Sunday, 15 July 2012


Swithin (Swithun) was a ninth century Saxon Bishop of Winchester who died on 2 July 862.  His dying wish was to be buried humbly outdoors of the Old Minster but a century later he was made a saint and his remains were dug up and moved to a shrine inside the Cathedral - this  coincided with 40 days of continuous rain and violent storms and legend has it that this marked the saint's displeasure at having his wishes disregarded.

15th July (his feast day) was the anniversary of the removal of his bones, not his death

Since then, rainfall on July 15 has been taken as an omen of impending miserable weather.

St Swithin’s Day, if it does rain
Full forty days, it will remain
St Swithin’s Day it will be fair
For forty days, ‘twill rain no more.

On Friday the weather forecast was for thunderstorms and heavy rain here in my part of the world.  It actually turned out to be cloudy but quite warm and the sun even broke through occasionally.  I walked into Whitstable for my first ever session of bowls following the course of lessons David and I had to undertake before being formally allowed to join the Whitstable Bowls Club.    Friday afternoons is Ladies Practice session and it was a bit scary being the new girl.   Not so worried about the bowling, more about the etiquette - the game is steeped in tradition and there are strict rules about dress, conduct etc.      The ladies I bowled with were great though and I had fun (despite my new shoes rubbing the most enormous blister on my right heel)!!

I must have been OK as I've been railroaded into competing in an inter-club match next Sunday ..... I'm getting nervous already!   Just had to buy a white skirt to confirm to the dress code for matches (for practice I can get away with grey trousers - which I already have in my wardrobe).   I've bought a set of bowls secondhand from the Club which will tide me over till I really know what I'm doing ... its so expensive starting new hobbies from scratch.

The Bowls club is in a fantastic location, next to Whitstable Castle and across the road from the beach path and the sea - its so pretty and peaceful there.

The castle (photographed from the Bowls Club)

David and me (not)!!

I'm trying to read up on all the rules and regulations so I don't do anything too wrong!

Then Friday evening David and I walked back to the Club for a BBQ evening.   The weather stayed nice enough for us to sit outside with some of our 'new friends' - the older members preferred to sit indoors although they complained that the live music was too loud (which amused us as many of them are deaf)!!  We are amongst the youngest members but are hard pushed to keep up some of the members who are 20 years older than us.   It was a lovely evening and even David got up to dance a few times (unheard of). 

I've now decided that we need to learn some jive steps .... my next project :-)

Anyway, Friday was pretty good weather, yesterday was dreadful with non-stop rain.   Today (touch wood) has been dry so far ...... but I find it hard to believe that we might expect 40 days of fair weather if today remains dry.     That really would be a miracle!


Jan/ said...

I'm sure you'll be just fine with your new hobby and won't commit any grievous sins of etiquette during any practice or match! I guess it's so novel to those of us in the US that there are such strict rules that it seems almost funny to hear you worry about it.

Hope your good weather holds up too!

hmuxo said...

Such an interesting post, Sue! and love the photo of the castle..truly beautiful!

Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

there are a few bowls clubs around here. when we took sky out for a walk in the pouring down rain, they were out playing, all in white but they looked miserable :/

Jo said...

I didn't even remember there was a castle in Whitstable. I assume you are talking about lawn bowling which is pretty popular here, there is a club just down the road from us. Never tried it. We 5 pin bowl which is a game exclusive to Canada and which we both love. Certainly no dress rules. I haven't heard of any dress rules for lawn bowling, but will ask friends who participate. Very often in my experience a lot of these places out English the English.

sue said...

Yep ... its lawn bowls. We've joined this one which is outdoors so closes for the Winter - but the social side/clubhouse opens regularly so people can still get together through the colder weather.

The dress code is pretty strict but its all laid out in the rules and regs ... I just need to sit down and work through it all.

I'm an ex-tenpin bowler so apart from having to wear sleeved tops in competition (and the correct shoes of course) there weren't lots of rules to worry about.

Whitstable Castle started out as a Manor House in the 1790s and over the years different owners have increased its size and changed its appearance. The Council own it now and with the help of a Lottery grant it was renovated about 4 years ago and now is used for lots of social events.

I'm a bit worried about the bowls match next Sunday Jennifer so I'm on the lookout for secondhand bowls waterproofs ... I don't think rain stops play so I don't want to end up like a drowned rat if the weather is bad :-)