The whole world and its neighbour was out relishing the sunshine this weekend. Gallons of Pimm’s were drunk and miles of sausages barbequed. I swapped my usual haunt of London Fields on Saturday for the fresh green fields of Cowdray in Sussex, for a little spot of polo.
It was all very Pretty Woman: velvet lawns, glossy manes and beautiful people talking in hushed tones. I joined the party set at the St Regis tent, where magnums of Taittinger champagne were keeping guests’ glasses eternally full, and little shots of spicy Bloody Mary staved off the hunger until high tea was to be served.
As somebody whose knowledge of polo extends no further than what Jilly Cooper has taught me, I asked Jodie Kidd to explain the rules of the game. “It’s played in chukkas,” she told me, explaining that England were currently two points up from South Africa in the match. “To be honest though, I’ve been playing for years and sometimes I still forget the rules!”
Intently trying to follow the swinging mallets and the stomping hooves on the pitch was one Ed Westwick, looking extremely sexy in Breton stripes and a Panama hat. “I picked a great weekend to come home to London,” he told me, peering over his oversized aviators, “I don’t have the slightest idea about the game, but I’m loving the champagne, sunshine and scones.”
Sophie Ellis Bexter was amongst the first to pounce on the cucumber sandwiches and dainty macaroons when high tea was eventually served after the first few ‘chukkas’. “I’m starving!” she said, though she admitted that eating too much was just not an option in her cut-to-the-bone Julian J Smith dress, which made her long white legs look like they went on forever. She complemented my dress (thank you, Saloni Lodha) - which obviously made my day.
Kelly Jones looked the part in a razor-sharp Paul Smith suit, but secretly he was texting his mates all day to find out the score of the Cardiff v Blackpool game. “I don’t even support Cardiff but at least I know the rules of football,” he enthused.
All in all it seemed to be a rather befuddled – though much amused – crowd of polo spectators. Later on however, as we went out for the “treading-in ceremony” (stamping the clods of earth back into the lawn, what fun) - I discovered an unlikely source of information on the ins and outs of polo – Amy Molyneux of PPQ almost seemed to be speaking a different language when she informed me about twelve-hands high ponies and raw trainers. But, she confessed, her favourite thing about the whole affair was the sexy little socks that the horses wear for the matches. “They’re like a much chicer version of leg-warmers,” she laughed.
When the match ended (England were victorious) we sneaked off to do some exploring with Amy, George Lamb, Robin Scott-Lawson of My Beautiful City - and a large bottle of champagne. The sun was setting behind the ruins of Lord Cowdray’s old castle, there still wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and nobody wanted to go home – especially when the polo players came in off the pitch to mingle with the guests.
But home we eventually went, clutching goodie bags filled with Smythson treats and delicious Bloody Mary recipe books. All in all, a rather spiffing day. Jilly Cooper eat your heart out.
- Alannah Sparks