After a trip down the M5 to a quiet and peaceful Somerset market town in 2014 followed by a quick trip across country to Winchester and it's boutique accommodation last year it was decided that we really should push the boat out for this year's tour, it having been a long time since we've had the feeling at the start of the Friday game of being a long way from home. So, Scarborough this year. Concerns about the quality of the cricket we may face are put aside as the struggle to get three games organized takes over, in the end we have to settle for two, a Friday night game against Filey and a Sunday against the interestingly named Bitter and Twisted.
A fleet of cars leave Oxford in good time, and in good weather, and head north. As we advance up country Remain signs are soon replaced by Leave, a stark reminder of how much an island those who voted to stay in are in a general ocean of 'Up yours Delores'. When we finally get there the weather in Scarborough is fine, and from the street we're all in we can see the sea, perfect. Andy Downey, formally of this parish but now back living up north, meets us and we count our luck at the sun. This doesn't last long, pretty soon after we start the trip to the game the heavens open the rain hammers down, double speed wipers can hardly cope. To add to the comedy value the directions to the ground prove less than perfect, at one point leading us down a dead end to the sea resulting in everyone having reverse back up a narrow street in a downpour. The rain stops by the time we get to the ground, but surely we can't play after that? To their credit the oppo think otherwise. A great effort by some of the Filey players get a playable wicket ready in under an hour after the rain, and the game goes a head. It is soon apparent how wide the gulf is between the two teams, and it soon seems as if there are two games going on, with Bodley just playing to their ability while Filey, with an XI made up almost entirely of first team players, make a game of it by dumbing down as much as possible; their over-seas player, a friendly Aussie quick goes behind the stumps, right-hand bowlers bowl left-handed (and gets wickets) an so on. Filey thrash us, good naturedly, but it's obvious that Filey, and their supports, can't quite understand how we can be so bad at the game and there is little friendly chat during the game between the teams. We do though have a good drink after in the club house and while some of the team are a bit unhappy at such a one-sided match we're all glad to have got a game in, considering both the weather and the lack of a match tomorrow.
Back to base, a drink and then a curry. We find a Thai/Indian and settle in, soon the cobras flow and orders for curries at both ends of the heat scale are made. I try and match Gavin, master blaster of the hotter items on the menu. He asks for a Jungle Curry, so do i. A steaming bowl arrives, heavily laden with chillies. Bloody hot, even with the chillies pushed to the side of the plate, feel pleased with myself at the end only to look up and see that Gav has finished his, chillies and all. A search for a late night pub proves fruitless and even the harden club goers turn down the chance to visit a dingy looking night-club on the way back, deciding that the dodgy entrance down a narrow alley more suited to knee-tremblers and unhygienic practises didn't look too inviting.
Saturday is day of no cricket. The squad split into three groups, with one going to Whitby, one exploring Scarborough while the third; James, Gareth and I decide to do the coastal walk to Robin Hood's Bay. Loading up with crab sandwiches from the harbour shops and with Andrew Milner coming along until the next bus-stop, the group walk along the seemingly never-ending beach while happy families play on the sand. Andrew turns down a chance of one bus-stop after another, and soon we climb out of Scarborough and on to the path proper. 7 hours and 16 miles later we make it to Robin Hood's, knackered - despite an unscheduled rest stop at a National Trust tea room, against Gareth's grumpy advice not to stop walking - but well satisfied with our lot, Andrew in particular has put in a sterling effort in ignoring numerous chances to turn back and we all have a number of pints in the beautifully sited Bay Hotel before an interesting taxi journey back, a quick shower and meeting up with the rest of the team to discuss the day over plenty of beer and fish and chips. Who'd have thought that the local branch of Wetherspoons would have such a range of Belgian beers?
Sunday is the type of day tours are made of. Yorkshire are playing at Scarborough and some of the team watch the morning session before journeying on to the ground of our opponents,the wonderfully named Bitter and Twisted. We can tell this is going to be our sort of match when they set out the rules. Retire at 50, pretty standard, and everyone bowls 4 overs, which certainly isn't. The bitters are a mixed bunch with some young and older players in their ranks and they score a respectable 180 off their 40, against a wide range of Bodley attack. The rule about bowling means that occasional as well as hardly ever get to turn their arms, resulting in welcome wickets for Gareth, Dave Busby and Andy Mac. Despite an excellent start from James and Tim Saunders and a bit of heroics towards the end the team fall short of the total but have had a great game. A drink with the oppo after, and a vote for the man of the tour (Andrew for his epic hike the day before, in which some of his team-mates reveal that he passed a few bus-stops without realising it and they didn't think it right to let him know this).It was interesting to watch the oppo while this was going on, with the younger players wondering what was going on while the older more experienced looking on with what i'd like to think of with some respect.
Back to Scarborough. With a good tea we didn't need a meal straight away so looked for a pub that Gareth had read about. After a seeming never-ending journey we stop in front of a frankly unimpressive building, totally lacking in any sort of pub-like appearance. Glad we made the effort though, as inside was a treasure, with plenty of good beer on tap and a whole host of Belgian beers too. After a few we all got the munchies and went off in search of a take-away, bringing it back to the pub and leaving an ever growing pile of rice and noodles on the floor before venturing back inside to have more drinks. I can remember having a few conversations with some drunk locals at one point, accents made thicker by beer consumed and not understanding a word they say, before a brief chat about next year and then bed. A bloody good tour, sod the results.
...and a brief greatest hits from our weekend of defeat, enjoy!