Somerset UK Tour 2014
Initial thoughts for the tour began in conversations between myself & Imdad in the fall of 2012. Part of those conversations included the reasons that we had not conducted a tour for some 10 years or so. Some of those reasons included the ages of the players at the time, some felt that they were too old to compete, while many were too young & had young families, that meant that they did not want to leave the family for a couple of weeks. Plus some were reluctant because the last time we made an attempt the whole thing fell through after many of us had paid deposits, & that money had gone to the hotel who according to their terms would not refund our deposits.
It now seemed that we had sufficient individuals who were of the right age & were looking for the chance to play in the UK.
Working from those conversations I did some quick checking via Google to establish some idea of probable costs & came up with the following:-
The cheapest Air Canada from Winnipeg via Montreal to London was about $1600 with taxes.
The cheapest one I saw on Expedia for Winnipeg via Minneapolis to London $1320 Cdn.
For a hotel I picked the one we stayed at in Painswick in Gloucestershire because I knew it was one that was suitable but not because of the venue, it was just for establishing some idea of the cost & for 2 people sharing. This was an average cost of $126Cdn./night or $880/person for 2 weeks.
So the cost would be around $2200 for 2 weeks for the basics, to be on the safe side I suggested that we would have to reckon on $2500 plus local ground transport, food, drink etc. say $3500.
Which as things turned out pretty close to what we paid.
During my research on the internet I found a couple of organisations that arranged tours for sports clubs in the UK & by pure chance I selected Top Order Tours to contact as it appeared to have more tours under its belt including some from out of the UK. As there was no objection to this organisation it was agreed that we contact them, at least for the initial investigations.
We held our 1st tour meeting in early December 2012 that was attended by 7 hopefuls, where we spelled out the basics.
The suggested dates for a 2 week tour, were June 20th to July 5th or June 27th to July 12th because these dates were after school finishes in Winnipeg but school are still in, in the UK
After much discussion & recollections of past tours it was finally decided that we split the tour between Kent & Somerset, hopefully using John Willi (West) & Tom Meek (Kent) as on the ground advisors. Unfortunately after the meeting I did some checking & both clubs in Kent that we had targeted as being suitable teams to play, no longer existed & the hotel where we stayed in Kent before, had become prohibitively expensive, plus it catered to different type of clientele. Tom Meek, I found out had also moved, to……Somerset. We would need a rethink of this initial plan.
David looked at the chance of renting a large house in Somerset as his family had done but the makeup of our party was not conducive to such an arrangement
Air transport from Winnipeg to the UK was to be the responsibility of each individual.
Ground transport in the UK was initially suggested to be the use of a large van plus 1 or 2 cars.
The sort of competition we were looking at was village teams or urban club sides. With a mix of 45 over games & T20 or evening games. There was a suggestion that we limit ourselves to 8 games total over the 2 weeks.
The group suggested that we keep the party to around 15 players. The tour was to be open to wives &/or girlfriends, the players having the choice between the two. At that point we had around 20 people who said that they were either committed: – Chris, Jon, Ray, Alli, Tommy, Chomo, Martin, Neil, Clive, & Sid; or interested, a maybe or a probable: – Hein, Tony, David, Keith, Rene, Garvin, Joe M, Joe S, Roy, Andrew D. Nigel. With the possibility of John Willi & Neal T joining us for some portion of the tour from their homes in the U.K.
One of the 1st things that needed to be settled was the choice of the Hotel/Inn because it would probably dictate the location where we would play. It seemed that the overwhelming preference was for a village pub, but the difficulty being that it must have 8 or more rooms & serve breakfast.
We expected all those who wanted to come along to make a financial commitment by the end of February 2013. A sum of $500 was the suggested figure but it must be enough to cover any deposits that we would have to make for our accommodation. The portion of the deposit that is for accommodation would be non-refundable but could be transferred to a replacement player if the original individual had to drop out.
These ideas were submitted to Top Order Tours & their Manager Matthew Stroud came up with a pretty comprehensive quote in a couple of days which worked out to about $1700 per person not including air fare. This figure included the 14 nights at the hotel
B. & B., a dedicated bus for the transport to & from games, to & from Heathrow & a few sightseeing tours for non playing days, & match fees. This figure was quoted in pounds. Unfortunately the pound to dollar exchange rate went the wrong way, the pound gaining over the dollar by the time we were finished paying.
Over the next couple of months some of the early positives backed off usually for “domestic” reasons & for a while it looked as though the whole project would fall through. Fortunately by the middle of April 2013 we had enough deposits & commitments to proceed, & we informed Matthew to get us a detailed itinerary.
He came back with a little more detailed quote & the name of the Hotel in Yeovil, Somerset, The Manor Hotel that would be our base. I did not get any negative feedback on the Hotel so we told Matthew to go ahead & sent him the initial deposit.
We looked at the possibility of a group booking for the travel across the Atlantic but the agent I spoke to said that we would not save much money & besides there were some people that were taking extra days either before or after so that proposal went out of the window.
It was around this time that I made an unrelated trip to the UK & as it was not out of my way I spent a night at the Manor Hotel. I was a little disappointed as it was not a country pub type hotel that I hoped to find but fortunately it was not a city type hotel either. The rooms seemed quite comfortable & the place seemed to be very quiet.
I met with the Manager, Laura, & had a discussion about what it was we were planning as a group, plus giving her a quick thumbnail sketch of the Club & the potential touring Party.
One of the points of discussion was the switching of room types between Twin & Double prior to the Tour. She said that she had no problem with making a couple of switches from Twin to Double rooms as long as we gave her a month or so notice but we were restricted because there were only 9 Twin Rooms in total available.
On the question of after hours drinking she said that they would have no problem with going us past 1:00 AM as long as no one was drunk or rowdy. I made the suggestion later that we set up a fund to give the barman a bonus if they stay open.
