Sunday, 13 September 2009

Saturday 12th September 4.14pm

And so we close in on the chase...

The Robertson kin are now converging to "chase Britain".

All being well, come the strike of noon tomorrow, we will meet on court at Falkland Palace, in the lower reaches of the Scottish highlands, to start our epic journey across Great Britain, playign more Real Tennis than has ever before been known to man!

Falkland Palace is the world's oldest surviving Real Tennis court,
commissioned by James 1 and built without a roof - a truly esoteric and
entirely Scottish madness! Here at this the oldest court, the rules differ
from all other courts, the balls are harder and must be retrieved more often (as there is no roof to the court and four extra holes, like thorns, in the side of the court). Furthermore, the northern chill can make a mockery of even the hardiest of competitors, there being no escape from the elements!

From all corners of the Isle, the brave Robertson clan comes. From the Western reaches of Scotland comes the father of the clan, Gordon, along with his third son Guy. Having spent a week on the Groinyard, they bring with
them a boiled stag's head, a fine set of antlers and salmon fit for smoking. Tom, second son, joined them today off the overnight sleeper from London to
enjoy a fertive day's sport before battle. The road will be tough - tis wise to enjoy one's folly beforehand!

I, for my sins, have caught the 2 o'clock train from Kings Cross to dart
North through the countryside to Edinburgh, then beyond to my Perthian berth for the night.

No sooner had I laid my suitcase in the luggage rack than my old friend and sparring partner Nick Frew grinned at me from across the cabin... "You again?!" he exclaimed - we seem to have formed a habit of meeting midst ludicrous adventure and fortifying our spirits before heading on - always purely coincidental and yet somehow intergal to all that follows!

A bottle of Pinot Noir Rose, some sweet & sour Scottish raspberries, blazen radishes et al later, and we're merrily on our way in the wonderful company of the ravishing Pearl and a new train-buddy aquaintance Liz, a market
researching self-confessed drug-runner for the major drug companies of the land - we're set! I have to be held back from orchestrating a history lesson
on Real Tennis to all in the carriage, but generally everyone seems happy with their lot...

I feel sad to lose my travel friends at Peterborough when the journey had not yet half been won, but there's purpose... This mad mission remains, a ancient kingdom of times past - times when Kings were equally glad to meet one another across a Real Tennis net as to confront on the battlefield - and
to conquer on the tennis court, as a king, one had to display not only the
courage and skill of the hero of the battlefield, but also the guile o fthe
master of chess....

Let the games commence!


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