A sporting good time

Five English sports worth playing and watching

Bisley Shooting Ground (Multiple)

Set within 3,000 acres in Surrey, Bisley Shooting Ground is Europe’s largest sporting clay ground and one of the top shooting schools. Though I am not a fan of guns and the closest I have come to holding one was at amusement park shooting galleries, I decided while in England to give the sport a shot, literal. Being a complete novice, it was a bit intimidating to walk up to the Clubhouse and see women dressed in shooting vests and carrying their own shotgun holsters. We were put in a group with three lovely English women and accompanied by an instructor who competes professionally. Once I got over the initial intimation, my paranoia turned to the question of whether I was going to hit anything. Thanks to expert instruction, this too was unfounded and I managed to hit two clays released in succession. We finished the day with a delicious homemade lunch. Even though it was Ladies Day, full portions of food were on offer*. I can vouch that it’s worth skipping morning breakfast and mid-morning tea break to make it to the Victorian Sponge Cake.

Lawn Bowling (Multiple)

Believed to have originated in ancient Egypt, this sport took on a variety of forms, including Bolle (Denmark), Bocce (Italy) and Boules (France). The oldest Bowls green is in Southampton, England where it has been played since the 13th century. Henry VIII and even President George Washington played the game when it spread to North America. The object of the game is to roll balls so that they stop close to a smaller ball, called a ‘jack’ or ‘kitty’. After an introductory coaching session, we were able to play a game. Even if you’re not particularly athletic, but still competitive at heart, this may be the sport for you.

Play Polo (Epsom)

Where better to learn the sport of polo than in England where it has been played since the 1870s. Take a 1-1/2 hour polo lesson at Epsom Polo Club, home of the Great Meadow Polo Field and the largest indoor polo arena in South East of England. The lesson covers the rules and tactics, the polo swing and polo riding. You’ll then have a chance to put new skills to practice by playing a friendly ‘mini game’. They even give out rosettes and a trophy for the best player.
www.epsompoloclub.co.uk +44 1372 748200
Horton Country Park, Epsom KT19 8PL

Royal Ascot (Ascot)

You can attend the social event on the British social calendar of the year for less than £25! It is worth spending more on Grandstand Admission to catch a close view of the Queen and members of the Royal Family as they go by on a horse-drawn carriage. While I can’t remember details of which horses won which race, I can recall the fabulous fascinators* and fashions.
www.ascot.co.uk +44 8443 463000
High St, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7JX

Wimbledon (Wimbledon)

A perfect example of when queuing* works! It still floors me that you can walk up the day of the tournament without a ticket, end up on Centre Court, and see the best players in the world. Ground passes are £20/person after 5 pm (less after 5 pm). Kids under five are free but not allowed on show courts. Re-sale Centre Court tickets are £10 each and Court 1 and Court 2 tickets are £5 each with all proceeds benefiting charity. If you go with kids, bring lots of snacks and something to do while waiting. The good news is that you can watch the games below at Centre Court while queuing. I love the fact with patience and a bit of luck you can turn up without a ticket and end up on Centre Court. Customer service that is hard to come by!
www.wimbledon.com +44 2089 441066
Church Road, Wimbledon SW19 5AE

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