Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Cup Singles Night 2006

Pictured : Practice darts

I played at The Black Diamond tonight in the League Singles cup competition. Willie and Simon Dixon traveled down to support me.

Not a bad night for me, getting through to the second round with some nice finishing in a comparatively low scoring game to win 2-0. The others seemed to be finishing their 501 games in 7 or 8 throws, and the heat was on.

In the 2nd round I was knocked out 2-1 by Andrew Colwell of The Derwentside in an evenly matched game, and I really enjoyed the night. I threw some good scores and played well above my usual level, scoring way more tons than I get on the practice board. I just had an awful string of 3 consecutive scores of less than 30 (close misses), but you simply cannot afford to do that at any level, let alone Cup Night with some of the League's best players in attendance.

A good night though, and all the best to Andrew in the next round. He's either in the last 16 or the last 32. I felt I competed well and was worth my place in the competition, which is an improvement on last year.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Date for next year's event

Rob has just e-mailed me to advise next year's event is on 25th October 2007 from Gatwick. There's also a Manchester option to fly out a few days before the Gatwick people.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Barbados Darts Festival 2006 – Thursday 2nd November

Picutred : Simon and Valentina

In a change to the itinerary this was another none darts day, and there were no complaints from anyone. Instead of another exhibition game against John and the Bajan stars we headed to the President's (of the Darts org, of course!) restaurant as his guests for the evening. I think the organisers were really pleased at the way things were going, and the excellent dynamics of the Touring Party, and they made this choice.

I'd met a lovely girl on the day, and I smuggled her onto the coach. Valentina, if you're reading this, you have my number but I don't have yours. The phone ain't ringing :o(

The food and drink was great, and we danced and had a great time. Probably my favourite night of the whole holiday, and not a single dart thrown. That's what the whole event was about though. I saw some great comment's on John Lowe's site regarding this (
www.john-lowe.net), which explains the event is all about having a good time, with the darts being simply a common interest.
Valentina couldn't get into the Ship Inn at the end of the night due to their dress code (she had no shoes!), so we waited for the crew to join us at bar next door for night caps, before we slipped off and gazed at the stars on the beach. Have I used the phrase “it doesn't get any better than this” on the blog yet? :o)

Barbados Darts Festival 2006 – Wednesday 1st November

Pictured : Janice with her “Limbo” prize

Monday was non-darting day and evening. Well, just an hour on the hotel's outdoor practice board anyway :o) Many of us were commenting on just how hard it was to play darts in Barbados ; you're chilled to the bone and can't get the right frame of mind, and the strong overhead fans in the Ship Inn were visibly interfering with the throw. Honest – mine were slanting in a very strange way! John Lowe mentioned that he stopped using his familiar Pear shaped flights following similar problems with the Air Con at some USA venues.

In the evening we attended the Bajan Roots & Rhythms evening. The show was spectacular, and very hi-tech. In accordance with their history the music was a journey through Africa, Egypt, Bridgetown shantys, and Reggae etc. Really good stuff, and I've been using their CD as darts practice music – a better accolade than it may sound.

Janice was game for everything throughout the holiday, and it was no surprise to see her on stage in the Limbo competition. She won, and very deservedly so. That's ex Tiller Girls for you I suppose - they never lose it!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Chelmsford 4 – 6 Smelters

Pictured : Practice darts

Not a bad result tonight against The Smelters. Timmy and Nancy are no longer with them, but The Smelters are still a good team who we really needed to compete against to get the 4 points.

In the 1001X Team game I scored 67 and 95, before narrowly missing a 65 finish. I then had to watch while they finished it a couple of throws later to make it 0-1. They went further into the lead when Jean and Mark lost their Doubles game, but Peter and Roger pulled one back with a great display. Next up, Alan and I did well in our Doubles game, with Man Of The Match Alan hitting a brilliant 180 and finishing the silly X9 I left him :o) Jean had logged my scores as 60, 85, 80, and 79, so I played my part in the win.

Our only other points came from Peter and Alan in their Singles games (Peter hit a great 100 finish), and I was really disappointed to lose the last match of the evening in my Singles game, despite a half decent performance.
The nerves are still there for me, but they are becoming a necessary part of my game – especially when I consider the total junk I hit on the practice board all week. You need the adrenaline in at least some degree I suppose.

Next Tuesday we all flit off to different venues in the Singles Cup Competition, with me playing at The Black Diamond. We'll all compare notes at The Chelmsford when we get back, and I'll post the results on here.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Pictures from the A&T Hide-A-Way & Bar

Barbados Darts Festival 2006 – Tuesday 31st October

Pictured : My Doubles partner, Ellouise

We had a power cut in the morning. This is very bad news in Barbados, as the Air Con and fans stop working. Some particularly dozy holiday makers were jamming up the cash machines by stuffing their cards in the lifeless ATMs.

