I used to be indecisive…

…but now I'm not so sure


Anyone for tennis? Well, not quite.

Judging by the comments on yesterday’s Friday letters, it seems that I am not alone in not having heard of pickleball before.  I thought it was only me who had no idea what it was all about!  The first I heard of it was when I saw that several tennis courts in a local park were going to be converted into pickleball courts.  Pickleball, I thought… what on earth is that?  Then I met a couple of people who were just learning and thought I should find out more.  Having only had two lessons and having heard the rules on both occasions I am still not quite at the level of an expert, but I will do my best to explain what I know…

The game is played with a paddle (similar to, but slightly larger and a bit thicker than, a table tennis bat) and what I would call an air ball, but I have heard it called a wiffle ball.  It is about the size of a tennis ball, but is plastic with holes in it and I previously would have used it playing indoor ball games with the children when I was teaching.  A pickleball court is the same size as a badminton court (44 feet by 20 feet) with an area marked off near the net which is called, for some strange reason that I do not know, the kitchen.  The other parts of the court do not have strange names it seems.  It is a game normally played by four people in two teams of two.  You can only score when it is your turn to serve and when you lose a point play passes to your partner and then after you have both lost your serve, it goes over to the other team.  You serve underhand.    Before you serve you must announce the score to your opponents by saying three numbers: first you give your points, then the opponents’ points and then you say whether you are the first or second server.  This is quite a helpful rule for those of us who struggle to remember the score!  There is something called the ‘two bounce rule’ which is only used when you serve, I think, but I am not quite clear on that one.  If your opponent hits you with the ball at any time they win the point, even if they are serving and it’s supposed to be going to your partner.  That rule is very unfair in my opinion.  Oh, and another thing – you cannot volley (hit the ball without it bouncing first) if you are standing in the kitchen. The first team to get to 11 points, with a lead of at least two points, is the winning team.

So there you have it – all I know about this new game.  I will have missed out a lot of important information I expect, but that is the basics as far as I can tell.   Here is a picture of typical game being played – note that there is no requirement for a particular style of clothing or footwear!

Photo credit: Wikipedia

I’m linking this with Debbie for Six Word Saturday.



Friday letters – the non-grumpy edition

Dear pickleball,  You are a completely new sport to me, but you look like something that might be fun.  I’ve had two beginner’s lessons so far but haven’t quite got the hang of hitting the ball with control.  It doesn’t respond in the way that I am used to it responding in tennis, or squash, nor does it fly like a shuttlecock off a badminton racket.  I am going to persevere though, because there seems to be quite popular here (amongst people of a certain age…).

Dear local supermarket,  I just want to say thank you for always being cheerful at the checkout, and how much I appreciate having someone there to pack my bags for me.

Dear local coffee shop,  I really enjoyed the live music last Friday evening.  The sign said it was going to be Jazz, and that can come in many forms.  Luckily it was the smooth variety, played on two guitars with a drum accompaniment, and was just loud enough to be able to hear it, but not to make it difficult to chat.  The accompanying iced coffee was rather nice too.

Dear dog beach,  On our most recent walk last weekend, we saw the interesting sight of dogs on paddle boards. I couldn’t decide if the owners were only on the paddle boards while the dogs learned how to do it themselves, or whether the dogs were always going to be passengers, enjoying the ride.  Is this bringing a new meaning to the phrase ‘doggy paddle’?

Dear self,  A whole set of Friday letters and not a grumpy one amongst them.  Goodness.

Poor quality I’m afraid, but it’s the dogs on paddle boards.


Have a good Friday everyone.


A quiet walk

This golden topped gateway in Encinitas tells us that we are at Swami’s Self-Realisation Fellowship Temple.

Just round the corner, in the side road, is the entrance to Swami’s Meditation Gardens, which are open to the public every day of the week, except Monday.  The gardens are small, but with a fantastic view over the ocean.  We can spend as long as we like on our walk here, pausing on one of the benches to admire the scenery, or maybe finding a shady spot to sit and read a book for a while.  So, I’ll leave you to go round at your own pace and enjoy a peaceful time.

First we come to the steps, taking us up into the gardens.

Then it is a short meander to the edge of the gardens and the magnificent ocean views.

This might be a good time to sit on one of the many benches that are around the gardens.

When it’s time to move one, there are plenty of beautiful plants to catch the eye

We come to a shady path

Which leads us to a series of koi ponds linked by small streams with the restful sound of water to enhance the calm atmosphere.

The path through the gardens is nearly at its end, but not before we pass this rather intriguing plant.

And that’s it – I hope you enjoyed the walk, whether it was long or short, and feel refreshed and revitalised.

If you would like to join in with another walk, Jo has some lovely ones to offer.


Friday letters – the just after the 4th of July edition

Dear stingrays, I hear you are in the area now, attracted by the warm shallow water near the beach for mating and giving birth.  Apparently, even if we are only a very short distance from the water’s edge, we should all adopt the ‘Stingray Shuffle’ if we are walking in the water – dragging our feet heavily rather than stepping – because the vibrations will send you on your way.  I am more than happy to do that if it means I avoid your sting.

