A most enjoyable Sunday
I had a most enjoyable Sunday this week which could well have come straight from the pages of Ashthorpe Magna!
The little town in which I live, Alcester in Warwickshire, has, for its population, many different organisations. One of the strangest is an offshoot of the Twinning Committee with Vallet in Brittany, and centre of the Muscadet country. In 1977 at the Vallet Wine Fair a body was formed by their regional wine producers called the Ordre Des Chevaliers Bretvins ostensibly to promote their wines. In 1994 the Alcester twin town of Vallet allowed the formation of a Confrerie in Alcester.
More importantly it is there to provide an excuse to drink vast quantities of Muscadet - a pastime of which I approve wholeheartedly!
It is an organisation, it is said, designed to allow grown men to dress up in frocks, and wear a rather cute Breton version of a trilby. More importantly it is there to provide an excuse to drink vast quantities of Muscadet - a pastime of which I approve wholeheartedly! Anyway last Sunday I was invited to join the Bretvins for a Petanque (Boules) Competition and Bar-b-Que to be held at a lovely hotel and restaurant called the Arrow Mill – naturally on the banks of the River Arrow. With a good weather forecast, the prospect of food and drink along with a game of boules, I readily accepted.
In view of my Petanque connections I was asked to be the umpire, but what I was not told that the games were to be played of GRASS. The one surface on which it is impossible to play the game is GRASS! Equally most there did not have a clue about the game, and any attempts at introducing rules would have been futile. The game is played over a distance of 6 – 10 metres, but people were throwing the jack (cochonnet) two or three times that distance, and therefore having to take several paces to get the boule anywhere near its target.
Rather optimistically the organisers had arranged for a league system with four leagues of seven teams, each playing six games, followed by a quarter, semi and final – all in TWO HOURS. Not a hope chaps, so after an hour the points to win a game were dropped from 13 to 11 to 7, and each league only playing three games. By then there was no possibility of working out the winners, so tactfully last year’s winners were chosen to play against the honoured guests, the Baillee of the Confrerie of London and his partner who were declared ‘winners’! None of this mattered; the local head of the Bretvins presented what he himself described as the naff trophy, but with a magnum of excellent wine. The chilled wine had flowed with great gusto during the afternoon, the Arrow Mill produced a superb meal and even the sun was shining throughout the period.
Petanque – no, but a fabulous afternoon out despite a little liverishness the next day. Thanks Bretvins!