There’s something quintessentially English about lawn bowls. I think it has to do with the fact that Sir Walter Raleigh was playing bowls when the Spanish Armada sailed up the English Channel on July 19, 1588.
He’s supposed to have finished his game first before heading out to defeat the Spanish fleet in battle, saving the monarchy of Elizabeth I and sparing England from invasion by the papist forces.
Right now, in the village in the Derbyshire Peaks where I’m spending a good portion of the summer — if four weeks of rain and two hours of sunshine does indeed amount to the equivalent of such a season in England — there’s a small bowling club.
Come rain — yes, there has been little else — or come shine, the volunteer members gather each night under floodlights to play their games.
Stanley, the dog I’m caring for, is young enough to be curious at most things. He’s a big lad, six months old, a mix of greyhound, Dalmatian and some other things as well, as he hasn’t stopped growing yet. He still hasn’t grown into his paws and I’m sure he’ll be big enough for a saddle some week soon.
Stanley is fascinated by the bowlers, and stands up on his hind legs to peer over the stone wall at the games as it unfolds on the carefully manicured lawn.
Last week, Stanley got off his lead and I had to chase him, puffing and panting, all the way down through the village, trying to stop cars and warn them then there was dog loose somewhere. By the time I caught up to him, Stanley was in the bowling club’s private car park.
With the help of a neighbour and a man in the van who had a meat sandwich left over from lunch, we managed to corner Stanley and get him back on the leash. I don’t think my lungs have yet recovered from the dash after him on his 10-minute escapade through the village.
Stanley got off his lead and I had to chase him, puffing and panting, all the way down through the village
During the chase as I stopped to try and catch my breath, a woman said she saw a large dog running off leash and had put it on the village Facebook group. The power of social media.
By the time I got home with Stanley in tow, my mobile phone was pinging from his owners in Spain, saying to watch out for a dog on the loose. I hadn’t the heart to tell them it was Stanley and I didn’t think that I needed to make them worry or think that I was incapable of minding their horse of a puppy.
Come to think of it, I believe Stanley made his way to the bowling club car park with the intent to go from a romp on that carefully manicured lawn. You could literally play billiards on the bowling green, it’s that smooth. And just think of the damage Stanley could do, digging up holes and leaving scratch marks and pawprints as he’d race around their lawn in search of a smell or a scent.
Thankfully that didn’t happen. Imagine just how that would spread on the village Facebook group. There’d be little I could do to prevent Stanley being outed there. But as that hasn’t happened — yet — I don’t have to worry about it.
What worries me is that Stanley’s owners are openly talking about getting him a companion puppy. They think Stanley might be lonely and could do with another puppy. I haven’t the heart to tell them that he’s an absolute handful at the minute and there’s be no way I could coral two on the loose.