You'd think a day at the races would be a simple pleasure, wouldn't you? WRONG! It takes organisation, travelling, worrying about hat, shoes and handbag never mind the dress, Jacket etc., because I'm talking the first day of Ascot here, and that is never simple.
Having agonised over what to wear, I changed my mind a dozen times, then saw a hat. THE hat, which of course didn't go with anything, so, oh, dear, had to go off and buy a dress and shoes to go with it. Finally sorted, I was wizzed up to London to a lovely B&B. The day of the races dawned, and the promised rain has been banished by a blazing sun. Breakfast is eaten, and I wait to be picked up. I carry on waiting. And waiting. Three quarters of an hour late, my hostess arrives in her usual state of panic and we're off. No we aren't. Have to drop the dog off first, go to another friend's for champagne - and then we'll be off. No we aren't. A last minute panic over hair. Up, down - what. Tights, no tights. Which handbag - what about the shoes. Hair again - hat - you get the picture. I feel I must have forgotten something as I sit in a lovely garden with a glass of champagne. I check. Hat, shoes, bag, dress, jacket, nails done, camera, money - yes all seems in order.
Two hours later and WE'RE OFF! A bit like Frankie De whatsit, we're tearing down the motorway, the people carrier working like a thoroughbred as we head for Ascot. Traffic jams and the air conditioning doesn't reach that far back into the car and it's stifling. This is not helped by the perfume being sprayed liberally about and the smell of different makeup as it is applied along with the nail varnish that had been forgotten earlier.
We're here! At last. Two glasses of champagne and we head for the Royal Enclosure. Uh, oh, someone's already got blisters, so what should have been a quick trot across the field turns into a stop go affair. The gate we need is in sight - I can smell the strawberries and pimms. But we aren't going in there, someone has decided that we HAVE to go in the front entrance, which involves a mile trek over lumpy ground, dodging all kinds of nasties on the way. Not easy in high heels.
We've made it. Champagne again, sun beaming down - and the sight of so many hats and some bizarre outfits is wonderful to see. I do love people watching.
We were supposed to get a place by the bridge where I could see my Queen - I am a loyal Commonwealth subject of hers, and I know she would have been pleased to see me - but the champagne took over and we nearly missed her as she arrived in a coach. I got a photo, but she's so small, she's almost invisible.
The weather got hotter and hotter. The viewing stands in the Royal Enclosure were full so we couldn't watch the race, and I managed to pick the one horse in each race that came in last. But the champagne was good, and after waving to Frankie and getting a whoop of delight in return, we repaired to the car and had our picnic. There were some very sore feet and we were all hobbling by now, so as we sat on the grass there was a collective sigh of pleasure as bare toes were wriggled in the sun. No, wait a minute, the sun has disappeared. Oh, Gawd, it's starting to rain and if this hat gets wet it will be ruined. Back into the car - back onto the motorway - back into traffic jams and a return to my host's house for more champagne. There will be sore heads in the morning - but that doesn't matter. We all had fun, and the memory of daft hats, corny outfits and men sweltering in top hats and tails, plus waistcoats, will live with me for years. Now, what do you think I ought to wear next year?