How To Start Playing Cricket



At this time when many of us are stuck indoors and our previous fitness routines may be going south, it’s understandable that you might be looking for a new sport to try. 

Well, why not make that sport cricket? After all, it’s a sport that’s suitable for a wide range of ages. Like any sport, it gets you out of the house and into the fresh air, and helps to teach skills like concentration and hand-eye coordination. It’s also a fascinating sport from the point of view of being a team sport, but also one that requires individual skill. 

So, presuming you’ve concluded that cricket could be the sport for you, how do you get involved? 

First of all, what are the rules of cricket? 

As the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) explains, cricket is a team sport contested by two competing sides, each typically consisting of 11 players. 

The three main elements of cricket are batting, bowling and fielding. However, cricket games can be as short as 15 minutes or last as long as five days, with many different formats to try. 

One of the shortest formats of the sport, for example, is Twenty20, where two teams have one 20-over innings each. One version of this is the ECB’s Last Man Stands, an eight-a-side amateur league in which each game is completed in less than two hours, and – in keeping with its name – sides can only be bowled out when all eight players are dismissed.   

Another, highly inclusive format of cricket is Kwik Cricket. This type of cricket emphasises participation and enjoyment above all else, and while it is tailored to the requirements of children up to 11 years old, anyone can play it recreationally. 

Where can I play cricket? 

The short answer is: almost anywhere, indoors or outdoors. People routinely play cricket in their gardens, local parks, sports halls, playgrounds or even cages. 

Naturally, different formats of cricket are suited to different spaces and numbers of players. I’d therefore urge you to carefully consider the various formats of cricket before deciding which one is best for the safety and enjoyment of you and anyone you play with.   

Find a cricket club near you 

Once you know a little about the sport, the simplest way to get started in cricket is to find and contact your local cricket club. You might do this by Googling “cricket clubs near me”, or searching the databases of the ECB, Cricket Scotland or Cricket Ireland

Local clubs naturally vary in their exact offerings. Some of them run winter sessions for youngsters from around the age of six who may wish to try the game. As for novice adults, most clubs have several teams playing Saturday cricket, while others may offer Sunday and midweek friendlies, as well as the aforementioned Last Man Stands competition. 

Then, you’ll simply need to shop for clothing and equipment 

You can get started with a casual game of soft-ball cricket pretty much straight away, as long as you have the ball, comfortable clothing and someone to play with. 

But presuming you’re slightly more serious than that, brick-and-mortar sports shops and online retailers – such as MR Cricket Hockey – will stock all of the bats, bags, footwear and other cricket clothing and accessories you’ll require. 

And that’s more-or-less it – cricket doesn’t have to be as intimidating as you might think! Play this enjoyable sport in a format and at a pace that is comfortable for you, and you might be surprised by how quickly you build up your skills.

*Header photo source Pexels 




Festive Date Ideas*





*This is a collaborative post*


Unless you've been living under a rock you'll know that we're in the midst of another lockdown - thanks Covid - and that Christmas is fast approaching. With December lurking just around the corner there's a definite chill in the air and I've spotted many decorations, trees and lights already going up. I've always found Christmas to be a truly magical time, it's indeed a magical time of year for romance and falling in love. In today's post I'm going to be sharing some festive dating ideas with you. Lockdown will soon be ending and although we'll still have to be careful and stick to the various tier regulations, there are events being held across the UK that are both festive and Covid safe. Some venues will only allow you to book/attend with members of your own social bubble so bear this in mind.
 

The Car Park Panto
 
Traditional pantomines might have been cancelled this year but thanks to the Birmingham Stage Company and Horrible Histories, car park panto will be coming to an outdoor venue near you. Touring the UK this December the panto will be showing at various locations including Cheltenham, Northampton, Coventry, Exeter, Bristol, Liverpool and Manchester, to name a few. The story is apparently about a young boy who is trying to save Christmas. What a fantastic date idea where you can both remain safe and socially distanced whilst also enjoying some Christmas magic. 

