38. Bowl and dine at Lane 7!

I’ve always been partial to a spot of bowling – as a child I made many a train journey from Hexham to Metro Centre with my pals purely to participate in the sport. It is a sport right? I’m calling it a sport. Anyway, in the same way that Tyneside Cinema feels like more of an occasion than the average cinema trip, so too does Lane 7 feel like more of an experience than just a game of bowling.

It is, essentially, bowling for grown ups – think stylish decor and cocktails as opposed to fluorescent lights and slush puppies (FYI I love both of those things – but it’s nice to have an alternative too).

Three of my pals from university were staying this weekend. Two had stayed before over a year ago and I took them to Lane 7 then. I think my words at that time were something like “So it’s like bowling.. but trendy. It’s trendy bowling.” I think they were a little cynical about my description, but on their return visit they requested that we go “trendy bowling” again.

This time, for the sake of easiness and curiosity, I booked us into dine as well as bowl and the four of us headed there last night.

We ordered ourselves some cocktails (I recommend the Bramble – delicious) and began our game.

It was an embarrassingly shaky start by all of us (I blame pre drinks) but then some of us began to perform magnificently (Jess); some of us were at least respectable (Shalini) and two of us were absolutely horrendous and battled it out for third place. That’s me and Anna. FYI I beat her. Soz Cookie.

After bowling (and a ridiculous amount of photos – my bad) we had our tea. Burgers all round and they were actually really excellent. Maybe it was just that we were super hungry, but they received rave reviews all round. In fact, when Anna got up this morning she told us she had spent the first of her ten waking moments just thinking about her chicken burger. If that hasn’t convinced you to give it a go I just don’t know what will!


24. Play mini golf at Parklands Golf Club

Neil and I used to play mini golf all the time. When we were first together and lived in Bath we used to play frequently at  Victoria Park and whenever we went away for a weekend we used to still end up playing. We played mini golf in Weymouth, we played in Bournemouth, we played twice on a trip with my family to Center Parcs in the Lake District (once actually at Center Parcs and once at a strange little course near Penrith’s train station). 

In recent years, however, we haven’t played at all. In fact, I couldn’t tell you our last game before today’s. When researching for this blog I discovered that Parklands Golf Club in Gosforth had a miniature golf course and obviously it made the list. We’ve been meaning to go for ages – we even tried a few weeks back, but a combination of bad traffic and bad Sat Nav meant we couldn’t find it (there is a very high chance that this was my fault rather than the Sat Nav’s.. Bad workman and all that..).

Today though – it was a sunny Sunday evening, I had spent all day studying and felt I’d earned a break and, perhaps most importantly, we had actually researched our route. It was the perfect opportunity for a long awaited game of mini golf. 

We arrived so easily that our failure to do so last time was laughable. The miniature golf course was pretty quiet and so off we went.

I won’t lie to you all – it was a bloody tense game. Actually, it was pretty predictable of our mini golf games of the past. Basically our pattern is as follows: I start well, Neil starts badly – gets annoyed with himself and so plays worse; I look as though I can’t possibly lose.. Neil plays better; the pressure gets to me and, somehow, against all odds, I lose. 

Today started as the above would suggest. I had a decent start; Neil messed up on two holes and had a tantrum. I pretended to be encouraging whilst really thinking “YES, I’ve done him here – come on!!”. At the half way point I had a TEN point lead but then, things started to go a bit wrong… Neil beat me on almost every single hole; I had absolute shockers on two of them and so we ended up on the last hole with my lead reduced to only two points. 

Neil played a decent first shot; I hit a terrible one. He got the ball in with his second shot, meaning I had two shots to win the game. My second shot was distinctly average – leaving me with a slightly difficult, but by no means impossible, putt for the victory. 

I’m not sure I’ve ever felt such pressure in my life, but somehow, somehow, I held it together and bloody well won. I can still hear the imaginary crowds roaring now..

How AWFUL is my golf stance!? I need serious work..

Afterwards we went for a pint in the golf club.

 It seemed like a great place for a pint, until we suddenly realised that we were the only people there who hadn’t been competing in an (actual, not miniature) golf tournament throughout the day. We became aware of this only when somebody called for our attention and third place, second place and then the winners were announced. We’d like, therefore, at this point to extend our congratulations to the victorious Anne and Chris.. 

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