RHYS BOWEN :In a month's time I'm going to the Olympics. A giant feast celebrating the best in English sports.. or is it? One of the sports that won't be appearing is Bog Snorkelling. Neither will Toe Wrestling, nor cheese rolling. I'm not making these up. They are real British sports. They have just held the World Bog Snorkelling Championship in Wales. The contestants swim through thick filthy water of a flooded peak bog breathing through a snorkel. It attracts over 200 competitors each year.
Actually sports like this will have a chance to shine on the world stage. They will be featured at the World Alternative Games, taking place at the same time as the Olympics in Llanwrtyd Wells in Wales. I bet it's easier to get tickets there.
Britain must have more silly sports than any other country I know. Where else would you find a pancake race, or a race carrying barrels of molten tar that would fry you to a crisp if they spilled over you? Or the famous Gloucestershire cheese roll, where contestants roll an 8 lb wheel of Double Gloucester Cheese down a hill and attempt to catch it. This event has been going on for 200 years.
In fact most regions of Britain can claim their own "alternative" (and for alternative read silly) sports and games. Hedge jumping is one of my favorites. People find a wicked looking hedge and then attempt to throw themselves over it in a sort of Fosbury Flop. One contestant claimed he did better in "your basic crucifixion position." Keen hedge jumpers have been known to skid to a halt, leap out of cars and hurls themselves over a nearby hedge. My friend Hannah Dennison wrote about this in one of her Vicky Hill novels. Great fun.
In the flatter parts of the East Coast there is dyke vaulting. Do not comment. Contestants run at the waterway with a pole, plant it and attempt to jump across, like a pole vault but horizontal. Most end up stuck in the mud with no dry way of escape.
My next Lady Georgie novel, The Twelve Clues of Christmas (due out in November) features a made up event called "The Lovey Chase." What is it? You'll have to read the book to find out.