Update from Tom – new beginnings

It’s nice to step inside. By which I mean that, for months it seems, I’ve been writing newsletters about our efforts to get our new clubhouse built; in situ; delivered; actually here. Now, with the clubhouse finished, watertight and blending into the countryside with an easy assurance that suggests it’s always been here, we’re starting to turn our attention indoors: to think about the way the club will function, how it might be used and what its fixtures and fittings might look like. Which, surprisingly perhaps, is not as simple a task as you might suppose. Above all, we want to get it right: to choose and buy stuff once, with care, rather than rush into IKEA with a shopping list that’s gone sour by the second Sunday in Lent. 

We had one of our annual Brainstorm sessions recently: a chance to spend a whole day together chewing over where we think we’re going and how we’re going to get there. We decided, first and foremost, that we now needed to put together a team with someone in charge to specifically manage the new clubhouse: to blend together the roles of manager, procurement officer and housekeeper and so ensure that whatever happens inside the building is part of a planned and co-ordinated long-term strategy. We decided also that it was time we had a kitchen. Truth to tell, we’ve had a kitchen for months: one was donated at the start of the summer. It’s been lying in the old green shed in thirty dismantled sorry pieces awaiting its moment of resurrection and installation. Well, that moment has come!  It’ll be installed in the next few weeks. Finally, we agreed there should be an official opening next Spring. We even decided a date:  May 6 2019. That is also our self-imposed deadline to get the whole place finished, inside and out. On past form, I’d bet we get there with time in hand…

So – make a date in your 2019 diary now: SLTC Clubhouse Grand Opening:  Bank Holiday Monday, May 6 at 2pm.

There. It’s official. We can’t back out now!

Enjoy our autumn colours.

Tom Keene

Warning re site work…

Please be warned, there are several big holes in the club following some exploratory work.

DANGER – There is a roped off area at the east end of he top lawn. This area is now an active and potentially dangerous work site.

Please do not enter the roped area.

Thank you for your cooperation while we prepare the site for the new clubhouse.

Update from Tom – End of the season is near

Summer at the club is always a time of increased social tempo; of parties and tennis and boule and croquet and gatherings on the top lawn of a warm evening when The Sound glitters beyond our low wall and we mingle in good company, make new friends, sip the occasional glass and count our blessings. It is not, in short, as you might imagine, a particularly busy time for the backroom grind of keeping such a club on the straight and narrow or digging out fresh sources of funding for that new clubhouse of ours which beckons tantalisingly from just over the horizon.

Best wishes

Tom Keene Chairman, Stonehouse Lawn Tennis Club

Update from Tom – Hot spell?

I do hope you’re all enjoying what laughingly passes for summer this year.  Who knows, we may even be in for a sizzling hot spell very shortly.  One can only live in hope and keep the sunbloc close to hand.

In any event, it’s time to chalk up another success for the club with the criminally-low membership fee of just £ 20 per adult. That’s per year, by the way – not per month. And earlier this month we held our third annual Soupe Au Pistou. Which, for those of you who weren’t there, don’t get the French bit or decided to stay home and watch the mud-wrestling, is, in effect, a community meal down a long table with everyone bringing their own plates, gobbling rods and bottles.  Soupe Au Pistou – as the name suggests – is a traditional meal of crudités, vegetable soup, cheeses and fruit flan which was served with their usual élan by the club’s volunteer cooks, chefs and assorted vegetable choppers.  The sun shone, it stayed dry and the afternoon drifted on in the very best of newly-formed traditions. Sixty-four sat down together this year – a record!  Most pleasing of all, perhaps, we were able to break bread with a number of new members who fitted seamlessly into the mood of general happiness and well-being up there on the immaculately-tended top lawn with Plymouth Sound glittering away just a baguette-toss to starboard. So welcome, all. Oh – and in case you’re wondering – the dish comes originally from Provence in southern France and was invented back in the days when wheels had square corners.  The Roman poet Virgil described pistou as something he made by crushing herbs in a mortar with garlic, salt and olive oil. So now you know.   Santé!

Don’t forget, by the by, that we hold social croquet evenings up on the top lawn every Tuesday evening in summer when the weather is fine. Which it will be – very, very soon. See you there.

Best wishes

Tom Keene Chairman, Stonehouse Lawn Tennis Club

A wonderful day

Saturday, July 1st. A wonderful day.

