Posts Tagged 'racing'

Picnic in style at Royal Ascot

Whilst the last few days have seen us enjoying some early summer warmth and sunshine, our thoughts will be turning to the Season and the annual Royal Ascot Meeting in June.

For those who will arrive at the Racecourse by car and want to follow the traditions of this world famous fixture, a picnic, preferably in Number 1 car park, is a must!  But what to eat, let alone what to wear?

There is something very special about a picnic, although in this country the weather can put a serious dampener on the spirits.  Not many of us are lucky enough to have a Butler who will lay everything out, prepared by Cook in advance, but there is much one can do to tailor this to location, guests and budget.

I always advocate keeping it stylish but simple, and they key is always good organisation.  Prepare as much as possible in advance and look for the varied accessories to make the day – both stylish and practical.  John Lewis have some fabulous ideas, as do The White Company and Ikea.

The great thing about a picnic is the informality they impart.  Picnics were the first ‘rule-free’ meals remembered by generations of children.  A relief from constraint, but not entirely free from the essentials of table manners.

Whatever your budget, make sure your guests have plenty to eat and drink, but ensure what you have on offer is easy to eat too.  The last thing one wants to worry about with a pretty silk dress and floaty hat is drips of mayonnaise or squirting peach juice!

A rather nice summer menu could comprise of seasonal asparagus (just coming to the end but should still be nice in mid June) steamed and served at room temperature with a softly boiled shelled egg (quails eggs work too but are a nuisance to shell), snipped garden chives and a drizzle of vinaigrette, with shavings of good English cheese such as Caerphilly or Cheshire.  Serve with good unsalted butter and fabulous bread and you have a wonderful first course. An alternative might be roasted peaches or nectarines (easy to do in the oven with a little water and a dot of butter and sugar), served with slices of top quality prosciutto and slivers of creamy goats cheese.

For main course, you cannot beat a rare cold fillet of beef with horseradish mayonnaise, and a new potato red onion and flat leafed parsley salad, served with rocket leaves, pea shoots and seasonal lettuce.  For the vegetarian, perhaps a good frittata.

Try your hand at a vanilla pannacotta made with greek yoghurt, served with the freshest of English strawberries in individual moulds, or perhaps a timeless favourite, a flourless rich chocolate cake with crème fraiche or clotted cream.  All easy to transport, and serve – essential if you do not have a bank of staff to help you!

Ensure some lovely crisp napkins, tablecloths and comfortable cushions on folding chairs and tables, with perhaps a Bellini made with fresh peach puree and a good Prosecco to set the scene and you have the makings of a perfect day!

Alexandra Messervy
Founder, The English Manner

Royal Ascot: Dress & Wardrobe

2010 Royal Ascot is just under a month away. Last year, our post on Ascot proved very popular, gaining the most reads out of all of our entries. This is probably because Ascot is a melting pot and people from all different walks of life can be found here.

Next week we will talk about how to picnic in style at Royal Ascot. This week, we recap on what should and should not be worn when at the races.

Alexandra Messervy, Founder, The English Manner: “Morning suits and top hats are de-rigeur, as of course are the most fabulous hats.  Trousers for ladies are now permitted, but skirts must not be far above the knee, and if you are hoping to enter the Royal Enclosure you will need to apply for a sponsored badge many months in advance, with a reference from a member of the Royal Enclosure.  Top hats should always be black silk, and morning suits can be grey or black – my own preference is grey.  Ladies’ Day is the traditional one to ‘be seen’, when even the more conservative hat-wearer can really push the boat out.  A word of caution though:  if you are not used to wearing a hat, practice putting it on and off and wearing it around the house several times before the big day, and learn to relax – otherwise you will have severe neck strain and a bad headache before you go near the champagne!

William Hanson, Tutor, The English Manner: “In 2008 Royal Ascot was in the news as ladies were turning with too much fake-tan applied and in some extreme cases, they deemed it appropriate to go without knickers. This is never acceptable. Anywhere. For women, it is advisable that cocktail dresses are avoided. Having too much flesh open to the elements at a predominantly outdoor event will only cause goose pimples.  Dress colours that work well are pastels, bright colours, neutrals such as cream and fawn, although fashion changes and each year will see a different colour or shade in vogue. As for materials, linen creases easily and for an event where you may be sitting to picnic (smart race-goers do this in Number One car park), this is not a good idea. Lightweight wool and silk are preferable. Dresses and jackets that can be removed easily if you get too hot are canny choices. Skirts that ride up when you sit down are not, however. The Queen often wears one main colour all the way up (including the hat) which accentuates height and can make shorter people look taller. Umbrellas may be a nuisance but are worth it if it begins to rain. They can be left in the cloakroom if needs be: parasols are naff.”

