News from Herbert Park Croquet Club

News from Herbert Park Croquet Club

This year there have been some significant developments in Herbert Park. The pavilion, adjacent to our lawns, which previously housed the bowling club and pretty basic changing rooms and toilets has been rebuilt. It continues to include the bowling club but the other half of the building is now a cafe plus three decent, if narrow, toilets. A patio outside will have additional tables for the cafe which at present (mid-July 2015) remains unopened. ..cont..

A new path now links the cafe to the children's playground at the other end of our lawns. The path runs along one side of the two lawns and is separated from them by a new waist high fence. In order that our lawns remained full size a beach hedge was removed to make way for the path. The final change was the replacement of the high fence at the pavilion end of our lawns with another waist high fence.

We always supported the idea of a cafe but opposed the introduction of the path and the lowering of some fences. However, many of us are now reconciled to these changes. Our lawns are still full size and several of our visitors from Canterbury and Belgium commented favourably on the more open aspect resulting from the lowering of the fences and this together with the proximity of the cafe will we hope lead to new members. Of course security is less than it was and so we now lift the hoops after each session but Paddy's hoop lifter has made this an easy task. So far there has neither been any damage to the lawns nor any thefts. In short, we certainly have not suffered from these developments and we may well benefit from them through increased membership.

It is also worth reporting that for the past couple of years or so we have taken over the care and cutting of the lawns. Both this and last year we hired a contractor to hollow tine and top dress the lawns - both expensive jobs for which we received a grant from the CAI in 2014 and we hope in this year too. As far as we know tining, hollow or otherwise, has never been done before and top dressing was only done once many years ago. These jobs together with the application of fertiliser, weedkiller etc have improved the quality of the lawns and as important ,if not more so ,is the fact that the grass is now cut sufficiently short for it to be a pleasure to play association croquet, as well as golf croquet, on the lawns.

Two events took place recently in which both forms of croquet were played. During the weekend of 27/28 June we were visited by our friends from Canterbury for the 17th of our annual matches. It was a very enjoyable occasion not least because we won this year.

The following weekend we hosted an "Ireland versus Belgium" event in which various members of HPCC played against seven members of a club based in Brussels. They had two experienced AC players, John Swabey and Caroline Denney, each with handicap 4, and one game beginner, Chris White. Against them Evan, Trevor, Paddy, Daniel, Conor and Karen all played at some stage in either or both singles and doubles matches winning six and losing two. The other four members of the Belgian team Anne, Michel, Brigitte and Catherine played golf croquet against Elizabeth, Irene, Collette and Joan amongst others. On the Saturday morning five golf croquet doubles games were played of which three were won by the home pairs. Thereafter pairs were made up of a player from each club, a choice that typified the good spirit in which all the games were played. It was a most enjoyable occasion.

Robert Barklie