We have enjoyed weekly rollups at the Prince Arthur Indoor Bowls Club for many, many years. Three or four of our group (including, of course, Bella) may remember the old facility near Chatham Town Hall but for the rest of us, we have spent our winters at Prince Arthur (PA). But never before had we thought to play a match against our hosts; 1 February 2017 was the first, and at the post match meal PA’s Captain, Dave, suggested we make it a regular fixture, an offer enthusiastically accepted.

There were two late withdrawals through sickness so we reorganised into four triples and two pairs. It was immediately apparent that PA had assembled some very good bowlers. On rink 4 John, Barbara and Maurice bowled pretty well for RBBG. I made notes that in the third end on a long jack they had three woods within fifteen inches of the jack, in the fourth two within a foot, in the fifth a wood at six inches – but RBBG lost by two, one and one shots respectively in all three ends. Lesley, Dean and Dave were great people to meet, just as well as they kept slipping inside our very good woods! RBBG lost 8-21 but many very good heads were played with lots of laughter – what more could you wish for (except actually taking the shot wood, of course!)

The pattern, and the enjoyment, was repeated in the other triples, Pat, Terry and David going down on rink 7 to Sue, Dave and Dot 12-24 and Trudy, Bruce and Penny on rink 5 to Val, Tim and Dave by 9-19 – margins all fairly similar. The closest triple for RBBG was on rink 6 with Pat C/Chris, Pat S and Mick. RBBG led 10-8 after eight ends but eight shots for Brian, Lyn and Joe in the next three ends took them to an overall win at 16-12.

Our first foray into pairs had mixed results. Geoff and Hans held their own for six ends or so but Malcolm and Eric moved into another gear through ends seven to twelve as they lost just one end, by a single shot, but took the others by an aggregate twenty-four shots. The match ended 32-10 in their favour, but by the end the experienced PA pair were passing on good advice, and Malcolm collected some coloured card to try something for us. Sighted bowlers , after a couple of woods, can see the line to follow whereas for our partially sighted bowlers the woods pass into the void. The idea was to put down some card where our sight lines ended, adjust them as appropriate and find out whether that helped our bowlers to settle into a rhythm, finding the right green. It was a nice idea, appreciated by Hans and Geoff and Malcolm will find some time to come to a session and offer a bit of coaching. We lost a match but will get a lot of benefit from our new friends.

There was a different result on rink 2. Although Fran and John are very good bowlers, the husband and wife team of John and Marian were in imperious form, winning 27-3, no question that they took RBBG rink honours. We have seen John on a number of occasions when we have played Sturdee, we know how good he is but this was not his day. Tom, of course, is sighted and has become a very good bowler since following Marian into bowling but Marian showed why she had won the Gravesham Cup ( a competition for partially sighted bowlers that attracts entrants from a wide area) and is always a contender in our competitions. Two different results, but both matches enjoyed by all concerned.

We sat down to a great meal provided by Garnishes, the PA caterers, RBBG took their share (probably more) of the raffle prizes and it was a very good day that we shall look forward to repeating next year.