The kitchen was normally open until about 10:00 PM Laura suggested that if we were going to be back later than 10 & wanted food on our return we should phone ahead & order.
Beer in the hotel was around $5.25/pint but I did see some in town at $4:00/pint. A reasonable assortment of beer, some good lager & Fosters, a couple of Cask Ales & Cider were on tap at the Hotel
The meals on the hotel menu averaged around $16.00
There was NO SMOKING inside the hotel or the bar anywhere, but there was a pleasant area outside where those weed users can go & indulge their habit.
Free Wi Fi was available.
Laundry/dry cleaning was available with drop off in the AM & usually ready in the evening.
In the town of Yeovil there were 5 Banks, 4 coffee shops, 6 pubs, a Marks & Sparks & other stores within easy shuffling distance. I made it in under 10 minutes to the other end of the shopping area from the hotel.
By late October most of the main details had been thrashed out at several meetings.
We had a long discussion about the idea that we get touring uniforms & this met with everyone’s approval.
The following outline for matches was also agreed on & sent to Matthew
Arrive Friday morning June 27
Saturday June 28 play 40 overs
Sunday June 29 play 40 overs
Monday June 30 off
Tuesday July 1 Canada Day play 20 overs
Wednesday July 2 play 20 overs
Thursday, Friday, Saturday July 3,4,5 Rest & possible travel/sightseeing.
Sunday July 6 play 40 overs
Monday July 7 play 20 overs
Tuesday, Wednesday July 8 & 9 Rest & possible travel/sightseeing.
Thursday July 10 play 20 overs
Friday July 11 depart from the hotel & scatter to the 4 winds.
One of the important items to be decided was the need to set the times that players should arrive in London Heathrow to co-ordinate the bus transport to the Hotel & make sure that we all book a suitable time for flights home.
At this time Garvin took on the task of ordering the uniforms as he was also doing the same for Lions. Several of the Taverner non travellers also asked to be included in the order.
Tour Schedule Finalised
Most of the tourists were now looking for a schedule of games but Matthew was still working that, trying to get the best possible combination.
After a few weeks wait we received the final schedule:-
June 27 – Heathrow to Yeovil hotel. Pick up from Heathrow at 1230 pm,
June 28: Afternoon sightseeing in Somerset, within 25 mile radius
June 29: Return transfers to cricket match Abbotsbury 40 overs (15.5 MILES) Depart 12pm, collection around 730pm.
June 30: Day trip to Bath from Yeovil
July 1: Return transfers to cricket match Barrington 20 overs 6:15 (13.5 miles). Leave 430pm, collection 10pm.
July 2: Return transfers to cricket match West Monkton 20 overs (27 miles) Leave 430pm, collection 10pm.
July 3: Return transfers to cricket match Bagborough (35 miles) Leave 430pm, collection 10pm.
July 4: Return transfers to sightseeing within 25 miles of hotel
July 5: Full sightseeing day in London
July 6: Return transfers to cricket match Ilton 40 overs(18.4 MILES). Depart 12pm, collection around 730pm.
July 7: Return transfers to cricket match North Newton 20 overs (28 miles) Leave 430pm, collection 10pm.
July 8: No sightseeing
July 9: No sightseeing
July 10: Return transfers to cricket match Bridgetown 40 overs (51.4 MILES) Depart 12pm, collection around 730pm.
July 11: Yeovil hotel to Heathrow, drop off at about 11am.
Count Down to Departure
In the intervening months before departure we had regular meetings to sort out details. Many of these descended into anarchy with nothing decided, not even the stake money for usual post meeting game of poker.
One of the main areas where decisions were hard to come by was air travel. Nobody seemed to be able to commit to a specific time every one looking at the plethora of web sites giving a range of prices using different connection points & airlines.
In order to bring some sanity & clarity to the whole subject I made a suggested list of airline arrival times on the first day & a list of final day departure times with the threat to the group, that if the travellers were not on one of those flights they would be taking a train to or from Yeovil, that seemed to focus the minds for most.
One of the things that we ignored & that was to come back & haunt us, was the cost to be paid by significant others & for anyone not participating in the full tour. It came up a few times but was drowned out by such lunacy as having “practice sessions”. Some of the early Gung Ho individuals fell by the wayside during the winter but we were able to keep the Tour Party size above our minimum requirement.
Another area where it was next to impossible to get a decision was what did we want to do on non game days. At first the only confirmed venues were London/Lords on the middle Saturday & a day in Bath. Sid was also busy scouring the Internet for the oldest pubs in England, Scotland & Wales, with the goal to conduct a marathon 2 day, 3 nation pub crawl. In the end I made an executive decision & gave Matthew a list of where & when for the off days.
By early summer the uniforms arrived only to have some of the coloured flashes of the shirts & sweaters weeping into the white areas. But our laundry experts Andrew & Karran took their uniforms home & came back with suggested solutions to the problem
So by the middle of June everything was set everyone had booked their flights both ways & the time seemed to work for the bus travel.
Day One Travel Day
On June 27 the 1st of the tourists, Martin arrived in Heathrow early on the Friday morning. As I was already in London I travelled by tube from the City & met with David & Alli in the coffee shop around 11 AM. The three of us went out to the meeting area & met there with Martin, who with his usual unerring ability had discovered a Pub on the 5th floor. So we made that headquarters until the next group were due in. While we were waiting we met up with Matthew & he gave us the details of each game & the info on the bus.
It was at this time that we found out that Garvin Joe & Roy had been forced to travel the next day as Air Canada had cancelled their connecting flight to Montreal but did not offer them any alternative for that day.
Once all the other travellers were in place in Heathrow Matthew contacted the bus only to find out that it had been held up by a crash on the road in fortunately not involving the bus.
Eventually we were on our way but when we reached the area of Stonehenge we got stuck in a slow crawl, still trying to clear from the earlier accident. This gave a perfect photo op for those with a long range lens. Once we had cleared that area we had an easy run in to Yeovil.
