Pretty place, Pendle croquet Club! The only Croquet Club to my knowledge built on a peninsula, as Pendle Water meanders around three sides of it in a series of splashes and gurgles over the rocky shallows. The fence is there primarily to keep the cow out - she used to wade the stream to try to graze on the croquet lawn. Goodness only knows why; there's a lot more grass in the cow-pasture on her side of the river! No longer a visitor, she's maybe now an important component of the Bovril sandwiches being served up to the players for tea. The club has got it's own cloud generator (Pendle Hill) which makes it ideal for amateur meteorologists and daydreamers alike to spend hours gazing upward, contemplating the cloud sculptures against a skyline of rugged moorland. It also provides the club with it's own automatic watering system. Balsam, ready to pop at the lightest touch, brambles with reddening fruit, and briar punctuated with scarlet hips surround the lawns in profusion. Oak, chestnut, hawthorn and alder trees line the banks of the stream.
As I arrived on the first morning (during one of Pendle Hill's longer watering sessions) I was greeted as ever by the warming handshake and smile of John Beech, the founding father and mainstay of the club, John and his enthusiastic band of helpers have now brought the back lawns into fine condition, considering that just over three years ago they were a football pitch. The original front lawns by the entrance to Nelson and Colne College are excellent too. Interesting slopes thought
There were 23 entrants to the Summer Handicap, held over the August Bank Holiday.
Most people were from the northern circuit of clubs, from Crake Valley in the Northwest (Bob Vaughan) to York in the East (represented by David Jenkinson). Two players ventured up from the south: Norman Hicks from Northampton and Colchester - himself, I understand, a founder member of Pendle club - and me from Surbiton.
The competition was organised as an Egyptian with cups for the overall winner, the best player with handicap of 10 or less and the best player with a higher handicap (these last two excluding the overall winner of course). All games were full handicap with a base of 6 and a three hour time limit,
At one time, Marjorie Eldon (H/C 20) was holding the record for the fastest game, having heated Robin Delves (24) in 59 minutes 6 seconds. Soon afterwards, Geoff Young took the lead by beating me in 58 minutes 15 seconds, followed almost immediately by Denise Hoyle (24) beating Robin in a staggering 42 minutes!
Three badges were won during the course of the event; bronzes to Steve Biggs and Len Forkin and a silver to David Hopkins. The overall winner of the event was Liz eraser. The low handicap cup was won by Peter Wilson and the high handicap by Marjorie Eldon.
As always, a warm welcome, good company, challenging games and excellent catering (in not the easiest of conditions') made my 540 miles round trip worth while. I'll be there again next year in the hope of getting that cup back! Thank you to all concerned.