Great Sport, Great Cause, Great Britain

Team Ettinger writes: For the past year, Ettinger has been proud to be associated with British Polo Day, a series of polo matches between British teams and friends contested in locations around the world.

Polo is believed to have originated in Persia around the fifth century B.C. as a contest between cavalry units; the British (by way of India) are credited with formalising and popularising polo in the mid-nineteenth century. Polo still thrives throughout some of Britain’s oldest institutions, and British Polo Days provide an opportunity for some of the country’s best players to continue to play internationally. The days not only honour the history and traditions of the sport itself, they also celebrate British heritage — selected British luxury brands are represented at each event, giving the guests an unmistakable and unforgettable experience of the very best Britain has to offer. Here at Ettinger, we are very pleased to be featured at the British Polo Days, and are extremely happy that VIP guests receive a special Ettinger gift.

This year, British Polo Days have taken place in China, Singapore, India, France, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Thailand, Germany and, most recently, here in the UK at Coworth Park in Berkshire, which gave us our first chance to experience this thrilling event firsthand. On the day, the weather was windy, cloudy and, unusually for this summer, dry. The theme, Polo for the Brave, was totally appropriate, as this event was a benefit for the British Forces Foundation (BFF) and The Household Cavalry Operational Casualties Fund (HCOCF), two morale-boosting organisations who provide support of all kinds to military personnel.

The action was exciting, the rain held off until all play was completed and everyone, including us, had a tremendous time. Most importantly, this inaugural Polo for the Brave raised more than £40,000 for the BFF and the HCOCF.

Ed Olver, the co-founder and director of British Polo Day, said “It is a privilege to celebrate British craftsmanship and excellence in emerging markets. We are very grateful to all our sponsors who make it possible to project British heritage and identity.” All of us at Ettinger feel privileged to be part of British Polo Days and in the company of so many distinguished British brands.

More information about British Polo Day can be found here: British Polo Day; more about Ed Olver can be found here: Ed Olver.

To learn more about what you can do to help, you can find information about the British Forces Foundation can be found here: British Forces Foundation; and more information about the Household Cavalry Operational Casualties Fund can be found here: Household Cavalry Operational Casualties Fund.

Up and Down in Greece

Robert Ettinger writes: My wife and I love to travel, and one of the places we love to visit the most is Greece. Over the years, we have bicycled on many of the islands; we’ve enjoyed countless days and nights of exploring, eating and drinking; we’ve become friends with numerous locals and fellow visitors. Travelling around Greece, we are endlessly astonished by its hills and roads and coastline. It is truly one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve been following Greece’s distressing economic news for many months now. So when we visited Greece in May, just before their elections, I was especially curious to discover first-hand how this crisis seems to be affecting this place which we are so fond of.

We bicycled around Samos — one of the more historically interesting spots in a region steeped in history. Samos is located in the East Aegean Sea; it was a prominent city-state in ancient times, was a semi-independent state during much of the 19th century, and only became a part of Greece in 1912. Both Pythagoras (best known for a2 + b2 = c2) and Aesop (famous for his fables) were born there. It has been a wine-producing region for centuries, and features lots of local foods and ways of preparing them.

We had previously bicycled around Samos perhaps five or six times; and in many ways, this experience was similar to those visits. The weather was dry and hot, the hills were challenging. But there were some differences.

We began this time in Pythagorio (named for our mathematician/philosopher friend mentioned above), made our way through Samos town, Karlovasi, Kampos and back to Pythagorio. Along the way, we spoke to locals and ex-pats, and the election was very much on everyone’s mind. But it was clear, simply from our informal conversations, that there would be a narrow margin for whoever ultimately won. Many people spoke realistically about the difficult challenges ahead regardless of the political route they would take.

We heard that tourism, the heart of their economy, was down, with 15–20% fewer British and 30–40% fewer Germans at this time of year. We encountered only three other cyclists the entire week, which was certainly unusual. We were told that the car-hire fleet had been reduced by 60% because it was expected fewer cars would be needed.

Looking ahead, I can’t help but be concerned about Greece’s infrastructure and service industry. So much of the economy depends on tourism and the flights arriving and departing in a timely manner; the inter-island ferries (which are heavily subsidised) running as scheduled. We heard, ominously, that a hospital on another island was running out of food to feed its patients.

With the future of Greece so much in the balance, I can only hope that wise heads — among its politicians and its citizens — will prevail. This crisis was years in the making, and it will undoubtedly take years to recover. But I remain hopeful that this beautiful and irresistible country will return to economic health; I know my wife and I are already planning to return in September. I’ll keep you posted.

If you’ve recently visited Greece, I’d love to hear about your experiences. Please comment below and let me know your impressions.