John and I had a lads' day out in Bridgetown. He needed a watch repair, and I was desperately seeking Rizla cigarette papers. I couldn't find any anywhere, so I had to buy some “joint” papers from a Rasta shop, and from this point onwards my totally innocent tobacco roll-ups were getting some very strange looks from the locals.

We now move on to my favorite darting evening of the trip. The Touring Party played at the A&T Hide-A-Way & Bar with the Bajans in the Guinness Doubles tournament. We paid our BD$20 entry fees, and the doubles partners were drawn by Len from a hat. I was paired with the lovely Ellouise, and we had a howl. I was hitting 85's, 60's, tons, with only the odd bad shot. I also hit a lovely 98 finish (20, 54, 24) and we were both on fire. We beat Colin and his Bajan partner in the 1st Round, but sadly we were narrowly beaten 2-1 by Bajan Steven Skinner and his partner in the 2nd Round. Nonetheless, I have never enjoyed my darts so much, and this evening was all about the hospitality and friendship of playing the Bajans on their own patch in a non-touristy darts club.

I'd learnt my lesson from the previous night, and avoided food until the games were over. It worked a treat.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Jolly Drovers 6 – 4 Chelmsford

Pictured : Christmas lights up at the Drovers already!

In a brief break from my Barbados recollections on here I played a League game tonight and was more than pleased with my performance. I've definitely learned a lot more about competing since taking on the best of the Bajans and learning how to enjoy my darts again.

In the 1001x Team Game I scored an average of >75 per throw over my 4 throws (including two tons) and left a sensible finish for the players following me. I can ask no more than that of my game at the moment, and we won to take a 0-1 lead.

Next, myself and Mark won our Doubles game to make it 2-0, with me sinking the winning double (46 = 10, D1, D17 – hardly text book, I know!). I also won my Singles game to ensure I had a hand in 3 of the 4 points we won on the night, and make it a clean sweep from a personal point of view. Mark was the only other player to achieve this, but I sneak this week's Man Of The Match award by virtue of my good finishing and hitting more doubles than him. Hey, it's my blog afterall :o)

We missed Peter and Willie, and I suppose I'm a little disappointed not to at least get a draw against a team who were very well matched with us. The 6-4 and 4-6 results means it's “honours even” over the two legs though.

I still had a few nerves in my Singles game, but they actually seemed to help me, and I had won the right to miss a few darts at my X11 finish by virtue of the good scoring beforehand. I was right up against the X11 wire with a few darts before finally finishing it.

I wore my “runner up” Preconco T-Shirt from Barbados, and I hope this may now be lucky for me. It's better than all those other superstitions like wearing blue underpants etc, so I'm happy to go with it :o)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Some photos from Catamaran Day

Barbados Darts Festival 2006 – Monday 30th September

Pictured : Lenny quits smoking, the John Lowe way

Catamaran Day! This was a superb day trip sailing, snorkeling, and swimming to a beautiful beach. I did the first two snorkeling sections, but had taken on too much salt water to fancy the final swim to the deserted beach.

The trip cost just £40 (BD $150) for some spectacular sailing around the West of the island with all food and drink included in the price. While snorkeling I saw an un-puffed puffer fish, swam with the turtles, and snorkeled over a wreck. The guides were throwing bread buns at us in the water, and the fish swarmed around us. It was like being attacked by toothless piranha! I'll never forget this day.

In the evening John Lowe played another exhibition match in the Ship Inn. I was first up against him, and this time I was awful! I think my highest score was 45. The lesson to learn from this is never to eat a large meal 20 minutes before taking on a World Champion – you just feel sluggish and can't get going.

In one of the picture above you can see Lenny having a cigarette “extinguished” by John Lowe. Len had jokingly stood directly facing John, before opting for the profile as being the safest way to do this trick!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Barbados Darts Festival 2006 – Sunday 29/10

Pictured : Collecting my Runners Up prize (L to R : Mark Cummings, John Lowe, Simon Thomas)

This is where I really hit my best performances. In the Preconco Mens Singles I reached the finals and was the Runner Up! Here is an extract from the Barbados Advocate newspaper :

What a difference a day makes! Only 24 hours earlier the visiting darts players from the UK and Canada were badly mauled by their Bajan opponents in the first round of competitions. On Sunday they had their own dart board installed in their hotel and put in some extra practice, and then pulled off some remarkable victories in the Preconco Mens Singles and Ladies Pairs.

First to feel the backlash was leading Bajan darts player Winston Cadogan, who was defeated 2-0 by a re-energised Rob Sime. Then Anthony Forde, winner of the Mens Doubles the previous evening with Winston Cadogan, found himself dumped out of the competition by Simon Thomas from Durham.

I rode my luck incredibly throughout the three games which took me to the Preconco final. Several times I was well behind in the legs and relying on my opponents to miss their doubles. My finishing was good though, including a 78 in 2 darts (54, 24), and I scraped through to the Final by beating the excellent Bajan Steven Skinner, with my heart pumping raw adrenaline through to my shaking throwing hand!

