Only Clinging On (Shell Game)

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‘Only Clinging On (Shell Game)’

Tiny mussels and barnacles, thousands of them, cling to a rock in the sea, which in turn is enveloped in the tide’s swirl.

Fragility plays relentlessness in this particular shell game.

Sometimes I feel like one of those small molluscs or crustaceans, insignificant and only clinging on to life.

Those are the days that you hold on to whatever hope you have, and it doesn’t matter what it is…

Play What’s In Front Of You


Art and writing teach us much; I derive a great deal of benefit from the creative offerings of my fellow bloggers on this platform (thank you!).

So too, sport and games give us an understanding of ourselves.

My particular sporting activity is lawn bowls – above are photos from an early morning solo practice session and  a recent regional championship I competed in.

One of many learnings I have taken from the game I love is this:

You can only play what’s in front of you.

Whether it’s the level of tournament and opposition; the weather conditions; the state of the playing surface, or any other variable, you just have to accept it and deal with it.

That means you can’t always do everything you would like to do or indeed are capable of, as the game situation, in that particular moment, may not require those optimal things.

You must constantly review what the game is demanding of you, right now.

No time to dwell on the end or game just played, or to “future trip” about the next one.

You also can’t do anything about what you can’t control  – for instance, your opponent’s brilliance (or lack of it).

When it’s your turn on the mat, all you have is the bowl in your hand , and what lies in front of you on the green, in that moment.

Sometimes you will believe that discretion is the better part of valour, choose to play safe and tuck the risky shots away. At other moments, you might see a shot that no-one else thinks in on, trust your instincts and “just do it” (in the words of the great activewear philosopher Nike).

Game situation is a fantastic mindfulness tool !

These are, of course, lessons for life as well as sport.

Play what’s in front of you – for that is the only thing you can do.








The Bowler II


The summer lawn bowls season has just ended in New Zealand, and I thought I should mark the end of the high time in my sport with a shot of my friend Vince in full flight on the grass at the Auckland Men’s  Champ Singles last month. Nice style!

Played him that day, got beaten 21-9.He can be pretty bloody good ….

No dice then, but that’s sport – put the poor games behind you, learn and move on. There’ll be other opportunities.

Not that the sport goes completely into hibernation, just less intense competition and a move onto artificial surfaces over the winter.

Butt there is nothing like the feel and subtle variation offered by natural, grass greens and the warmth of the sun on your back as you play.

See the below link on this blog for more:

 The Bowler

My Bowling Happy Place

20190206_101708.jpgWe all should have at least one physical place that makes us joyful, a spot where you can just be. I have a few as it happens and thought I would round off the series of lawn bowls posts with a shot of my own club and its green in Auckland.Sometimes noisy with the sounds of bowlers playing,at other times it is just me there in the parklike grounds,with the sounds of birds and cattle,the wind in the poplars and pines.Bliss…

On The Green

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Brightly coloured lawn bowls on a bowling green

I took up the sport of lawn bowls (played throughout the British Commonwealth in the main) some thirteen years ago ,and it is something I just adored from the get go. I play it competitively as well as socially. It’s like chess on steroids –  a great amalgam of eye/hand skills, individual technique, strategy, rules and etiquette ,combined with an immense variability of people (team mates and  opponents)and  playing conditions. Complex at times  but a simple game at heart.

Those blue bowls with the bat motif are mine by the way. Every set of  bowls is unique in size, weight and trajectory as well as decoration  and are very personal to the bowler. Playing with bowls other than my own is like walking on the moon, sorta feels unnatural.

You learn a lot from playing a sport, not the least of which is not to take yourself, your mistakes ,and losses, so seriously. Mistakes and losses happen and you are what you are. And, in the end, if  the game is not fun, maybe  you are taking it way too seriously!