Sunday, 29 May 2011

Sidelined by castles.

My Husband and I ( sounds familiar) were talking recently about how lovely it is to live in Canada. We are able to do this now because we have finally emerged from the ice age and are now limping towards summer. Limping through inches of rain and tonnes of mosquitoes. Sun is on the horizon and evenings and weekends spent in our garden are only a nano week away. Maybe. 
I digress....we love living here for so many reasons. But then I get an email from my friend. She's Canadian and doesn't really know what a bomb she's put under my arse. Innocently enough she mentions a cousin who is a photographer who has a website. I look at it and there they all are. Bloody castles. Irish and Scottish. Ancient and beautiful. Worst of all, beautifully photographed. 
Memories of my youth mostly, but all of my life in England is suddenly brought into sharp relief. Roll back to 1985. Me and 3 friends staying in a caravan near Bamburgh Castle. Any of the following brings that summer to mind:
- 'Simply the Best' by Tina Turner (especially when played during a pool game)
- The miners strike - oh how we argued ( I won)
- Learning how to play poker with matchsticks as wagers ( I lost )
- Bamburgh Castle  - to this day I remember my mate driving us home on country roads and turning the lights off in the dark 'for fun'.


I still love Canada, but I miss castles. And Charles Worthington Shampoo. And my Mam. And no mosquitoes.







Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Oh lord....is it softball night again?

My first 'game' was last Tuesday night. The constant rain gave up for enough time for us to play. We met in the bar in advance to talk through the rules. I listened very, very carefully but it was like listening to a foreign language peppered with a few English words.  I was sure people would tell me what to do when I got out there.....and it's only a game, after all.  


Talk then turned to a team name. At this point, drinking a glass of beer from a big pitcher, I began to feel decidedly Canadian. Twelve women sitting round talking about league dates, team names.........and team cries!!! What? Team cries? What the hell are they? I kept quiet. I'd already asked some decidedly stupid questions and felt my Englishness could begin to grate very soon.  Back to team names.......favourites were wine-related because of our shirt colour. The Clarets, Bourdeaux Babes, Sangria Lars........then Master Batters makes an appearance. My favourite but the general feel was that it may cause some tricky moments. I was just worried about the ridicule I could receive from other teams when they saw how unmasterful I am at batting. Then comes the next 'job'. We have to give each other nicknames. I'm paired with a complete stranger to make the job even more ridiculous. What have I got myself into? Lured by fun and drinks afterwards I now find myself drawn into some North American ritual.


To the field. I catch nothing. I throw without accuracy. I hit intermittently. I avoid joining in a suggested chant. I high five. Then back to the bar. Not as bad as it could have been I suppose. And tonight I do it all again. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Post drills

So I arrive at the pitch. Is it called a pitch? No, field. I arrive and go towards a group of women who all appear to look more confident than me. We are quickly paired up and told to throw balls at each other. My partner is 20 something and obviously a direct descendant of Babe Ruth.  She threw with precision and strength. I managed to catch most of them, surprisingly. Then she suggested we move further apart. Bloody hell. My arm was coming out of its socket as it was. I managed to throw a few close to her, sweat now breaking out all over with the effort. This was just the warm up. The drills were to follow.


Drill 1 : In turn run from fourth base, catch a ball and throw to first base. First base? From fourth base? I could barely see first base. 
Drill 2 : Stand out in the field at some distance (again) and catch a ball. Those balls are hard, not soft.
Drill 3 :  Hit the ball a few times then run to first base. 


I can sum up the whole experience as painfully embarrassing. I wasn't absolutely terrible, but I was quite clearly the most useless player there. It wasn't until near the end of the drills that I found out that 8 of the other 9 girls all played together on another league. It made me feel both marginally better and intimidated at the same time. 


'You need some cleats,' my friend said at one point.
'Are they like shin pads?'
Her laughter was my answer. I truly know nothing about this game. Even the rules they emailed out are gobbledegook. 
'If a runner passes the commit line and retreats back to third base the defensive team only needs to touch home plate with possession of the ball to retire the runner. No tag is necessary.' Really?


So I returned home aching, filthy and thinking that I may have made a big mistake. Why didn't I take up golf?

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Softball - the Preview

My good friend and neighbour convinced me that joining the local softball league would be a good idea.  She lured me in with tales of fun nights followed by drinks and giggles. I was an easy sell.


Roll on 2 months.


I am now ON the softball league by virtue of the fact that I was the first reserve and someone got pregnant.  You don't actually need to try out to get on a team - you just need to be the next in line. Hurrah. 


Then I find out there are 'drills'. An email arrives from the organiser giving me a date I must attend for drills 'and don't forget to bring your glove.' Glove? Drills? A panic email to my mate results in 'don't worry - I have a glove, and drills are just pitching, catching and hitting. Just. 
I'd like to record here that I can't throw, catch or hit.  Or at least I couldn't that last time I tried - 20+years ago. I reckon that with no practice in between I will not have improved.


Next step. Practice my throwing and catching in the garden with said mate after we shared a bottle of wine. And let me tell you....I'm not bad. Not good.... but I didn't break any windows or wrists. So far. We congratulate me on catching a bit and throwing a bit and retire to more wine.


Drills have, to date, been cancelled twice due to endless rain. Rescheduled for next Tuesday. Last night I dreamt I was playing and hit a great shot but my false arm flew off after the ball and put me off my stride.  I don't have a false arm.


Next update after Tuesday.