The Herne Bay Petanque Club Open Day

I helped to found the Herne Bay Petanque Club in Salisbury Reserve in 1995, and was its first secretary.

Petanque is a game for all ages. Every Thursday morning a seniors group play at Herne Bay. Last week when I visited there were 29 playing. The oldest present was 89, while several were in their 70s.

However, petanque can be an important ingredient of a great social occasion. Some players insist their pointing and shooting improves with a glass of wine in their other hand.

The piste, as the playing surface is known, is well laid out, with shade trees growing well. The complex is council owned, and the club has a peppercorn lease arrangement with the council.

An open day will be held on Friday 23 March from 5pm where new, or prospective new, members will be welcomed.

There will be explanations about how to play the game, balls - known as boules - can be borrowed, and a sausage sizzle will be put on. Locals are encouraged to bring along a picnic for the whole family and have a fun time.

Membership is very reasonable at $55 a year and, for those who wish to become a bit more competitive, there are interclub competitions with the other 12 Auckland clubs.

Local man Norman Stanhope is the president, and the club boasts several top Auckland and, in fact, New Zealand players. Ian Baker and Alan Fletcher are both very fine players. Alan is club captain, and conducts coaching sessions on Tuesday evenings. Seniors, or those with time to spare, play on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, while Friday evenings are for all comers.

Petanque is genuinely a game for all ages and all sexes. There are no male-female divides.

Come to the open day and try petanque for yourself. Come down on a Tuesday or Thursday if you have time, and throw a few boules for $3 - 9.30am until 12 noon.

Petanque is not an expensive game, and the club will loan boules until you buy your own set. It is also not a game that needs to take all day. You can fit an hour or so around your other busy schedules. (JOHN ELLIOTT)