buts that’s not all folks, we are back at Lawson Park for the Lingford Trophy (under 60’s comp), Semi Final and Final. I wonder if we can make it a hat trick.
And so, in another episode, Dru will tell you how we all got on in the Lingford and what she did in Belfast
(Still walking on sunshine with a stupid grin nailed to the face)
OK – let’s face it, we are probably all guilty of putting on a few extra pounds over the last month or so. It’s no good – you can’t put off that New Year’s resolution any more. And if, like most of us you need some help to get you started, then this is the perfect time to join the Aztec Club at TLH Leisure Resort, with it’s fantastic 40 workstation gym and excellent indoor pool complex. There’s a 25 metre pool for some serious exercise, a fun pool alongside for those of you who just want to splash around, as well as a pool-side sauna, Jacuzzi and steam room.
Memberships start at just £22 per month (by direct debit) and if you join by the end of January you can also take up the option of 3 months target setting for only £99. Chris and Adam, who are fully qualified, will discuss your aims – whether it’s to lose weight, get back into shape or whatever is on your particular wish-list. Then they’ll work out a detailed programme with you, including nutrition and life style advice, a personal training programme in the gym, and they’ll monitor you throughout the period, helping you to stay motivated and reach your goal.
As well as this, you get other member benfits, such as discounted dining in the Aztec Bistro, discounts on Aztec Spa beauty treatments, plus invitations to exclusive members events.
So what are you waiting for – give them a call on 01803 400190, email them on firstname.lastname@example.org or pop into the Aztec Club at TLH Leisure Resort to take a look at the facilities for yourself.
Once again we have welcomed more than 350 incredibly keen Short Mat bowlers to the TLH Bowling Arena for the Autumn Short Mat Festival.This was a real celebratory event as this is the 10th year of the festival and bowlers come from far and wide gathered to take part in Singles, Pairs Triples and Fours trophy and plate competitions – a real extravanganza!After a welcome drink and a hearty dinner the ‘spoons’ competition and roll-ups started, ready for the main event in the morning – with several stalwarts even spending the weekend at TLH ‘practicing’ in the Weekend comp to give them an advantage (?!) in the Mid –week competitions.
We were particularly pleased to see Terry Batt and his crew finally arrive on Friday night as their car had blown up near Telegraph Hill on their way down from South Wales! The TLH minibus was duly despatched to collect them to make sure they wouldn’t lose valuable playing time, and then on Monday we dropped them off again ready for the AA to take them home – but only after they had collected medals and a their cash prize as Runners Up in the Pairs competition! Terry usually brings a much larger group with him but this year 10 of the regulars are playing in the Short Mat International Series in Northern Ireland in November so they couldn’t spare the time to come down to the English Riviera! We wish them luck and hope to see them in March.
So having generally agreed that a ‘Good time was had by all’ and judging by the number of re-bookings for next March as well as October, we can look forward to another great year in the world of Short Mat Bowls at TLH.See you soon!