Bowls in the Park

Last Sunday, Dan had a meeting with his internship coordinators, so I decided I’d take a little stroll through Hyde Park while I was waiting for him to finish. And let me tell you, that park is HUGE. Anyway, I walked around for a little bit, until I came upon this cute little cafe with tennis courts and a bowling green behind it. So I stopped at it and sat at a little table in the back, next to an older man.

I started watching people playing this weird game that was almost like bowling, and the man sitting next to me started talking to me. His name was Stephen and we just started talking. He’s written a couple of books, so as soon as I said I was an ebook editor he asked how he could sell his books as ebooks, haha.

hyde-park
The lawn bowls green in Hyde Park.

Anyway, as we were talking I asked about the weird game that people were playing on the lawn. Turns out, it’s called Bowls and it’s basically the British version of bowling. So, there’s this one white ball called the jack, and at the beginning of the game, it’s rolled to the opposite side of the green from the players. You can play as singles, pairs, or fours, and that determines how many bowls you get (in singles and pairs, each person gets four bowls, and in fours, each player gets two).

So everyone takes turns rolling their bowls to the other side, trying to get them as close to the jack as possible. Whichever person or team that gets their bowl closest to the jack gets 2 points, and they just keep playing from one side of the green to the other until one person or team reaches a certain amount of points, usually 25, if I remember right.

My new buddy Stephen said that it’s a really chill game to play, but that there’s also people who play it professionally and compete around the world. And while it is a really simple game, there are a lot of nuances to it. The bowls have a bias on them, which just means that one side is weighted, so when you roll the bowls, there’s a curvature to its path. And there’s a rule that if your bowl touches the jack, it’s marked and given priority over the other bowls. And you can knock your opponent’s bowl out of the way and a lot of other rules that I don’t remember. But it was really interesting to learn about it, especially since I had never heard anything about it before.

Anyway, after he explained the game to me, I still hadn’t heard back from Dan, so we decided to walk around the Serpentine. And let me tell you, it was a wonderful experience walking around the Serpentine with an actual Brit. He was able to explain to me a lot of the background behind some of the art pieces around the Serpentine, like the Peter Pan statue or the Arch by Henry Moore. For example, he said that The Arch was built so that when you looked through it you’d be able to see Kensington Palace. Eventually, after our walk around the Serpentine, I got ahold of Dan and I parted ways with my new friend. But the whole experience reminded me of my mission, meeting random people and talking with them. It was my favorite part of the mission, and it was lovely to be able to do it again.

– Syd

2015-06-21 15.02.52
Dan and I at the Italian Gardens in Hyde Park.
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