We eventually arrived at the Manor Hotel that was to be our home for the next 2 weeks. We were allocated rooms most of which were in the “Stables” not as bad as it sounds as they had been long ago converted to comfortable rooms.
As there was a big Wedding Party taking up the rest of the hotel we decided to investigate the town. We found a few pubs but ended up in the Wetherspoons Pub in town where the beer was cheap the food reasonable & the crowd that left a little to be desired.
By late evening the time change had caught up with everyone & we were all back at the hotel at a reasonable hour.
Day Two Bus trip to Cheddar
Next morning the group slowly met for breakfast & we were more than happy with the selection available. Items from the “fixed” menu could be mixed & matched with standard reply from the staff of “no problem”
On the 1st full day of the tour a Saturday no game had been arranged. We subsequently found out that it is very difficult to get Saturday games in the UK as the teams are all involved in Leagues. So we took the opportunity to tour with our bus around Somerset to Cheddar Gorge & Wells Cathedral. Should have known better than to be in this area during Glastonbury weekend. Lots of heavy rain showers particularly over the Festival area….producing the usual sea of mud. Joe, Roy & Garvin eventually made it in later on Saturday no thanks to Air Canada who virtually washed their hands of them & left them to travel later with no compensation.
Roy’s wife Bonita had done some checking from Canada & found that a taxi from Heathrow to Yeovil was no more expensive for the 3 than the train. In Cheddar most of the group took a long arduous climb up the cliff in heavy rain, Martin & I using the wisdom of age sought sanctuary in a local hostelry in the dry, at least on our outside.
On the way back to the Hotel the driver Jose, suggested we visit Wells Cathedral. An impressive building but it was closed for a christening ceremony.
After the trip it was back to the hotel for a meal & to watch one of World Cup Football games The one that was on that evening was the Brazil & Columbia game & we got 2 yellow cards in the bar for excessive noise. A number of guys had been to the one of many local betting shops earlier. Martin had won his bet but it cost him double his winnings for the subsequent round that was judged appropriate by the rest of us.
In the words of the old song “when will they ever learn…..”
Day Three Game # 1 Abbotsbury
Sunday June 29 saw our first scheduled game against Abbotsbury. The weather forecast was for a chance of showers. In the ground description we were given showed that for facilities…… ” no showers but there is a hose”
We arrive at the ground early & we have to park the bus in the Main street right outside someone’s front window. on the short walk to the ground we notice a house with plants for sale out front, with a note “please put the money through the letter box”. This was a lovely ground with a views of the ocean between the hills & of the old Abbey building on top of the hill at the edge of the ground.
The ground slopes across the wicket. It was sunny & warm to start but later in the day a cool wind picks up sending people scurrying for their sweaters.
Taverners bat 1st with Hein & Roy opening the innings, the opening Abbotsbury LH bowler is getting a lot of swing but could only limit the run rate. Taking advantage of the short square boundaries & the fast outfield Roy quickly makes 55 before being bowled. Alli joins Hein & continues in the same vein as Roy.
Next out was Hein (24) Alli was joined by Sid who quickly gets 27 & is out. Alli (76) & Garvin (24) continue until we are 213 -4. At this stage the score slows until after 40 overs we are 255 – 6
Between innings we take tea consisting of the usual fare of sandwiches, pies , sausage rolls & cakes.
Abbotsbury’s innings starts with our signature 9 slips, Joe, running in from an intimidating 20 yard run bowls down the leg side, with that the slips disperse. Joe recovers his composure , bowling batsmen #2 & #3
Alli from the other end bowls 4 overs for just 3 runs.
I suggested to Martin that we ease up & give the opposition a chance & he agreed but each change of bowling brought more wickets until after 20 overs Abbotbury were 49 for 8 Alli & I conspired to get Martin bowling at the opposite end to where I was umpiring so I had the chance to “no ball” the one he chucked . The final 2 wickets did put on some runs after 30 overs Abbotsbury were all out for 95.
Bowling Joe 3 – 10, Sid 3 – 10, David 2 – 20 Garvin 1 – 5 Neal Toulson travelled down from Yorkshire & somehow found us at the ground saying that he would be around for a few days. We met up with some of the Abbotsbury players later in the local pub for a beer but most didn’t stay for more than one as they were driving home, so no drinking. As the village of Abbotsbury consists almost entirely of narrow roads, Jose the bus driver had to drive about 15 miles in the wrong direction on the drive home as there was no way he could turn the bus around in the town. So we had a good sightseeing tour along the South Coast of Dorset with views of the ocean at almost every turn. Once back at the hotel a regular pattern started to form starting with the watching of World Cup Football that proceeded for some, the regular late evening game of Dominoes.
Day Four Bath Trip
On Monday, after Martin & Keith picked up their winnings at the betting shop for their bets on the previous day’s World Cup results, as there was no game arranged so we took off to Bath for a sightseeing trip. Neal was our Bath Tour Guide as he had done some work there in the past. Everyone walked along The Crescent, a magnificent semi-circular street of fine old homes. On the way Alli managed to con Chomo into a photo op under the “Gay Street” sign. The crowd then dispersed & went off to find other points of interest like the Roman Baths, Bath Rugby ground, the oldest & the smallest pub. The latter was so small that Sid, Neal & myself missed it. We did catch up with Martin taking photographs of quite extraordinary urinals in a bar near the Rugby ground. Eventually we all found our way back to the bus & returned through the rain to the Hotel. Most of us watched the later World Cup game in the hotel bar after returning.
