Ascot, Wimbledon, and Henley, oh my! It’s been my gchat status for a while and I was so excited for all of it! So much so, that when the day came, I told Sarah I didn’t want to go yet because it meant it would all soon be over. But it came, and it went, and it was fab. Here are short summaries and some pointers for each one.
The Royal Ascot: The Royal Enclosure – Saturday, June 23 2012
What the website says: ‘one of the pinnacle events of the summer social season’ ; ‘The Royal Meeting will certainly be one of the must-attend events of the year to enjoy all of the pageantry and history of a quintessentially British day out’
What it really is: Annual horse races where fashion, especially of the millinery variety, are tantamount to the horses racing and the related betting. Also, the queen likes a good gamble and so is there everyday in her racecourse best, watching out for her own horses. Also, Pimm’s.
How: If you are American and live in the UK – get in touch with the American Embassy in January of the year you want to attend, and ask for information on getting a badge to be in the Royal Enclosure. It’s really that easy!! You have to be quick though, because it’s on a first come, first served basis.
Attire: Just know that along with privilege come demanding fashion rules. Ie, girls must wear modest, respectable dresses with at least 1-inch straps and a hemline just above the knee or longer. AND. A hat. But of course, you knew that. That’s why you’re even going to this thing. Even the horses wear hats (no they don’t). No but seriously, new rule that the base of your hat has to be 4″ wide, at the least. No fascinators allowed. And the boys must wear tops ‘n’ tails. And look adorable and so posh doing it. So don’t whine, boys!!! You will totally make the ladies (or gentlemen) swoon. It’ll be worth it.
Things I learned:
- It’s about a mile (a crowded one if you take one of the early trains! Which you can get discounts on for yourself and up to 3 other people with a Network Rail Card) from Ascot train station to the Racecourse, so ladies, make sure you bring your foldable flats. And for the heels, if possible, wedges are better because of all the grass.
- Though not my first time at the
rodeoraces, it was my first time in the Royal Enclosure. Of course, the exclusivity and the whimsical dreams of being part of British high society in the best way possible was a MASSIVE reason for all the excitement. What brought us crashing down (from the Panoramic restaurant on the 6th floor) was the prices – we were definitely not Made in Chelsea, and it’s going to be a while before we can afford the fancy fare of the Royal Enclosure restaurants, but one day we will. Just wait.
- Betting is fun.
- Black Caviar is a big deal. And her jockey’s jersey is salmon colored with black spots.
- You will meet so many interesting people! Just talk to randoms! We met a hat designer and a jewelry designer! AND. Saw Guy Pelly. Please ask Sarah Geisman (Or Google. He might know too.) who this is if you don’t know.
- People-watching at the Birdcage (‘The Birdcage is designed to provide a fashionable, fun and relaxing base from which a younger generation of racegoer can enjoy the full Royal Ascot experience.’) at 9pm is THE BEST. (Mostly because all of this ‘younger generation’ is compleeeeeeeetely smashed and crying and fighting and making out and falling off chairs. It’s so great to watch, like switching channels on TV!) AND. When I just googled that to link it, I saw that it was founded by the one and only Guy Pelly!!!
The Wimbledon Championships: Having Actual Tickets for a Big Court – Thursday, June 28 2012
What the website says: It doesn’t give me a lowdown, but it’s tennis, you guys. I know you know this already.
What it really is: Watching players grunt and sweat, seeing how great the human body and talent and practice can exhibit themselves, strawberries and cream. Also, Pimm’s.
How: Lottery. Apply. You can apply between August and December. All you have to do is send them a SASE and then send back the application! That’s it! Essentially all you have to do is make an effort. Of course you aren’t guaranteed seats, but you have a better chance of getting them if you apply than if you don’t – like a 100% better chance. You’ll hear back around March and then have to send them payment by the date they say. My tickets were row Z on Level 3 – but as it’s not a vertical stadium like the one in Flushing for the US Open with a jillion capacity, they aren’t terrible seats – and they were £50 a piece.
