On Saturday afternoon we all piled into Kathryn's Mini to head out to Charing Race Course to go to the Point to Point to meet up with our friend Eddie from school and his family to jointly enjoy an afternoon at the races and celebrate his 21st birthday. I'm always getting requests for a few more personal posts over here about what I get up to day to day, so I thought that I'd share with you a few of my snapshots from the afternoon. Don't worry; there is food involved! Eddie's mother made us a lovely picnic to enjoy up on the hill overlooking the racecourse, Kathryn brought dessert, and true to form I brought an extra bottle of bubbles!
Point to Point is run by the hunt, and it is essentially amateur horse racing of hunt horses around a track that includes jumps. Each race is three miles, which is two laps of the track, but aside from the horses the afternoon is full of great food and drink, everyone having picnics and beer, champagne and Pimm's sitting on the folded out backs of their cars, fairground games and country clothing stalls, and the opportunity to place bets on the races, but only after you've taken a trip to the paddock and seen the horses before the race so you can size up your favourites and the competitions chances.
Even though we knew we were having a picnic later, it was a little chilly when we first arrived, so we climbed up from the middle of the track were we had parked the car and left Kathryn's little sister and her friends behind, and got stuck into a few pre-lunch snacks while we waited for the rest of our group to arrive and get parked up. Honestly, who could resist? I made a complete and total mess with the English mustard!
Also before heading up the hill for lunch we picked up a race card so we could keep track of when each race was going to start, and read a bit more about the horses and where they had won before. Okay, so our choosing of who to bet on may not have been that technical. Yes we did look at the horses' records, and went to scope them out in the paddock before placing our bets (while none of us are particularly horsey, we can all ride), but we chose who we wanted to look for based on which horses had the best name. (Just don't tell anyone!)
Picnic time! Eddie's Mother made a fantastic sausage and apple plait, and a delicious quiche that we all gobbled down pretty quickly, along with chips, dips and carrot sticks. We washed the whole lot down with a champagne toast to the birthday boy! We then settled down to watch the first race from our vantage point before heading down to where all the action was happening.
Kathryn and I had our fashionable version of the countryside uniform on in our Hunters (mud splattered, not the shiny clean ones everyone wears in London, I need a new pair actually, I think navy as I have not looked after mine well enough and they are starting to crack) and Joules jackets. I was rather jealous of Kathryn's tweed (but got my own back when I found it in her size and on sale for less than she paid in the Joules tent!), but my green padded jacket Joules were kind enough to send me last year kept me lovely and warm none the less.
One great thing about having Kathy as a best friend is she can always be relied upon to bring delicious treats to any gathering that involves a picnic basket. If you're after your own totally delicious looking profiterole tower (it is embarrassing how many of these we ate!) you need to get yourselves over to Marks & Spencers. She also brought along some rather delicious English strawberries, too.
I have not been on a horse for a very long time, so I only had a vague sense looking at the horses of if I thought they'd throw their rider, get spooked easily or stay calm but driven through the race. Kathryn was very good at picking winners; she won the horse she betted on, and then she backed the horse that came in second.
Everyone placed their bets then were off to line up along the course to watch the race. We found prime positions both at the finish, and along the track just before a series of jumps. Unfortunately, I only bet on one horse all afternoon, Country Foolery in the third race who was the horse that Kathy (and Eddie) also backed that came in second. It was close too, we had to hold onto our bet tickets as the result went down to the stewards decision.
Between races we got to say hello to some of the local pooch population who were out in full force (e felt a bit out of place not having a dog with us, but Kathy's dog Widget is getting a bit old and would not have enjoyed it). We also had the obligatory first Mr. Whippy with a Cadbury Flake of the year, and ran into some old school friends that I had not seen in ages and had a bit of a catch up about what we'd all been up to and future plans.
It was such an amazingly fun way to spend my Bank Holiday Saturday with three of my best and oldest friends. We all headed back to Kathy's house after and spent hours sitting around her kitchen table chatting with cups of tea and dug into a massive spread of Chinese take away with her family before driving home very later at night! What did you all get up to over the long weekend? I hope you got to enjoy the flashes of sunshine between the rain, and that you ate all together too much chocolate!