It was another morning of beautiful sunshine in Bournemouth. Banwell bowlers drifted a few at a time into the dining room. Some were looking a little..... 'tired', as we helped ourselves to breakfast. Bugs-on-a-stick littered the tables. Paul entered, only to hear shouts of 'where's your friend?' He retreated into the corridor and returned a few minutes later with the donkey under his arm.
We had the morning to ourselves. The swimming pool was a pleasant place to go, with its sauna and hot tub. Some walked down to the beach, whilst others hit the shops, or indulged in a little people-watching in the Square.
The wooden tables and chairs at the front of the hotel hosted those who preferred to sit, chat and sip coffee in the shade.
The last match
Our final match of the tour was at Pelhams Bowling Club, about a 15 minute drive north from the hotel. After our lateness issues the day before, everyone was ready well in advance. As usual, the club welcomed us in, and the bar was open. The match started and all was going well
Then, in a scenario not often seen on a green, a hoo-ha happened on rink 4. The Pelhams skip and the Banwell second,each of whom was filling in a scorecard, had a long distance disagreement over the scores. The Pelhams second had left the green to get a drink, and the the other players had no idea what had been discussed, score-wise, on the previous end. As usual, it was very hard to hear each other down the length of the rink, so after a few minutes of misunderstood shouting, Pelhams skip and Banwell second met in the middle. There then followed a line-by-line check of the scorecards, before it was realised that the score was correct, but it was the number of ends that was 12, rather than 11. Phew!
After that, the Pelham second, who eventually returned red-faced with his drink, became a demon with the measure until the very last end. Needless to say, we lost on rink 4.....
After the match, everyone returned to the clubhouse in high spirits. Wendy was proclaimed a hero by skip Barry for single-handedly winning on behalf of her team - the only winning rink. Also, there was a rink that had a losing score worse than rink 4, but more of that later.
We returned to the hotel, both relieved and disappointed that the tour was nearly over. For the final time, we gathered in the dining room. Annabel, our host at the hotel, was in good spirits, as usual. This is the time to say the service was excellent, and all the staff were very friendly and attentive. Annabel had taken part in the banter the night before, and commanded dinner service in sparkling form.
She had spotted the donkey, and joined in the fun as he was presented to the losing rink, who was duty-bound to look after him until the next tour. But who was the skip of the losing rink?
There was no passing donkey onto the second this time. He's yours til we tour again.
Here he is, attempting to hide behind his long-term pal... (Dom, not the donkey!)
Back to Annabel, who couldn't resist joining in the fun. She disappeared into the kitchen and returned shortly after, wearing rubber gloves and carrying a dustpan and brush. Then followed much hilarity concerning the location of his back end - the donkey, not Dom!
The usual fines were handed out. Here's John signing a certificate proclaiming Gerry guilty of having bowled a wrong bias.
Then Paul led the auction of a bottle of Famous Grouse, which started a small bidding war, eventually won by Barry. Proceeds - along with the fines - went to the Captain's charity, the MND Association.
For the final time, we retired to the bar.
No club doubles.....
As I mentioned in part 2 of our touring tales, there was much regret that club doubles were not on the bar menu. As I'm sure we all know, hotel drinks are often expensive.
Now, Jon Amos was equipped to take action from the start. In spite of Ann's disapproval, each evening he had upon his person a secret stash of whisky (Whyte & Mackay) carried in a delightful green shopping bag.
It was passed surreptitiously under the tables,with one eye on the door in case Annabel or one of her colleagues walked in.
By the 3rd evening, it had gone. How it lasted that long, I do not know! Jon was a bit miffed and looked with disdain at the empty bottle.
Fortunately, Barry came up trumps with his auction purchase, complete with its own jazzy carrier bag.
As you can see from the picture, Jon was VERY pleased (and the scotch was already half empty).
Barry had been missing for a while. Eventually, he came back into the room. As he was standing already, he faced the crowd to give a final night speech in his usual, inimitable way.
He explained the reason for his absence from the group, which had been rather longer than intended. He left the bar and went into the toilet, only to find that he was in the lift by mistake......
During all the raucous laughter that followed, no-one noticed a figure slide into view, looking for donkey s*@*t - or maybe in disguise, looking for illicit whisky?
Here are a few pics that show why we need to tour again soon.