Attire: Well, I wore orange shorts and a navy top. Sooooooo. You’re not playing, so tennis whites are prob not necessary, eh? No dress code, just dress for comfort, really. I did see some stylish people, but meh. (Maybe I’m meh because I didn’t have VIP seats here though?) I mean, unless I’m the fam/friend/girlfriend-in-giant-sunglasses of a player and going to be featured on the court screens or TV, I’m gonna stick with comfort.
Tips & Things I learned:
- Strawberries and cream. It’s just a Wimbledon thing. I wasn’t a huge fan, but you should try it. Also, if you’re an HSBC customer, at least this year, you get a bowl for free! Just show them your debit card at their kiosk.
- While it’s great to have the opportunity to watch the famous ones, it’s also pretty amazing to watch the ones working their way up. My date- my godbrother, Ben – and I saw Sharapova secure a win and then got to watch Mardy Fish (USA) and James Ward (GBr) play. It was the 10th ranked player (Fish) versus the 173rd-ish player, but it went to 5 sets and Ward definitely gave Fish a run for his money. Though not the most consistent player (yes, I am a sportscaster and a pro now), it was so exciting to watch – especially since he had a serious home court advantage. The UK doesn’t have that many players in the mix, so when there is one, they. go. wild. It was great to see all the cheering. Even last year, walking around the other courts (4-22 or so), seeing young aspirers playing was so amazing.
- ‘Queue’ tickets. Some people camp overnight to have the chance to just get a grounds ticket. Others just go after work, which is when most of the good matches are anyway. Tickets for after 5pm entry are around £15. You will definitely need to be okay with waiting for a while, but it could be worth it.
The Henley Royal Regatta: The Stewards’ Enclosure – Saturday, June 30, 2012
What the website says: ‘undoubtedly the best known regatta in the world and is both one of the highlights of the summer sporting calendar and the social season.’
What it really is: A bunch of people standing around and drinking, with their backs to the river. There are races about every 10 minutes and people will occasionally watch them. Also, Pimm’s.
How: Ya gotta know someone. Luckily, Sarah’s officemate at work, Jess, rows and so knows a Steward. The Stewards’ Enclosure at the Henley is the best place to be – from what Jess told us, it seemed that the other enclosures were a bit..trashy. So each Steward gets 20 tickets to give to their family and friends. These are the only way to get them – but they’re not something a Steward would want to sell at random, because the guest’s behavior affects the Steward. Not only does the guest get thrown out, the Steward whose guest it is is noted and you could get them in trouble as well. Stewards’ Enclosure rules include ‘No cell phone use at all’ and also ‘Rectangular badges only in this line’ (.).
Attire: ‘Gentlemen are required to wear lounge suits, or jackets or blazers with flannels, and a tie or cravat.’ (And apparently you’re not allowed to take the blazer off)
‘Ladies are required to wear dresses or skirts with a hemline below the knee and will not be admitted wearing divided skirts, culottes or trousers of any kind. Whilst not a requirement, it is customary for ladies to wear hats.’ (A bit old-fashioned on the no pants thing (excuse me – no ‘trousers’ – they probably wouldn’t like it if you pulled a Britney and went commando), and a little dumb on the hemline below the knee not being complemented with some sort of rule for what the tops of those dresses should look like…so as long as your knees are covered, you are the empress of modesty??? No. We have observed that this is untrue.)
Seriously though. Apparently an 82-year-old woman was refused entry last year because her skirt wasn’t long enough.
Tips & Things I learned:
- Wear wedges. It’s all grass and as we all know, stilettos do NOT do well in the grass. Wedges!!!
- The bathrooms are actually acceptable! Though temporary, they are not the port-a-potties (excuse me, ‘port-a-loos’) kind of disgusting.
- Nobody watches the races. They hang at the bar and talk instead. But if you’re lucky and get a nice day, you should definitely snag a lounge chair along the river to relax in, and check out a couple of boats as they row by.
- The river is not reserved for the Regatta. Other random boats will row by and still others will just hang on the river because it’s a great seat to watch from.
Karishma Dara, one of the less tech-knowledge-y Daras (we may all be the same height, but our levels of computertude definitely differ) has started a blog!!!!!!!!!!! So give it a read and be inspired. There are some good people around! And we should stop forgetting them.