It really was beautiful day yesterday – right for being outside, so I phoned around the petanque ladies to see if anyone wanted to go down to the piste at Kailzie. That’s what the petanque court is called, I discovered – a piste, same as in ski slope! There was no-one available – tennis on TV from Wimbledon – so I just went by myself with the plan that if there was anyone else there I would make friends and join in, or if not, I would just practise by myself.
Not having my own set of boules, I borrowed some from the shop at the entrance to the Gardens and headed out across the little bridge, over the ground where the big house used to be, and between the trees and a huge rhododendron bush to where the piste is hidden in a corner of the garden.
I could see that there were some players there already, so got ready to introduce myself. “I’m a new member,” I told them. “I’m Evelyn. Just thought I would come down and see what was happening!” They introduced themselves as Irene and Tommy, Davy, another guy whose name I can’t remember, and then - lo and behold – Michel popped out of the little green hut that acts as a shelter, to shake hands in the French way!
They were in the middle of an ‘end’, a game, but as they were playing 3 against 2, they said I could join in the next ‘end’, making the odds even. I think I’m still suffering from Beginner’s Luck (thankfully), as I seemed to do pretty well again. Tommy, discovering I was a beginner, gave me a couple of wee tips for throwing the boules, which was great – and obviously worked, as I didn’t disgrace myself!
In between my turns to play, or when I had thrown my two boules, I had to take shelter under the trees. It really was too hot for me! I think it must have been in the high seventies, maybe 80s, twenties celsius, which I guess is quite average for some of you who will read this! I’m really not tolerant of heat in any form, be it weather, food, spices, tea, water…. I was so glad I had thought about taking a hat with me, but will remember sun cream and a bottle of water next time too! Luckily Irene had sun cream with her so offered it to Michel and me.
This is Michel with the cream all over his face, not rubbed in as I had done! Not that it bothered him! Wearing sandals, his toes were getting pretty burnt so he slathered on another half inch to protect them! On we played, the score keeping fairly level throughout!
The plan of the game is that someone standing in a small circle drawn in the gravel, throws the small jack – cochonnet in French, meaning piglet – about 6 – 8 metres ahead, then proceeds to throw a boule to land as near to it as possible. The arrow in the photo on the left shows where the cochonnet was in this game. There is quite a bit of a camber on this bit of the piste, so boules and cochonnet tend to roll over to the edge of play!
Then the next player takes a turn, with the idea of getting closer than the first player. This player or team mate can continue to throw his or her boules – two or three, depending on the number in the team – until theirs is closest to the cochonnet.
First team plays again, to get closer still to the little piglet. If you can knock an opponent’s boule out or hit the cochonnet nearer to your own team’s boule, so much the better. And so it continues till all boules are played. Well that’s the basic description. I guess there’s more to it than that really! There is certainly quite a lot of deliberation as to whose boules are closest,
Points are then scored by the team whose boules are nearest to the cochonnet. It may be only one point but clever play can make it several points! Sometimes even the measuring tape has to come out to determine if a boule is a millimetre the right or wrong distance from the jack – and it’s the team to reach 13 points first that wins the match.
The scoring board is a short wooden plank with two vertical rows of holes, one for each team to fit the scoring pegs in. It wasn’t until Davy remarked at some point that the score was level pegging that – Duh! Palm of hand hits forehead – it suddenly dawned on me that that was how the expression came about. Both teams had the same score and level pegs! Well it could have been any game with pegs for scoring that gave us the expression, probably a card game, but fancy not consciously realising that before!!! Duh, I say again!
We played two matches, finishing up about teatime, but even though I bouled? well, I was on the losing team each time! Oh well, it was only a game!
Talk again soon.