Royal Ascot: British Invasion, Day 1

You all know we went to London, right?  I mean, I assume at this point, since I don’t really post on here regularly anymore, most of the people who read this are getting there through FB, so…  In case you’re not coming from that direction, um, yes, Jon and I went to London last week.  Obviously, most of you don’t care about the minute details of our vacations, but when it comes to vacation posts and the day-by-day, these posts aren’t really for you.  They’re for us.  Memories, nostalgia, and all that.  And thus, Day 1:

While we left the US on Monday (KC to Detroit to the UK), we didn’t land at Heathrow until 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.*  Following that, it was a 1+ hour train/walking/tube journey to our AirBnB (and this included hopping on the Heathrow Express, which will take you from the airport to Paddington Station in 15 non-stop minutes, so clearly getting into London proper from the plane is not…without difficulty).  After thoroughly annoying everyone on the tube who was just trying to get to work and did not want to be jabbed in the side by your gigantic suitcases why are you even ON the tube during rush hour you complete idiots?!, we finally got to settle in and shower.  (Seriously, is there anything better than a shower after you’ve been in the same clothes for over 24 hours?  No, there is not.  Not even coffee.)  Our host at the time, David, commented that we didn’t even look like the same people, pre- and post-shower, and I’m pretty sure he was not wrong.

Because the words relaxing and vacation rarely ever go together for us (especially the really tall one), we already had plans.  Not only did we have to get ready to leave the house, we had to get FANCY ready to leave the house.  We had tickets to the opening day of the Royal Ascot, which is most comparable to the Kentucky Derby over here, except that it’s a thousand times more British-y and lasts for five days.  Hats for women, though not required in our cheapseats, are de rigueur, and most men are in jackets, if not full on suits.  And so, we gussied and polished and tried our very best to look like we were operating on more than two hours sleep.  Jon ran out and grabbed supplies for a picnic, I shaved my legs and threw on some makeup, and off we went.

Stereotypical as it may be, the Brits know how the queue (form a line).  I mean, they are ON it.  Not only are their lines much more orderly than those in the US, they move a lot faster.  I mean A LOT.  There were several times when we were standing in line, and I thought, "God, this is going to take about 30  minutes," and it would be 10 tops.  This, among other things, I would import.

Stereotypical as it may be, the Brits know how the queue (form a line). I mean, they are ON it. Not only are their lines much more orderly than those in the US, they move a lot faster. A LOT a lot. There were several times when we were standing in line, and I thought, “God, this is going to take about 30 minutes,” and it would be 10 tops. This, among other things, I would import.

Ascot is not in the city, so we had to tube and train it again (during which time, we took turns trying to keep each other from falling asleep so we didn’t miss the damn thing), and once arrived, there was much queuing and walking (and then walking some more when we realized that the entrance to our enclosure wasn’t that clearly marked, and yes, we were expected to just know that this car park was actually an entrance), and then there was a kerfuffle with the ATM (as a note, just always notify your bank if you’re going to be traveling internationally, just do), and then finally we had chairs, and we had a view, and we had champagne and sandwiches and happiness.

The flags were in case you forgot where you were.  Clearly.

The flags were in case you forgot where you were. Clearly.  Also, this might be a good time to point out that Jon forgot his camera on this day (I blame his stupid sleep schedule–no, not the jetlag, the lack of sleep he induced BEFORE the jetlag), so bear with us on the blur and grain. 

And then it started raining.

I'm not sure if he's actually sad about the rain, or if this is his "posh" face.  They're very close.

I’m not sure if he’s actually sad about the rain, or if this is his “posh” face. They’re very close.

Which led to the grounds quickly looking like this:

One nation under umbrella.  (Don't worry, I can assure you that all of my jokes will be almost equally as bad for the duration of this series.)

One nation under umbrella. (Don’t worry, I can assure you that all of my jokes will be almost equally as bad for the duration of this series.)

This caused some rewrangling of hair and furious champagne gulping, but we soldiered on:

My hair was originally down, fyi, and while it looks all fancy in this picture, just know that it resembled nothing so much as the side pony/bun it was in person.  Also, props to the skirt of the lady in the background, which is making my fascinator appear 80% more fascinating.

My hair was originally down, fyi, and while it looks all fancy in this picture, just know that it resembled nothing so much as the side pony/bun it was in person. Also, props to the skirt of the lady in the background, which is making my fascinator appear 80% more fascinating.

