Illustrated by Oliver Preston
When the leaves begin to go that lovely shade of russet and linen turns to tweed, you know those long afternoons of strawberries and buzzing bees are coming to a close. Thoughts turn to log fires, lamb’s wool jumpers and finding out that your wellington boots now have more holes in them than your colander. Let Uncle Bernard and Aunt Agatha steer you through the social minefield that is the winter ‘season’. Failing this, have a read and a good laugh.
The spectacle of a line of guns eagerly awaiting their first drive of the season is one that lifts the spirit and starts the heart racing just that little bit faster. The shoot day brings great sport, superb food and drink, but is beset with potential conundrums. Should I take the dog? (Aunt Agatha) If your hound is well disposed to the canine rabble, and able to maintain silence in the din, then positively yes, you should. Pinching the last rasher off the shoot breakfast table or licking the butter however is somewhat ill-thought of. Who don’t I tip? (Uncle Bernard) When getting ready for the day this is often forgotten and yet it is so very important; nothing says thank you quite as much as ‘silent money’, so slip your notes in an envelope and take the time to remember it. It is generally considered poor form to tip the hostess, the gardener is, again, not necessarily someone to include unless you are feeling very modern, and tipping your host may leave everyone confused. However, almost
everyone else deserves to be tipped – Loaders, Keepers, Gun Cleaners (?!), Cook and the House Keeper. How much? This is discretionary, but it is recommended to follow the form from the other guns, it’s generally ill-thought of to ask the host ‘how much old fruit?’! The Grouse Moor Form? (UB) Shooting Grouse is quite something and bravo to you for getting on the moor. Remember, barrels in the air at all times and above you when turning; guests losing body parts to over-enthusiastic marksmanship is generally thought poor form. Focus, focus, focus – it can be a long time from start of the drive to when the birds come out and early in the season, they are likely to be gunning straight for you, later-on the squadrons tend to be more wily and evasive, so keep your wits about you. Celebratory ‘whoops’ at hitting a bird are also slightly frowned upon, unless you are wearing a ten gallon hat. Cigars are best lit at the end of the day. Does my butt look good in this? What to wear. Grouse days can be balmy affairs; lighter clothing is often required, and field coats can be thrown off in gay abandon. An important question to ask when choosing your colour scheme for the day is “will the birds notice me?”, under other circumstances one may hope for a resounding “why yes!”, but not on a Grouse Moor. Cream background tattersalls and bright jumpers are a sure fire way of bringing attention to yourself. Look to the moors for inspiration; a Cordings Grouse Shirt is perfect, its subtle hues
and easy movement give you the best chance of success, team with a Shooting Waistcoat and Breeks in Firley Check, for a smart, practical ensemble. The pheasant and partridge field? (AA) Considered by some to be a dinner party with shotguns, the partridge and pheasant season heralds a switch from dipping, driving and diving fowl to screaming long-tailed squawkers. Coupled with the old chirruping hedge hopper, the lowland game season begins proper with the first splash of ‘bullshot’ on the kitchen tiles. Form is not quite as rigid as on the predominately northern or Hebridean estates but it is nonetheless, important to observe the unspoken rules. ‘Duvet-ing’ your host with a bird in front of him at mediocre distance is regarded mildly irritating, pinching a plum sporting bird above your host’s peg is akin to flirting outrageously with the hostess. Best to avoid that. Counting the birds you hit loudly and declaring you are ‘winning’ generally gains few admirers, eye-wiping your neighbour has mixed blessings. Weather conditions will dictate how you dress for the day, but you cannot go wrong with a pair of Cordings house check plus twos and smart shooting stockings. When to drink, what to drink? (AA) Now we are talking dear; generally best to do this after the shoot. Lunch time tipples are of course acceptable but avoid too much vin rouge, how about a glass of the indomitable Pol Roger Brut Reserve? To go left-field, maybe a splendid glass of Josmeyer Alsace Pinot Blanc ‘Mise du Printemps’?
When the whistle on the last drive blows, the bag has been declared glorious in its limited and beautiful way, you can begin to make your declarations of thanks and dash to draw the bath. Should a pre-prandial be on offer, possibly a glass of Pol Roger Brut Vintage (terrifically fresh with beautiful acidity and delightful fruit) this will help keep your conversations sparkling. Throughout dinner you will be offered (we are sure) a cornucopia of liquid refreshment, pick wisely and be consistent. Port is an excellent way to finish as is Hine Cognac Antique XO (cherry brandy again, often well swerved), to keep the senses perky. When your host yawns and declares your nickname ‘Bingo’ (last one out) it’s time to drink up and head for bed. Off the peg, on the peg: what to wear? Standing on a peg, buffeted by rain, in temperatures that would make penguins think twice about going outside for a stroll, is an exhilarating experience; but only if you are correctly attired. Stout boots, shooting stockings and breeks (or trews, now making a first-rate come back in the field) take care of your lower portions, whilst layering with lambswool, fleece and a Field Coat will take care of the rest. Always wear a tie, as a mark of respect for your quarry, but also because there are so many splendid examples to be had at Cordings, emblazoned with Pheasants, Grouse and even the odd Snipe.