Rivoli Pop Up Cinema

If you're looking for a festive and romantic date idea then look no further. The beautiful 1950's Rivoli ballroom is screening some of our Christmas favourites. From Home Alone and The Santa Clause to Love Actually and Die Hard, there's a movie for everyone. Count me in!


 
Lightopia Festival

If you're more local to Manchester then definitely check out the Lightopia Festival which will be returning to Heaton Park this year. With wider footpaths to help maintain social distancing you can enjoy the magic of the illuminated trail and award winning lights display whilst still feeling Covid safe. 

Christmas Wreath Workshop

If you're into making things and are based in or around Lancashire then have a look at this years Christmas Wreath Demonstration and Workshop. It will be held at The Gibbon Bridge Hotel and Restaurant in Chipping Nr Preston, Forest Of Bowland. You'll need to ring up in advance to book but the price includes a two course lunch. If you book for the morning you'll get the demonstration and lunch but if you book for the full day then materials will be provided so that you can make and take home your very own Christmas wreath. I think this would be a fun date idea and would provide lots of laughs too.

Afternoon Tea With Christmas Carols

If you love afternoon tea then look no further than the Coombe Abbey in Warwickshire for delicious finger sandwiches, scones, cakes and of course good old tea and coffee. Their in-house entertainment will provide the music in the form of traditional carols and other Christmas favourites. 
If you happen to live in Staffordshire (which borders Warwickshire to the southeast,) then look at free dating sites Staffordshire which is perfect for locals. The dating agency Staffordshire is actually one of several dating sites for the area.

 

 
Cook A Romantic Meal Together

If you're dating someone who has become part of your social bubble then great, why not invite them over and spend a romantic evening cooking a three course meal together? Crack open a bottle of wine, put on some Christmas tunes and enjoy. You could always put on a Christmas movie afterwards to really get yourselves into the festive spirit. 

Virtual Date Night

If you're not in a position to spend time together in person then don't worry, you can still do Christmassy things as a couple - just do them virtually instead. Make use of the available technology we now have on hand. Facetime and Zoom are just two communication platforms that I know of. 
For your virtual date you could go for the traditional dinner and drinks option or maybe you fancy something a bit different? Try Netflix Party (which I believe is now called Teleparty) to watch a Netflix series or movie together. Or perhaps you're both into crafts? If this is the case then you could come up with various ideas. You could make Christmas centrepieces, garlands, Christmas crackers, chocolate, fudge, Christmas cookies... You could even each decorate a Christmas cake! 
 
Being single at Christmas can make for a lonely time so if you're not part of a couple and are wanting a bit of romance this festive season then now is the time to get yourself on one of many online dating sites. Have a look around at the various websites and check that whichever you use is a member of the ODA. Your safety should always come first! 



*Header photo source Pexels. Second photo source Pexels. Third photo source Pexels.



Why Virtual Dating Works*





*This is a collaborative post*
 
 
If you have recently found yourself single and on the lookout for love, then the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns have probably proved frustrating. With physical contact out the window as laws were brought in to curb Covid, singletons across the UK were left with only a few options; a) Remain single for the forseeable future b) Fast forward a relationship from the dating stage to moving in or c) Stick to virtual dating.
 
Being single is great if you're happy - I was happily content being single for years - but for many others, it can be a lonely life and lockdown has unfortunately only emphasised this. 
 
The Positives Of Virtual Dating 
 
Although virtual dating may seem a little unorthodox to some, you shouldn't knock it until you have tried it. Personally I've always hated the nerves and awkward silences that come with a 'traditional' first date. Sat across from each other in a public place, never knowing quite what to say or what to ask. Not being able to fully relax and wanting desperately to escape back home. However, when it comes to a virtual or online first date it's a whole different ball game. For starters you can surround yourself with the familarity and comfort of your own home which means you'll automatically relax a bit more than you might on a traditional date. Secondly it means you'll have the opportunity to really get to know your date without feeling the pressures of getting into a physical relationship before you're ready. Online dating allows you to really learn about one another, find out each others interests so that by the time you do meet you'll hopefully feel much more comfortable and relaxed. You may also find it will build your confidence. According to an article I read recently, couples who meet online actually have longer lasting relationships.
 
