A rest day from Olympic football and a chance to catch up with old friends in Hartley Wintney, a village in Hampshire the home of English cricket and slice of a world most people might imagine had long gone.
English village cricket is alive and well, for now and for the future.
Hartley Wintney ground is the third oldest still being played on in England, and in a couple of weeks they will play Hambledon where the game is said to have begun in the seventeenth century.
The village of around 4,000 people is flourishing, partly because there is a lot of serious money around, but also because it has retained the community spirit which means that collective effort produces a series of events and functions which draw people together.
Last week they held a benefit match for the groundsman at Hampshire County Cricket club and the village team played the county side and raised several thousand pounds for the recipient. The roofs of the houses surrounding the ground were in danger as sixes were hammered well over the boundary line by the county players. Cars were not parked as close to the clubhouse as usual on occasions like this.
Today it was a match in a local cup and we watched the conclusion in a victory for Hartley Wintney, so everyone was happy in the crowd.
Meanwhile Andy Murray was winning an Olympic Gold Medal at Wimbledon, downing Roger Federer in three sets. Now he is British again, not that Scottish loser. There was a little crowd gathered round the TV screen in a tent ready to embrace another triumpt for Team GB. Cricket and the Olympics side by side.
Alongside the ground there was a marquee with exhibits by many local artists and two harpists playing. The clubhouse supplied Fosters but also some excellent wine and local beers and the picnickers around the boundary were all catered for. England, and indeed the United Kingdom, may be going through a recession but this part of the world seems to be surviving.
Neil and Heather Tranter go a long way back with us. Neil and I were colleagues at the University of East Anglia in the late 1960s. He was a top class wicket-keeper batsman at Nottingham University and later at Stirling and Clackmannan in Scotland. He also kept goal for the University and for a series of good quality teams. Heather and my wife Frances were close friends and Frances is godmother to their younger daughter. So it was a delight to pick up from the same page where we left them when we last stayed with them in Bridge of Allan in Scotland in 2009.
For once the weather has relented and we had a beautiful summer day with warm sunshine and little rain. We walked under a canopy of English oaks planted around the time of the Napoleonic wars in the early nineteenth century in fear of a shortage of timber for warships.
Within a generation steam and iron had taken over and so the trees survive into the 21st century to provide a marvellous setting for the village.
It would be easy to slip into this life, I think, but tomorrow it is the women’s semi-final at Wembley between France and Japan, while the USA and Canada do battle at Old Trafford. Then on Tuesday Japan’s men’s team takes on Mexico for a place in the final and Brazil faces South Korea. A return to the other world of sport awaits.