“When going out in the field never forget the practical issues of comfort, warmth and ease of movement” Eric Clapton (musician & fieldsports enthusiast)
Guide to the Country Pub
Should I engage with the local at the bar? (UB) Often the best path here is to gauge your quarry; be polite and don’t insult the décor or food unless you are the owner or never intend to go back. Are cocktails permissible in a coaching inn? (AA) Whilst this may be akin to asking for Lager at an Ale brewery, cocktails are a fine thing, and we recommend the Horse’s Neck (‘H’ by Hine and Ginger Ale) or Whisky & ice (Single- Malt and Ice remarkably enough – a fine Kilchoman Machir Bay, could be just the ticket)…but a cautionary tale, anything involving blue liquor or crème de menthe is often best avoided for safety’s sake. Generally stick to the ‘taps’, or if you are feeling adventurous, why not try a glass of ‘roulette’ house wine? To wellie or not to wellie? (UB) A much pondered musing, if it’s sodden and you are worried about your loafers, go wellie in the pub but be prepared in some gentrified establishments to take them off if asked. A hole-y sock in the country is acceptable, no-socks (or ‘going sock-less’ in the south) courts suspicion and your personal hygiene may be called into question. Your choice of wellie is significant, but we shan’t go into that here.
Amuse bouche? What about a little something from the chef? (UB) Chance your arm, the chef may take the challenge. However pork scratchings or assorted nuts may be the most enticing offering. Perhaps time for an aperitif? 21 YO Glenfarclas Single Malt Whisky, full bodied rich and with rounded flavours , goes perfectly with pork scratchings. How to cut a sartorial swath in the snug: what to wear? Remember: in the country, colour in the trouser department is to be applauded and considered sensible; one can never be too loud. Jeans that make ones underwear visible, leather trousers (unless you are in possession of a motor cycle) and jogging bottoms with logos emblazoned on your posterior, will certainly get the attention of the local population, but not in a good way. “One has to always question where to park the glass on the bar top, near to the wearer of the fur and suede dangling sleeves or the rat-catcher trousers, it’s always a delicate balance of the shove and shuffle to get to the bar let alone the order. Make your order firm and precise with the barkeep, never let your guarddown and judge the offer of a pickled egg wisely” Victoria Knowles-Lacks (Owner and founder, The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club and West Country resident)
What to do if you don’t like horses? (AA) Generally thought of as not the place to be if you are either in fear of, or underwhelmed by, the horse. However grin and bear it, focus on the port, sherry and general back slapping. Look for the person milling around with a champagne bottle and ask if they happen to know ‘what their wine tastes like?’ Hunt buttons? (UB) If new to ‘the Meet’, it’s generally considered bad form to wear hunt buttons even if through patrimony, often best to go plain and get the advice of each hunt’s MFH (Master of the Fox Hounds). Turning up in a hunting pink and blowing your own horn (so to speak) may end in an ignominious dressing down from the seniors members. Good conversation? (AA) ‘What a fine looking beast, jumped much?’ (only about a horse) – ‘looking fairly hard out there, do you think you’ll go on past 1st horses?’ / ‘Hounds sound in good voice’ ad nauseum. Stirrup cup of choice? (AA) Stay clear of home brew, focus on your drive home or walk to lunch and go for an elegant tipple, maybe a sip of vintage Cognac? Domaines Hine Bonneuil 2005 for instance….smooth and discerning. You’ll feel warm and possibly ‘smug’ at the decision. ‘Standing to’ at The Meet (AA) Tweed coats, sensible wellies and a jolly smile will often be the uniform of choice for those waiting to cheer
the gallop and hear the cry of the hounds. Have a large pocket in the coat for a hip flask and don’t forget the woolly hat (bobble optional). “The meet is a wonderfully diverse gathering of folk from all walks of life. There is a real buzz of anticipation and excitement of the day ahead. Dress appropriately and put a sandwich in your pocket for later in the day. Meets are very family friendly so do take children, and even better if you can get out on horse!” Harry Meade (International Three Day Event Rider, part of Team GBR, ChampagnePol Roger and Cordings of Piccadilly Brand Ambassador)
The Point to Point Carriages? (UB) You’ll need a capable vehicle should things turn inclement. The Point to Point circuit is not a place to impress the King’s Road set; turning up in your two-seater complete with stilettos might be over-gunning it. So we suggest the long wheel base Land Rover because nothing says failure like the obligatory ‘tractor tow’. Extra house points can be given for negotiating a RWD German car through the bog, in suede loafers.