It had rained most of the week of run- up and it rained much of the night afterwards but, during the critical hours that mattered, the sun shone out of a clear blue sky and helped make our major annual fund-raising summer fete a huge success attended by more than 200 people.  One of our most senior members, Jean Trevaskus, reminded me that the club actually began in the 1920s and that, allowing for various interruptions – WW2 being one of them – the club had hosted a summer fete right here on the top lawn something like sixty times.

Saturday’s summer fete in my humble opinion, was probably one of the very best. It raised about £1400 for the new clubhouse. So a huge thank you to all those who helped put things up and take things down; to those who catered and cooked and served, to those who wanged wellies and splatted rats.  And sold tickets, and to all those who came along to just sit in the sunshine, enjoy the visiting Morris Dancers, nibble away at a pasty or cream tea and take in one of the very best views in England.

Membership, I might remind those of you who are thinking about joining but haven’t yet taken the plunge, remains a ridiculous  £20 a year per adult. We must be bonkers.

Best wishes

Tom Keene Chairman, Stonehouse Lawn Tennis Club

Update from Tom – First Flush…

Late May marked a particularly important milestone for our club: we officially opened the club’s new toilet block. We now have three toilets and a stores area open for business. It marked the passing of an era, if you’ll pardon the pun: ever since the days of shiny hard loo paper, club members taken short have had to scuttle off elsewhere, cross-legged and squinty-eyed, to attend to personal needs.  Now, at last, help is at hand within the club grounds, thanks to a lot of hard work by club members and the generosity of Plymouth City Council who have agreed to waive £1500 a year rent just so long as we continue to make the club – and its toilets – accessible to all in Stonehouse. Which, as you know, is something we are all pledged to do.

The official opening – Operation First Flush – took place on Tuesday, May 23 when a club BBQ marked the start of the new Tuesday evenings season of Croquet, Bowls, Boule and general merriment. More than one hundred members and guests enjoyed one another’s company up there on the top lawn on a dry, balmy evening that augured well for the golden summer that stretches ahead. Not only that, but we raised £500 for the new clubhouse and….the fleet was in: The Sound was full of warships all drawn up, presumably, to pass in review and honour our official opening. I wonder if they still have shiny loo paper on board?

Have a lovely summer –

Tom Keene Chairman, Stonehouse Lawn Tennis Club

Update from Tom – Spring is here!

It’s that wonderful time of year again – the very best time of the year, I always think – when the club’s gardens and grounds begin to wake into spring and the trees burst into bud with a fresh, bright, lime-coloured green that makes the heart lift after the drab greys of winter. It’s also an excuse for my crafty seasonal reminder that, as the grass begins to grow and the bees begin to buzz, if you want to retain access this summer to your Secret Garden behind the little locked gate – it’s time to pay your annual subscription.

Many of you have already renewed your membership for this year, but a fair number have not yet got around to doing this little thing. I say little, because it is just £20 per year, per adult.  That equates to less than seven Tamar crossings or ten ice creams: peanuts, as Snoopy might say ! So – time to cough up, folks, or risk having your key fob deactivated just as the hot summer rolls in to our southern Stonehouse shores. We’d hate to lose you – especially before you’ve had the chance to admire the tasteful decor in our brand new, key-pad controlled, fully functioning toilet block: that’s got to be worth a tenner a go in anyone’s money.

See you at the season’s ‘First Flush BBQ’  on May 23. When you’ll be fully paid up, natch.

Tom Keene

Update from Tom…March – AGM

We held our AGM on March 20 and the club’s New Year kicked off to a healthy start with the return of no fewer than six members being voted onto the committee. The good news – and we are a club which is interested  exclusively in news of this particular variety  – is that there are now twelve fully-elected committee members all pledged to work together on your behalf to make the club even better than it is already. The decision to increase the size of the committee was recommended unanimously by the existing committee to help with the increasing volume of work that has come with our recent growth and expansion. So – welcome, all. Equally pleasing is that, once again, there were more members prepared to stand than there were committee posts, which suggests we must be doing something right !

The pledge – as ever – is to put the finishing touches to the new toilet block in time for the start of the new season and to raise money for the new clubhouse. Thanks to the efforts of Claire Honey, a professional fund-raiser who gives the club her services free and who is now a newly-elected member of the committee, the bids are out there and there is reason for cautious optimism although, as ever, our pitches are up against fearsome opposition.

None of which, of course, should get in the way of your enjoyment of the new season which is just around the corner. The grounds are looking great, the trees are abud, the lawns will soon be ready, the flower beds are about to flower and the little furry things are stripping off their winter woollies for another sun-drenched summer. See you there!

Tom Keene, Chairman