Dear San Diego County Fair,  I really enjoyed my visit to you on Tuesday last week.  You say you are the largest county fair in the United States and I can believe it.  There was so much to see, and do, that we were quite spoiled for choice.  We did our best to try and see as much as we could, but it was impossible to see everything.  We managed to catch the piglet racing (although just the last race unfortunately), a Monster Truck competition, pigs in fancy dress, the butterfly house, garden displays. a model railroad and the livestock barns with many, many cows, pigs, goats and sheep being shown.  There were lots of displays of arts and crafts (knitting, sewing, quilting, paper craft, baking etc) from competitions that had been running and we could see who had won ribbons for their efforts.  There was wine and beer tasting and a whole barn full of information about sweets and their history (and a few free samples).  There were hundreds of food stalls to tempt all tastes and then there was, of course, the fair ground.  We tried the ferris wheel and got wonderful views over to the ocean on one side, and across the fair site on the other.  The other rides were a bit too wild and twirly for us, so we passed on them.  I want to mention how well organised your parking was, and how quickly you moved people around.  We opted for the offsite parking and that was very efficient – free parking in a local college car park where a fleet of buses were waiting to whisk us off to the fair grounds and drop us right by the entrance.  It was an excellent day out, thank you.

Dear new houses nearby,  I confess to suffering from a bit of mailbox envy.  Now that you are almost ready for your first residents, the final touches are being added.  One of those final touches is a nice white mailbox at the front of each house – the kind with the red flag on the side.  I’d like to have had one of them, which I could have decorated in my own way, but we have one of those commercial metal banks of boxes at the end of the road, and we have a key for our own little door.  I know it’s efficient for the post person to drop the mail, but I had always fancied the idea of having my own mail box outside my house.

Dear 4th of July, Well, we had a lovely day, thank you.  The weather was, of course, fine so everyone could spend as much of it outdoors as the wanted to.  We opted for brunch in a bakery we hadn’t tried before, and then headed for the beach for a walk, and to sit on the rocks and watch the world go by.  It was good to see so many people dressed in patriotic colours and some houses were displaying extra flags, patriotic bunting and pleated fans on their porches and balconies.  We saw a few cars and motorbikes that were decorated too, and one open topped car had a flag so large that the driver was in danger of being enveloped in it.  The day was rounded of with fireworks as far as the eye could see from about 8.30 pm.  We had a great vantage point just at the back of our house, which is on one of the many hills in the area.  Although one set of fireworks was quite a bit closer than all the rest, it was still interesting to be able to see, and hear, so many at the same time.  I think an excellent day was had by all.

Our 4th of July beach visit.

Have a good Friday everyone.


Finishing the challenge where I started (Roof Squares #30)

My first roof square was from Barcelona and so is this last one (I could probably have done all 30 days of the challenge using Barcelona roofs, but decided to diversify a bit!).  This is the roof of the Porters’ Lodge at Park Guell – another place designed by the inventive and innovative Antoni Gaudi.  The patterns and colours are created using small, irregular mosaic pieces – the detail is just amazing.

Today I am linking with Six Word Saturday and Becky’s #RoofSquares.



Friday letters – the Roof Squares #29 edition

Dear local bank, It is so nice to be greeted with a cheery “good morning/afternoon” as I enter your banking hall.  I also appreciate that I can speak to someone without a glass partition between us, and that your staff will happily fill in the forms/slips I require without any suggestion that I should have known which one I needed and have completed it already before approaching the desk. I just thought you’d like to know.

Dear San Diego Highland Games,  Thank you for a very pleasant afternoon’s entertainment last Sunday.  The warm sunshine was just perfect for enjoying some sheepdog trials, pipe band competitions, music and ‘heavy athletics’.  I wasn’t quite sure what heavy athletics were going to be, but they turned out to be the traditional tossing the caber and hammer throw.  There was also an event which the announcer told us was the ‘sheep throw’ for which the contestants had to use a large pitch fork to throw a heavy-ish filled sack over a high bar.  I couldn’t imagine why, historically, men would have been throwing sheep around, and certainly not over increasingly high bars, until I saw the sign announcing that this was the SHEAF throw – presumably a competition that developed amongst farm workers during harvesting times.  I also enjoyed the live bands that were playing traditional and experimental Celtic music and wished I could have heard a bit more.  It was a a great opportunity for me to relish my heritage – although in the whole afternoon I heard only two other Scottish voices, which surprised me.  It was also good to enjoy the games in dry weather as most of the other Highland Games I have been to have been in damp and misty conditions.  I’m looking forward to next year’s games already.

Dear ‘fs’ versus ‘ves’,  When I was a young girl at school we were taught that the plural of roof was rooves, horses had hooves and Snow White met seven dwarves.  These days I will always write hooves and dwarves, but for some reason rooves looks wrong. I’m not sure why that should be – any ideas?

Dear Becky,  After today there is just one more day of your fun roof square challenge to go.  I’m already wondering what your next one is going to be.

Dear Monterey,  On our recent roadtrip we stopped off for lunch in your Cannery Row area and really enjoyed it.  The area is delightful and the ambience very welcoming.  It’s a great place just to stand and watch the ocean (and see two sea otters, which was very exciting!) or to sit on a bench and watch the world go by.  I wish we had been staying for longer.

A Monterey seagull watching the world going by.

Have a good Friday everyone.

Posted for Becky’s #RoofSquares challenge.


Roof Squares #28

In August 2015 the artist Charles Pétillion filled the roof space at Covent Garden Market Hall with an installation consisting of 100,000 illuminated balloons and called Heartbeat.  He said…

The balloon invasions I create are metaphors. Their goal is to change the way in which we see the things we live alongside each day without really noticing them. With Heartbeat I wanted to represent the Market Building as the beating heart of this area – connecting its past with the present day to allow visitors to re-examine its role at the heart of London’s life.

Each balloon has its own dimensions and yet is part of a giant but fragile composition that creates a floating cloud above the energy of the market below. This fragility is represented by contrasting materials and also the whiteness of the balloons that move and pulse appearing as alive and vibrant as the area itself.”

Unfortunately I saw it in the daylight, so didn’t quite appreciate the illuminated aspect of the piece.

Covent Garden Market, London

Covent Garden Market, London

Posted for Becky’s #RoofSquares challenge.