Last night we went Curling.
As many of you know, I’ve been working in Edinburgh for the last few months. As a team, we try to go out regularly, but that usually involves lots to drink. We decided to organise an alternative but still traditional Scottish pastime – Curling. There were very strict rules on the website: no drunks and very clean shoes, no exceptions. We thought we could cope with that. I even asked Pete to join us.
The team is a mix of Scottish and English, but only one of us had curled before, and that was 10 years ago, so we arranged to have an instructor. We had two “sheets” (lanes) booked and we split into 4 teams.
After an initial 30 minutes of instruction and practice, the games began.
The aim, as you may already know, is to get the stone onto the “house” (circular target). We had 2 stones each for each “end” (round). The team with the stone closest to the centre of the house wins the end.
Did you know…?
- The sheets (lanes) are just over 45m long and 5m wide.
- The surface of the sheet is a little rough, it has frozen “pebbles” (droplets of water), so it’s isn’t too slippy.
- The stones are about 20 kilos each, but you don’t lift them!
- The stones are traditionally made of either Blue Hone granite which has low water absorption, which prevents the action of freezing and melting water from eroding the stone; or Ailsa Craig Common Green. Both are from Aisla Craig, an island off the Ayrshire coast.
- Kays of Scotland have exclusive rights to Ailsa Craig granite. They have been the exclusive manufacturer of curling stones for the Olympics.
- There is a quarry in North Wales that supplies Trefor granite to Canada for their stones.
- The stones “curl” (curve) if you add a spin to them.
- Stones must land between the “hog line” (11m from the end of the ice) and the “back line” (just behind the rings) to be in play, else it is “hogged” (removed).
Using a “hack” (a starting block), you “deliver” (shove) the stones down the ice and watch them glide toward the house. It’s not easy to judge how hard you should release the stone and the “sweepers” frantically brush the ice in front of the stone if they feel it needs to go faster.
It wasn’t exactly a high scoring event. We managed to get a few stones in to the house; we managed to get more hogged. I have no idea who won, but there were theatrical sighs as stones would slide out of play, or come short of being in play, and great cheering as stones stopped in the house or where the other team’s stones were knocked out of the house. At least, on the whole, we managed to stay within our own sheets and didn’t disrupt the games of the other, more experienced players on the ice.
A good evening was had by all and it’s definitely one to be recommended.