Saturday, 27 July 2013

Byfleet Parish Day and Hampsthwaite Feast

The team at Byfleet Parish Day

Friday afternoon found us heading out on the road again, this time southwards!  We were on our way to Byfleet Parish Day, where we were due to perform our double act show.  As well as Helen, Tinker, Casper and myself, we had a new girl join us for the weekend called Courtney.  Poor Courtney was being thrown in at the deep end, as she had never even seen one of our shows before, so to do the double act straight off was a big ask!  We were planning on talking through the show a few times once we were set up and settled, but that plan went out the window as soon as we arrived!

Having finally found the (very small!) gate onto the recreation ground, there was unfortunately nobody there to meet us.  We then found out that the gate was padlocked, so we couldn't get in.  As we'd been travelling for about six and a half hours we dropped the ramp and got the boys off, much to the dismay of some local residents - I doubt they'd seen horses unload in the middle of the road before!  Luckily there was a pedestrian entrance onto the field, so Helen and Courtney took the horses in whilst I waited with the lorry.  It was quite comical really, as although many of the committee members turned up, the one person with the key couldn't be found.  In the end they ended up cutting the padlock to open the gate, so after nearly an hour I managed to join the horses!

That was the only mishap for the weekend though.  We had a really good rehearsal in the morning, and we ran through with Courtney what she'd be doing in the show.  I had a little vault on Tinker, just to ensure he didn't anticipate any dismounts - I didn't want a repeat of Crosby Carnival!  I also vaulted on Casper, ran through both their dances and played all Casper's games with him as well as practising his rear.  Both of them were very very keen for the tricks, and I'm pretty sure it was down to the fact that I had a good selection of apples as opposed to the carrots I normally use - sometimes it helps to work part time in a Greengrocers!  My favourite part of the practise was the Roman riding - especially the jumping where I definitely got some height, as you can see in the photo below!

I was slightly nervous about the show given how naughty Casper had been the week before, but I needn't have worried.  Both the boys were absolutely superb, and it was definitely our best double act to date!  We had loads of fun, the only slightly difficult thing was that Helen and I only had one mic between the two of us.  Bit of a challenge, especially as it was a head mic, but Helen managed to race towards me every time it was my turn to talk, so other than a few pregnant pauses the show was almost perfect!

Next stop was Hampsthwaite Feast back up in Yorkshire, so having packed up and said our goodbyes to Byfleet it was back up the M1 for us.  It was quite a drive and we didn't get to Hampsthwaite until about 11pm.  Luckily the organiser, Geoff, was there to meet us, and showed us the (thankfully open!) gate into the field.  However, there were to be problems with this gate too, as the angle it was on was tight and there was only a very small space to try and manoeuvre the lorry through it.  The lorry is just over ten meters long and is quite wide as well, so getting through small gates in the dark at the end of a long day is no small feat!  We managed it relatively easily though, and our aim of being all set up and in bed by midnight was only missed by about five minutes.  Needless to say we all slept like logs, and it wasn't until everybody arrived on site in the morning and started putting up stalls and arenas and such like that we woke up!

We didn't have much space for warm up, so I was slightly concerned that Casper hadn't been able to have his bucks and farts.  I needn't have worried though, as he did his best show to date!  He was absolutely perfect, doing all his dancing, games and tricks beautifully, and was a pleasure to vault on - what a change from last weekend!  Tinker was also lovely, and even managed not to stop at any inappropriate times - no tumbles for me!  I was so happy with  how the displays went, they were possibly my favourite of the season so far.

It's funny how things happen in pairs though, not only had we had trouble with the gates at the entrance to both sites over the weekend but at Hampsthwaite, just as at Byfleet, once again Helen and I only had one mic between the two of us.  We managed again though, and even did a couple of microphone baton changes with me cantering past and handing the mic to Helen as I went!  It was a good job we'd had some practise the day before with just the one mic!

We didn't manage to get any photos from Hampsthwaite unfortunately, but you can see a few from Byfleet here.  Next weekend we're going to be at Tunstall Carnival on Sunday, so I'll let you know how we get on!

Love Rosie x

Friday, 26 July 2013

Kirkcudbright Country Fair and Crosby Carnival

Photo by Sam Kelly
Photo by Helen Gilbertson

Friday afternoon and Helen, Sophie, Tinker, Casper and myself headed back up to Scotland again, this time bound for Kirkcudbright Country Fair.  We had been booked to appear at Kirkcudbright last year, but unfortunately it was one of the shows which succumbed to the awful weather, so we were delighted to be asked back.  Although it was a two day show we had already been booked to appear at Crosby Carnival in Liverpool on the Sunday, so we would just be doing the one day at Kirkcudbright.  Luckily the Interesting and Unusual Team from Birds of Prey Displays were available on the Sunday, so Benji and I were going to be tag teaming!

