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A party of 15 bowlers and 3 spouses left the clubhouse on April 3rd at 05.20am in two minibuses to catch our Easy Jet flight to Faro from Bristol Airport.

Our apartments at the Eden Resort Albufeira on the Algarve were excellent, but rather than the all-inclusive adults only resort most were expecting, the complex seemed to be filled with every small child within a mile radius!!

More bad news followed when we learned that our first match was cancelled owing to the fact that most of the hosts were stricken with the virus! However, they did allow us the use of their green, and let us borrow a player, Tom, to make up four rinks. At Balaia (Portugese for whale) Bowling Club, the rink skipped by Roger Bond defeated Roy Willett’s rink by 20 shots to 16 over 21 ends. The rinks skipped by Mike Gilbert and Mike Beckett played out a 17 to 17 shot draw. Initially a disappointed not to have played a competitive match, we found this turned out to be a good practice session in warm sunshine.

The weather, while a little cloudy and cool at first, gradually warmed up as the week progressed, and most were able to use free time taking in the nearby town of Albufeira with its long sandy beach and walks through the town to the harbour and marina. Some even indulged in a little retail therapy, while others relaxed by the resort pools, or took advantage of the copious food and drink on offer!












Our second game was against Pedras da Rainha bowls club (who lent us a player, John,) and was played in a nice setting in very warm and pleasant conditions. Unfortunately, our previous practice session seemed to elude most of us, and we lost on all four rinks over 18 ends! Roger Bond’s rink went down to a creditable 15 shots to 19 losses, whilst the rink skipped by Roy Willett suffered a 12 shots to 21 defeat. Mike Beckett’s rink lost 13 shots to 23 while the rink skipped by Mike Gilbert took a heavy loss at 6 shots to 31. This rink contained two former internationals – “not true” – but he was looking for any excuse!!! It was a very friendly club that hosted us very well indeed. Bottles of wine from the hosts even went to all members of our best losing rink!

Saturday morning was our last match against Valverde Bowls Club in Almancil. Unfortunately, the message we were one player short had not reached the club, and there being no spare players available we had to play three rinks and one triple.  Roger Bond’s team drew the short straw and had to borrow one extra wood each. They eventually went down by 6 shots to 21. All our rinks also lost: Roy Willett’s rink by 9 shots to 23; Mike Gilbert’s rink by 14 shots to 19, and Mike Beckett’s rink by 14 shots to 20. However, all good experience, and this match, as in our previous encounter, was played in a very convivial atmosphere with the sun on our backs. Medallions were presented by the hosts to the best losing team, and the rink skipped by Mike Gilbert at the presentation took some consolation from his previous defeat.

For most this was their first foray into “international competition”, and I think I speak for everybody that on the whole it was a good trip, with our grateful thanks going to Roy Willett and Mike Beckett as organisers-in-chief.

To finish on a lighter note, although he will not agree, on our 04.00 departure from the resort, one of our number managed to leave his two suitcases in reception, and only discovered they were missing when we reached Faro Airport. His wife joked that she would rather have had their cases and left her husband in reception!! He will not do that again in a hurry, especially as he had to empty his wallet to arrange for reception to organise a taxi to get the cases to the airport before the flight left!!

Mike Gilbert - Bowls Captain for the tour

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