Does anyone have a spare lawnmower?

Caversham’s lawn-care supremo John Wakeford has encountered a ‘mini crisis’! The club’s small rotary mower — which we use for trimming the periphery of our premises — has finally given up the ghost after about half a century of service.

Rather than splashing out some capital expenditure on a new one, our committee have appealed to members who may have a second-hand model they can donate to the club.

The hope is that someone will be planning to upgrade to a new machine in the spring and has an old mower they no longer need. If so, johnwakeford@icloud.com is the address to contact. Just asking…

  • John is also on the look-out for one more willing volunteer to beef up the lawn care team which he oversees.

Federation handicapper to the rescue at Albert Road

While Caversham’s GC plans for the coming season are well advanced, the AC arrangements are lagging some way behind.

Peperell

There’s now a behind-the-scenes push to get our players correctly accredited with handicaps before the start of the League season.

The priority is for players with no handicap cards to be assessed as a matter of urgency, and also for those who do have cards to be re- assessed.

With this is mind the Federation’s official handicapper, Richard Peperell has agreed to come to Caversham to do the honours, hopefully alongside club handicapper Mike Kay.

Charles Briggs will be organising our teams in the AC Handicap League and Short Croquet next season.

And those hoping to represent the club in these two codes should expect an imminent call from John Wakeford, who will be trying to organise a date for the handicapping process.

We’re making a three-pronged assault on GC League title

The club’s new GC team leader Jane Probitts has made a great start in the job by securing Caversham a third place in the coming season’s SCF Single Court League.

Jane (left), who has taken over the role from the highly-successful Carol Jamieson, says the League have confirmed that we will have B, C and D teams in the competition.

The move will please members who are anxious for the chance to play competitive GC in a league which we have dominated for five years.

Our opponents will again be the two Basingstoke sides, Roundheads and Cavaliers, as well as Aldermaston, but there will be no team from Dogmersfield this year.

Our B team with the silverware they won last season

Jane is currently drafting an email to all members asking who is interested in some league action this summer.

Jane said: “I am working on draft dates for the games which have to be played first — our B v C, B v D and CvD — and I’m in discussions with Basingstoke.

She is also in charge of the squad in the four-a-side Advantage League, where a reshuffle means that we will face opposition from two Phyllis Court teams.

“Once I have responses and dates of games fixed I will start allocating people to teams based on availability.”

So, keep an eye on your inboxes for Jane’s email, which will be dropping shortly.

What about the workers! They are our heroes

Between the winter’s two big freeze-ups when the Albert Road lawn was rendered unplayable, some Caversham members have still been hard at work.

So let’s hear a warm round of applause, please, for Anne and Tim Small (left), who gave up much of their valuable time over the New Year to do the mowing and white-lining on behalf of the rest of the membership. Then they repeated the job last week.

Another hero involved in public-spirited grafting has been Terry Marsh, constantly busy with his red flag, weather bulletins and updating the TeamUp app.

Terry (right) has done two spells as our lawn-fitness monitor, before Christmas and again in the last couple of weeks.

“On some days I could tell just looking from my bedroom window that there would be no chance of any play on that day,” he said.

But often he was out prodding around first thing and on other occasions he put in a double shift, returning at lunchtime to check if a thaw allowed afternoon croquet.

All this despite Terry having been hospitalised with illness over the New Year. Let’s hope the worst of the big freeze is now over so he can enjoy a bit of a lie-in.

Brian to serve for another year

Caversham club treasurer Brian Jamieson has been re-elected for a fourth and final year as secretary of the Southern Croquet Federation.

Brian was returned unopposed at the annual general meeting of the SCF at Winchester, at which the Blewbury player Peter Allan was elected as the new chairman.

Also representing Caversham at the agm was our putative new secretary for 2023, Liz Walker.

Liz — who had the pleasure of receiving the Single Court League trophy on our behalf — was impressed by the federation’s organisation. “We are lucky that the committee put in so much time on our behalf,” she said.