We arrived and set up with no problems, and it was a really beautiful setting.  We were right next to the river overlooking an old railway bridge.  The field was large so we set up a good size paddock for the boys and let them wander about to stretch their legs.  However, it wasn't long before we realised the menace of Kirkcudbright - horse flies!  There were hundreds of them!  We soon learnt that the locals call the 'Cleggs'.  I doused the boys (and myself!) in fly spray, but it had little effect - Cleggs are savage!  Over the course of our twenty-four hour stay I must have killed about 150 of them, no exaggeration.  I even got a few double whammies, killing two with one swat!  

Come the morning we were ready to go, and the show had set up some beautiful stands and marquees.  The arena was the perfect size for us, and although it was on a slight slope I didn't think it would cause any problems.  Casper was a bit excitable at the start of his show, and struggled to concentrate throughout his dance - he was more focused on trying to get the flies away!  There's a little video up on YouTube of me vaulting on the excitable Casper, which you can see below.

Soon it was Tinker's turn, and things didn't go quite to plan at the very start!  I was introducing the show kneeling up in prince sit on his back, talking away down the mic and as we were cantering down the slope Tinker (very uncharacteristically I might add!) stumbled.  Eeek!  I went straight over his head, but somehow twisted in mid air and managed to land on my feet!  Tinker stopped dead and I think he was as surprised as I was to find myself standing up next to him rather than on his back!  'Well, that's not in the script Ladies and Gentlemen, we told you you'd see tricks you wouldn't believe, but that's not one of them!'  Back on I jumped and thankfully the rest of the show went really well!  There was so many lovely things at the show, and aside from our photos there is lots on flickr!

Before long we were packed up and trucking back down south, although only to Liverpool so not too far!  We arrived for Crosby Carnival not too late, and were soon in place with the horses off the lorry.  The site is a primary school field, and we were informed that as the field was totally enclosed we could just let the horses go - so we did!  Typically, the first thing they did was head off to the playground to clatter about, before climbing the mound surrounding the school to survey the area.  They had a bit of a charge about, but soon settled down to the serious task of eating.  Standard.

In the morning I took Casper into the arena for a practise, and he was foot perfect.  He was lovely to vault on, and did his full dance and all his games beautifully.  This always makes me slightly nervous, and unfortunately when the time came for his show he didn't behave quite so well!  He did a couple of unscheduled laps of the arena on his own, although he did come back and was very good to vault on afterwards - I just think he needed to let off a bit of steam!  Either that or he was determined to go and meet the donkeys that were there - he's always fascinated by them!

Tinker's show was once again lovely, although I took another tumble!  I haven't fallen off in a show for ages and ages, and then to do it twice in one weekend...  This time it was entirely Tinker's vault, no excuses!  I was at the end of my first freestyle and I usually do a big jump off from stand to finish.  Tinker is very good at stopping dead as soon as I dismount, and is usually stopped by the time I hit the ground.  However, the little monkey pre-empted my dismount by about two strides, so whilst I was happily standing up on his back, waving at the crowd and just about to jump off, he just stopped.  Dead.  Straight over his head I went again, this time with quite a bit of speed!  I'm not quite sure how I did it but I managed to turn the fall into a rolypoly before jumping to my feet and presenting.  I got a big round of applause, and having spoken to quite a few people afterwards it seems nobody even realised that wasn't what was supposed to happen!  I don't think I'll be putting it in the show as a permanent fixture though...

We had so much lovely feedback from people at both shows over the weekend, so we were really happy.  All the audiences were great, clapping and cheering in all the right places, and we met some lovely folk at both shows - so thank you if you were there.  We only got a couple of photos at Crosby unfortunately, but you can see them here.

We've another road trip next weekend, although this one's a longer haul.  We're off down to Byfleet on Friday which is just inside the M25, and will be performing our double act show at Byfleet Parish Day on Saturday.  Then we'll be packing up and trucking back up north, ready to perform at Hampsthwaite Feast on the Sunday.  I'll let you know how we get on!

