Once upon a time, aged 9, on a trip to our local Hollywood Bowl for a friend’s birthday party, I won a game of ten pin bowling. My prize was a little toy clown. However, since then my prowess on the bowling lanes has been rather limited. My aim – a bit dodgy; my strength – fairly minimal. Last night, I headed to All Star Lanes with a group of friends to see if my fortunes (and skill!) would improve. Let’s forget that my win many years ago was heavily supported by having the bumpers up and using a ramp to ensure that the ball rolled vaguely straight. All Star Lanes have five venues, four based in London and one up here in Manchester, all aiming to offer a better bowling experience; ’boutique bowling’ if you will. With only eight lanes (plus a private bowling room), this is much smaller than any of the bowling alleys I’ve been to before which are all massive sheds in comparison. Offering home-cooked food, freshly made cocktails from the bar, and none of the tacky fruit machines, it promised to be a more grown up experience. We swapped over our shoes for some of the snazzy bowling variety and headed towards the lanes. I was pretty chuffed that I got lace up shoes, as normally my little size 4 feet qualify as child’s feet and therefore I normally get super cool velcro-fastened shoes! We selected our ball of choice, gave it a quick rub for luck, and got down to business, all pretending that we weren’t at all competitive. To avoid umming and ahhing too much over what to eat, we decided to just order all of the bar snacks on the menu and share them between the five of us to nibble on whilst we played. Popcorn Squid and Aioli – I’m not a huge seafood fan but these were addictive! Pickled vegetables and olives – I’m not massively into things of the pickled variety or olives so I let the boys tackle this one. Scratchings and Tartare Dip – mmmm. This is the first time I’ve ever tried scratchings (I had to ask what they were made of!) but I thought that they were very yummy and worked surprisingly well with the Tartare. Mac & Cheese Croquettes – possibly my favourite thing. Gotta love a good old Mac & Cheese, bursting with cheesy goodness. Short Rack of Ribs – deliciously tender. Chicken Wings – did not disappoint. Potted ‘Old Bat’ Shrimps and Toast – tastier than your average shrimp. Navajo Bread with Baba Ganoush – the bread was delicious, but I’m not a massive Baba Ganoush fan. I always feel as if it would taste better if it was warmed up, rather than cold.Sweet Potato Fries (as well as getting some standard fries) – I love sweet potato fries so much. I was very tempted to keep all of these to myself!
Having demolished the food, we got back to the bowling. So, did my technique get any better? Well, I started off very well, but then it all kinda went down hill. I think it’s just that I’m not very strong and so my wrists got tired quicker than all of the boys’! We played two games and I came third in the first game and last in the second game, leaving me fourth overall. No prizes for me tonight!I swear that I manage to throw the ball straight most of the time, but then part way along the lane, the ball changes its mind and decides to off to the side. Maybe I just need to get a bit more oooomph behind it! I think I’ll need to get a bit of sneaky practicing in before we go out next time!