What do you do on Shrove Tuesday? Eat pancakes is probably the answer…. But not if you’re from Ashbourne, a small market town in the shire, where Shrove Tuesday marks the start of the two day Royal Shrovetide Football. It’s not a football game like you might imagine, firstly the goals are three miles part, rather than 11 players per team, it’s more like 500 and the match doesn’t last a mere 90 minutes, no, this game starts at 2pm each day and finishes when a goal is scored or at 10pm.
The hottest June day since the 1970’s and it’s an early start for myself and friend Lydia. After dropping various children off at school, child minders and nursery, it’s off to Derby station to catch the train to Reading then onward to Ascot for the second day of Royal Ascot 2017. Of course, our early start wasn’t anything compared to that of Her Royal Highness, the Queen who had to give her speech at the opening of Parliament before a quick outfit change and onto Ascot for the parade at 2.00pm.
One of my favourite traditions at Royal Ascot is watching the Royal procession as it travels around the race course and into the parade ring, guessing the colour of the Queen’s outfit before she appears (I wrongly guessed green for Wednesday but she wore a beautiful bright yellow). After the parade it’s time to put on a quick bet before the first race starts at 2.30pm. I’d had a few betting tips from friends ‘in the know’ and Lydia is possibly one the luckiest ladies I know, so I had a good feeling. We placed our bets, found a shady spot at the side of the track and soaked up the atmosphere. ‘And they’re off…’, it was a close race with a photo finish, but our horse wasn’t a winner. This pattern repeated itself for the second race, the third, fourth and fifth … by now I’m feeling a little less positive about winning a small fortune! But who cares? We had a fantastic time sitting on the lawn people-watching, commenting on outfits, picking our own ‘best’ and ‘worst’ dressed. We had a few nice compliments ourselves; one lady asked where my dress was from, a waitress telling us that she’d spotted us earlier and we looked ‘very classy’ which, of course we did! I wore a nude coloured lace dress with pink and purple embroidered flowers by ‘Little Black Dress’ teamed with a Ben deLisi fascinator. Lydia donned a white and gold Ted Baker dress with a pale pink fascinator and her gorgeous wedding shoes. I’ll let you into a secret though – by the afternoon we’d nipped into the Ascot shop and brought a pair of pumps each!
At 5.00pm we made our way to the 1768 tearooms for our pre-booked Afternoon tea. The tearoom is named after the first recorded year of races being held at Ascot. Afternoon tea: a selection of finger sandwiches, mini cakes, scones with strawberry preserve and Cornish clotted cream, all washed down with a pot of English Breakfast Tea. It was heaven to spend a few hours sitting in an air-conditioned room.
After tea we joined in another Ascot tradition – songs around the bandstand. By 6.00pm most race-goers are feeling the effects of Pimms and Processco and are in fine voice ready to sing along in the crowd of several hundred to well known tunes. The atmosphere is amazing; ladies in their finery, gentlemen in top hats and tails, Union Jacks waved high in the air and the band playing merrily. This tradition was started in the 1970’s by the late Lady Jinny Beaumont, wife of Sir Nicky Beaumont, Clerk of the Course from 1969 to 1994 and is now synonymous with Royal Ascot.
Then it was back on the train northwards, finally arriving home just before mid-night, it was a tiring but wonderful day and we are already planning our 2018 Ascot trip.
What more could a Lady want on an autumnal Friday evening than a glass of fizz surrounded by the splendour of the Chatsworth Estate and oodles of jewels? This evening the Ladies Take On ‘CW Sellors Christmas Wishes VIP Preview’ at Chatsworth.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin…. I am fortunate enough to have a fantastic job, I’m a Tour Guide and have the privilege of spending my days in one of Britain’s most beautiful historic houses; Chatsworth House is set in the heart of the Peak District and is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. This season is especially exciting in my opinion; the Duke and Duchess have an exhibition named ‘Make Yourself Comfortable’ if you hadn’t already guessed by the title, it’s a display of seating. But not just any seating, it’s an unique installation of contemporary seating in a historic setting.
There’s something I’m going to tell you, something I don’t tell many people. Late on a Sunday night I leave my partner sleeping then tiptoe into my children’s bedrooms, kiss them softly on the forehead then quietly leave the house. I’m only gone for a few hours, when they wake I’m back in bed and the children never know I left the house. You’re probably wondering why? Well it’s because I go somewhere to listen to people in distress, to talk about their problems. I’m a Samaritan.