Menu

Bowling From Berks to Brazil

At this time of year my thoughts always turn to South America. For most of the past 17 years, I’ve led an annual bowling tour to the continent and whilst I won’t be heading there this autumn, it is hard not to associate the leaves turning brown with the idea of getting on a plane and heading for Rio de Janeiro.

It began back in 1999 – living in Kintbury, playing bowls in Hungerford – and in need of a change. So I severed my work commitments with the wonderful In Press, (still going strong in Lambourn, and unhindered by my departure) and went to south and central America for 9 ½ weeks. (There was no connection between this period of time and the film/book of the same name…except that there was, as I will explain below.)

The choice between Africa and America largely rested on memories of crippling tummy ache that had accompanied a visit to Kenya and so I settled on a trip that would start in Rio and end in Guatemala City. However, we need to take a step back, because it matters too that I had written a play called Load of Old Bowls that had premiered the same year in The Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich. And, through an internet chatroom that I had joined in order to publicise the play, I had ‘met’ Lair, a lady bowler from Sao Paulo, Brazil.

So, ahead of my trip, I contacted Lair to advise of my impending visit and to suggest we could meet for a coffee in Sao Paulo while I was awaiting a bus connection. She suggested we could go one better: she would arrange for her friends in Rio to meet me at my hotel and take me for a game of bowls.

Grateful to know I would have a local connection, I agreed. I arrived off the plane in Rio, took a taxi to our hotel to meet my tour guide, made a quick trip to the ocean on Copacabana beach and returned to be greeted by my new Carioca friends.

selecting teams with captain in Rio de Janeiro

I was given the most wonderful welcome, visiting their club – established by British workers in 1872 – and meeting as many members as they could introduce me to. We played bowls, of course, and the overall welcome was just amazing considering I was a complete stranger, introduced by someone I’d never met.

They took me back to the hotel with the offer to do it all again the next day (Sunday).

But on Sunday it rained. There was no chance of playing. And, that should have been that. Except, our little tour group, our guide, two girls and me, had to find something else to do that day. They, not I, suggested a match at the Maracana Stadium, Flamengo versus Vasco de Gama, a Rio derby that was guaranteed to be ‘lively’, and a little bit dangerous. We all agreed and needed tickets. So Sarah, our guide, and I agreed to get buses to the Flamengo Stadium in order to buy them. While we were there, I realised that I knew where I was. Flamengo’s stadium was just over the road from the club where I had been bowling the day before.

So, we blagged our way in, had coffee with a few more members, and then left for the game.

Brits and Brazilians share a churassco in Sao Paulo

But the welcome, again, was so lovely that several days on, as our tour continued, I decided I had to do something to repay their kindness. Mindful that the bowlers in Rio had complained at the paucity of competition over there (since there was one club in Rio, and one in Sao Paulo) I decided I needed to see if I could persuade some bowlers from Hungerford to join me to go there and play.

And the following year, that’s precisely what happened. In fact, about ten pioneers from Hungerford plus others from clubs in Berkshire, became the first Bowls In Brazil group to head off for a bowling holiday in South America.

Iguassu Falls

That first tour was ten days. The next year, it became 14 as we added a trip to the Iguassu Falls too, and as the years have gone by, the tour has grown into a 4 week adventure with bowls in Brazil and Argentina, as well as sightseeing of glaciers, and waterfalls, Christ Statue, and Sugar Loaf, and beaches…and hang-gliding – you haven’t lived till you’ve taken a group of pensioners hang-gliding.

There have been some amazing moments, and some scary ones, but the joy of taking people on a south American adventure, and of introducing them to my friends in Brazil and Argentina, has been truly wonderful.

And as for 9 ½ weeks? Before travelling, I’d had a health scare that required an operation. On a visit to the consultant, I’d browsed the WRVS bookshop at the hospital and two titles caught my eye. One was 9 ½ Weeks, the planned duration of my trip. The other was The Mission, appropriately my favourite film, set in Brazil, and to some extent, an apt title for my original trip. At the time, I had no idea that it would become my mission to take British bowlers out to South America, but the coincidence of book titles had given me some encouragement to think that the health issues would not compromise the trip.

In the case of The Mission, the film is better than the book. In the case of 9 ½ Weeks, don’t tell my family I’ve seen the film.

