The summer has finally arrived in Canada and 30C weather is here this week. We are not big drinkers at home, but when the summer hits I admit that we do have a few favourites; a good German Riesling and two distinctly English favourites:
The first is PIMM’s. Distinctly English and enjoyed at a good polo match, the race track or by the pool. My first lessons with PIMM’s is that you must follow the recipe or it will turn out too ‘syrupy’ and that to the English – lemonade is 7UP or Sprite. I prefer a good sparkling lemonade, it isn’t quite as sweet. We have 6 pots with herbs and one has 4 types of mint in it, so I am prepared for the summer.
The second is a good G&T. And not all G&T’s are the same. While in England, I came across a Scottish gin (I know, it seems odd) while out shopping one Saturday. As only the English do, the store manager was running a tasting of Hendrick’s. Nothing like a small G&T at 10:30 on a Saturday morning. After one taste, I was hooked (and have converted a few friends in the process). The only problem was that in Canada there is only one type of tonic – Schweppes, which is just too sweet for me. I finally found the tonic that I use to find in Waitrose at the local health food store, Fever Tree. Natural, not sugared to death and a perfect match for a unique gin that is not for everyone .. especially when you ask the tender to ensure that it is garnished with a cucumber.
The centrepiece of Ascot’s year, Royal Ascot is the world’s most famous race meeting, steeped in history dating back to 1711. The royal family attend the meeting, arriving each day in a horse-drawn carriage. It is a major event in the British social calendar, and press coverage of the attendees and what they are wearing often exceeds coverage of the actual racing. The Royal Enclosure has a strict dress code—male attendees must wear full morning dress including a top hat, whilst ladies must not show bare midriffs or shoulders and must wear hats. Outside the Royal Enclosure the dress code is less severe, but many people choose to wear formal dress anyway. Traditionally to be admitted to the Royal Enclosure for the first time one must either be a guest of a member or be sponsored for membership by a member who has attended at least four times. However controversially in 2007 Royal Enclosure day passes were also issued with hospitality package.
The Ascot Gold Cup is on Ladies’ Day on the Thursday. There is over £3,000,000 of prize money on offer.
The biggest thing about this day is the ‘ladies’ aspect – specifically the fancy dresses and crazy hats. I had a friend tell me that his mom and friends book a seat at a restaurant every year just so they can spend the day people watching. Of course, the other aspect is that after a day of champagne and PIMMS, those same posh women can look quite funny.
The race day started with the Queen had family heading to the Royal Enclosure. This year the Queen backed a stricter dress code. You can read it here – quite funny.
I have only been to a horse race a few times before and each time from the bleachers. Being close to the action was quite entertaining. The horses are beautiful, the day was gorgeous and I lost £40 betting because I had no idea what I was doing.