For further advice on Royal Ascot, please see last year’s (very popular) entry, or feel free to contact us.

Protocol for the Formula One Season

It is the world’s richest, most extravagant sport, but protocol is not be forgotten as the 2010 Formula One season begins in Bahrain this month. Unlike many other sporting events, the Formula One world championship does not take place over a number of days or weeks in one location. Instead, there are 19 Grand Prix in 18 different countries, spanning 5 different continents, each taking place over the course of one weekend at some point between March and November.

The most important detail for spectators to consider when attending a Grand Prix in a foreign country is that the culture, customs and rules of protocol may be different to their native land. For instance, in a devoutly Islamic state such as Abu Dhabi, the everyday rules of etiquette may be completely opposite to what we are used to. It is therefore of the utmost importance that before travelling to a foreign Grand Prix destination, spectators are aware of the customs to which they will be expected to adhere, and should plan their trip suitably. Planning should involve special attention to clothing. Although there is no strict dress code for Grand Prix, both sexes should be wary of showing too much flesh in Islamic countries, even if temperatures are high and such actions would be considered permissible in one’s home country.

More generally, behaviour around the circuit should be tailored to the individual safety requirements of the tracks. All motorsport is potentially dangerous and even spectators are not completely free from danger. For instance, spectators should be wary of standing too close to crash barriers as fatalities have been known when a car collides into a tyre wall and causes high-speed impact with onlookers. Therefore, it is vital that observance and responsibility are displayed at all times.

Formula One is also, understandably, a very noisy event. Earplugs are advisable, and if spectators are planning on using klaxons to show support, it is courteous to ask the permission of any nearby spectators, who may not be prepared for such loud noises at such close proximity.

James Hanson

Henley Royal Regatta

Henley is the third major event of the summer season after Royal Ascot and Wimbledon.  First staged in 1839, The Henley Royal Regatta takes place over the first weekend in July (from Wednesday to Sunday) in the town of Henley-on-Thames.

Whilst people often know quite a bit about racing and tennis, less is known about rowing and guests often visit Henley with little knowledge, and come away with not much more!  A rarity in boating events, the regatta pre-dates any international or national controlling body and as such has its own rules and organisation, although both the Amateur Rowing Association and the International Federation of Rowing Associations recognise the event. Stewards who are mostly former rowers themselves control the races.

The river view at Henley

The river view at Henley

The regatta can be viewed from several locations along both banks of the river Thames, although viewing areas for the general public are largely on the Berkshire side of the river. The Buckinghamshire side is limited to private clubs and residences as well as the odd bit of corporate entertainment and entry is not too expensive.  Young people have a fantastic time, and there are many opportunities for picnics with a really fun day out. The course is one mile and 550 yards long and there are 16 events over the programme.  It is relatively easy to attend via the Regatta Enclosure, but membership of the Stewards Enclosure is limited to 6000 and there is a very long waiting list of people wishing to join, who must be proposed by existing members, rather like entry to the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot.  There is a one-off membership fee and an annual subscription.  Members of the Royal Family do not often attend, although HRH Prince Michael of Kent can sometimes be spotted!

The event takes place during the first part of summer so the weather can be mixed. Henley is the right place to wear blazers, or cocktail dresses (and possibly a hat) for the ladies, although keen rowing fanatics may wish to get on board one of the Umpires launches and so something a little sturdier may be needed.  Ladies must wear a dress which covers their knees and are not allowed trousers or culottes.  Men must wear lounge suits or blazers with flannels and a tie or cravat, and if sporting a boater, these must be genuinely acquired  from a school rowing team or a rowing club.  Designer blazers are frowned upon, plain navy is best!  The most distinctive dress at Henley will be a cerise pink cap and tie:  this is the dress of the Leander Club, an almost exclusive body comprising those who have rendered special service to rowing.

A popular event in the corporate entertainment calendar, Henley is very male, very English and very charming.

The English Manner (www.theenglishmanner.com) are always happy to advise event-goers on dress or protocol. Please feel free to contact us for advice.

