Britain's bowling greens are under attack, threatened by property developers and cost-cutting councils, prompting MPs to take action. But is bowling a quintessentially British pastime that should be protected?
It is a bright, warm spring evening and the expectancy is palpable as the bowlers make their way onto the green.
The outdoor season has only just begun, and the men of Bedworth Bowls Club in Warwickshire are facing a keenly-fought local derby against local rivals Haunchwood.
As the players - mostly middle aged, though with a supplement of twenty and thirty-somethings - survey the undulating crown green surface before them, Stephen Berry, 64, Bedworth's president, captain of its Saturday team and, for good measure, its groundskeeper, is in an ebullient mood.
"The sun is shining, it's a local derby and the green's in good shape," he grins. "What more could you want?"
Across the country, hundreds of thousands of others are taking part in a sport that stands as a reassuring emblem of British society - one that has remained popular for centuries.
Bowls brings connotations of the summer, of parks and pristine village greens, with young and old dressed in white and the gentle ripple of applause.
The game is filled with local heroes all over the country in both its flat and crown green codes. Equally importantly, the sport is a great social tool that brings comfort, joy, companionship and activity to many people.
But many fear this quintessentially British pastime is under threat.
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