We had delayed our start outdoors this year a little and we had a Monday a few weeks back when our weekly rollup was washed away in that amber weather warning, so this year, more than ever, our visit to Marden felt like the kick start to our season. Last year the rain that had threatened as we began the match fell in a deluge and we abandoned the game after an early tea. This year the sun shone, the green was perfect and so was the company.

I spent almost all my time (writes Captain Brian) on rink 5 but looking across the green there was a friendly buzz on every rink, and smiles which at times became laughter, and I doubt any more so than on rink, the only match I can report on in any detail. RBBG had a late withdrawal – Penny’s cold sounded dreadful and she had developed an eye infection as well – and you know how reluctant I am to play. When Marden’s Kim turned up as a reserve we heaved a sigh of relief that Marden had a full complement so that Kim could join David and Bella/Pat as an honorary RBBG member on rink 5.

Bella played six ends, played well but sensibly decided to hand over to Pat. Bella will point out that we led 7-4 at that stage but Pat played pretty well herself, and she, David and Kim put plenty of woods close to the jack. It was just that Alan, John and Del for Marden got one, maybe two woods closer most ends, and mostly unaided! I say that as Kim had one sequence of five consecutive woods where she promoted John, twice into scoring shots in one end, and another scoring shot in the next, to huge laughter from both sides. John, in his first match for his club, was actually managing to put in enough decent woods off his own bat, and he totally embraced the good natured atmosphere created by Del, Kim and Alan. Though perhaps he should be warned that it will not always be quite as relaxed as this – very little measuring, Marden players (vocally) cheering on RBBG shots (of which there were plenty)! Marden won the rink 18-9 but a) the ends were very competitive, RBBG were often holding shot so we can be satisfied with performance and b) it was all such fun, what else mattered anyway!

My comments on the other rinks are necessarily short (you will be pleased to hear). Geoff, Mark and Hans on rink 3 also lost by nine shots, 17-8, but in this case the damage was all done on ends five to seven, nine unanswered shots for Marden’s Captain Ken, skip Ken and David. For the rest of the match it was even stevens. And when I say ’damage’, that is just a turn of phrase, again, another hugely enjoyable game against old friends, Captain and Ken and many of the Marden players having played frequently in this fixture over the years since, I think, 2008.

On rink 4 Bruce, Barbara and Mick were just 6-5 ahead at tea but a big tenth end of five shots put them in command against Paddy, Colin and Hugh. At 14-6 with three ends to play the match looked sewn up but seven shots for Marden in the next two ends brought them just one short playing the final end. And there was just one shot in that final end – to RBBG for 15-13.

So RBBG rink honours go to Marian, Tony and Tom on rink 2. Level at 4-4 after five ends, there was a steady accumulation of shots, mostly singles, for RBBG to enable them to take the match 18-8 against Steve, Peter and Tony. What a debut for RBBG’s Tony, though, as for Marden’s John, it will not always be like this!

We enjoyed a great tea, our thanks to Carol and the team, and supplemented by our own Bella’s sponges, sausage rolls and cheese and onions. (I am happy to report that there were a few left over, which, by tradition, are Captain’s perks – Sandra, too, loves Bella’s baking). Captain Ken and the Marden club very generously donated to RBBG the proceeds of the raffle and whisky draw – then auctioned the whisky for a further sum to swell the donation to £103. And it was swelled again as I shook the hand of a Marden member as I left, and he passed me a further £10 for our club. A wonderful fun day, with a healthy boost to club funds into the bargain. It doesn’t get better than this.

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