Monday, November 8, 2010

Extreme pétanque

It was a good weekend, dominated by various competitive pursuits: tennis, pétanque, online poker and extreme ironing. I got a fair bit of sun.

Tennis on Saturday was up at Whangaparaoa (well Manly actually) and to be honest it wasn’t much fun. I was well out of my league. Playing number two in our team, when I was clearly the weakest player, it seemed I was the sacrificial lamb. Our team did win overall, so I guess it was an astute tactical decision by our team captain. In the men’s match, both our opponents were excellent net players (my partner was pretty handy in that department too), but when I get to the net I’m suddenly playing at 15,000 feet. We lost that match 6-2 6-3 and the mixed 6-2 6-2. It was a nice sunny afternoon for tennis but to be honest I just wanted to get home.

At the other end of the enjoyment scale was yesterday’s pétanque on Waiheke. This time I teamed up with Phil (we’d had a practice on Friday night) and Sylvain. As always Patrick, the dreadlocked hippie Frenchman, was in attendance. He’s been on the championship-winning side several times in the past and takes his pétanque pretty seriously; the only hope for the rest of us was that he might be stoned. Unfortunately the only weed we could see was an unusual formation of seaweed. We breezed through our first three matches, easily qualifying for the semi-finals from the nine teams who started. We were playing jolly well, mainly going for long jacks because we felt our opponents would struggle to match our accuracy from that range. We had a 13-2 win in the semis and inevitably came up against Patrick’s team (who had also had four big wins) in the final. His wife was on their team; she’s even better than Patrick – less dynamic perhaps but deadly accurate from any distance. The other bloke on their team was very handy too. The match started off nip-and-tuck – we were 3-2 down after five ends – but that soon became 10-2 and we had a mountain to climb. Short jacks and they could take our boules out; long jacks and they would get within inches. They were just too good. We scored two singles and a shock four to move to within two, and suddenly we had a real chance, but that was snuffed out when they cashed in on the very next end for a 13-8 win.

The pétanque was a lot of fun. It always is, even if you get thrashed. Everyone was really friendly. Next time I’ll make more of an occasion of it; a couple of beers or a bottle of wine (or even some Pastis) wouldn’t have gone amiss.

As for extreme ironing, no I didn’t actually iron my shirts in the sea at Waiheke yesterday, but the sheer quantity of ironing I did last night sure made it feel extreme. The closest I’ve ever come to extreme ironing by the way was during my map-making job in the UK. They wanted all their maps hung in a vertical file, and because they’d all been rolled up, I had to flatten out several hundred of the buggers (all A0 or A1 size) with my own iron.

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