We all made it home safely and are back to a regular routine with the exception of Doug & Jan who have moved on to Italy for an extended holiday or maybe some quiet time.
I can’t thank all of you enough for the exceptional trip you planned for us and your overwhelming generosity. I know I can speak for all of the Canadians when I say it was a trip that we will remember forever with many great moments that we can share with family and friends. There were so many highlights that I will share but please don’t be offended if I didn’t include them all, they were all very special;
• We started in London with our great hosts, Richard Winter & Sophie Raworth, Stephen Finch, and Paul Robbins who we had a lot of fun with. We then carried onto Cambridge where the UK Jesters held their annual racquets event and the Canadian Jesters were included with about 100 UK Jesters, what a start to the trip.
We toured Selwyn College and the Castle which is where Nick provided the walking tour.
We then joined the entire group for dinner at the College.
The men lost their squash singles 3-1.
• After a couple of days in Cambridge we moved on to Hampton Court Palace where we were greeted by the elegant Lesley Ronaldson to start our tour. After a delicious champagne lunch we headed to the Real Tennis Courts where Lesley and Leah (both world champions in their respective sports) provided some lessons on the game. What a wonderful time and a special place to visit.
• On to Wimbledon or better known as the England Lawn Tennis Club. Thanks to Robert Dolman and Lesley for making this happen. This is a once in a lifetime experience to play on the grass courts at this iconic venue. The tennis, the lunch and the tour of the clubhouse was a visit that will never be forgotten.
• Onto the Tube for squash and dinner at the Royal Automobile Club hosted by Richard Winter and Maurice Glover. Another great club where our Canadian girls had the experience of a Turkish bath while the Canadians lost at the singles competition 3-0. Another lovely evening with Richard and his squash team and their very special venue.
• Next stop West Sussex where we stayed with Alasdair Campbell. Sitting by the fire listing to the piano, dinner with his mom both evenings, a game of truth and lies thanks to Jan, late nights on the patio finishing up with a cocktail and telling jokes. The last night’s dinner was exceptional with all of the Jesters and guests. Yes, we lost at squash again but had a fun time. Alasdair was a very special host and the Canadians had an exceptional time with Alasdair. We finished up the night with some sock squash which was misunderstood by our own Ray (better known as the Dark Night) who thought 3 socks and streaking was more appropriate. I will let you figure out the 3rd sock.
• On the road to Seacourt, Hayling Island where we played Real Tennis to start. We had the opportunity to see the club’s annual Red against Blue tournament. Another wonderful dinner and good squash but another loss for Canada, 2-1. Are you seeing a pattern? Our hosts Nick & Patsy, Andrew & Lara, Sue & John, and Nick opened up their homes and were so welcoming.
• Off to Plymouth where we were running late but were greeted with tea and cakes at the Elfordleigh Hotel. Our host Keith White kicked off our evening with an incredible dinner and a local men’s choir who were super. After a tour of Plymouth we boarded a boat tour where the captain announced the Canadian Jesters and we drank Champaign out of silver and gold goblets, many of the other tourist were wishing they were us. The following morning as we loaded our cars Darren and Becca greeted us for the cutting of the Jesters balloons in the parking lot to send us off. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Plymouth and the hospitality. Unfortunately two of our Canadian’s had to head home due to a family emergency. They were soon missed as we moved on. Yes the men’s team lost 3-1.
• On the road again to Oxford where we met Mike & Karen Savage, Sue and Jim for tea and cake at Wadham College. Mike took the group on a tour and we spent some time walking around Oxford. Unfortunately we only had 1 day/night in Oxford as there was so much to see. The team played squash at the University Sports Centre and yes we lost 3-1. Thanks to our gracious hosts Mike & Karen Savage who hosted everyone for dinner, Tony & Jane Henman, and Kristof and Caitlin Kunzmann. Our tour in Oxford finished with a tour of the beautiful Blenheim Palace and a superb lunch at Tony & Jane Henman’s.
• Off to drive to Lindens, Upper Woolhampton, Berkshire where we all stayed at the beautiful home of Tony & Fayleen. Some very good squash where the Canadian team finally won 2- 1. A great night of pool and darts with Charlie and Adam to finish the night off. Thanks to hosts Tony & Fayleen for sharing their home with the Canadians.
• Last stop at Berkshire was the Hardwick Court where we had our last game of Real Tennis and a great lunch prepared by Fayleen.
• Final England leg as we head off to London to the Queens Club for squash and the Strawson dinner. What a beautiful facility to end our England portion of the trip. It was great to see the bond between the Jesters and the future of our racquet sports. A superior evening of top notch matches of squash, real tennis and racquets. The Canadians presented the Jester flag and a thank you plaque to Gareth Quarry, Richard Winter, Stephen Finch and Paul Robbins (unfortunately Robert Dolman wasn’t’ present).
Thanks to all for a great dinner and a nice send off. Oh yes, Canada lost 3-0 in singles.
Special thanks to Sophie for hosting Tracie and Tiffany at the BBC.
• Before our Dublin flight we had the opportunity to visit Montrose House, the home of Gareth and Jill to play some Padel Tennis and enjoy a Spanish lunch prepared by Jill (all the girls wanted the great soup recipe).
• Last leg of the trip as we headed to Dublin Ireland. We were greeted by Patrick Murray and taken to the Fitzwilliam club to relax. The Canadian team toured Dublin with the highlight being the visit to the Guinness Brewery and the Viking Tour. We played squash and enjoyed a dinner with the gang. Yes, Canada lost 3-0 but a special night was had by all. Thanks to Patrick and Gar for being great hosts and making our short trip a memorable one. Also, thanks to Damian and our opponents for sharing your club with us.
In closing, our oversees Jesters and their significant other were a fabulous group of people to hang with for just over 2 weeks. I said in each of my talks that our homes are open to all of you and your families if you make it to Canada. I can’t forget to thank the camera crazy Moss who attended a significant amount of venues snapping pictures every time he got a chance.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my traveling mates and their wonderful partners. Tracie and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with all of you and getting to know each of you. We look forward to reminiscing our trip for years to come.