Day Five Game #2 Barrington
The weather stayed really nice, sunny with some cloud on Tuesday for our 2nd game that was against Barrington. We found the ground after a drive along some very narrow winding country roads. The ground is part of a National Trust property, a large mansion formerly owned by the Lyle family, the sugar people. The ground sports a nice old thatched changing room, & the wicket was pitched at one edge of the square leaving one very short square boundary but a 95 yd straight boundary. We were joined for this game by Neal Toulson Taverners batted 1st. with Hein & Roy. Roy was out for 5 while Hein crafts a steady 24, Sid made a quick fire 15 & Alli holes out on the 95 yd boundary for 7. Garvin (24) & David (14 N.O) round out the scoring Taverners ending the 20 overs at 111. Barrington start off looking for an early finish with a short round gentleman giving our bowlers a hard time & his breathing an even bigger workout, hitting a quick 40 including a big 6 over the long boundary. I think that the locals then took a little pity on us putting a couple of the lower order batsmen in next, which slowed the scoring for 2 or 3 overs They then obviously reverted to the regular order but were held in check by the slower bowlers Chomo & Neal with Chomo taking 4 wickets. Hein rounded out the bowling with Alli & was on a hat trick at one point. With 1 ball to go Barrington needed 2 runs with 1 wicket left. the benefits of the younger age showed as the final 2 batsman scamper home for 2 Bowling Chomo 4 – 12, Neal 2 – 17, Hein 3 – 15. Post game was in the local in the village that the new landlord did us proud with a copious amount of sandwiches. We were on our way back home by 10:30 just in time to see the last seconds of the US World Cup game. While we were away Ray arrived having spent the weekend watching Cosmos in the JRR Trophy matches in Vancouver. Then, what is becoming a tradition, a small group retire to the front lawn under the street light for games of dominoes or cards, I think some money also changed hands
Wednesday morning, after reading & hearing about the weather in Winnipeg of torrential rain & high winds we are all glad we are not back there. Our weather continues fine but a little cool in the evening. Neal takes off after breakfast back to the north. Sid leaves that morning away to Paris for a couple of days. He proceeded to wake up half the hotel banging on doors because he can’t remember where he is supposed to meet me on Saturday after his return to London. This was arranged so that he can meet up with the bus for the trip back to Yeovil. Why he cant remember I shall never know as I had given explicit verbal directions, an email stating the same thing & a brochure of the Pub in London where I would be.
Day Six Game #3 West Monkton
As we had most of the day to spare a couple of the team went off & played golf. Hein took off & toured a couple of transport museums & 1 or 2 others went on a clothes purchasing trip, finding out that some items are cheaper to buy in Yeovil than to launder their dirty stuff. We had an evening game scheduled that was about 45 minutes away through traffic. This was against West Monkton another pleasantly situated ground with short straight boundaries.
We had some support from a local couple my sister in law Margaret & Maurice.
West Monkton was originally chartered as a village in 682 AD but I think the cricket club is a lot younger. West Monkton batted 1st with David & Joe keeping the scoring down & David picking up a couple of wickets, It seems that somewhere we have learned to catch the ball. One of the middle order batsman was a 14 year old who took a little while to settle in but went on to make 39 out of a 57 partnership. From then on it was slow attrition as runs were hard to find & wickets fell steadily with West Monkton getting 117 all out in the last over. A surprise in the score book, 2 catches by Martin & 2 by Chomo. Bowling David 2 – 23,Alli 1 – 24, Hein 3 – 23, Roy 3 – 16 & Chomo 1 – 1 Taverners open with Hein & Roy who were untroubled by the bowlers, Hein scoring freely & Roy making good use of the edges. When Hein had made his 50 , Martin got the openers to retire to be replaced by Keith & Errol. Keith proceeded to run himself out on the 1st ball that was a wide. Errol then proceeded to knock off the final runs Hein 53 Roy 37 Errol 16 Once again we visit the local hostelry & much to Hein & Linda’s delight The Manager is South African & they have several South African specials on the menu including Crocodile Burger, & Bobotie. Back to the hotel for 11:00 just in time for a final beer, Dominoes & Bed
Day Seven Game #4 Bagborough
Thursday we had an evening game, after a warm sunny day as we left for the game it looked as though we were going to get rain, but by the time we arrived at the ground the weather had cleared. The Bagborough team was a mix of young & old & we were giving them about 15 – 20 years on our average ages. The ground slopes in various directions & by the end of our fielding spell most players & the umpire looked sea sick from the constant change of slope. We won the toss & elected to bat. Bagborough explained that the local 20 over game rule is that batsmen should retire after scoring 40. Garvin & Joe open. Joe stays a short while for 2, but Garvin quickly gets to his 40 limit but the umpires decide that he retire at the end of the over. A couple of quick 6’s took him to 53. David (19) was next & then a minor collapse Chomo (1), Keith (6), Errol (0). Martin (18) out to 1 of the only LBW appeals of the week, he walked before my finger went up. Innings ending with a run fest from Alli (56) Rene (15) & Roy (10). Hein after opening with a 50 on the previous game was demoted to #11 Taverners finish the 20 overs 188 for 8 Bagborough started well & were on the run rate for a while but the middle bowlers slowed up the rate, & after the opener had been retired for his 40 nobody was able to pick up the scoring. Only 1 bowler took a wicket Rene in the last over of his tour. Martin bowled the final over of the game but carefully did not give me the chance to no ball him again Bagborough 153 for 2 a Taverner win by 25.
Bowling:- Joe 0 – 11, David 0 – 6, Hein 0 – 23, Chomo 0 – 18 Errol 0 – 11 Roy 0 – 21 all from 2 overs Martin 0 – 20 from 1, Alli 0 – 16 from 3 & Rene 1 for 17. As there was no suitable pub near the ground we stopped at the Cross Keys for a couple but the kitchen was closed so no food available, that had a minority group whining. Only 1 Bagborough player was able to join us & I think that was only because the pub was on his way home. Back to the Hotel to watch the end of the 2nd World Cup Football game.
