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Bridge in England v Outback Truckers

From Patrick Smith

Now In my early 50's I have started to visit my Parents in rural England more regularly and have been 3 times in the last two years. Normally, it is family duty and simple extended family activity and a pretty quiet but pleasant trip. However, on these last three times I have found a way to "spice" it up and incorporate more of my passion for playing Bridge.

My parents live in rural Lincolnshire, have done all their lives, and all of mine too! Retired in their eighties, all goes well, but Mum has craved for more mental stimulation in recent years. She now plays bridge regularly, having played "whist" since her childhood. She taught her 5 children the classic game of suits and trumps. Her bridge club is 2kms away in the village of Bassingham -a sizeable club with typically 15 or more tables on a Thursday night.

So for last 3 years I have arrived, (once totally unannounced to surprise Dad on his eightieth), hell bent on getting more out of my visits. And playing bridge it was. My visits are typically only 16 days and I originally intended to just play with Mum. However, things escalated and I managed to play 13, 14 and 15 times respectively on these visits - often twice a day. About a third of my playing time was with mum - call it family duty - after all she taught me whist. Just like when I was a child, after playing bridge, she frequently claims I exhaust her, especially on those days when we played bridge twice. Mind you she would always stay up to after midnight playing sample hands with me - sharing tips.

Now here is the interesting bit I wish to share with you. On my last visit I played 15 times, at nine locations with 9 different partners (mum being the main partner). On previous visits I played at several other locations in the area. All of these bridge club locations are within a 30 km radius of my parents' village. Lincoln and Newark are the two nearby historic market towns with plenty of interest and activity. The surrounding areas are typical of a picturesque rural England - generally a slow pace of life with no shortage of things to do and explore.

Having schooled in this area it wasn't surprising for me to bump into my old Geography teacher at the Navenby bridge club (not seen him for 40 years). Good students always get their day!! Six hearts doubled from memory!!

On my first visit, I rang ahead to see if the Navenby Club could find me a partner for a Thursday - not surprisingly, Mum was forecasting that she would be exhausted that day. They paired me up with a lady who just happened to be 102 years old - I was 52 at the time. Earlier this year, during my last visit, I played against this lady and she was to be 104 on the following Monday. When asked how she was going, she told me life was getting a bit hard. I would pry no further and simply opened with a weak two.

Of course, I feel I have found the perfect balance (albeit often intense days) for my family visits back to England. So I wish to share this Lincolnshire locality with other Bridge players who may be interested in pursuing a rural England holiday with plenty of bridge opportunity. Spring and summer are obviously the best months in this locality but nothing wrong with a bit of snow for keen tourists. Whatever the season these clubs are very welcoming and friendly.

So here are the basic details:

I base myself at my parents home of course in the village of Carlton-le- Moorland which is central to about 15 clubs within 30 km's.

The locality is about 170kms north of London.

Newark and Lincoln are market towns with plenty of accommodation. Generally speaking these towns are not high on the tourist map so easy to base yourself.

Like most of England, village accommodation and pubs are littered everywhere.

The Bridge Clubs:

Main Villages are Bassingham, Welton, Navenby, Knaith Park, Nettleham, Ruskington.

Main Towns are Lincoln (2 clubs) and Newark.

The bigger clubs, Bassingham and Lincoln, typically have about 12-15 tables.

The smaller clubs are typically 6- 10 tables and are usually in village halls, old school rooms and church halls - often very interesting buildings.

Sessions vary with equal daytime and evening opportunity - hence I often played twice daily.

If a partner is required most clubs will find you someone, typically in the age range of 30-104 years. If traveling in 2019 I hope this age range will broaden up to 105 years old.

Playing fees range from one pound to three pound. (Please check exchange rates at time of travel).

If you are a couple and only one of you plays Bridge then don't worry - the non Bridge player can visit my dad daily and watch Outback Truckers with him - which he does pretty much every day. Just be prepared for getting him a cup of tea from the kitchen every hour! There is potential for relief though - my parent's house is joined on to the Village Pub - simply a half brick wall joining these buildings. When we were young kids at home, my parents complained about the noise from the pub on the odd occasion. Nowadays, with Dad's deteriorated hearing, the Pub complains about Outback Truckers at full volume on almost every occasion!!

Hoping this article may inspire a few folks to visit rural England, to have a wonderful holiday and blend in your passion for Bridge.

If I have sparked any interest then I am contactable, for any further assistance, through the Bunbury Bridge Club, Western Australia.

PatrickSmith (428K)

Mum, Patrick, Dad and a half brick wall


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