Christmas lunch in November… you can’t beat it!

A great time was had by all at the club’s Christmas lunch. It was generally agreed that the feast at the Pack Horse in Mapledurham was our best yet.

Good festive food, plenty to drink and excellent company… what’s not to like!

Members gave a big round of thanks to our social events supremo, Katharine Molyneux, who organised us brilliantly… and then re-organised us brilliantly with a mid-meal game of musical chairs.

Albert Road could stage another local derby

There could be three Caversham teams in the SCF Single Court League in 2023.

The club made a polite inquiry about the possibility of this and it seems that the League are likely to agree.

It would give more of our members the opportunity to play competitive GC in a League which we have dominated for five years.

If we do field three sides then the club committee may soon be looking for suggestions about how we might re-brand Caversham with some esoteric team names rather then simply calling ourselves A, B and C.

Any ideas? It has been suggested we could use Reading’s beer, bulbs and biscuits heritage. Caversham Digestives anyone? Or Caversham Crackers? Caversham Custard Creams? The possibilities are endless…

Deep Purple a big hit for brave Stella

 Stella Kendall was the first player back on the lawn when Albert Road re-opened after the annual maintenance programme.

And she was the first Caversham member to sport PURPLE hair as she played, as seen on the right in her GC match against Pam Briggs.

Stella had her hair dyed — after having it cropped short — to raise awareness of her fund-raising activities for the Alan Morement Memorial Fund, a charity which supports research into bile duct cancer, an illness which led to the death of her husband.

Her campaign got a lot of publicity from the Henley Standard; you can read their extensive interview at https://www.henleystandard.co.uk/news/home/176295/widow-has-hair-cut-and-dyed-purple-for-husband-she-lost-to-rare-cancer.html.

To make a donation to the charity visit https://bit.ly/3UBy45O.

Don’t miss the Caversham Park croquet showcase

Members will next week be able to study updated plans for the proposed new croquet lawns at Caversham Park.

Developers Beechcroft are staging a public exhibition of their latest proposals at the former BBC headquarters. 

The development includes tennis courts and bowls greens as well as croquet lawns — about which a Caversham CC sub-committee, led by Mike Kay, has been advising them ahead of our club’s possible move there some time in the future.

The exhibition will take place at the iconic former manor house on Thursday, December 8th, between 2pm and 8pm.

A Beechcroft spokesman said: “In response to the feedback arising from consultation on their current planning and listed building applications, Beechcroft have undertaken a significant refresh of their proposals in order to respond positively to the comments received by the local community, key stakeholders, statutory consultees and the local planning authority.”

Our chairman Charles Briggs has confirmed that he will take up the developers’ offer of a private meeting to guide us through the latest plans. He said: “We need to make sure we are fully briefed going forward.”

For those who can’t make it to the exhibition more information will be available on the company website www.caversham-park.co.uk and if you have any feedback cavershampark@beechcroft.co.uk is the email address to use.

Caversham members back on the croquet lawn

Don’t get excited… they’re mowing, not playing! The Albert Road lawn has had its first cut since the start of the annual maintenance procedure four weeks ago.

As our pictures show, Chris Barnard, Brian Jamieson and Charles Briggs were busy mowing last weekend.

They were assisted by Terry Marsh, who did sone ‘switching’ work on worm-casts.

The rest of our members are grateful to these volunteers for doing the hard graft.

There are still some patchy areas on the lawn, as illustrated (below) by John Wakeford’s images.

Our workers had been confused by the appearance of some dark ‘stripes’ across the lawn but it now seems that these were caused by the overlapping of feeds, giving small areas double treatment.

No date has yet been set for the resumption of play. “Lawn care continues,” said Brian.” But if the rain of the last three days continues the lawn might never re-open!”

We think he was joking, but Brian was one of the victims of a fruitless trip to High Wycombe for three Caversham members seeking some winter tournament action.

The nightmare journey culminated in a re-enactment of the events of Genesis, chapter seven, on the Hazlemere lawns (see below).