Day Eight A Day at the sea
Friday there was no game scheduled so a number of players took off, Rene on a trip to Europe & several others to London. In the end it was a small group that decided to take the bus to the seaside. As Jose was familiar with the area I asked him to drop me off at the lay-by outside of the village of Puriton so that I could visit Margaret & Maurice. Unfortunately after the bus had left I realised that this was not the lay-by that I was familiar with. Fortunately Puriton is a small village so I soon found my way. The others went on to Weston-super-Mare & were astonished how quickly the tide went out. When they arrived the sea was lapping at the sea wall but after some fish & chips on the pier they looked for the water & it was gone from view.
I arranged via a roundabout way for Jose to pick me up on the main road. When the bus stopped I misjudged the door opening & the power door pushed me into the hedge.
It was a quiet evening at the Hotel as we had an early start Saturday on the way to the Big City of London.
Day Nine London Bound
The bus arrived on schedule Saturday morning after breakfast & the remaining group set off for the Big City, most of the crew had tickets for the big Bicentenary game at Lords that just left a few of us to look around the city. Jose dropped the Lords group off at Hammersmith so they could get a Tube to the ground. Jose intended to park on the Embankment but found a better spot close to the Kensington Museums. Alli & I set off from there bound for Piccadilly by Tube, when we arrived Alli asked where the nearest sports store might be. As we were standing outside Lilleywhites directions were not that difficult. We browsed the cricket section & later Alli returned & purchased 2 bats at bargain prices.
The group that went Lords were a little unlucky in that a mix up for the ticket distribution caused them to miss the early overs & the fact that the bus had to leave before the end of the game made them miss some of the later action.
Alli & I made our way to the Clachan pub where we had arranged to meet Sid & Gigi on their return from Paris. Sid walked in wearing a French matelot shirt & a beret, he then proceeded to the bar & tried to indicate his refreshment requirement by pointing, not too successfully. Later we headed down through the central West End to Downing Street calling in several hostelries. It was in 1 of these, that as we sat eating lunch, 8 Frenchmen all wearing Black berets came in & Sid & the group each exchanged a Bon Jour salutation after about 5 of these Gigi was in tears from laughing & almost fell off her stool.
The Taverner group finally gathered at the Hammersmith tube station where the bus was supposed to pick us up. None of the Taverners that got off there in the morning could remember which side of the station they had left the bus. Fortunately Linda had better directional ability than a whole “staggering” of Taverners. Jose had managed to get himself stranded in a jam waiting to get on the Hammersmith “Flyover” which was closed for the weekend. The ladies took the opportunity to check out a wedding at the adjacent church. . The drive both ways is pretty easy with little traffic after we left the city & we were back in time to watch the Holland, Costa Rican game. Can’t stand this penalty shoot out stuff, They should just play until there is a result.
Day Ten Game #5 Ilton
Sunday’s game was a 40 over match against Ilton. We arrived at the ground early & “practiced” & sustained no injuries. A couple of players went to the pub that was just down the road from the ground. A pleasant ground, with the boundary on 1 side a little short with a large net to protect the house just outside the ground. Glorious views all round. The pavilion was 1 of the best seen on the tour with a full bar, pool table & big leather couches. The weather was warm & sunny, then some pretty ugly looking cloud, then warm & sunny, that was the 1st 5 minutes. Taverners bat 1st against 1 quite quick bowler who made the ball swing a couple of feet, & at the other end a youngster with an odd action. Runs hard to come by from the 2 openers Hein (3) & Sid (9) then Errol (5). Next bowler a small 13 year old (Josh) who had the misfortune to bowl to Alli who was quickly into his stride & David playing the perfect support role. These 2 set the tone for the day before David was out LBW for 41 & Alli well caught by Josh for 135. The tail wagged with Garvin (15) Martin (10) Chomo (N.O. 23) & Joe ( N.O. 28) for a total from the 40 overs 319. After the tea of the usual sandwiches sausage rolls, cake etc. Ilton bat. The wicket keeper who had kept up a steady barrage of banter all of our innings continued in the same style while adding a few runs but Joe & John Williams kept the rate down so that after a dozen overs or so it was obvious that Ilton could not make the score. The # 3 bat who was said to be their best chance went 1st ball caught behind by Sid. It was at this time Keith, fielding in the covers, fires off a bullet throw to the bowlers end & demolishes umpire Jon with a cannon to the bionic knee. After being escorted from the field young Josh took over, rounding up ice & a towel to aid the old man. While this happening Keith bowls the only bat that looked like scoring. The match pretty much faded away from there on in with only the 16 year old opening bowler & Josh putting up any resistance Bowling Joe 2 – 14, David 2 – 23, Hein 2 -16, Keith 1 – 23, Garvin 2 – 20, Chomo 1 – 15, & Alli 2 -2. Yes they batted 13 including Roy all out 144. After game drinks & games of pool in their bar with Josh & Ray combining to beat all challengers Back to the hotel for dinner & a couple of drinks then bed for some & dominoes under the heated umbrella for the rest.
Day Eleven Game #6 North Newton
On Monday we were scheduled to play an evening game against North Newton but after some rain during the morning we had a phone call saying that the ground would not be fit for play that evening, but suggested that we join them at their local pub The Harvest Moon, anyway. When we arrived there, there were only a few Newton members there but within half an hour they had more than a full squad & a challenge was out in the skittle alley. For the uninitiated skittles is a traditional pub game particularly in SW England & is the game from which 5 & 10 pin bowling is derived. The 9 skittles (pins) are made of wood as the “ball” which may at one time have been round. Unlike bowling the ball can pass through the group of 9 pins & not touch 1.
The game played that evening was all against all each playing bowling 1 ball & if you hit at least 1 pin you continued on, if you miss you are gone. The pins are only reset, by a large monkey in this case Keith J., when they have all been knocked down. 2 of the more senior Newton members were obviously well practiced but Martin & Roy gave them a good run for their money The noise in the Skittle Alley should have been checked for “Health & Safety”. Fortunately for our ears we had to vacate the alley for a League game.