Weather check? (UB) Interweb information abounds – do not be caught short, brace yourself and by jove, if it looks hopeless hit the local hostelry, order the best steak and kidney pudding and a large glass of red (a hearty cabernet like a Staglin Family Vineyard 2008 from the Napa valley, California would suit the occasion). Consider yourself well out of it as the stalwarts try to look cheery in the biblical deluge. Correct picnic form? (AA) No one obviously opens their boot without a proper bottle of fizz – Pol Roger Brut Reserve slung in a (probably useless or over-full) cool bag, is a real boon to keep the spirits high! The food at these events has in the past dampened the spirits: a greying Scotch egg, the forlorn chicken sandwich, the obligatory ‘explode in the container before you get there’ soup and home-made sausage roll used to be the order of the day, …..but thankfully Waitrose has changed all of these slightly trying stalwarts; roasted vegetable antipasti options? Sundried tomatoes? Samosas? It’s a veritable cornucopia of finger food. We suggest soup (optional sherry to be added to the consommé) and cheese straws….it could be a long day after all! Pint to pint? What to drink? (AA) Beer is a particular favourite amongst hardened pointers, as is wine, Maison Joseph Drouhin Savigny les Beaune for a refreshing pinot noir and maybe a delightful bottle of Crown Estates Tokaji 5 puttonyas 2000. The Tokaji pairs exquisitely with a rich paté or even foie gras, should one want to push the boat out. And for the
obligatory nip from bottle or hip flask, Glenfarclas Single Malt Whisky 15YO wins every time. Don’t forget the corkscrew and proper glasses. A short course on what to wear? This being Britain, the answer to this could be as divergent as a linen shirt, chinos and loafers, or Schoffel interactive coat, waterproof trousers and wellington boots. “What I love most about point-to-pointing is that however professional the jockeys and trainers have become, it’s still a proper old-fashioned country sport run by hunting people with a great friendly atmosphere where the weather – rain, howling gales, spring sunshine – is all part of it. For this reason, I especially love the west-country meetings, which are timeless. I belong to the Plantation Farm Picnic Syndicate and, as you might have guessed it’s (nearly) all about the picnic – and the fizz when we win!” Kate Green (News Editor, Country Life)
Is this a covert operation? (AA) Yes it is! There is nowhere a covert coat feels more at home than jostling amongst the crowds, the dun colour was after all originally designed to cope with horse hair and the occasional splattering of mud and still stay immaculate. Team with a tweed suit and trilby and you have the ultimate Cheltenham kit. Shiny office suits are
ill-advisedly becoming prevalent and are more to be pitied than censured. For the ladies, a smart tweed ensemble, topped with a splendid fur hat will cut a dash. Lurid pink prom style dresses, worn with ‘dead parrot’ style fascinators are best avoided as they have a habit of frightening the jockeys who are, through years of careful breeding, a highly strung sort. Should I bring the hound? (UB) Yes just make sure it is correctly attired, little dogs in handbags are a little, Chelsea, not Cheltenham. Correct footwear? (AA) You want dry feet? Wellingtons and sturdy boots are the way forward, plus you can drink out of them later if you lose your glass. Who am I likely to see? (AA) The ladies and gentlemen of the jump racing community, a smattering of West Country royalty, corporate guests, persons from across the water and lots and lots of splendid red trousers. Carriage of choice? (UB) Train, taxi or chauffeur – to drive would make this a very dull day indeed. Champagne or cider? Either really but try not to drink out of your trilby. We do think a nice glass of Pol Roger Brut Vintage 2006 tastes terrific at 9am, on auspicious occasions such as this.
“Cheltenham is the highlight of the National Hunt season and brings absolutely everything to the table. The horses are the elite from England, Ireland and France and the world’s best jockeys, along with the most sporting crowd that any event can put together. To many this is an annual pilgrimage and, to all of us, the pinnacle four days of every year” Nicky Henderson (3 times Champion NH trainer and trainer of 47 winners at the Cheltenham Festival)
Which car park should I head to? (UB) Well, if you’re not in the west car park let’s just say it is a bad old day. Where should I be aiming to sit? (AA) Mid-tier east or west stand, somewhere close to facilities, and gone are the days of bringing your own tipple, it’s a pint of the black stuff or maybe a tepid GnT for you my dears! You are there for stirring rugby anyway… best not to blur the lines during the match. Form on chat with fans? (UB) You’ll want to discuss England’s latest midfield worries, the demise of the scrum and a return to offfield discipline. Avoid someone wearing a football shirt for fear of being proffered advice on your choice of sport. You’ll know who to look for; beginning a salvo with ‘my dear old thing…’ should see you through.
