On Saturday 13th July 2013, I attended my first ever Chap Olympiad. Celebrating “sporting ineptitude and sartorial prowess”, this annual event from those splendid fellows over at The Chap magazine has been on my radar for quite some time but, sadly, I have always managed to have something else in my diary on the weekend it takes place. Thankfully this year was a different story and so Topper, Amanda and I headed into central London on Saturday dressed somewhat more smartly than the rest of the passengers on our DLR train. My dress was an original 50s number, but I decided to go more early 60s with the hair as my beehive building skills seem to be improving and it’s a great way to keep hair off the back of my neck on a warm day. Amanda was dressed in a gorgeous vintage Laura Ashley frock, and Topper looked splendid in his reproduction RAF trousers, shirt and braces. In a manner befitting the event, we accessorised with Ray Bans, a fan, a parasol, a hip flask and a pipe.
The venue was Bedford Square Gardens, which is one of the best preserved Georgian squares in London and so provided the perfect backdrop for an afternoon of good old vintage fun. Despite our lack of picnic blanket, we managed to successfully find seating because two friends of ours had arrived early and saved a spot near the stage. Hoorah! We joined them just in time for the end of the Volleybowler, and were enjoying our first G&T by the time the Umbrella Jousting had kicked off. If you’ve never seen two adults clasping briefcases and brollies cycling round two hat stands with bunting tied between them, whilst trying to knock each other off their bikes, then you really are missing out. This particular event got quite vicious at one point and I didn’t think the hat stands would survive the day! After some splendid Well Dressage (poncing about on hobby horses), Breadbasketball (butlers trying to catch bread rolls whilst the diners attempted to intervene) and an enthusiastic game of Catch The Bounder, we decided that we should probably consume something other than gin. Thankfully there was some tasty food on sale for those of us who had neglected to bring picnics. I would say that I’ll go along better prepared next year, but those were some tasty burgers.
The cocktails we were drinking all day were speedily mixed and lovingly served in real glasses – none of this flat lager in plastic pint pots nonsense that you might get elsewhere. I enjoyed spending the hottest day of the year so far in the shade of some rather large trees, surrounded by splendidly attired friendly folk. There were so many wonderful outfits that it did seem a shame that a few people got in wearing things like cargo shorts and what appeared to be this season’s finest Primark frocks, but I guess The Chap are far less sartorially snobbish than I had previously thought. Still, there were more than enough moustaches, pipes, braces, plus fours, straw boaters, vintage frocks and cloche hats to go around. Three of The Vintage Mafia were on stage in matching dresses to judge the Well Dressage, showing us ladies how to look good in the heat. Apparently Retrochick and ReeRee from Rockalily were also there, looking glamorous as always, but I sadly didn’t spot them in the crowds.
A splendid day out was had by all of our group, and we shall definitely be planning on arriving earlier next year to see if we can enter some of the events. I’ve put my best photos of the day up on Flickr so that you can see what all the fuss is about. Thanks very much to Amanda for sorting out the tickets and to everyone who bought me a G&T. Cheers!