At this time we were regaled with a sumptuous feast of sausages, spuds & plenty more.
During the skittling Newtons Captain & the club President asked me if it were possible to reschedule the evening game to Wednesday. After consultation with several of the group we felt that the camaraderie that had developed between the 2 groups should not go to waste. I checked with the driver Jose who said that Wednesday was his day off but to hell with it he would phone the boss & rearrange his schedule so that he could fit us in.
So by the time we left we had rearranged the schedule.
Day Twelve 2 Nation Pub Crawl
Because of the rescheduled game & the fact the we had to be back in Yeovil on Wednesday evening & a realisation that driving distances in the UK is a lot different than in Canada, Sid’s 3 nation pub crawl was eventually reduced to a 2 nation crawl, England & Wales. I think the individuals scrunched in the back of the car were quietly grateful.
We rented a 7 seat car, which may well have seated 7 clowns at a Shrine’s circus. The Pub crawl party consisting of Sid, Gigi, Imdad, Chomo Ray & myself managed to contort ourselves into the car
We were on the road relatively early & made pretty good time to Nottingham where we were to see England’s oldest pub, The Trip to Jerusalem. We arrived in Nottingham pretty much on schedule found a parking spot close to the Trip to Jerusalem & were immediately met by Nigel.
The “Trip” is claimed to be the oldest pub in England dating from 1189 AD is carved from the soft sandstone beneath Nottingham Castle of Robin Hood fame. We had a drink & breakfast in the pub then Nigel took us on a quick tour of the area where we had beers in a couple of 11th & 13th century pubs. After a trip to Nigel’s friend’s sports store we travelled on to a cricket ground in Sherwood Forest & had another beer in The Stump. As we had only scheduled a short stop in Nottingham this killed any idea of reaching Scotland & getting back to Yeovil by early Wednesday evening. We then headed off to York where we looked around the Shambles, the old part of the city, on being forced by pouring rain to take shelter we went into an olde worlde looking pub that we were disappointed to discover that it was opened in 2013. After the rain stopped we took a photo op. visit to the outside of York Minster. This is a huge Cathedral completed in 637AD & is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe unfortunately we did not have time to visit the inside. On our way back to the car we stopped at the Golden Fleece claimed to be one of the most haunted pubs in England. Not surprisingly they have a skeleton at the bar rather like a slim “Norm”. I was pleasantly surprised that they had Theakston’s Old Peculier on tap one of my favourites. We then decided to drive west to get closer to Wales before getting a place to stay & thus have more time in Wales the next day.
Derby seemed like a good choice being on our way & a reasonably large town, except that we found that there were no hotels rooms available. At 1 large hotel we were told that we were quite stupid to expect vacancies on a Tuesday.
Thanks to the Internet we found the Black Cow in Dalbury Lees outside Derby & managed to get the last 3 rooms. When I asked the landlord what time the bar closed he said 11:30ish.
In the morning after the regular “Full English” we drove to The Skirid the oldest pub in Wales. Another interesting place with several small rooms including one that still has a hangman’s noose dangling from one of the beams. The most interesting topic from that pub was “What was the gender of the Bar (Wo)Man. No conclusions arrived at & as Crocodile Dundee was not with us it will forever remain a mystery.
From there to Cardiff for a quick look around the Millennium Stadium area, some food & a beer after which it was a pedal to the metal drive to get back for the evening game. Almost home we are denied access to the road to Yeovil because of a bad accident, eventually navigate around it thanks to directions from a nice policeman to arrive just 1 minute before the bus
Day Twelve Trip to Wales
As they did not join the pub crawl John took Keith, David & Garvin off for the day.
John Williams was generous and resilient enough to do a bit of a driving ‘taxi’ tour of the south west, and a trip into Cardiff, Wales… Off we went, at the reasonable hour of 9am, with the expectation to drop Garvin off at his sister’s in Exeter. About an hour drive, we stopped at the Cathedral parking, and walked down to the ‘locks’ system, where John, Dave H and Garvin and I got on the little tour boat, and up the side lock, where the young man assistant on board pushes the bridge gates aside by hand, and off we go to a little pub for a beer refreshment, and the biggest scotch eggs in England, back on the boat, then find Garvin’s sister, and we are rid of him. Next we go over the toll Severn bridge, and into Cardiff…we stop a the ‘y mochyn du’ pub, for a quick pint…then across the street to view the gate at the Glamorgan ground…of course there is an immediate rain (deluge) shower (it is Wales after all), which catches us hiding under trees…then into the car and a little tour of the downtown, ending up at the most amazing theatre building. One of the biggest theatres in the world, and very impressive of course by now it is a brilliant sunny day, as an hour has passed, and the weather is now lovely. Quick stop at another pub for a bite (and beer), and then the hour drive to Bristol to drop Dave H off at his cousin. Little did John and I know that Dave is royalty. The area where his cousin lives is filled with castles, and John was a little concerned that we may be stopped, as he was only driving a Vauxhall. Dave was a little ashamed too, as he just said drop me anywhere, as he didn’t want us to be seen by the residents…seriously it was a daunting area of extraordinary residential buildings and incredible foliage…seems the biggest of the homes is owned by Dave’s uncle!! Dave made sure we were gone appropriately from the area, by programming the GPS for Yeovil. The road back was fantastic, punctuated by the most fabulous Rainbow
On the way back, John and I listened to the first half of the big Germany/brazil game…18 minutes and 5 goals later, … will always go down as one of those moments of ‘where were you’? On return safely to the Manor Hotel bar, seems that Germany were able to hit 6, and then get an extra.
John W. was making David pronounce all the street names in Cardiff, and we are now experts in the unintelligible Welsh language…
Day Thirteen Game #6 Newton Newton
On Wednesday evening we played our rescheduled game against North Newton.
