Summer is finally here! We’re all willing the working week to fly quickly by so we can fill our weekends with sunshine and socialising.Impromptu barbecues with free-flowing Pimm’s, picnics in the park, day trips to the seaside – English summers may be brief but we certainly know how to make the most of them. So far, so idealistic let’s be honest, chances are there’ll be as much rain as shine this summer. And there’ll be countless cancelled outings because we haplessly ignored the doom-laden weather reports of below average temperatures for the time of year. But we mustn’t give up so early in the season. There’s far too much to look forward to and if it’s grey today, maybe the sun will come out tomorrow. So, c’mon! Let’s stock up on sun cream and start planning for a summer of sun! Try something different. Ditch the deck chairs and bin the beach – this is the year to take in a summer of sport. Watching, not playing. Obviously. Here’s a quick guide to what’s hot this summer and how you can look the part, whatever the weather.
Wimbledon, London SW19
June 29 – July 12
Strawberries, cream, Pimm’s and athletic men in shorts. What’s not to like? If you weren’t quick or lucky enough to get tickets in the 2015 public ballot, you’re still in with a chance of seeing Andy Murray ace the opposition. Around 500 tickets for Centre Court and Courts One and Two go on sale every day of the tournament and you could bag one if you’ve the patience and dedication to stand in line. The box office opens at 8am, but hardened fans camp out the night before to ensure a good place in the queue. Set your sights on one of several thousand grounds tickets instead. You can soak up all the atmosphere and watch the action on a big screen from Murray’s Mound.
The dress code for players is simple and strict. White. Just white. All over. For spectators, anything goes. You could opt for the bikini-top-fashioned-out-of-tennis-balls approach, but best advice is to play it safe. This is not a day for dressing up, unless you’re lucky enough to have been invited to a hospitality event where a posh frock would serve you well. Go casual and wear layers so you can adjust your outfit to the weather. The day may start out in brilliant sunshine but end with a chilly wind so pack a brolly and a light waterproof just in case as there’s not a lot of shelter on the Wimbledon site.
If you want to avoid going bankrupt, bring along a picnic to keep you going through the day. Strawberries and cream sounds like a tempting idea, but all food and drink on site is very, very expensive.
Royal Windsor Races, Berkshire
Monday nights throughout the summer.
With Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood highlighting the summer racing calendar, perhaps watching the horses at Windsor is not the most obvious recommendation. But there are few meetings that scream summer in quite the same way. For a start, you get there by river taxi. That’s right, you just hop off the train and make your way down to the Thames where you’ll enjoy a ten-minute cruise to the course. You can even grab yourself a drink on the way. Secondly, there are evening meetings held every Monday, which make an after work outing a very real possibility. And, as if that wasn’t enough, on some nights there’s music after the racing. Abba tribute band Revival plays on June 22 and the following week the course plays host to jazz legends Ronnie Scott’s All Stars. Gates open two hours before the racing starts so you’ll have plenty of time to bag a good spot, study the form and pick a winner before the action starts.
Dress up as the mood takes you but evening meetings at Windsor are much more casual affairs than you might imagine.There are house standards, of course, and scant shorts or flip flops will be frowned upon. Opt for linen trousers and glamorous flats teamed with a crisp shirt or tee and make sure you stuff a cardi, flowing scarf or cosy pashmina in your bag for when the sun goes down.
Various venues all summer long
Cricket and summer go hand in hand. The brilliant whites, the crack of leather on willow and the muted, yet appreciative, applause of the crowd define an English summer. So, take yourself off to a match this year. You could take in a One Day International and see England mix it up against New Zealand or go the whole hog and wangle tickets to the Ashes series against Australia in July. But why not start out a little closer to home and get yourself down to your local county cricket club?Watch Yorkshire v Nottinghamshire at Headingley in Leeds or Middlesex v Hampshire at Lord’s in London. Matches are played up and down the country all summer and there’s sure to be one near you.
The matches are long, so make sure you’ve got something comfy to sit on and, once again, be prepared for the weather. Take plenty of sun cream, a pair of sunglasses and a hat to protect you from sunstroke. But also pack a brolly and a waterproof, just in case.The dress code is pretty casual at cricket matches although Lord’s does have rules which you ought to check before you decide on your outfit.If you want to score a six, avoid shorty shorts or cropped tops and make sure your fella keeps his shirt on no matter how high the temperature soars.
Formula 1 British Grand Prix, Silverstone
July 3 – 5
If you’ve never been to an F1 event before, you’d be forgiven for thinking that everyone turns up looking like Nicole Scherzinger. You’d do well to think glamorous, yes, but this will be a long day and you’re unlikely to have access to the same kind of A-list facilities as the GP glitterati. Leave the tight-fitting bodycon dresses to the PR girls and stick to cool, easy-to-wear maxi-dresses that will keep you looking good all day and well into the night.
Alternatively, a pair of skinny white jeans with a colourful top and the ubiquitous baseball cap will take things up a gear. Silverstone is notorious for being a wash out weatherwise and, even on fine days, the wind can whip across the site. Listen to the meteorologists and be realistic. If rain is forecast, wear practical footwear like wellies with jeans and take a jumper. Invest in a stylish waterproof but leave your brolly at home unless you want to create your own storm with fellow spectators whose view you’ll be obscuring. Unless you’ve got a grandstand ticket, getting a good viewing spot is a free for all, so get there early to bag the best place. Take a kit of essentials like ear plugs to protect you from the thunderous and prolonged noise and a pair of binoculars so you can see a bit more than a blur of the action.