 

 

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Coverage Area

What's On

Feb
18
Mon
2019
10:00 am Book and DVD Sale @ Burghfield L... @ Burghfield Library
Book and DVD Sale @ Burghfield L... @ Burghfield Library
Feb 18 @ 10:00 am – Feb 23 @ 4:00 pm
Book and DVD Sale @ Burghfield Library @ Burghfield Library
Book and DVD sale  Monday 18 – Saturday 23 February at Burghfield Library, nothing more than £1. For more information, please contact the library. Twitter: https://twitter.com/WBerksLibraries Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/newburylibrary/ http://info.westberks.gov.uk/35189
Feb
20
Wed
2019
7:00 pm Music Quiz @ The Castle Pub & Restaurant
Music Quiz @ The Castle Pub & Restaurant
Feb 20 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Music Quiz @ The Castle Pub & Restaurant | Donnington | England | United Kingdom
Spanning the decades and covering every genre, with trivia as well as lots of music clips, The Castle Music Quiz is a fantastic night out in support of a great local charity. • Quiz starts[...]
7:15 pm The Sound of Music @ John O'Gaunt School
The Sound of Music @ John O'Gaunt School
Feb 20 @ 7:15 pm – 10:00 pm
The Sound of Music @ John O'Gaunt School | England | United Kingdom
The 2019 Hungerford Town Show is The Sound of Music! This classic Rogers and Hammerstein musical tells the story of Maria, a tomboyish postulant as she becomes a governess for seven children. Under her influence[...]
Feb
21
Thu
2019
9:30 am Computer Lessons @ Thatcham Library @ Thatcham library
Computer Lessons @ Thatcham Library @ Thatcham library
Feb 21 @ 9:30 am – 11:00 am
Computer Lessons @ Thatcham Library @ Thatcham library | England | United Kingdom
Computer Lessons for beginners Every Thursday morning at Thatcham Library. To book a session, please contact the library: 01635 866049 http://info.westberks.gov.uk/article/30286 Twitter: https://twitter.com/WBerksLibraries Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/newburylibrary/
9:30 am Mini Life-Savers Course @ Marlborough Rugby Football Club
Mini Life-Savers Course @ Marlborough Rugby Football Club
Feb 21 @ 9:30 am – 11:00 am
Mini Life-Savers Course @ Marlborough Rugby Football Club | England | United Kingdom
The cost per person includes handouts, a certificate of attendance and nut-free refreshments. The courses are taught by Louise Worsley, a qualified, enthusiastic trainer who is an ex-secondary school teacher, a primary school mum and[...]
10:00 am Brass Rubbing Workshop for Famil... @ Vale & Downland Museum, Wantage
Brass Rubbing Workshop for Famil... @ Vale & Downland Museum, Wantage
Feb 21 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Brass Rubbing Workshop for Families, Wantage @ Vale & Downland Museum, Wantage | England | United Kingdom
Free drop-in brass rubbing session for families. No need to book but children must be accompanied by an adult. Donations to the Museum are welcomed.
10:00 am Fraud Scene Investigators @ Newb... @ Newbury Library
Fraud Scene Investigators @ Newb... @ Newbury Library
Feb 21 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Fraud Scene Investigators @ Newbury Library @ Newbury Library | England | United Kingdom
Fraud Scene Investigators for 8 to 12 years Try something different this half term! Examine the clues and evidence to help solve a fraud. This is a FREE event but booking is essential. Please contact[...]
10:00 am Indoor Bounce & Inflatables for ... @ Swindon MECA
Indoor Bounce & Inflatables for ... @ Swindon MECA
Feb 21 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Indoor Bounce & Inflatables for Halfterm @ Swindon MECA | England | United Kingdom
Monday 18th – Friday 22nd February 2019 10am – 4pm (Daily) UNLIMITED PLAY Bouncy Castles (up to 10yrs) Inflatable Obstacle Course (up to 10yrs) Toddler Soft Play (0-4yrs) 0-6 Months – Free Under 4’s –[...]
10:00 am Rhymetime/Storytime @ Pangbourne... @ Pangbourne Library
Rhymetime/Storytime @ Pangbourne... @ Pangbourne Library
Feb 21 @ 10:00 am – 10:30 am
Rhymetime/Storytime @ Pangbourne Library @ Pangbourne Library | Pangbourne | England | United Kingdom
Rhymetime/Storytime for 0 to 5 years Alternating on Thursday in term time – 10.00-10.30am at Pangbourne Library. For more information, please contact the library. http://info.westberks.gov.uk/article/30285 Twitter: https://twitter.com/WBerksLibraries Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/newburylibrary/
10:30 am Wendy Carrig Exhibition – Common... @ Greenham Common Tower
Wendy Carrig Exhibition – Common... @ Greenham Common Tower
Feb 21 @ 10:30 am – 1:30 pm
Wendy Carrig Exhibition - Common People @ Greenham Common Tower | England | United Kingdom
An exhibition of photographs recording life at the Greenham Common Peace Camp during the 1980s Exhibition: 9th December 2018 – 9th March 2019 Wendy Carrig was a photography student in the mid-1980s during a time[...]