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Spot of Croquet? Splendid!

“I say old chap, fancy a game or two, followed by some tea and cucumber sandwiches?”

Okay, hit me with the stereotypical mallet if you will, but whenever someone says the word ‘croquet’ to me, I always have an image of a group of stiffs, dressed in ridiculous trousers, talking in posh accents and all that.

However, jokes aside, I don’t believe in judging something until you’ve actually experienced it and, considering I’ll try just about anything once (within reason of course – which means marriage is definitely out), I’m generally game for a new experience.

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So, when the Avion Park Croquet Club invited me to join them for an afternoon, I thought to myself, “Why not old boy? Why not indeed?”

The croquet club, which is open to players of all ages, meets every Wednesday and Sunday, at the 1.30pm, at the tranquil Avion Park Bowling Club in Kempton Park.

After being introduced to some of the regulars, a rather jolly group (no stiffs in ridiculous trousers here I can assure you), I measured up for a mallet (the sticky thingy as one of my colleague refers to it as) and found one which was the ideal height, weight and comfortable to play with.

For my first round, I played a ‘tutorial’ game against Vivienne Ridyard, who, alongside Margaret Bennett, is the co-chairperson of the club.

On the croquet lawn there are several metal hoops lined up and the object is to shoot your ball through each hoop before your opponent/s. The first player to send their ball through, ‘pegs’ the hoop and then everyone moves onto the next one. The first player/team to use all their pegs, wins the game.

The aim of croquet might seem simple enough and pretty straightforward, however, like chess, there is a fair amount of strategy involved. You see, no matter how carefully you line up your next shot, you might find your equally calculating opponent pulling a sneaky move and knocking your ball to the other side of the lawn (I’m on to all of you…)

During the course of the afternoon several rounds are played, with the teams being drawn at random. Contrary to popular belief, this international sport is not an ‘oldies-only’ game and, after playing a round against Vivienne and Margaret (a rather formidable duo, if I do say so myself), the gauntlet has been thrown down and all I can say is, “Fancy a rematch, ladies?”

For some good – albeit competitive – comradery, great social interaction, fresh air and some gentle outdoor exercise, a game of croquet is simply just the ticket.

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