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9th September. Braughing to Silver Lees Polo Club

Having assembled at one of our favourite pubs, The Golden Fleece, we set off in good spirits on a warm September morning.

Howard ready for any length of ride.
Andrew leads another group. Then again he finds the fun only starts when you get lost. I’ve noticed though, he always gets back to the pub on time.
Chris enjoying the ride as always.

Maurice needed his spare electric bike back from Lawrence, his other one having been hit by a car. Lawrence undeterred by an imminent, major operation, made it round this 30 mile ride on a standard bike. An amazing effort, only slightly assisted by a gentle push from Charles on one or two of the hills. They displayed bravery and care for other club members in the highest traditions of the Windmillers.

Lawrence and Brian carefree cycling in warn autumn sunshine.
Howard and Paul looking like proper club cyclists
A cottage near Silver Lees Polo Club. Prototype for that of Bilbo Baggins.
Harvest is done and our world is full of new patterns. Some as big as whole landscapes and some so small you have to kneel down and look closely at them.

The highlight of this tour was the stop at The Silver Lees Polo Club owned by a mate of Maurice’s. Located in the verdant countryside to the west of Bishop’s Stortford. Despite the undoubted quality of our membership, only a few had been active polo players in their youth. Charles had played in 1977 in Quetta, Pakistan, during his military service. From the photos I see that grass was less plentiful there, but I am told that poppies do grow better.

A place devoted to the love of horses. They might be good fun, but they are also a bit scary.
Good jumping I’m told, but goodness knows what happens if you fall off. Are the hospitals ok in Quetta?
Charles, making friends with his horse. After all, its doing all the hard work.
Charles demonstrating the positive effects of a fry-up on longevity. Don’t believe what all those silly doctors tell you.

The lady making the coffees spoke English with a southern hemisphere accent. Andrew of course immediately placed her origin to a small area of hills on the Southern Cape. Cue a conversation about the fine wines and horse riding in that part of South Africa. He never ceases to amaze me.

A shoe-in for Windmill sculpture of the year.
Deborah and a puppy. It took some effort for her to leave it behind.
Rod and Ken enjoying mid-morning coffee.
Suzanne and Brian sharing some story

Horses are hard work and expensive of course. I’m told that each rider needs six ponies each to partake in a polo match. There are six riders a side, well you work it out, some full time staff are needed to keep the show on the road. The sport might be a bit expensive for your average Joe, but there you go, we were made very welcome.

Horses. Feeding, watering, mucking out, grooming, vets bills. Oh yes and then there’s the riding bit.
Beautiful chestnut horses. The pads protect their legs from the polo ball. Apparently they are better at polo strategy than some of the riders, leading to some interesting differences in opinion on where to run to next.

The horses are exercised several at a time. The staff made riding multiple horses simultaneously look easy. In the past I have struggled with just the one. They run around a track made of shredded old carpet which is easier on their feet than sand. I always wondered what to do with all those off-cuts we have from when the bedroom was done. I can now make good use of them, I just need to buy a polo pony. Or six. I’m currently awaiting permission from my dear wife.

Round and round. A good job for any underachieving, but horse-mad, daughters you might have spare. After all they may meet a wealthy Arab and make you proud of them yet.

My Mandela shirt from Cape Town. It follows an African aesthetic unrelated to William Morris and the English Arts and Crafts concept of taste. Perhaps the pattern is a little busy, but what the hell.

I also made a late entry for the ‘gaudiest cyclewear of the year award’. But the competition is fierce with several shirts in the running and Charles’s socks being in a category all of their own.

This was a great morning ride through some of the prettiest villages in England. Special thanks go to Maurice and his generous friends inviting us to the polo club. Deputy Daug for the organising and to those who donated so many nice photos to the photo-share.

A good time to be riding with the club, as our ever increasing membership proves.

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