Monday, September 22, 2008

A Day at the Races - wot wot

Readers of my relatively recently concluded travel blog will have noticed that, aside from the heavy slant towards food, there were two other passions which slowly but surely nudged their way to the front of the crowd of global antics. These were: automobile-induced speed opportunities (moped, cyclo, speedboat, bike) and any given activity in water (diving, swimming, snorkelling, rivers, oceans). All three interests ensured that the four months were jam-packed with adventures.

Apt then that the fun shouldn’t end the moment I stepped off the plane into the UK. I’ve been desperately racking my brains for a way to make this particular day out nibble-scribble-worthy, and I think I’ve got it. I’m running the risk of accusations of tenuous connections….but hear me out…

From revelling in the glories of bountiful food…to the 2nd World War where food was rationed….to…Goodwood Revival! (Hmm…)

For those of you already shaking your head in wonderment, dismay and more than a smidgen of incomprehension, let me explain. Goodwood Revival is a fantastic, and terribly British day out, where those attending delight in flouncing around in their very best fifties fancy dress, cooing over beautifully designed and polished antique cars, bikes and planes and participating in various old jolly jaunts and amusements.

I was lucky enough to get an invite from my auto-obsessed father who, accompanied (less for the cars than for the excuse to dress up) by my mother, has now been to the event four years in a row, each time returning with hilarious anecdotes and extraordinary photos of which I was extremely jealous. (For those tutting and wondering where the food element of this posting has gone, stay with me)

Lucky thing that I am, I even had the privilege of driving my own car for the day – a 1959 MGA convertible in beautiful racing green – courtesy of my father’s aforementioned auto obsession. So I drove solo amongst a fleet of antique motors which included my parents in front and some family friends behind, headscarf flapping in the wind, sunglasses perched on my nose and bright red lippy flashing like a film star. My outfit: tiny black hat, hair in a bun, red lippy, white silk blouse, black pencil skirt, seamed stockings and high heels and a tweedy brown fitted jacket (authentic and previously owned by my grandmother). Father P sported a beautiful green tweed suit, with racing green silk waistcoat, deliberately themed towards Toad of Toad Hall of Wind in the Willows fame, and Ma P a fur coat over a casual tea dress with floppy brown hat. The MGA is a dream to drive, alternating between a satisfying purr and a slow, easy growl, the gears clunky and accurate, and the steering closely hugging the road. I’m no petrolhead, but this is the sort of motoring which gets me a teensy bit excited.

I thought this was a food blog, I hear you cry! But of course, and I haven’t forgotten (let’s face it, food is never too far from my mind). So let me now paint you a picture. I tottered through the entrance gate on my high heels, fresh from my windswept, but invigorating, ride. The very first waft of air I caught carried the sweet scent of candy floss being gently coaxed into shape by an apron-clad storesman. This combined with the heavier, more satisfying smells of greasy homemade, organic beef burgers being handed out by what equally well-grilled chefs. Old-fashioned sweet stores lined the promenade alongside the racecourse, large jars filled with glistening hard-boiled sweets, the enemy of all fillings. But any illusion of plenty was of course historically inaccurate – these were times of war-induced rationing, and the Tea Rooms dotted about paid testament to this, with tiny egg sandwiches, dusty little cakes and watery cups of tea.

The day was glorious, with blazing late-September sunshine causing throngs of auto-enthusiasts to wipe their brows and throw off their blazers. Men were dashing in braces and flat caps or trilbies, women gracious, with red lipstick, carefully coiffed hair, and complicated underwear causing all to walk tall and proud. Fancy dress made the air flirtatious, as everyone slipped easily into character – whether the dodgy ‘spiv’ sidling slyly up to the girls to whisper ‘anyone for nylons’, or the newspaper photographer begging a ‘style photograph’ and the excuse of a kiss from a rosy-cheeked girl.

Following the dusk races and still more tea and cakes, I put-putted out of the grounds and back onto the road, my hair protected by yet another little hat. I tooted my horn - a barely audible little ‘poop poop!’ - gleefully at everyone I passed. The sun was settting beautifully as I drove home over the orange, pink and red-kissed hills.


David Hughes said...

Marvellous! I locve Goodwood, both the revival and the Festival of Speed.

I've always loved that there isn't a beer tent or bar but instead Veuve Cliqout and Pimms areas. That is how to watch motorsport.

Chris said...

Ms. Pinchbeck,
That was simply delightful! And beautifully written, I must say.
Write a book when you get the chance; I'll be the first in line to buy it.
See you Saturday,
Mr. Forster