Sunday, 9 December 2012


This weekend has mostly been spent tying to keep warm, sewing little Christmas tree decorations, writing Christmas card lists and trying to stay focussed in the now - without dreaming of ponies, plains and polo.

You can't say the word 'polo' without it sounding posh. It's not a sport many people have had anything to do with, it's exclusive and sponsored by the champagne Veuve Clicquot, worldwide. The game has connotations of royalty, of the fashion elite, macho Argentinian players and of money unknown and bewildering to most.

I went to play polo in Nairobi. My friend E has become addicted and now owns four beautiful ponies - they are actually ex race horses and not ponies at all, but that's what one calls them, darling. Well, I attempted to hit a ball at walk and trot without falling off, trying to control the pony in one hand with a tangle of tack, bits and reins foreign to me. After an hour of 'stick and balling', the pony as light and controllable as a joystick - I was hooked. Polo is seriously fun, utterly terrifying and so prohibitively elite that I tried not to like it too much.

Watching chukkas as I sat on the pony lines was fascinating. It was difficult to take in the speed and aggression of the game as well as the extraordinary people who play it. It was like a secret society that I was allowed a quick peek at, it was so thrilling to be part of it for just a moment.

These bonkers experiences keep you going when packing sandwiches, washing uniforms, arguing over homework, cooking supper and trying to keep the family sane and happy. It is hard to imagine that somewhere in Africa people gallop around on ponies for fun, whack balls into each other, drink champagne at sun down and spend all their money doing it.

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