Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Life and Times of a Cricket Wife

So here we are again.  Spring has sprung, the clocks went back this weekend and the outdoor cricket season is just two weeks away.  I specify outdoor, because the diehard cricketers have been playing indoors all winter! 

In my previous life, before I met my husband, when I thought about afternoons spent watching cricket I probably envisaged something terribly sophisticated and British.  A lady dressed in a pretty floral frock (for surely it must be a frock, not a dress) reclines in a striped deckchair, a wicker picnic basket at her feet and a glass of Pimms within arm’s reach.  In the distance the sound of leather on willow, the genteel applause of the crowd and a clipped BBC voice (circa 1950) saying “well done”; the lady raises her glass in acknowledgement of the victory. 

Nothing, but nothing could be further from the truth!  An afternoon spent watching cricket, more often than not entails as much packing and planning as an Arctic expedition.  A variety of garments are needed in case of cool weather, cold weather and, very often, a blanket as a back-up.  Of course, you also need a variety of sunscreen in case of bright sunshine, or brilliant sunshine;  and if I’m packing sunscreen then I’ll also want something to wipe it all off again at the end of the day (I hate to be sticky!) so a small soapy flannel makes its way into my already stuffed ‘go bag’.  Toss in my book, distance sunglasses, reading sunglasses and my lotions, potions and pills and I’m good to go! 

As for my picnic basket – I haven’t owned a wicker basket since I took cookery classes at school in the 70’s.  Wicker was very fashionable for cookery baskets in the 70’s!!  No, my picnic gets packed into a cool-bag, as everyone else’s does today!  My ‘picnic’ varies from week to week but is always a sandwich or filled roll of some sort (egg mayonnaise, salmon and cucumber, cheese salad etc), some fresh fruit and, of course, a flask of boiling water, my mug and some teabags.

Before I can even think about swanning off to park myself in my chair for the duration, we have to get the ground up and running.   

Cue Groundforce Day!  This is probably my favourite day of the season.  All the loyal stalwarts gather at the ground to weed the borders, paint the picket fence and the wrought ironwork, clean the clubhouse, trim back the bushes and cut back the trees.  As Chairman’s wife my role in all of this is firmly in the kitchen!!  If you’re imagining Bree Van de Kamp in a floral apron, immaculate manicure proffering dainties to handsome cricketers – think again!   

This is good old British builders’ fare!  The early birds start off with a breakfast of ‘bacon butties’ and tea.  If all I cooked all day was bacon butties my troops would not be disappointed!  No matter how much bacon I buy and cook, it’s somehow never enough!  The look on the faces as I take around tray after tray of stuffed bacon rolls is utterly priceless – and what gets me out of bed for what is an exhausting day!  The teapot that could feed an army never seems to hold enough as we pour mug after mug after mug of tea. 

Once the washing up after round one is done (and I am eternally grateful for the dishwasher that we invested in!) it’s time to get started on lunch.  As this is more of a graze than a stop and eat, it’s got to be eat-it-in-your-hand fare.  Hot dogs and burgers specifically!  Again, we get through pot after pot of tea .... and coffee .... and squash!! 

Finally, the last of the bangers and burgers are cooked and served; the dishes done and put away and the kitchen cleaned and returned to order.  Apart from a few rounds of tea I’m more or less off duty; it’s time for me to sit out in the sunshine, catch up with old friends and enjoy the feel of the sun on my face after a long winter.

We’ll break out the cake and sit in the sunshine with a cuppa somewhere around 3 or 4 o’clock, admire our handywork and anticipate the weekends to come. 

Welcome back Summer, it's good to see you again!

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