Taverners batted 1st in a game restricted to 18 overs each. Roy & Sid being 1 & 2. Roy quickly hoisted 1 to cover caught for nought. Sid & Alli then begin taking on the bowlers hitting some long sixes & running through the supply of balls into the long grass or onto the barn roof. Sid out going for another big hit for 24. Then Alli & Garvin keep the score ticking but both are out with the score at 101 Alli 54 caught right on the long boundary & Garvin 19. David (19 NO) & Martin (7) added a few & Ray on his debut lumbered in for 1 not out Taverners 122 for 5 For the start of Newtons innings we resorted to 9 slips but the batsmen were not faked out & scored fairly freely thanks to a couple of dropped catches. The quicker bowlers had little success except an easy LBW decision for Sid. David & John were the effective bowlers keeping the runs down with John grabbing a double wicket maiden including an even easier LBW decision for me. Unfortunately Newton managed to keep the score rolling Finishing the game off in the 17th over after losing 8 wickets. Because of the bus drivers hours restriction & the risk of a slow run home due to a bad accident on our route we had only 1/2 an hour to spend with the opposition post game which was a pity as they were a great crowd The food that was prepared in our honour which we told them we wouldn’t have time for was delivered in short order & we consumed it on the bus home. Back in time for the last few minutes of the World Cup Game.
Day Fourteen Game #7 Bridgetown
Thursday was another very pleasant sunny day & after a 1 1/2 hour drive in the bus that ended with a few miles of winding narrow roads with glorious views in all directions we reach probably the most scenic ground of the tour. Unfortunately because the shortage of time for our bus driver we have to shorten the game to 30 overs. Even though they were short Bridgetown invite us to bat. To give everyone a chance we open with Hein & Keith who score steadily. Hein out LBW for 23 & Keith bowled for 32 next Roy & David keep the score flowing David eventually caught behind for 38 & Roy LBW for 37 Sid is next with a rapid 53 including a couple of lost balls in the river Exe & into the upper hill sheep area. After that the score slowed with the next 3 wickets just adding 10 with Chomo hitting the biggest 6 into the top of a 50 foot tree beyond the boundary. Taverners 207 for 7 The break between the innings was supposed to be Tea but the kettle wasn’t boiling so Bridgetown started their innings until the necessary heat was obtained. After a few overs we get the signal & are met with a sea of sandwiches, pork pies, Scotch eggs, scones with cream & Jam etc. I realise later that it is a plan to slow down the fielders. The batsman’s knowledge of the ground is obvious as they steadily accelerate the score until the opening bat retires after scoring 50 with never a chance & not 1 ball in the air. Next we have a 15 year old from Queensland who plays for the state’s under 15 squad. Lack of experience leads him to run out the other opener. Next in is a big lad with a bat so thick when taking guard covers 2 stumps even though it was side on. He hits a big 6 & then he is out LBW, but the next pair finish the job in the last over after losing 5 wickets. No real bowling of merit but Hein & Roy did contain the bats men for a while. After the game I meet up with Tom Meek who has played with Taverners on tour 3 times in the past & we all adjourn to the Badgers Holt for some refreshment after the Bridgetown skipper cools of with a quick dip in the river. To our surprise the Taverner banner from 1994 was still displayed in bar to be joined by the 2014 version. Back to the hotel to pack
Last evening in the bar & While we were there the Hotel Manager Laura came by to thank us for our business & to wish us well on our travels.
Day 15 Return Home
Although there was a wedding party at the hotel we able to arrange an early breakfast in the conservatory area so that we were all ready for the bus when it arrived. To our surprised many of the serving staff were out front to wish us farewell. The journey in to Heathrow was uneventful with no hold ups. We said our farewells to Jose & left him with the team cooler & the remnants from the evening drinking & dominoes crew.
Only a few of the crew left that day & the rest of us used the left luggage area at Heathrow to deposit our larger bags for a day or so.
In the end everyone made it home without any real trouble.
Game 1 Abbotsbury (40 overs) Taverners 255 – 6 Abbotsbury 93 Tav win by 162
Game 2 Barrington (20 overs) Taverners 111 – 7 Barrington 112 – 9 Tav lose by 1 wkt
Game 3 West Monkton (20 overs) West Monkton 117 Taverners 118 – 1 Tav win by 9 wkts
Game 4 Bagborough (20 overs) Taverners 188 – 7 Bagborough 153 – 7 Tav win by 35
Game 5 Ilton (40 overs) Taverners 319 Ilton 144 – 11 Tav win by 175
Game 6 North Newton (18 overs) Taverners 122 – 5 N. Newton 129 – 8 Tav lose by 2 wkts
Game 7 Bridgetown (30 overs) Taverners 207 – 7 Bridgetown 209 – 4 Tav lose by 6 wkts
Innings N.O Runs Avge
Imdad 5 1 325 81.2
David 5 2 128 42
Roy 6 2 142 35.5
Garvin 6 2 138 34.5
Hein 5 1 127 31.7
Sid 5 0 128 25.6
Joe 3 1 34 17
Martin 5 2 43 14
Keith 3 0 38 13
Rene 4 2 23 11.5
Chomo 4 1 33 11
John 2 1 6 6
Errol 3 0 13 4
Ray 1 1 1 Inf
Overs Runs Wkts Avge Econ
Neal 4 17 2 8.5 2.12
Chomo 15 77 6 12.8 5.13
John 10 39 3 13.0 3.9
Hein 19 117 9 13.0 6.15
Garvin 11 40 3 13.3 3.64
David 21 129 9 14.3 6.14
Sid 15 77 5 15.4 5.13
Joe 16 83 5 16.6 5.18
Roy 12 73 4 18.3 6.08
Keith 4 23 1 23 5.75
Imdad 19 94 4 23.5 4.94
Rene 12 104 1 104 8.66
Random Thoughts about the Tour I kept the match reports home relatively short as other duties took up a lot of time. These included getting players to be on time for the bus both to & from the games. Answering about 20 times, even though there were only 12 or 13 players around, “What time is the bus coming?” or “where are we playing tomorrow?”. There was the constant battle after every game, between those who wanted “just 1 more beer” versus the “we must get back to the hotel for food” brigade despite the vast quantities of food that had been consumed during the day. The bus was divided between the quiet & academic types in the front & the domino/rap gambling crew in the back. I thought that the purchase of the cooler was to keep some water cold but it’s real role was the impromptu card table in the back of the bus.
