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Tony Grist

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Lawns And What They're Good For [Jul. 14th, 2015|12:05 pm]
Tony Grist
The lawn is full of wildflowers. We have daisies and buttercups and clover and a purple flower I'm inclined to think (having checked with my Collins Gem) is selfheal. They persist in spite of mowing- I'm glad to say. There's also the odd thistle.

(We have thistles out in the field which have been allowed to grow without molestation. The tallest of them- I really should take a tape measure out with me- must be about seven foot.)

I was thinking it would be nice to play croquet on the lawn. I'm still thinking it, but more forlornly now, having checked all the sheds and lock-ups for the croquet set we used to have- and not finding it. I wonder where it went? I did find what I think is a badminton net- but badminton is too energetic for us creaky oldsters. Croquet on the other hand would be just right- a gently paced game of strategy, dexterity- and utter ruthlessness- that all ages and genders can play on an equal footing. The first time we meet the young people in The Small House at Allington- Bell and Lily and Bernard and the weak and wicked Mr Crosbie- they're out on the lawn playing croquet. For them it was a new thing, a craze (the rules of the game were first published in 1856.) They ask Mrs Dale to join them but she reckons she's too old at forty. There was a story in the papers the other day where someone was predicting that croquet was on its way out. I hope not. The tap of mallet on wooden ball is almost as redolent of the English summer as the crack of leather on willow.  But the gear is expensive.  A cheap set- hardly worth having- comes in at £100. A really good set will cost you a four figure sum.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: puddleshark
2015-07-14 11:16 am (UTC)
It's very popular at weddings held at country houses, croquet - and quite a lark to watch the bride struggling to play in her wedding dress...

But most houses built these days have lawns the size of a postage stamp, so croquet would be out of the question.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-07-14 11:33 am (UTC)
There were people playing croquet at one of the NT properties we visited earlier this year. I think it was Polesden Lacey.

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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2015-07-14 09:22 pm (UTC)
It probably was. I have been there for the croquet lawn.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2015-07-14 12:09 pm (UTC)
I played croquet in my youth, both with my parents and with my grandmother. A nice memory...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-07-14 12:30 pm (UTC)
We played en famille when I was a kid. It's a good game.
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[User Picture]From: resonant
2015-07-14 12:39 pm (UTC)
Wow - I would not have thought it would be so pricey.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-07-14 07:26 pm (UTC)
A proper croquet set has mallets and balls of turned wood. There's craftsmanship involved.
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From: artkouros
2015-07-14 12:39 pm (UTC)
We played Croquet when I was a kid. I remember hitting my foot with the mallet.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-07-14 07:27 pm (UTC)
Ouch!
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From: cmcmck
2015-07-14 12:56 pm (UTC)
I hear it's a game in which people are much given to cheating!

Whodathunkit? :o)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-07-14 07:28 pm (UTC)
It can be pretty brutal too.

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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2015-07-14 09:26 pm (UTC)
In Denmark a cheap set is around £20... Wooden mallots, wooden balls and cheap metal wire hoops, but it works fine!

And croquet had better not be on it's way out. It should be a staple at any summer party, really. (I've played it as the traditional game, as a drinking game - rather exhausting, especially when people are competitive and vindictive - and as midnight croquet with each hoop replaced by two candles. In the latter version it's really quite an advantage to have the yellow ball, because the blue one gets completely lost in the dark.)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-07-15 09:38 am (UTC)
Do the cheap balls have the requisite mass and weight?

I like the idea of using candles instead of hoops. Very cinematic.
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2015-07-15 10:15 am (UTC)
I don't know if they're competition standard, but they're solid wooden balls, so they roll rather than bounce - which is the most important thing.

And it caused a lot of over-turned candles, of course, but still... Very pretty, and candles can be re-lit. (I like candles in a garden, as summer lanterns or snow lanterns or anything in-between. There should always be some whimsy and magic in a garden.)
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