 

 
 
Find A Match In Your Area
 
Once lockdown is lifted (and it's safe to do so,) you'll be able to meet up with your prospective matches for traditional dates. However, if you've so far only matched with people much further afield than where you live and you hate long distance relationships, consider looking at other dating apps. There are dating websites out there which are specifically designed to find a person a match in their local area such as dating agency Hertfordshire. There are websites for other areas too if you peruse the internet. Likewise if you're over a particular age and looking for love, try dating sites that cater for the more mature individual. Hertfordshire dating site for instance is just one example of a local dating site tailored for over sixties.
 
Stay Safe
 
Unfortunately not everyone you come across is going to be genuine so no matter whether you're dating virtually or in the traditional sense, you should always take measures to protect yourself. Never disclose your personal details online and when you do meet your date, make sure you do so in a public place. Also it's worth checking the dating site you're using is a member of the Online Dating Association.
 
 
*Header photo source Pexels. Second photo source Pexels.
 
 


Dating During Lockdown - Christmas Themed Ideas*



*This is a collaborative post*


Looking back on 2020 you could say the year has been a bit of a shambles. Covid has literally turned everyone's lives upside down. The virus has caused widespread devastation in various ways and I don't know about you but I'm fed up of it now - I'm craving normality!

One aspect of life that has been hugely affected is the world of dating. For many single individuals across the UK, traditional or face to face dating has literally been put on hold. Instead singletons have now had to become inventive and have been making the most of virtual or online dating. So how does someone find love during a pandemic?

Get Online

First and foremost you need to be able to make the most of technology, without this you won't get very far because local and national lockdowns have meant that meeting up is out of the question. Whether you use your laptop, your tablet or your phone, become familiar with the various means and methods of communication. I like Facetime but I know of others who rave about Skype, it's personal preference really. 
Also make the most of the internet to actually get yourself on one of many dating websites. There's plenty to choose from these days, EHarmony, Zoosk, Match, Elite, dating agency West Midlands, and if you don't want to pay a monthly premium then there are some free dating websites out there. Depending on where you live you may also find that there are dating sites specifically just for your local area. For instance in the West Midlands there's the West Midlands dating site you could try. Do remember to remain a little cautious when chatting to someone new and don't give away any of your personal details.
  
Make An Effort 

It can be harder to establish any kind of connection or spark when virtual dating so it's important that you make the effort like you would if you were meeting up in person. Dress to impress, do your hair and makeup as if it were a 'normal' date. You can also come up with some fun and inventive ideas for the actual date. With Christmas coming up why not incorporate lots of festive things to do? Anything that will provide plenty of laughs and talking points is a great idea.





Below are some Christmas themed date ideas for you to consider. 

Make Christmas Crackers - I love making Christmas crackers and they've become part of my annual tradition. They're easy to assemble and you can put whatever you want inside them, most already come with jokes and hats. You can order these types of kits online, I usually get mine from ebay. My boyfriend and I had a right laugh making our crackers this year so I highly recommend it.

Make A Christmas Wreath - This is something that I think would be great fun and I'd love to try it. You could even get a bit competitive if you wanted to. Whether you go for the real thing or opt for artificial evergreen, you can decorate your wreath however you like. I personally love berries and pine cones. 

Decorate Your Christmas Tree - Who doesn't love decorating a Christmas tree? Light the fire, put on some Christmas music and then get adorning your trees. This is also a good chance to talk about each of your Christmas traditions and get to know each other a bit more.

Make Ornaments - To make simple salt dough Christmas ornaments just mix flour, salt and water together to form a dough and knead for about ten minutes. Roll out the dough and use Christmas cookie cutters to create your festive shapes. Don't forget to make a hole in each shape to thread your ribbon or tweed later on. Once they've been baked in the oven and cooled you're ready to decorate them. You can find step by step instructions online to guide you through the process if you're unsure.