Dominoes & other games started out on the front lawn under the street after closing hours, which I am sure would have drawn some stares from the locals. A little later in the week someone on the hotel staff thought that we would be more comfortable under the large umbrella with heaters & lights in the smoking area out front this ended up as being the late night rendezvous. My uniform played in 4 games accompanied by John Williams & Neal Toulson. My role along with the babysitting was to stand as umpire for almost the whole tour except when I came under attack & felled by a wild throw in from the outfield by a Taverner. One of the best evenings of the tour came on the day of the rained out game where we were fed in grand style after a very raucous game of skittles. Fortunately after a bit of juggling with some of our personal schedules & Jose the driver switching his day off we were able to take them on at cricket as well. Unfortunately the driver was running short on time so we had to grab a quick drink after the game but they still produced food the we had to grab, run, & eat on the bus. I have since found an email for the Newton team & have written & thanked them for their hospitality.
In one or two of the games the opposition could have been stronger but I can appreciate the difficulty of assessing the strength of an overseas club relative to domestic club standards & clubs can’t always get the best players out for non league games. Despite that all the games were enjoyable & the grounds were just what we wanted nice grass wickets & most with outstanding scenery. When teas/food was on the schedule it was very well done. Sometimes I wonder if it is a plot to overfeed & thus slow up the opposition.
When I first saw the Hotel a year ago I was a little worried that it would not meet some peoples expectations of a Country Inn type hotel, but within a day of settling in I think everyone approved of the choice. It was comfortable, the breakfasts were extremely good with a good variety. The location allowed us to walk to other drinking/eating
establishments & the 24 hour Tesco behind the hotel was well used to keep the necessary supplies up to date. I know that this is the 1st hotel where I have had the Manager come around on our last evening to thank us & wish us well on our travels & in the morning the serving staff were on the front steps to wish us farewell. I would definitely recommend this hotel for any future touring team. The bus service was very good & Jose was very accommodating where he could within the bounds of the Safety laws.
The hotel as I said earlier was in the end just what we needed. The breakfasts were usually very good with a wide variety on the menu, when anyone asked if they could mix & match they were told “No problem”. The midnight dominoes game on the front lawn under the street lamp was never discouraged, the night manager even suggested that we would be more comfortable under the umbrella with lights & heaters. If we phoned ahead in time they would stay open for food a little later. The only problem was that all room doors had to be slammed or they would not lock. The bus driver Jose accommodated us by staying late after the games except where his time was jeopardised,. he seemed to have more problems with his company than with us. When we had a game rained out & the opposition wanting to reschedule he got a hold of his boss even though it was well after hours & that day was his day off, but he was ready to change his plans before we were ready to change ours. Even though we had 5 non Taverners on the squad, by the start of the 1st game we were a well knit team both on & off the field, everyone acted just like all Taverners do, with constant insults. There was never a need to ask someone to do a task as it was always in process by all. One of the main problems with the team was the onsetting Alzheimer’s, half the team could not recall after an hour or so of being told, where the next game was, how long the journey was or what time the bus would leave. There was also the conflict on evening game days between those who wanted to stay with the opposition for “1 more beer” & those who were so “desperately hungry” that they needed to hurry back before the kitchen closed. This was despite having the whole day to stock up or recharge their humps. After getting home I checked what it had cost me to stay at the Manor Hotel when I was doing a pre Tour check at that point I realised that we had obtained a bargain. I then checked what it would cost for 2 people sharing for the corresponding weeks in 2015. This price just for the room & no breakfast would be more than we paid / person including the room breakfast transportation, game fees, balls etc.
As usual as the tour was winding down there were several statements to the effect that “we should do this again”.
Over the past months the consensus has been that we look at June/July 2018. This may look a long way away but it is surprising how quick these things creep up on you If it agreed that we should look at doing it again at that time there are several lessons learned from this past trip that we should take into consideration.
Firstly I would suggest a much tighter control of the finances, particularly getting everyone to commit at least 1 year ahead with at least a 25% of the estimated cost as a non refundable deposit & as time progresses incremental payments be made again non refundable. The finances should be handled by someone fully conversant with business accounting & there should be regular i.e. monthly statements to all who have committed.
There should be at least 2 signing officers for the finances, as we found this time if the 1 person with signing authority is not around nothing can proceed & if by chance, before we made payment to the Tour company, Chris had been eaten by a shark while on his diving trip it would have taken for ever to get the money.
It should also be made clear that the commitment is for the full duration of the Tour & if a players wishes to only stay for a portion of the tour he must pay the full amount & recover the cost of the room from whoever shares the time, or they can book into the hotel on their own but as we can see from the above it will be quite expensive. It may seem unfair to do this but the Tour Group costs are based on the Hotel knowing that they have a captive audience for a number of rooms for that time & that drives the cost.
We should also make sure that we order just enough rooms to cover the personnel, this time it was never really settled who was coming & what rooms were required before we made the final payment. In the end we had at least 1surplus bed for the first week & after Rene & Errol left there were 2 surplus rooms & we paid for those to stand empty.
Next time it would be an idea build in a slush fund to cover unexpected currency exchange rate changes. Next time we should be more specific with our time requests to the bus company so that post game celebrations are not cut short. This may mean that we use different drivers when the time envelope is not sufficient. We should also think through the off day travels before we get to the tour location so that we all have an input to the venue.