at FENTONS ICE RINK
Dundale Farm, Dundale Road, Tunbrdige Wells TN3 9AQ
WEDNESDAY 4th FEBRUARY
Yes, it was a Wednesday.
That means it is NOT a Tuesday...... Got
it? Wednesday (day after Tuesday)
Despite this, and three months
notice, it was still too much for Nick and Graham.
"Wednesday? - it can't be - GASS is
Tracey at Fenton's Ice Rink explained they could not give us
Tuesday as it is their regular team practise night and would you believe it....
" If they changed to another night, half their members would
fail to realise and still turn up on Tuesday"
So GASS members - you are not alone! Not alone in being
a bit simple I mean.
Apologies for absence from Jenkins, Bridgewater, Riches,
Smith L and someone else, I forget.
Welcome to HE's guest Ian who tolerated us and kindly took
our group photos.
Fenton's Rink is England's only dedicated ice curling rink. Whilst there are
other ice rinks in England they are used exclusively for skating and ice hockey
which makes the ice too sticky for curling. Curling really needs properly
prepared ice in an ice rink dedicated to the sport. Having been a frustrated
curler in England for over 30 years, Ernest Fenton, an exiled Scot, decided to
create a 3-lane dedicated curling rink on his estate near Tunbridge Wells in
Kent. Fentonís Rink opened in November 2004 with an International Bonspiel,
which attracted competitors from all over the world. Curling has been an Olympic
Winter sport since 1988 and Curling is one of the few Olympic winter sports
everyone can try. The sport of Curling is suitable for young and old, and can be
played as a social or competitive sport. The spirit of curling demands good
sportsmanship and honourable conduct.
The objective is simple: to slide a granite curling stone
weighing 20kg from one end of the ice rink to the other (40m) to a target
marked on the ice. The player slides out of a starting block called "the
hack" and releases the stone when it is on the right path. As the player
releases the stone the handle is twisted to the left or right thus making
the stone spin slowly as it travels down the ice. This makes it Curl down
the ice - giving the name of the game - "Curling".
Two teams of 4 play against each other using two stones
per player and playing in turn. All players in the team are involved in
every stone played, taking turns to deliver the stone, to sweep (two
players) or as "skip" - who guides the delivery and tells the sweepers when
to sweep. Sweeping can help to keep a stone on the right trajectory and make
it go further than it otherwise would have done. After everyone has played
the "end" is finished and the team whose stone(s) is nearest the middle of
the target wins the end; one point for each stone nearer the centre than the
opposition. A stone must be within the outer (12 foot diameter) circle to
count. A game typically lasts 8 ends over a 2 hour session. Special shoes
are worn to enable the player to slide over the ice. Skates are definitely
NOT used as the surface must be perfectly flat and smooth. A single hair or
piece of fluff is enough to make a stone go completely off course.
We hired a coach with 3 stops (and NO detours!),
and it worked!
Three pick up locations -
18.00 - THE TUCK IN - HARTLIP
18.20 - THE ROFFEN - ROCHESTER
18.40 - THE VILLAGE HOTEL - MAIDSTONE
We paid for our own drinks in the bar while
waiting for the coach.
THE FARE WAS £20 A HEAD, same for everyone.
Be there on time or make your own way
was the rule so unsurprisingly - everyone was on time.
We had three rinks booked from 8.00pm until
There was a lovely bar at the rink,
staffed by the beautiful Tracey.
We even had
a MEAL served at the rink by excellent caterers -
We were due to depart the rink at about 10.30 for
reverse order drop offs.
Tracey kindly kept the bar open a
tad longer for a farewell libation so we a smidge late in departing.
It was a once in a lifetime chance to ice-curl -
and it was amazing.
Tracey Brown and Sarah Decoine - were our amazing
hosts there to welcome us and give us a safety briefing.
Tracey is the rink manager and an England Team Coach, Sarah
Decoine is an England Team Player, talk about quality instructors!
But first we got stuck in to some excellent food and a couple
Finally we were tempted on to the rink by our lovely hosts
and split into two groups so that we would have the normal teams of four per
Let the pictures start to tell our story......
FIRST THE TWO GROUPS
THE PRETTY ONES
AND THE NOT SO PRETTY ONES
YOU CAN SEE NOW HOW THEY WERE SELECTED - IT PRETTY MUCH DID
NEXT WAS BRUSH TRAINING - AN ESSENTIAL ASPECT OF THE GAME
WHICH LED TO SOME SERIOUS BRUSH ISSUES
THEN THE ACTUAL GAME - WHICH FASCINATED STUART
STONE CHARGING DOWN THE RINK,
TENSION CRACKLING IN THE FREEZING AIR,
STUART 'THE SKIP' AT BREAKING POINT
MIND YOU, IT WAS STUART'S TEAM THAT CRACKED IT!!!!
WHAT A SCORE!!!
TEAM MATES STUART, BRIAN AND UNCLE ALBERT
AND FINALLY..... THE ASSEMBLE GASS THRONG AFTER OUR
It was an absolutely amazing evening and has to be highly
recommended as a great way to have a fun night out.
Curling is one of those things that you really don't get much
chance to try in southern England and what a box to tick!
Great for a corporate event or just for a bunch of friends.
Many thanks to Tracey and Sarah and to our caterers, and the
bus company, and everyone that knows me.
FENTONS ICE RINK
Dundale Farm, Dundale Road, Tunbrdige Wells TN3 9AQ
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