TheCheltenham Cricket Festival: Medieval Jinks. Views.



The Cheltenham Cricket Festival
A personal reflection.



With no canvass tenting,  their view to dispense.
They watched from their bikes ,
Leaning   up against the college fence.


When play continued after the taking of tea,
The crowd crept in  and took their seats, 
 all for free.

They came with chairs, food and good ale.
Soaking up whatever the weather did prevail.

With panamas pitched low, Members enjoyed a postprandial rest.
A day at the cricket proving; a severe,  waking test .


Those mystical score- cards   kept coming around and around.
Waiting for annotation  to show  you're been at the ground.


Then the arrival of the  big tented,corporate marquees ,
Brought cover, and seats, with  food and booze to please.



Tasty burgers and delicious fruit cake, prepared and served  by willing folk;
Until Heath and Safety dragons   came and changed it all,
 in  wordy smoke.


Ah!-  all that veritable  goodness,  certainly not too dear, 
washed down,  at one pound eighteen a pint  from Bentleys'  Yorkshire  beer 


The sound of willow upon leather, the ripple of polite applause.
These intimate revelations will sustain us through the winter chores.



By grace we visit the college ground each year; there is no doubt.
To renew acquaintances and keep. our own score- card;
 I'm sixty eight and  still,  not out.


Ck. 15/ 17 th July 2014.


Thinking about the above rhymes, I came  to realise that  this festival has been part of my life  since boyhood days.

My late father, who worked for many years in Cheltenham used to  make a detour when riding home to watch a few overs of cricket, by watching from the saddle of his bike as he leaned it against the College boundary fence.

He regularly took a week of his annual fortnight's  holiday,  to visit the cricket.
Mother and I often went with him. We took our chairs and a  picnic  and settled down for the day's play. Oftentimes I would fall asleep upon he ground and on one occasion my dad caught a ball on course for me as I slept on.

Truth to tell, I was often more fascinated  by the general ambiance around me than the actual cricket being played. In those days (60s) the game was played at a much slower pace and 250 runs scored in a day was considered par for the course.

Apparently in 1952 I saw the South African touring side at the ground. I only know that, because I found an autograph book, which contained a few signatures and my Dad's thoughtful dating of the event.


That brings me to the subject of score-cards. My Dad always purchased one from the sellers as they made their way around the boundary. He meticulously wrote down in a neat, precise hand  the fall of the wickets and the bowling analysis. Job done,  he placed them in his pocket and took them home, never to be seen again. Perhaps at night, during winter climes, the 'phantom ' pile emerged and was studied. We will never know.

Age brings independence and later I came to the festival alone. Again, it was the crowd that got my attention. I remember being impressed by the calm demeanour shown  as they stretched out on  their recliners, after the  application of sun-cream and remained there  supine for the rest of the day. By the end of the week they looked totally relaxed, brown and stress-free. with no travelling problems and minimal expenses, it seemed to me, as a holiday location, this had the 'Costa-Fortune' well beat!


As a teacher, breaking up for the summer holidays I looked forward to a couple of days at the ground.
I frequented the 'Victory" club tent, where shade and good fare; as I have described in the poem above, made up for a very convivial atmosphere indeed.

Sadly, increasing tent charges together with  health and safety rules forbidding:
 1- cooking on the premises and 2 only bringing in food in prescribed refrigerated containers  brought this excellent enterprise to a halt.

So every year the festival  continues and, I pay at least one visit  to this  hallowed place, seeking friends and refreshing my memories; for, concluding from the web,

Cheltenham Cricket Festival is the longest running Cricket Festival on an out ground (Festival Ground) in the world. It was started by James Lillywhite in 1872 with the first match being played against Surrey and was won by Gloucestershire. No other Cricket Festival in the world has been played on the same ground for that length of time and no other cricket festival in the world lasts for twelve days or more.

As such it deserves my support.

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Last Saturday ( 12 / 7 )D.and I made our way to the annual Medieval Fayre  in Tewkesbury. It is the largest  event of its kind in Europe, having well over one hundred stalls selling trinkets, clothes, weapons etc. Many stall -holders dressed appropriately  and were complemented by various flags and banners. It was warm and a friendly atmosphere ensued. Here are a couple of photographs for you.





Falcons ready for flight.



Hoisted banners.


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Finally  last Thursday, ( 17/ 7 )  D. and I went for a circular walk from Birdlip viewpoint, in order to stretch those old legs a little. The sun was out and the slopes looked in manicured splendour. The trees , flowers and grasses looked in a state of vibrancy.








This weekend, we seem touched by rain, to refresh and restore before the sun returns.
Enjoy the week ahead and drink plenty.
Cheerio for now,
Ck.

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