Black velvet? (AA)If you insist dear, although best to stick to Pol Roger Brut Reserve. Tweed, Wax or padded jacket? All three are eminently suitable, accessorise with a generous glass of red wine and gingham table cloth. Wellies are wholly acceptable whereas loafers will do you no credit here, stout walking boots or sturdy brogues with thick socks are just the ticket. “Don’t be afraid to go very casual - you’ll be surrounded by men in badly fitting jeans and jumpers decorated with dog hairs. It’s all about comfort. Do a bit of reading beforehand so you have half a clue who the key players are and what’s going on. Buy the headphones so you can hear what the ref is saying - that way you’ll be the only person who knows why a penalty is being given. Arrive early and leave late. The car parks are where the party is at.” Clare Balding (Broadcaster and avid Rugby fan)
The Christmas house party
Which host should you pass the booze to? (AA) If you want to see it drunk on the day/evening, the hostess, if you want to hear about it drunk that night, privately, your host… How to eat the cocktail sausage elegantly? (UB) Attack the entrée with real verve, grab it and positively
shove it in….avoid conversation while macerating and take a moment to savour. When to leave? (AA) When the hostess is bellowing ‘whose taxi is outside….’ or ‘right then, who’s for washing up…?’. Watching for signs is quite easy, the minute the decent wines are down to the sediment, or the port has been spilled, it’s time to head for the highway. Lunchtime drinks – the plan? (UB) Avoid the Gin and Tonic in favour of a DrouhinVaudon Chablis, and Robert Sinskey Vineyard’s Pinot Noir from Los Carneros for a red is a real winner! Cote du Nuit is more of a supper sip. Manzanilla is a positively inspired choice to accompany salted almonds and olives. How to avoid the slightly-odd Uncle Bernard? (AA) Make pains to suggest you know very little about cricket or the latest on Syria, declare an interest in popular music and the latest streaming service from Apple. Declare yourself devoid of a decanter at home and that you have never heard of Wilbur Smith. Above all stay away from the drinks trolley – wait for it to come to you. This should save you hours of your life. The Christmas jumper However ironic your intentions are, do not succumb to knitted garments with the following motifs: Snowmen, Father
Christmas, Elves or Baubles, and if anyone approaches you wearing a garment emblazoned with any of the above (we can include ties in this), move very quickly towards the drinks trolley (see note above ref Uncle Bernard). Lambswool V necks found downstairs in Cordings of Piccadilly (and now Harrogate) in festive colours, and smart Fair Isles, are the order of the day, giving the message ‘I am a fun chap or lady, who has not lost their sense of style/marbles’. “Christmas jumpers are in my experience exclusively worn by ordinarily sane adults who stupidly believe that Christmas is an excuse to look like, behave like and sound like a 6 year old with OCD. Knitwear is a tricky enough issue without burdening it with aesthetic IEDs like appliquéd snowmen. Revolt against the revolting and plump for some lambswool” Laurence Llewelwyn-Bowen (Designer and broadcaster)
Since 1839 Cordings have clothed explorers, rock stars and royalty in understated British clothing, all from our iconic store in Piccadilly. With timeless cuts, traditional cloths and painstaking attention to detail creating an enduring elegance that is never out of style. 19 Piccadilly, London W1J 0LA Westminster Arcade, Harrogate HG1 2RN www.cordings.co.uk
Champagne Pol Roger has been producing exceptional champagne for over 165 years. To this day the house remains small, family-owned, fiercely independent and unrivalled in its reputation for quality. Pol Roger Portfolio was founded in 1990 by the Pol Roger family, to establish its own subsidiary in Great Britain, the premier export market for Pol Roger Champagne. Since 1990 Pol Roger Portfolio has grown to include a select number of first class wines and spirits from family owned houses; Crown Estates, Glenfarclas, Hine, Joseph Drouhin, Drouhin-Vaudon, Josmeyer, Kilchoman, Robert Sinskey, Staglin Family, Abreu and Dalla Valle. Champagne Pol Roger www.polroger.co.uk COPYRIGHT POL ROGER ÂŠ 2015, Illustrated by Oliver Preston and Designed by Emma McCall