Life continues to move fairly quickly and I continue to juggle full-time work with university life. Thankfully, I don’t have time to whinge and moan about it like some of the creeps (still) out there. With a little over a week to go, the SUPA Summer National Championships are drawing near and no less than 10 teams have been entered in the division that I am competing in.
I’m slightly concerned that Cambridge have not entered any teams onto the provision list yet, but my primary concern is Warwick at the moment as they were our biggest competitors. There has been a change to our line up too as Louis has defected to the Novice division; I’m still playing with fellow teammate Yong, but we are now joined by Alice, who normally trains with us anyway.
Meanwhile, the University of London Polo Club has made the move over to our summer training ground at Silver Leys Polo Club and most of us have been there to train at least twice now. Whilst it’s a nice ground, it’s in the middle of bloody nowhere in a place called Little Hadham. The nearest railway station is Bishop’s Stortford which is about a 10-minute drive away, whilst the nearest Tube station is Epping is 30-minutes away. The other week, we all had the misfortune of the railway lines to and from Hertford and Cambridge to Liverpool Street being shut for about 6 hours, with no taxis or minicabs willing to come down to Little Hadham as a result of the railway lines being shut and trade being more along the route of the trains. In the end, it took me no less than 4 hours to get back to Maidenhead (it would’ve taken me the same amount of time to get back home to Brentford, so I decided to go where I knew there was going to be a hot dinner waiting for me).
Last week wasn’t so bad, but it still took just over 2 hours to get home from there. There’s nothing worse than dragging polo kit down with me onto the Tube, but it had to be done. Polo in time for sunset was a pretty amazing experience.
The group was a little too big for my liking, and Alec (the guy that runs Silver Leys) wasn’t mounted as they’d “run out of ponies” (they’d had a tryout session for the local kids which meant that a lot of the ponies had been spent), so it was a bit like organised chaos to be honest once we decided to play a few chukkas as we were playing on a full-sized pitch (no less than 300 yards in length). That said, the ponies here are wonderful and so far I haven’t had any issues with the ones I’ve been allocated; last week, I didn’t even need to use a whip!
This was also the first time I thought I’d try out my old GoPro HERO5 on my polo helmet, so I got a few good photos and a bit of video. In formal chukkas, such as SUPA, you’re not allowed to use any form of video recording, but Alec was happy for me to record our entire lesson. Unfortunately, the nature of moving your head a lot and movements on horseback does a lot to the stability of camera footage, never mind the sound!
The rest of the week looks set to have polo dotted all over it, so pay day can’t come soon enough! It has spurred me on with eBaying things I don’t need and getting rid of lots of other stuff at the charity shops however. I was supposed to play over the Bank Holiday weekend, but it didn’t happen in the end. That said, I’ve got my very first club chukkas at White Waltham tomorrow evening; I’m supposed to be playing four(!) chukkas, after which I will be awarded my provisional handicap for the rest of the season. Saturday sees me back at the Berkshire after one of my Japanese exams for a long-overdue season of “chillout” chukkas, so I’m looking forward to go back there again and seeing Phil and the Cool Hooves gang as we haven’t been back there since 1st May, but that already seems like years ago. I do miss training there.
I’ll probably look to trade in my old GoPro and upgrade to the GoPro HERO7 Black sometime this season, but in the meantime, I’ve attached a few clips of me doing a bit of stick and ball, as well as the last few moments of our final chukka of that evening.
And yes – it’s fucking difficult trying to hit a ball (only slightly bigger than a cricket ball) when you’re galloping around on a horse.