Looking for plonkers

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The local nickname for pétanque players is plonkers; quite a few are cribber in the winter, the nickname for cribbage players, it does not refer to their personality.

This summer the local pétanque league will be played starting at the end of April or beginning of May. It is fun, cheap, easy to learn, it’s successfully played by young and old, men and women and our league season lasts from April through to September, on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

The majority of teams operate from pubs; there are several social clubs in the leagues also. The vast majority of teams welcome new players and most will take time to teach newcomers the basics of the game.

For the uninitiated, the game is played on a piste (pitch) ideally 15 metres by 4 metres, although it can be a little smaller, and comprised of gravel, sand or bare earth – a gravel pub car park (minus cars) is usually ideal.

There are many things about the French that, despite some people’s suspicion of all foreigners, the British have taken to their hearts. Fine wines, the Cote d’Azur, even a few footballers with strange haircuts. But surely one of the most surprising imports must be pétanque – bowls without the grass or any serious ability to control the direction of the ball, once it has landed on anything from gravel to mud. But for some reason we seem to love it. Perhaps it is the very basicness of the game that appeals and is making it one of the UK’s fastest-growing sports.

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