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Prince Charles at Polo

UK Drive Part II

Thursday, July 15, 2004
Ben continues his drive in the UK and this time he is off to play polo with some new Royal friends … tally-ho chappie.

Ben is back in his rented Rover 75 after an interesting drive from John O’Groats to Yorkshire.

After a quick look around London, Ben thought he should be tonsorially splendid for his next adventure — the polo — so he visited Geo F Trumper, the finest traditional gentlemen’s barber in London. Established in 1875 in Mayfair, the business has served the needs of London gentlemen and members of the Royal Court through the rule of six monarchs.

All spruced and shiny faced, Ben headed to West Sussex on the coast of central southern England. While being close to London it is a world away oozing charm and quiet beauty. It is cut off from the rest of the country by the dense Wealden Woods allowing it to retain its tranquillity.

West Sussex is a place where cricket is played on pretty grounds and magnificent country houses contain exquisite furniture, porcelain, paintings and carvings. It is an Aladdin’s cave for garden lovers and for horse-sport lovers there is racing at Fontwell and Goodwood, showjumping at Hickstead and polo at Cowdrey Park.

Polo attracts a rather elite crowd of wealthy and/or titled spectators, particularly if a royal is playing. Ben was able to rub shoulders with some of them, see Prince Charles arrive at the ground by helicopter and see just what a good polo player he really is.

Then it was back to London to meet up with a totally different group of people, but who still regard style and sophistication as the very rule of life — the Mods.

The sub-culture emerged in 1960s London and continues to strut the sharp lines of tailor-made suits and tootle around on two-stroke vintage Italian scooters.

Each Sunday after 6pm they gather at the Bar Italia Scooter Club to listen to mod music and find out what’s new (or old) in the Mod world.

After a busy night with the Mods, a visit to the serenity of the Cotswolds was necessary. Just two hours west of London with quaint green valleys, streams, stone houses and walls and loads of history, the Cotswolds is heaven on earth.

Fosse Way and Ermine Way are roads remaining from Roman times and are still major routes. The remains of two Roman villages can be seen in Cirencester which was once the second largest city in England.

But what would all this beauty and history be without a dollop of good old-fashioned English eccentricity.

Way back in 1882 on the May Bank Holiday, two lads sat at the top of Cooper’s Hill eating some cheese from their lunch pack. The story goes that a mole popped up, dislodged the wheel of cheese and sent it spiralling down the hill. The lads, still hungry, chased it down the hill and an event was born!

So now every May people have a break from making their cheeses and tending their farms and come from near and far to watch or participate in cheese rolling.

Participants are cheered on as they chase an 11.5 kilogram wheel of Double Gloucester cheese. They run, roll and fall in a vain attempt to catch the rolling cheese before it reaches the bottom of the very steep hill. The cheese arrives first, usually undamaged, but that's not always the case for the participants. All sorts of injuries are incurred and from time to time there is talk of banning it — but that will probably never happen.

Next week Ben travels to Wales.


From London to the Cotswolds and West Sussex


Coopers Hill Annual Cheese Rolling Race is free to enter and the next race is on May 30, 2005.
Qantas flies daily to London starting at $1860 from Perth, $1922 from Melbourne, $1938 from Sydney, $1964 from Brisbane, $1967 from Darwin and $1974 from Adelaide, per person. Prices include charges/taxes and are current at time of writing but may vary at time of booking. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply.
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.

More information

Geo F Trumper
9 Curzon Street
London W11 5HQ
Ph: 44 020 7499 1850
Cowdrey Park
Midhurst, West Sussex UK

Bar Italia Scooter Club
Frith Street
Soho London W1D 4RP
Ph: 07765 88 8827

Qantas: 13 13 13

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