In April 2018 the XXI Commonwealth Games will take place in Queensland, Australia, so what better place to do a little limbering up than in the famous Gold Coast sunshine? The country’s sports stars are a friendly lot and seem happy to demonstrate some techniques to complete rookies like me.
We meet up with beach volleyball Gold Medallist and five-time Olympian Natalie Cook, who is happy to let me join her team.
Yikes! She’s so busy explaining techniques such as the ‘pokey’- bending two fingers into a hook – to the travel writer that it looks like I’m left in charge of the shot.
The thing is Natalie I’m just not tall enough!
I decide I might be better suited to a game closer to the ground and get multiple medallist Lynsey Clarke to explain the finer techniques of lawn bowls – my grandmother (also called Alice) was a county bowls champion so just maybe it’s in my genes. She was certainly always very smartly turned out in a white skirt and jacket with a matching hat. And she instilled in me my love of fine fabric and a sharp cut.
Thanks to the wonderful spirit of inclusion here anyone can turn up at Broadbeach Bowls Club and play ‘barefoot bowls’ without shoes and wearing just whatsoever they please. If you’re lucky Lynsey might be on hand to give you a few tips. Just don’t send your bowls spinning into the next door green or you’ll find yourself liable for a large round of drinks.
After a few hours back at my office-with-a-view – on the 39th floor of the Peppers Soul Surfers Paradise Hotel – I put the finishing touches to my REMARKABLE SKIRT pattern from last week’s stay on Kangaroo Island. Click here if you’d like the free download.
Now it’s time to get on my bike and meet Robbie McEwen the famous sprint cyclist.
After winning three Green Jerseys in the Tour de France, Robbie now designs very swish cycling kit in his signature colours of lime green and black. So I’m back on familiar ground talking fabrics and machining techniques, which is a good thing as that saddle looks way too high to try! Whilst Robbie models his high tech lycra kit I go for a more traditional linen fabric for my Alice & Co button-through dress with cutaway armholes and a shirt collar. It’s one of my travelling favourites even if it does need ironing. I’ve christened it the SUNDAE DRESS Click here if you’d like to download the sewing pattern and make one for yourself.
Next up I add my weight to the crew of the good ship Pole Dancer to take part in another great Gold Coast institution, Southport Yacht Club’s weekly ‘Twilight Sailing‘ race series. No snooty Yacht Club rules here, anyone is welcome and indeed encouraged to just pitch up and offer themselves as crew. It’s a fun place to meet up with a few locals such as Marni here.
Skipper Ray McMahon welcomes us aboard and shows us the ropes…
It’s exciting clearing the headland in the stiff breeze…
although despite some hard winding and grinding by the more experienced crew members we come in last – so I won’t be invited back!
My last shot is a spot of rifle shooting, sporting some bright Pucci fabric pants which I hope might distract the competition.
Now this interests me as a few months ago I treated myself to laser eye surgery for my presbyopia otherwise known as old age eyes! I was totally sick of constantly hunting for my reading glasses and not being able to thread my needle. Professor Dan Reinstein of the London Vision Clinic has developed a pioneering technique which involves tweaking the corneal tissue of both eyes, which is much less invasive than traditional techniques. Now I can see both far and near without any specs – which is exactly what you need for accurate shooting – bulls-eye! Many thanks Doctor Dan!
It’s been an exciting and exhausting week …
Now it’s goodbye to the Gold Coast and good luck for the 2018 Commonwealth Games teams from me and Borobi – the one and only surfing blue koala and official mascot.
I’m off t0 Nouvelle Calédonie to brush up on my French.
All images © nigeltisdall.com
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