We had a most unusual run-in to Our Biddenden fixture, with two members put under doctors’ orders to take a break from playing – at least David was able to travel to give us support. But the real shock was to lose players to Kent Blind Cricket Club! To be fair, it is not unreasonable to give a different experience a try, just unfortunate that it clashed with our match, but both Bella and Penny had given Hans some stick for deserting us.

I felt duty bound to warn our hosts that we might be short, but theur lovely response was to ring as many players as we could, we would work something out on the day as only disastrous weather would see the match cancelled. The sun did take a while to show but it was never cold and we were able to play three triples and one pair, with Biddenden’s Maggie loaned to play for us. And what a great contribution she made.

With the family contribution extending onto rink 3 where another old friend, husband Laurie, skipped a triple with Mike and Colin, who by the later stages were finding some very consistent lines and lengths. As, indeed, were Bella (then Chris, then Brian, though Brian less successfully), Barbara and Penny, who really played a lot better than a losing score of 8-21 would suggest. RBBG had taken a small early lead and were holding a couple of shots in the sixth when Laurie ran the jack to give four shots to Biddenden, a superb skip’s shot. Well as Penny played in the battle of the skips, and she was very consistently close to the jack, Laurie was, pretty often, just that little bit closer. The big margin does not matter (too much!) if you know you have played well and hugely enjoyed the company of your team mates and your opponents, and this was the picture on every rink.

Rink 2 saw Biddenden’s Maggie playing with RBBG’s Peter B and Geoff against her club colleagues Ashley, Kim and Captain Martin. Good to see Peter with us again and playing the whole match on his first outing outdoors this summer, match or roll up. RBBG held the lead here beyond the halfway stage until five shots for Biddenden in end eleven put them in the lead for the first time at 12-10, which they extended to 15-11 I the next three ends, the last time I recorded the score. My apologies if the course of the game changed thereafter – or maybe they were running behind the other rinks and called an early halt. But what does it matter – Peter was enjoying the afternoon so much there was no way he was going to stop, even if he knew he was getting tired, that’s the kind of afternoon it was.

The hardest workers were on rink 5 in the pairs, with Marian and Tom for RBBG and David and Jim for Biddenden each playing four woods in every end. David and Jim built an early lead and were always in control but RBBG came back to lose by just four shots at 11-15. A close match, and I hope it was not that extra work that caused Marian to tweak a calf muscle. I did not spot this occurring in the match, it may have stiffened overnight – whenever I looked at that match it was smiles all the way and lots of very good woods played.

So RBBG rink honours went to Pat, Tony and Mick on rink 4. For the most part it was single shot wins for one side or the other but RBBG took five shots in the sixth end to earn them a clear lead – then Jeanette, Ron and Paul took five shots of their own in end fourteen to pull back to 11-13. It was singles for RBBG in the closing ends to gain RBBG’s solitary rink win by15-11. We did not realise that Tony, a recent joiner, was playing with larger woods than suit him but he could not have received more encouragement from Jeanette and Ron. A set of 2s were waiting for him at our next day rollup – though he produced some decent woods anyway, so there should be no stopping him with the new woods in his hand. No pressure, Tony!

Martin referred to the excellence of the day’s tea, and our thanks to everyone involved from Biddenden, and a thank you to our own Bella, who again contributed sponges, sausage rolls and cheese and onion savouries. (I am delighted to say there extras that I could take home, Captain’s perks). The green was a delight, set away from traffic noise. The day was not allowed to be far short of perfect by friends both old and new.

A nice little touch was with the early arrival of Bella’s party, to find the tea room in the village now shuts on Sundays. As they pondered their next step, a voice said ‘It’s Bella; isn’t it?’ as she was recognised by one of the Biddenden members, who then guided them towards an alternative source of pre-match refreshment . Bella has made her mark over the last twenty-eight years or so of bowling.

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