Monday, April 23, 2012

Games in Guildford, a visit to the Castle and seeing a Giant Beetle

Playing Bar Billiards, Table Tennis and a new version of Ping Pong in Guildford!

Following my quick stop off at Woking Park (via Shepperton) I recently visited Guildford, Surrey for an afternoon of sporting activity and games with fellow blogger and BMGA Tour rival Oliver ‘The Machine’ Florence.

Our planned day of fun & games in February had been thwarted by the snow, but with rain and “blusterous” conditions forecast for Wednesday the weather was not going to be as pleasant as on my last visit to the town back in September 2008. On that occasion I managed to play the Stoke Park Minigolf coursewas turned away from the Lido as it was not yet open for the season and saw a wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube man.

Before meeting up with Ollie I had a wander around the town and went to Guildford Museum, which is worth a visit. I spotted a few places that offered Gluten Free food too, the best named place was ‘Glutton & Glee’ - see photo.

Walking around Allen House Grounds I saw that they had a Jabberwocky Maze (it wasn’t difficult). Ollie later told me that the grounds are home to a Golf Putting Green course in the summer season and the websites for Allen House Grounds and Allen House Pavilion have more details on the course.

Allen House Gardens - home to a Jabberwocky Maze and a Minigolf Putting Green

Allen House Gardens - home to a Jabberwocky Maze and a Minigolf Putting Green
The Jabberwocky Maze

With Wednesday 18th April 2012 marking 100 days until the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games the date of 18/04/12 also marked an unspecified countdown until the ‘Guildford Games’ – a multi-sport event ‘planned’ to take place in the summer and consisting of the disciplines of Minigolf, Darts, Bar Billiards and ‘some sort of game involving the Castle’.

As part of the preparation for the Guildford Games, Ollie and I headed to the Royal Oak pub for a few games of Bar Billiards. The table is in a good position in the pub and was in very good condition indeed. Each of the tables I’ve played to date have had their own subtle differences and I really enjoyed playing the table at the Royal Oak – perhaps it was because the Mushroom didn’t wobble precariously at all on rebound shots at the 200-hole!

The Royal Oak Pub in Guildford has Free Bar Billiards on a Sunday
The Royal Oak Pub in Guildford has Free Bar Billiards on a Sunday

We decided to play a best-of-3 games match and in game one I defeated Ollie 1,300 to 480 after holing-out with a white ball to the 100-hole in the shootout.

Partway through the game the barman mentioned to us that we were playing the game incorrectly, as the Royal Oak Rules use a variation whereby the red ball is replaced on the spot and a white ball is used as the cue ball each time the red ball is potted. After a quick look online we found these ‘variant’ rules (amongst others) on the excellent Masters Traditional Games website.

Playing a shot on the Royal Oak's Bar Billiards table

Our second game saw us invoke the “R’oak Rules” and the game was a very close fought battle. The match once again went to a sudden-death shootout. Ollie managed to score 100 by potting the white ball with an 'in off' the Mushroom on the right of the table, but was still on the losing end of a 1,400 to 1,100 scoreline.

Ollie plays a shot on the Royal Oak's Bar Billiards table - note the use of 'Royal Oak Rules'

After play at the Royal Oak we headed to Guildford Castle for a look around. The Castle Grounds are home to a Bowls Club – perhaps Lawn Bowls will be an event in the Guildford Games too.

Guildford Castle
Guildford Castle

We then moved on to Stoke Park for a look at the Minigolf course and new Table Tennis table that has been installed. We found that ahead of the new summer season the 12-hole Stoke Park Minigolf course has had a lick of paint on the obstacles and also had a new ‘obstacle’ added in the shape of a Tractor!?

Minigolf in Guildford's Stoke Park
The new Tractor on the Stoke Park Swedish Felt Minigolf course

Despite my 'retirement' from competitive Table Tennis/Ping Pong/Wiff Waff/Pong I brought my Ping Pong bats and balls along to give the Stoke Park Table Tennis table a go.  After a knock-up our best-of-3 games Aqua Table Tennis match began and Ollie took a quick lead before winning the first game 9-6. After switching sides Ollie put his ‘local knowledge’ to good use and served to the puddle on my side of the table to pick up a 9-7 win and victory in the match. This was despite my best attempts to unnerve ‘The Machine' on the journey to Stoke Park!

The new Table Tennis table in Guildford's Stoke Park

Playing some Ping Pong at Stoke Park

The final game we played (and one that will be very unlikely to make an appearance in the Guildford Games) was 'Ping Pong Crazy Golf'. After several unsuccessful hole-in-one attempts on the Net hole and the Flat Loop (with scores ranging from 4 to 12!?) Ollie scored the only Ace of our ‘round’ on hole number four.

Ping Pong Crazy Golf at Stoke Park, Guildford
Ollie lines up a shot for a hole-in-one in the new game of Ping Pong Crazy Golf

Ping Pong Crazy Golf
Playing some Ping Pong Crazy Golf on Stoke Park's Minigolf course

We then went for a wander to Guildford Lido to see if we could see the Minigolf course in there. We could, but couldn’t play it as the Lido is only open from May. A swimming event is a possible inclusion in the competition calendar for the Guildford Games too!

The Guildford Lido was closed on this visit - so the Minigolf course remains unplayed by me

Instead of playing any Minigolf to finish out the afternoon's entertainment, Ollie pointed out the Giant Guildford Beetle that is amongst some trees beyond the Lido!!!

A gate that is lacking a fence. And a Gigantic Beetle beyond it!
A gate that is lacking a fence. And a Gigantic Beetle beyond it!

Getting scared off of a Giant Beetle in Guildford
Getting scared off of a Giant Beetle in Guildford

Commenting on the day’s sporting endeavours Ollie said "It was great to see Squire finally make a return to Guildford after the previously aborted attempts. We managed to fit quite a few sporting activities in to the day and it proved to be a good test for the up-and-coming Guildford Games. We are going to need to tweak a few of the rules ahead of the event though, particularly after Richard's run-in with the barman over the correct use of the red ball in bar billiards.

The Machine added "I was pleased that I managed to beat him at the new form of Ping Pong despite an extremely unsettling incident in the car on the way to the park. He took his defeat well though and I'm pleased he seemed genuinely delighted when I showed him a massive sculpture of a beetle."

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Richard Gottfried said...

Ollie gets scared off of my driving 'skills' and I get scared off of a the Guildford Beetle lol!

Ollie said...

I had to shout out when we were in the car. I don't shout out often.

Richard Gottfried said...

That was a shout!?

Ollie said...


Richard Gottfried said...

I've heard from my Guildford-area-based sporting rival Oliver 'The Machine' Florence that the Bar Billiards table at the Royal Oak Pub in Guildford is no more!

Sad news indeed as it was a good table and nice pub to play the game in.