On a sunny, but chilly, Saturday morning in mid-April, at the back of a quiet village pub in Orton Waterville, a small group of about 18 U3A members turned up and milled around awaiting the team draw for the weekly ‘Jeu de Boule’. The scene resembled many-a-town square or riverside car park in rural France with everyone polishing their 4 inch shiny orbs in readiness for the off.
Today we are at one of the two weekly Boule activities in Peterborough U3A. The game is also known as Petanque (France) or Bocce (Italy -- sometimes spelt Boccie in anglicised form) or even Bochas (S. America). The game is played in many parts of the world with slightly differing rules but all based around the same core moves. The game is not dissimilar to a typically English game of bowls but the equipment differs in that the balls are made of solid steel rather than wood, and the ball is tossed in the air rather than rolled along the grass.
Jo – the organiser- carried out a draw for teams using coloured and numbered ‘chips’ so from game to game you are likely to be making new friends right from the off. I was drawn on the same team as Ruby, a lovely lady who is a regular at the group and goes for a little gentle exercise each week. We had a good laugh as we chatted about where we had originated from – she was proper London, whereas I was an upstart from the suburbs.
The group all play, using a pegging scoring system, for about an hour, and then half time is called by Jo. At this point everyone retires into the pub for a well-deserved and welcome cup of coffee and take some time to chat about everything and nothing for about 20 minutes. The pub is a comfortable setting to warm up a bit if needed.
A re-draw is then carried out so you will probably have a new team-mate for session 2, and it’s all back to the playing area for another session. Some people avoid traditional lawn bowls because it involves quite a bit of bending down, but with Boule, because the balls are made of steel it is possible to retrieve your balls by use of a magnet on a piece of string, so bending is drastically reduced if not eliminated all together
Jo, who organises both the Friday and Saturday Boule groups keeps the sessions flowing nicely and everyone gets a little gentle exercise and a sociable chat.
All in all this Roving Reporter can thoroughly recommend this group if you want something a little sporty but not too energetic. The members of the group are a friendly bunch and are more than pleased to explain what is going on to the total novice – but those with a little experience, maybe from a French holiday or two, will fit straight in.
If you wish to take a look at the rules of Boule then this link will take you to a page that gives the basic way it is played.
To see the Saturday Boule Group Page follow this link
To view a few pictures of the morning go to this photo gallery