Monday 2 July
"It was always going to be a difficult task but someone from Moravian had to do it: infiltrate ESOC to discover their top secret plans for 2019’s Jamie Stevenson Trophy ‘Best Decorated Tent’ competition. It was very close this year and the challenge to retain the famous sweetie hamper for MOR is on.
So I was sent, having ‘previous’ at ESOC (as a youngster - as it happens alongside the aforementioned Jamie Stevenson, although to be honest it wasn’t often ‘alongside’ at all - indeed I sometimes thought we were doing different sports!). Also I had an excellent cover story of parents, Norma and Peter Coutts, in the club, to visit. The annual social croquet competition seemed the perfect place. I scouted ESOC’s local patch, walking through the city to the game. I realised how seriously ESOC were taking the situation when they placed Club President Ewart Scott to intercept my route on the Water of Leith Walkway way over by the art gallery. But dark glasses and cover of a dog on a lead meant I slipped past and made it to the competition ground. Ewart later claimed he was geocaching, a standard excuse for furtive lurking on benches by bridges.
So all going well, I was warmly welcomed by all, some who knew me from 30 years ago and/or have seen me as lost as ever in forests more recently, as well people whom I hadn’t met before. So, a friendly club with a good social scene, welcoming to newcomers, as well as an impressive range of ages represented (at least 8 to 80 I think). Nice to see some juniors, though not many (are they already busy making more bunting I wonder? None on show here, they probably keep it under lock). So... tough competition.
The golf croquet itself really was good fun and allowed easy chat, with a sociable format as we played with a partner against another pair and had time for tea and treats in between games. I think Fran, the organiser, (on my opposing team:obviously detailed to keep an eye on me) is very shrewd to choose croquet, as it gives a level playing field/lawn(navigational prowess only very occasionally being an advantage). The skill and physical level was achievable by all, even I got the hang of the few rules and the team tactics added an edge. With this being a regular (all be it annual) ESOC event, some members are actually quite good: indeed another opponent, Nigel, managed a hoop in one, although he did admit to a little pre match practice. They certainly knew I wasn’t a croquet shark as I went from side to side of the pitch sometimes managing skilfully to miss the hoop and all other balls I was trying to knock out on my way through. We were gently guided by lovely members of the croquet club, who I think had seen all our totally misjudged shots before and managed to keep us going, with good humour, sometimes even in the right direction. And the twirl/wispa/goldchocolate prizes were inspired and hard fought for.
Also, cleverly, golf croquet provides just the right amount of challenge to make it great fun, whilst being different enough from ‘O’ not to be a serious contender for members’ time, or at least not one that will preclude them getting lost for fun in forests. Like many an orienteering course, it left me feeling I was just getting the hang of it when it was all over.... I would have got the next hoop/control bang on... next time I’ll do so much better!
In the end, having gleaned nothing at all about plans for thenext ESOC JST tent (I think I started enjoying the croquet too much and forgot why I was there), I knew I’d been rumbled when Fran asked if I could write a visitor’s report for Capital-O - I knew she was really saying she was on to me. So, mission incomplete, but I can take a few things back to Moravian from the ESOC social scene: friendly, relaxed, inclusive, welcoming summer evening activity not too demanding and great fun. I wonder if there is a croquet lawn in Moray?"
Huge thanks for taking time to write this Alison, come again soon. We promise Fran won’t ask you to write another report!