I am standing, beer in hand, just beyond the boundary rope at Alcester and Ragley Park Cricket Club in the grounds of Ragley Hall. Two of my grandchildren have been enrolled in the ECB AllStars programme and they, dressed in their sky blue shirts and wielding their orange bats, are having a great time taking their first steps in the game of Cricket.
My family are around me: one son in law playing with his younger daughter; the other, beer in hand, chatting to a friend. My daughter is sitting watching her eldest daughter and her cousin. I tilt my beer bottle to the boys in the time honoured fashion. “Another?” I saunter off towards the tiny, wooden pavilion to order my round.
It’s a warm Spring evening. Surprising really. A huge low pressure system to the west of Ireland is sending huge showers across the country with rain, hail even thunder. But tonight is quiet, warm and sunlit as the shadows lengthen across the pitch. This is one of those evenings my wife would have loved. Surrounded by family; watching grandkids play; a couple of drinks; the opportunity to organise a picnic. I wonder if she is watching?
She might even have enjoyed the evening walk to the ground. Certainly there cannot be many more pleasant commutes. Not far: just lightly more than a mile from front door to park gates. Follow a short footpath then down the flood bank into the water meadow beyond. Then follow the river bank until reaching a field gate and leaving The Exercise Yard under the new bridge that carries the bypass.
Emerging into daylight again I go up the bank and into a field full of sheep. recently pollarded willow trees follow a somewhat swollen stream. Normally ford-able with only the slight risk of a wet foot, this time I take the footbridge and continue diagonally across the field exiting at the cattle grid next to the tiny, wooden village hall. After which it is but a few yards to the imposing gates of Ragley Hall and the cricket ground beyond. And after the cricket I shall have the opportunity to re-trace my steps.
The evening was a huge success for everyone. A chance for families to let off steam after the strict confines of pandemic. So, with a beautiful venue; a couple of beers and the sounds of kids playing made it a beautiful evening.