In the Final I got down to 56 in a single leg of 701, but there my luck finally ran out, and I was was beaten by Bajan Mark Cummings. I was disappointed to beaten in the biggest game of my life, but very proud of my performance. I won a Preconco t-shirt which I will treasure as my first ever trophy. Being photographed with John Lowe and Mark Cummings was also a real thrill, and softened the defeat somewhat.

Barbados Darts Festival 2006 – Saturday 28/10

Pictured : My Doubles partner, Richard

Ourselves in The Touring Party get a mention in the Barbados Advocate newspaper! It was strange seeing “Simon Thomas from Durham” getting a mention, but better was to follow, with Michael Heal sending in frequent reports to the paper.

I partnered Richard in the Mount Gay Rum Doubles in the Ship Inn. Like all of the Touring Party we were knocked out in the 1st round by the excellent Bajans, most of whom seemed to be what we would class as “County / Super League” standard. Especially Winston Cadogan, who was brilliant. Some of them have world rankings, and they have fast-tracked their way onto the world stage in a really short space of time.

Richard and I played reasonably well, and were looking at finishes when Andre and his partner sunk their two winning doubles to beat us 2-0. I hit a ton and several 60+ shots, so wasn't at all disappointed with my performance.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Photographs by Karen

Pictured : John and Karen Lowe

I’ve just received two CDs from John and Karen Lowe which are packed with 1,000 brilliant pictures from the trip!

Karen took the vast majority of them on her Sony Cybershot, and the quality is superb. From now on I’ll be using her pictures on here to record the rest of the trip, so if I forget to credit her on any of them you’ll know they’re by her and not my dull old ones!

There are some gems on the disks - this is going to be great.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Barbados Darts Festival 2006 – Friday 27/10

Pictured : John Lowe takes on all comers!
During the day I had a long swim in the bay. The sea was the temperature of warm tea, and really relaxing to swim in. I explored the west side of St Lawrence Gap on foot. On the evening the darts began, and we all converged on the Ship Inn.

John Lowe took on all comers, and I was really pleased with my performance against him. Of course he won, but I got right down to 73 after hitting a 140. Better was to come in my game against Richard (18 yrs old) – I hit a 180 and my next shot was a 120 finish. I couldn't quite keep this standard up though, and there are plenty of disasters to report in future days when the tournaments started.

I partnered Karen Lowe in a Doubles game. She's a really good player in her own right, and I was lucky to beat her in an earlier Singles game.

St Lawrence Gap

The Rostrevor Apartments Hotel

My room was one of the eight “Pool Deck” apartments, facing the sea and near to the pool.

Basic but comfortable, with a TV piping English Premiership football games through whenever the sun got too much for me! My room had a fridge and cooker. No complaints at all, and I recommend this hotel.

Meet The Touring Party

Viewing from left to right we have :

John and Joy Pratt, Colin, Trish Sime, Trevor, Myself, Karen Lowe, Rob Sime (obscured, but I have a good pic of him throwing darts for later), John Lowe, Debbie, Richard, Steph (seated), Sharyn (pink top), Janice, Peter, Melanie, and John.

The Ship Inn

Pictured : The Ship Inn
There were no darts being played on our first night, as the Ship Inn was preparing for live music. We socialised in the bar, and had a meal in the restaurant area.

What a thrill it was for me to sit next to John Lowe and chat on with him. He knows more about where I live than I do! His wife Karen is also great company and a very attractive lady.

Barbados Darts Festival 2006 – Thursday 26/10

I made the short bus trip to Gatwick airport and arrived at 07:15. The flight was 10:00, but the airport was extremely busy, and I was rushing all the way to board in time. On the plane I was seated next to Janice and John who were also attending the event, and we chatted away for much of the 8 hour flight.

On arrival the organiser Michael Heal got us on the bus to the hotel, joined for the journey by Rob and Trisha who had arrived on another flight.

When we arrived at the hotel (Rostrevor Apartments, St Lawrence Gap) we had plenty of time to settle in and meet the rest of the party.

Barbados Darts Festival 2006

On Wednesday 25th October I set off from Newcastle Airport to take part in The Digicel Barbados Darts Festival (Presented by Brydens) 2006. I slept in the Gatwick Central Premier Lodge, ready for my early start the following morning.

Please join me on this blog over the next few days, as I recount the eleven days in detail. It has been the trip of a lifetime for me, with some incredible highs. I am definitely attending this event next year, and I've started the financial planning already!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Nearly Ready!

Only a few more days to go before I post my account of the 2006 Brydens Darts Festival in beautiful Barbados! it's incredible out here, and I can't wait to post the pics. I've had my name in the local papers three times already and have dumped a world ranked player out of a competition. It really doesn't get any better than this. See you soon.