Bowls championship, here we come!

Trip Start May 04, 2007
Trip End May 21, 2007

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Saturday May 12-Bowls championship, here we come!
Overview: Bowls, Compton Gardens, Dinner at Claire Richards' house and of course, Eurovision!
This morning Julie & I wandered around while Matt was busily finishing up some work for his class.  We ambled toward the ocean (from our new hotel-the Riviera) and through some lovely tropical gardens. 

After taking a few pictures there, we happened upon a large green and an older couple playing bowls.  I asked them if I could take their picture and they were so friendly-encouraging us to go on into the clubhouse (nearby) and try the game ourselves.  They offered to coach us, but as we would learn, others were quite eager to help us figure out the game.  We went in and arranged a game (renting the equipment/shoes) for a one-hour block (3 pounds--about $6).  The women running the rental area were so kind; I think they did not charge us very much since we were clearly novices-I think the accent gave us away!  I was fitted for some stylish shoes (!); regular shoes cannot be worn, as to enter the green, you must have smooth-soled shoes so that you do not damage the grass.  I was also fitted for the "woods" (the balls that you roll down the green) according to the size of my hands; since my hands are on the smallish side I was given "naughts" (zeroes). We were also given a smaller white ball called the "jack" and 2 mats that are to be used as one stands and throws the woods.

A woman who assisted with the equipment (June) demonstrated how the game should be played.  She was so helpful, she spent about an hour with us on the green teaching and coaching us about how to roll the wood appropriately.  The latter is harder than it sounds, as the woods are weighted on either side, but not in the middle.  If you throw slightly to the right or left, you are in for a large crescent-shaped roll down the green.  If you would like to learn more about bowls:  After our game, we went into the Argyll clubhouse (where we played) and had a cup of tea.  It just seemed like the logical English thing to do!

After the game, the three of us set out from the hotel to Compton Acres (a well-known garden in the area)  It just so happened that our new hotel moved us quite a bit closer to the gardens, so we decided to walk over.  We walked through some other pocket parks in the area, which again, were replete with flowers and gorgeous views.  That is certainly something that I have noticed in this area; there is a great deal of beautiful green space. This is particularly significant since the real estate here is incredibly expensive and many of these parks are just steps from the ocean.  On our way to the gardens, we stopped at a post office and purchased some miscellany; I bought postcards and some interesting candies, including pineapple squares and ginger creams.  The latter sounded interesting, but made my eyes burn after I foolishly popped a whole one into my mouth!
Compton Acres was very beautiful, I took several pictures of flowers and of the garden itself.  There was a wedding in the Italian Garden and you can certainly see why someone would select this as a place to get married.  I bought a few knick-knacks in the gift store (some cookies in a beautiful tin and some gorgeous cards). 

We took a taxi back to the hotel in order to ensure that we would have sufficient time to change before our evening at Claire Richards home.   Graham (who also works for BPC in the area of foundation degrees) drove us to Claire's house (just near Christchurch); several BPC staff were there as well as some other friends of Claire's.  For those of you who don't know, Claire was one of the BPC faculty who came over to CFC for the exchange this past fall.  Claire prepared cherry coke ham (yes, I meant to write cherry coke! it was great), pizzas (with fresh mozzarella), chicken, breads and many other dishes.  Both the food and company were fantastic. 
Much to Claire's reported embarrassment, the party seemed to gather around the Eurovision contest; I have not watched much TV while here in the UK, but when I have tuned into the BBC (British Broadcasting Company), there has been something about the Eurovision contest included.  In a nutshell, it is a contest in which music groups from different countries perform and compete to see which country receives the most points from voters (the U.S. is not involved in this contest).  The voters are other countries who have participated in the contest and each country is allowed to award points in a sort of rank ordered fashion (e..g., Turkey may award 10 points to Estonia and 12 points to Serbia-if Serbia accumulates the most points at the end of the voting, then they win-which they did).  The contest is quite outrageous and is not exactly an exhibition of musical talent; as some BBC commentators noted, it has developed into a contest to see who can provide the most outrageous performances. 

As an example of this, please check out the #2 in the contest (the Ukraine).
To get to the Ukraine video:
After going to this website,   go to the section titled media center, in bottom right hand side of square click "more video" and select Ukraine (Serbia won, but the Ukraine nearly took it-I think you'll get a kick out of this video).  You'll also see that you can select the UK video-just a warning, the campy song can get stick in your head for much too long. I have caught myself humming it when I did not mean to.  UK narrowly escaped coming in last; the commentators on TV argued that this was because many countries were voting for their "friends." 
Our host was horrified that we were all sitting around watching Eurovision and she was afraid that we would put it in our blogs in a report of English culture (sorry Claire, but it had to be done!).  She assured us that most people in the UK are not devoted fans of the Eurovision contest.   Meanwhile... the whole lot of us sat and cheered or groaned when points were awarded!  Relieved that the U.K. did not come in dead last, I was able to rest...
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Where I stayed
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