Watch Christmas Movies - Of course you can get into the festive spirit for your date without having to get too hands on with crafts. If you prefer a chilled out night then pour a glass of wine, sit back, relax and watch your favourite Christmas movies as you chat. Just remember above all else to be yourself and enjoy!
 

*Header photo source Pexels. Second photo source Pexels


Spread Some Christmas Cheer With A Digital Christmas Card*




*This is a collaborative post*

It's almost that time of year again - yes you guessed it - Christmas is just around the corner, my absolute favourite time of year. Whenever I mention the C word you can guarantee that I'll get a mixed response. There's always the anti-Christmas Grinch who groans at the mere mention of the forthcoming festivities, but for the most part my friends and family love Christmas just as much as me. If you're not already organised for the big day then now is definitely the time to start buying your gifts, planning the food for the big day, getting the decorations out and of course writing your Christmas cards.

Thanks to Covid Christmas will be a little different this year but that doesn't mean we can't still enjoy it. In fact it's all the more reason to make an extra effort to spread some Christmas cheer. Lot's of people are facing a lonely Christmas 2020 and sending a Christmas card whether the physical or digital kind is one of the cheapest and nicest ways you can put a smile on someone's face. 

Traditional Christmas Cards

Apparently we started the tradition of sending Christmas cards in England in 1843. Indeed traditional physical cards are a lovely way of spreading Christmas cheer but the downside is that they can be costly, not just in the buying of the cards but in the actual sending too. Stamps are so pricey these days, I've easily spent £50 some years when posting my own cards. They also have a negative impact on the environment. The production of traditional cards unfortunately contributes to carbon emissions and when you look at statistics that suggest 1.5 billion Christmas cards are bought every year, that's quite a carbon footprint. Apparently only one third of paper is recycled here in the UK with many Christmas cards instead ending up on landfills. Delivery of these cards whether it be via car, van or plane also contributes negatively to the environment. Despite these negative points, there's no doubt that sending a Christmas card shows you care, spreads holiday joy and can make a persons day.



Digital Christmas Cards

So is there an alternative? Yes there is! Thanks to the ever growing digital industry, e-cards or digital cards are fast becoming the way forward. Digital Christmas cards have many perks. Not only are they more environmentally friendly but they're also lots of fun to make once you've got the knack. There's also no need for stamps or the hassle of having to post them. Of course you can print off and post your digital cards if you wish but before you do, consider some of the benefits of sending them electronically. For starters it's quicker and more efficient, at the simple click of a button you've immediately sent your card to the recipient, and as mentioned above there's no need for stamps so you'll save money on postage too. 
Generally speaking digital cards are relatively low cost to make unless you choose to pay for a particular font or design bundle but you really can make them as cheaply as you wish. 
Look around for websites such as Font Bundles that offer free fonts to help you with your designs. It's relatively straightforward to download and open fonts from Font Bundles onto your PC or Mac but if you struggle there is technical support on hand to help you out. For any Chromebook users - unfortunately Chromebooks aren't able to install extra fonts so if you do fancy creating your own digital Christmas cards then you'll need to borrow a standard laptop.

Don't forget to utilise other card making services too such as Canva, SmileBox and Monogram Maker. You can be as creative as you like when making your own digital Christmas cards. If you're particularly arty or computer savvy then you can go to town on your designs, if not then don't worry, why not use some of the available online templates to help you get creative? You could even upload family photos to your cards to give them a really personalised touch, or if you're sending a card to a friend you've not seen in months, why not upload an old photo of the two you? If you look on free licence photo websites such as Pexels you'll find plenty of Christmas images and scenes that would look perfect on a Christmas card.

Have A Very Merry Christmas

As I write this we're still in lockdown and Christmas looks a little uncertain, no-one knows yet what's just around the corner. That said, life is too short so I for one intend to count my blessings and make the very most of Christmas regardless, and I'll definitely be sending some of my own digital Christmas cards! :)



*Header photo source Pexels.

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