Over New Year we had a delightful family holiday in the Lake District; the age group ranged from three years to 72, writes Wetherby and District U3A columnist Caroline Green.
It had been such a long time since we’d all had a holiday together, with other family members joining us for the break. For me, the age range was the most interesting aspect of the whole holiday, with everyone staying up and joining in with the meals, fun and games.
At the holiday accommodation there was a large garden room set up for table tennis. Some of us immediately started playing and instigated a competition among the interested parties. The younger element, five to 11 years of age, got stuck in straight away although never having played before. It was all a bit chaotic to start with but over the short stay they made huge strides in competency, very much enjoying the competitive nature of the game. I’d forgotten what a fun game table tennis can be. It has just enough of an element of competition to make it challenging and enough movement to keep you on your toes. The games are short, fast, fun, and make keeping score a challenge in itself but an absolute necessity if you want to keep on top of your opponents.
The cold and snowy weather we experienced this winter has prompted me to get a grip on my own fitness levels as my winter cycling has suffered because of the weather. I knew, from conversations with friends, that their sporting and fitness activities had been equally stymied. So with my recent fun experience with table tennis, I contacted Patrick Adler, who runs the Wetherby & District U3A Table Tennis Group 3, to ask if I could go along. Initially I went with my Roving Reporter ‘hat’ on; however I also wanted to see what it was like put myself in a ‘learning’ situation once again, with all the anxieties that ‘new’ situations can present for an individual. Apart from New Year, the last time I’d played table tennis was as a teenager at the Church Youth Club and on the dining table at home as a youngster (a bit restrictive but still fun!).
On arriving at the Methodist Church Rooms in Bank Street, the venue for all the table tennis groups, I discovered that there are three table tennis groups in Wetherby U3A, and the possibility of a fourth being considered. Each group has around 20 members and all meet in the Methodist Church Rooms at different times. The hour on the tables was the princely sum of two pounds, which goes towards the hire of the room and upkeep of the equipment. This is one group where refreshments are not part of the session, there’s no time for tea here. The sport is the main reason for meeting, and its serious stuff - under the guise of light hearted banter.
I discovered that among the membership there was an ex Yorkshire Youth Champion, people who’d been playing for 40 years and more; a couple who’d met playing table tennis in their younger days; people who’d come back to the game after years away or playing other sports. A real cross section of talent, and I was to discover very quickly; all much better than me. It’s quite a shock when you can play singles on a dining room table with your family and beat everyone, but on a full sized table tennis table it was quite a different matter. My games were over so fast that I almost considered giving up, but then I thought again and realised that if I wanted to get better I would need to keep playing on a regular basis, particularly with people who were better than me.
Three Wednesday’s later and I’m still going, the rallies becoming marginally longer, but only marginally. It’s a great way to keep up fitness playing short sharp games with more movement than you imagine. It’s also an opportunity to sharpen up the brain cells, keep up the hand eye co-ordination and meet some really great people. Even though the cycling season has begun again, I will continue with table tennis; as above all its great fun!
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