It's been a while since the departure of the Peckham Rye Bowling club has left the green bereft of stately figures in white, sighing to the soft clock of wood upon wood. For a while, it seemed that the manicured rectangle in the heart of the park would soon be reclaimed by weeds, or worse. But into the breach strode the brave young entrepreneurs of the Cafe on The Rye to revive the great tradition although in a more democratic and open incarnation, charging a bargain three pounds per hour to hire a set of balls or "woods" as we bowls aficionados call them. There's also a paperback book exchange so you can save trees and money by bringing along your read novels and self-help books that didn't help and swapping them for some serendipitous treasure.
So the other Sunday, being visited by family from the Basque Country, we thought we'd introduce them to the gentle art. My nephew and niece, aged 10 and 13 respectively are more into their own traditional sports of pelota, rock-lifting, wood-chopping and, well, football. When I said we were going bowling, they were expecting something like the kind that involves pins, but they took to the more subtle style of lawn bowling like ducks to water and beat the adult teams by a wide, in fact rather embarrassing, margin.