We were chilling by the river on Sunday, after a delicious afternoon @Tweat_up on the South Bank Festival pier.
If you’ve read my post on Big Apple Hot Dogs, you’ll know that Tweat_up is a come-one, come-all dining and drinking club serving up the hottest British street food at various locations around town (follow @Tweat_up on Twitter to stay in the loop).
After stuffing our faces with juicy hot dogs smoked on the BBQ and tenderlicious beef brisket from the Pitt Cue Co., it was time for a bathroom break.
En route to Royal Festival Hall, the babes and I stopped to watch some pop-up croquet on a strip of lawn outside Foyles bookstore.
‘Did we want to play?’ asked one of the men directing the games.
My self-conscious 5-year-old held back, but Jed couldn’t wait to grab a croquet stick.
Another dad and his little boy joined in and before you knew it, my 2-year-old was playing his first ever croquet match! It was kids vs. grown-ups and of course the little ones won (with some help).
James Creasey, who owns the company Jiminy Wicket, said Jed was the youngest player he’d ever had on the lawn.
Jiminy Wicket is an international company that uses golf croquet as a way to raise awareness of dementia and improve the quality of life for people dealing with language and memory loss.
James set up the programme after seeing how his father, despite suffering from dementia, with a little assistance could play a ‘cracking game of croquet’.
I love discovering more about the transformative powers of play (regular readers have heard me bang on about hoola hooping). What’s so great about croquet is that it’s fun and provides a simple challenge as well as an immediate connection that cuts across generations.
Anyone can pick up a stick and have a ball – whether it’s my 2-year-old or an elderly person in a wheelchair.
After the game, we all took pictures and promised to come back for another round. I grabbed a contact card from James but it was only after looking at his web site that I learned about the great work he’s doing.
If I’d known, I would have told him how my own father had suffered disability and dementia after several strokes. That I know personally how difficult it is watching a great mind struggle to come up with the most basic words, or even to forget who their own daughter is for a moment.
I remember as a child playing a first game of croquet with my dad. In his final years, I would have loved to wheel Dad on for a couple of swings around the pitch and to see the pleasure in his eyes when he made a hit.
Jiminy Wicket is a wonderful programme and a cause that’s close to my heart, but it was also just a sweet way to spend 20 minutes on a gorgeous evening at the South Bank.
The boys are definite fans so we’ll be back for round two, and next time mama will have her game face on.
Jiminy Wicket is holding free croquet sessions outside Foyles Bookstore every Thu to Sun until Sep 4