Pukka Picnic and Polo Ponies…

As regular readers of Gidday from the UK will know, I had a birthday.  Not a ‘big’ birthday by society’s reckoning but I like to endow each of my special days with a significance and joyful anticipation befitting someone who has not yet reached double figures.  And faced with how to mark my special day this year, we decided to do the only thing one should do in south west London on a sunny Sunday afternoon – a picnic at the Polo.

Ham Polo Club is located just a 15min bus ride from my place and every Sunday from May to September, you can pop along for a fiver and picnic alongside the rich and…well the rich.  And every Summer for the SIX Summers I’ve lived nearby, me and A-down-the-hill have said ‘Oh we should go!’ and then before we know it, October arrives and we’ve missed the season.  Well not this year!

So on the last day of my year, the SS 41 chugging slowly and gracefully into its mooring, two Aussies, a Scot and four Turks packed their picnic vittels and headed to TW10 to grab a dainty bite of quintessential English-ness.

The sun beamed down upon us, the wine flowed freely and the players and their ponies polo-ed.  There was a smidgen of educating (we learnt about chukkas, treading in and the like), a modicum of movement (chair to field to chair to field to…oh you get the picture) and a whole lotta laugh-out-loud-ness as commentator after commentator filled the slow bits gaps in the action with that droll, dry humour that the Brits do best.

Anyway here’s how the day went…

The game started with something a bit like a passing out. The eight players and their ponies line up in front of the clubhouse (where all the posh people sit) and as the players are introduced, they ride in a little circle around their team mates before stopping back in their original place. Bless! 

‘Passing Out’
Then the action started – these eight grown ups ride around on their horses with big sticks trying to hit a tiny ball up and down a big field and through a couple of posts at either end. No, I don’t play golf either.

An unexpected and rather noisy spectator dropped in for a while…(I hope at least he paid his fiver!)

…before it was back to the action as well as a change of direction (the scoring end for each team changes after each goal)…

 …which is unbelievably confusing for all concerned.

Every so often play stops and they all gather around for a throw in, which look a little like a Rugby Scrum on horseback.

And lest we forget, polo is the sport of the everyman – NOT!  Ponies are usually changed after each chukka making it at least four per game.  Whatever happened to sweating those assets?

Anyhow, after paying for all those posh ponies, there’s not much left in the pot for grounds maintenance so it was our job to chip in and ‘stomp those divots’

Stomping the divots or ‘Treading In’ as it’s called here
Stalking Up close and personal opportunities

 …while our Scot ‘minded the store’.

Four and half hours later, sun-kissed and inebriated it was time to go and in the back seat on the way home, I believe I gurgled happily about what a lovely day I’d had!

So that was my fond farewell to forty-one and another one of the ‘things I must do while I live in Kingston’ ticked off the list.  But to be completely honest, now I’ve been, being local is no longer a mandatory for future attendance.

Chin chin!

ps…I’ve also been submitting some articles and reviews on a site called Weekend Notes – why don’t you wander on over and check out what I wrote about this little adventure and some of the other things I’ve done in London.

Twas The Night Before Birthday…

Twas the night before birthday
And all through the land
The excitement’s been building
The day off is planned.
Yesterday’s Vintage
Was a trip back in time
From disco to swing dance
And fashion sublime.
And today we’ve done polo,
With divot and chukka,
The picnic we had
Was definitely pukka.
So sun-kissed and dozy
I’m back at my screen
At my cosy front window
To muse where I’ve been.
41 has been tough
With ‘curve balls’ galore
And it’s been hard not to miss
The good life from before.
But finally it seems
The sun has come out
And its warmth on my face
Reminds me what it’s about.
Old roads and new paths
To defend and to chart
With family and friends
Those close to my heart.
So on this night before birthday
As 41 fades away
I fondly wave it farewell
And bid 42 ‘Gidday!’

19 Sleeps To Go…Under The Stars With The Gipsy Kings

I picked up a bit of last minute temping this week so my perfectly planned week of gym-going, blogging and washing all the bedding went out the window (it’s going to be one helluva shock to go back to working full-time again). But one thing that did not go ‘out the window’ (at 21 sleeps to go but I was too tired to wax lyrical yesterday) was seeing the Gipsy Kings live at Kew Gardens!

I’ve not ever been majorly into these guys, having only really heard their big hit, Bamboleo, back when they were A LOT younger. But I love Spanish/Latin music and J’s quite a Gipsy Kings fan so I got us some tix about 4 months ago…and after work on Friday we met in Richmond, me laden down with some divine picnic nibbles from Waitrose and J with our two folding deck chairs and strolled over to Kew Gardens…and had such a great night!

The support act, Motimba, started at 7.30 and warmed up the crowds for about an hour with a cruise-y Cuban mix of tunes, great background for us to enjoy our nibbles and a lovely bottle of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc. Then after a short ‘wee break’ (for us, not them!), the Gipsy Kings strummed their way into everyone’s hearts (and a fair few hips that were wiggling about!) with their passionate Latin melodies. Their passion for the music is just so inspiring and it took me right back to travelling in Spain in 2002 – where I bought a CD from a local Granada-ian band who entertained us at dinner one night and thought that the flamenco in Seville was one of the breath-takingly sexiest things I had ever seen.

There was nothing for it but for us to open a lovely bottle of South African Shiraz to accompany all this passion and fire…and speaking of fire, at 10.15 this was all topped off by some spectacular fireworks…

So I spent my ’21 sleeps to go’ under the stars with great music, and fireworks, with my lovely man – now THAT’s what I call a date night!