Then, things really kicked off because guess who goes to every. single. day. of Royal Ascot and drives by in an actual f’ing carriage and waves and whatnot?

Yep, that's her Maj, QEII.  Long may she reign.

Yep, that’s her Maj, QEII. Long may she reign.

That’s her husband, Philip waving, but also in her carriage were some random guy I didn’t recognize, and everyone’s favorite ginger-headed bachelor, Prince Harry.

Harry (clearly looking at Jon):  Did you see that guy's beard?  That was a great beard.  Almost as good as mine.

Harry (clearly looking at Jon): Did you see that guy’s beard? That was a great beard. Almost as good as mine.

Rando guy:  What, that guy?  The tall one with the great dicky bow?   Harry:  Yeah, that one.  Rando guy:  Oh yeah, he did have a great beard.

Rando guy: What, that guy? The tall one with the great dicky bow?
Harry: Yeah, that one.
Rando guy: Oh yeah, he did have a superb beard.
*As imagined by Jon, I’m almost certain.

It’s not just the Queen.  There are usually a somewhat random assortment of royals in the procession.

Almost completely obscured by her umbrella and the wedding cake on her head, we have Camilla and the jacket you can see just behind her is Prince Charles.  Again, a random dude, but across from Camilla is Princess Beatrice.

Almost completely obscured by her umbrella and the wedding cake on her head, we have Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and the jacket you can see just behind her is Prince Charles. Again, a random dude, but across from Camilla is Princess Beatrice.

And then we're stuck with a pic from my phone, sorry.  No idea who three of the four are, but the woman in white is Princess Ann, daughter of Liz and Phil.  There was one other carriage following this, but I have no idea who any of those people were, and this post is already pic heavy enough.

And then we’re stuck with a pic from my phone, sorry. No idea who three of the four are, but the woman in white is Princess Ann, daughter of Liz and Phil. There was one other carriage following this, but I have no idea who any of those people were, and this post is already pic heavy enough.

Finally, there was actual horse racing:

We only lost approximately 30-40 pounds betting on the ponies.  It would seem that choosing horses based solely on how much you like their names or country of origin is NOT the way to do it.

We only lost approximately 30-40 pounds betting on the ponies. It would seem that choosing horses based solely on how much you like their names or country of origin is NOT the way to do it.

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Still, there was intermittent sunshine, and once the champagne had run out, there was beer and our first ever Pimm’s cups (which is now, I think, Jon’s favorite summer drink, and I would venture a guess that he’ll make a batch at home this weekend), and neither of us had yet fallen asleep, so we considered it a victory.

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Okay, so maybe we were a little slap-happy and silly, but we were in England, at the freaking Royal Ascot, running on a combined six hours of sleep.  It's understandable.

Okay, so maybe we were a little slap-happy and silly, but we were in England, at the freaking Royal Ascot, running on a combined six hours of sleep. It’s to be forgiven.

We left just before the last race started, and getting back to London is a bit of a blur, partly because the need to sleep kicked in hard once we got on the train, and it’s a real miracle we didn’t miss our station, and partly because once we got off the train, I was struck by a severe and immediate need to use the toilets, which had to be postponed for at least half an hour, so all I really remember is trudging along after Jon, wondering a) by anyone would make something as necessary as a toilet pay-as-you-go, b) why we had spent all of our money on stupid horses, and sincerely c) if I was about to wet myself in public for the first time since toddlerhood.  It was really quite dire for a minute there.

Finally, blessedly, we found a pub, I used the facilities, and sentient thought returned.

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We had a pint, returned to our rooms to change, and then popped out to grab a bite to eat at The Woolpack before, at last, succumbing to sleep.

Day 2 coming soon!  (Well, as soon as Jon and I can manage to stay up past about 9, and he can edit some photos.)  Also, if you’d like to see exactly how quickly the Queen flashed past:

*Jon tried to put us on this sleeping program before we left in which we progressively got up earlier and earlier until we were getting up at 3:30 a.m. the two mornings before we left.  It was designed to make us 1) so tired that we would absolutely sleep on the plane, and 2) make it that much easier to adjust to the 6 hour time difference, but it was…less than successful for me.  I just don’t sleep on planes, and I’ve come to accept this.