William Hanson & Alexandra Messervy
The English Manner

Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot, held annually in mid-June (this year: 16th-20th), is the epitome of the British Season. As well as being a major social occasion, it is firstly a world-class sporting event, dating back to the late eighteenth century.

Tickets for the Royal Enclosure need to be applied for well in advance and letters should be sent to Her Majesty’s Representative at Ascot (currently the Duke of Devonshire).

There are four days in Royal Ascot. The first, Tuesday, is the busiest; Wednesday is popular with betting-types; Thursday is Ladies’ Day, and Friday is quieter but popular with the young.

There is so much to say about Royal Ascot (it can only be termed ‘Royal Ascot’ during the four days in mid-June) however; I shall concentrate this entry on the dress codes for the event.

ascot-raceThe dress code is still strictly enforced and it has been known for race-goers to be turned away for all sorts of reasons: men without hats, ladies in inappropriate dresses. Last year Royal Ascot was in the news as ladies were turning with too much fake-tan applied and in some extreme cases, they deemed it appropriate to go without knickers. This is never acceptable. Anywhere.

For women, it is advisable that cocktail dresses are avoided. Having too much flesh open to the elements at a predominantly outdoor event will only cause goose pimples.  Dress colours that work well are pastels, bright colours, neutrals such as cream and fawn, although fashion changes and each year will see a different colour or shade in vogue. As for materials, linen creases easily and for an event where you may be sitting to picnic (smart race-goers do this in Number One car park), this is not a good idea. Lightweight wool and silk are preferable. Dresses and jackets that can be removed easily if you get too hot are canny choices. Skirts that ride up when you sit down are not, however.

The Queen often wears one main colour all the way up (including the hat) which accentuates height and can make shorter people look taller.

Umbrellas may be a nuisance but are worth it if it begins to rain. They can be left in the cloakroom if needs be: parasols are naff.

Hats should be on straight and should be sensible: too much veiling and you won’t be able to drink or eat. If the brim is too low then you may not be able to see, so it is important to make sure you are wearing a sensible and comfortable hat, which should on no costs be removed, as your hair will look messy. When purchasing or choosing your outfit, do remember that you could be in it for up to seven hours. Shoes (if new) should be worn-in before the event as to avoid blisters.

For men, morning dress is required in the Royal Enclosure and on Ladies’ Day, this should be light grey. Top hats should be worn at a jaunty angle – never should they be worn totally straight and looking like chimney pots.

Morning dress consists of a tailcoat of sorts (although not be to confused with the pointed tailcoat worn in White Tie): this tailcoat is rounded; a buff waistcoat, which can be single or double-breasted; a pair of formal striped trousers worn with braces; a stiff white detachable collar (although a soft turned-down sewn on collar is acceptable now); a double-cuffed shirt; a necktie (please not a cravat), and finally a pair of black Oxford shoes. A top-pocket handkerchief is optional.

If you are still in any doubt as to the event’s protocol or what to wear, please do feel free to reply to this blog with any questions you may have. Alternatively, please visit our main website for more information: www.theenglishmanner.com

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

Royal Epsom Derby

Aerial view of Epsom

Aerial view of Epsom

First run in 1780, the Epsom Derby (pronounced dɑː’ bi / dar-be) is a contest for three-year-old colts and fillies run over a mile and a half. Traditionally, the contest started on a Wednesday, but during the 1990s it was moved to Saturday, as it was thought that more people could attend as the days when Parliament was adjourned and the stock market closed in order for people to attend are no more.

This year, the event takes place on the 5th and 6th of June.

The Queen and other members of the Royal Family still attend and watch the racing from the Royal Box. For those who have admission to the Queen’s Stand, morning dress for the men and smart day dress with hats for women is required. For everyone else, jackets, ties/skirts and dresses are the protocol.

Part of Epsom’s Derby’s charm is the alternative style of dress of the gypsies and pearly kings and queens over on the downs (think of that scene in Mary Poppins). There is also still a funfair and many people arrive in open-topped buses.

Membership and entry requirements need to be checked early with Epsom racecourse and early booking is, like with many events, strongly advised.

NB: Although some call this type of event ‘horse-racing’, those in the know refer to it as ‘racing’.

If you are still in any doubt as to the event’s protocol or what to wear, please do feel free to reply to this blog with any questions you may have. Alternatively, please visit our main website for more information: http://www.theenglishmanner.com

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner



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