Love Rosie x

Friday, 12 July 2013

Small Holders Show

Photo by Helen Gilbertson

Photo by Jenna Davies

Last weekend we were 375 miles North, and this weekend we were 285 miles South!  We set off for The Small Holders Show and trucked on and on down the motorway, making really good time - until we hit the M25!  I know it should always be avoided on Friday afternoons but unfortunately we couldn't help it.  Having sat virtually stationary for an hour, we finally arrived on site at about 8pm.  The show was on the South of England Showground, and although I didn't think I'd been there before, as soon as we drove on I recognised it, and remembered having performing there quite a while ago with the Devil's Horsemen!

It was a really beautifully set out show, and it had a lovely feel to it as soon as we arrived.  We parked up just behind a pond next to the main arena, and let the horses out in the arena.  They were very grateful to get their heads down for some grass after the long journey - they've covered some miles in the last week or so!  Having got everything set up and the arena marked out we settled down for the night.  We had another new girl with us for the weekend, Sophie, and as she'd never seen a show before I'm not sure she knew quite what to expect!

The weekend was set to be a scorcher and it certainly was!  I can't remember the last time it was so hot, so putting all my costume and make up on, and the doing a show was absolutely exhausting!  I'm not complaining, it's infinitely better than the July we had last year, when every single one of our shows were forced to cancel because of the bad weather.  What a difference a year makes!

Both the shows went through really well on Saturday, and in the afternoon (after a much needed shower - I do love my lorry!) Helen and I went for a wander about to see what we could see.  There was lots there and I especially loved the rescue Ginuea Pig stand, Pooh Piglet.  I have a real soft spot for Guinea Pigs!  There was all sorts of different animals there, everything from Llamas and Alpacas to Tortoises, Geese, Pigs and Chickens - something for everybody!  We had a lovely evening as well, as we borrowed a couple of benches from around the arena and using the shop table in a new guise had our supper al fresco!  

Sunday morning and it was time to do it all over again.  Casper's show was an interesting one, as I didn't really feel like he was concentrating, especially throughout his games section.  The reason for this soon became clear though.  It was just before the final canter freestyle, and Helen had just asked for 'some music please!  And please feel free to clap along!'  On came the music and to my horror, Casper started to stretch out for a wee!  'Cut the music!' said Helen, and Casper started weeing.  And continued.  For ages.  It was honestly the longest wee I have seen in a long time, the poor boy must have been absolutely bursting.  He must have been desperate as he is normally very shy when it comes to having a wee.  Whenever we stop on long journeys we have to take him off away from everybody and turn our backs on him before he'll go, so to do it in the middle of an arena in front of hundreds of people is really unusual.  Anyway, he obviously felt much better afterwards, as after what felt like an eternity he went straight off into canter and we finished the show with aplomb!

Tinker's show went really well as well.  He'd been quite lazy the day before so I'd got after him a bit during our warm up and he was perfect in the show.  I can't really blame him as it was very hot, but trying to trot during canter freestyles is absolutely not acceptable!  Him and Casper have it easy as they only have to do one show a day each - Helen and I have to do two!

The show organisers were lovely, and very kindly allowed us to leave site an hour early, so we managed to get away by 4pm.  The journey back was much better, and we arrived home after just six and a half hours - all very tired though!  Sophie must have enjoyed her debut as she's coming again next weekend.  It's going to be a bit of a monster though, as we're at Kirkcudbright Country Fair up in Scotland on Saturday, followed by driving straight down to Liverpool for Crosby Carnival on Sunday, before packing up again to come home - phew!  I'll let you know how we get on, but in the meantime, click here for some photos from the Small Holders Show.

Love Rosie x

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Tain Gala

Photos by Helen Gilbertson

It was a long old journey up to Tain Gala, but a very beautiful one!  And although it took just over nine hours, we did stop three times to get the horses off for a wee (Tink can't hold it as long since his operation unfortunately!).  It was one of the easiest drives as well, just lots and lots and lots of motorway!  It was a journey I wasn't looking forward to, but actually I'd happily do it again!

We arrived on Friday evening and turned the boys out in the arena which they were very happy about.  They both had a good roll and got themselves as grass stained as possible, before settling down to the serious task of eating - standard! 

Steve Colley was also on site, as he was due to perform as well, and it was really good to see him as our paths haven't crossed for ages!  It was quite a big bunch of us he greeted, as not only were myself, Helen and Helen's sister Megan on board, but also Anne Marie, a friend of Helen's from America who had come to stay for the week.  I did feel a bit sorry for Anne Marie, as she'd had a hectic week already.  She'd flown into Southampton on Tuesday, before getting the train to Manchester and then a bus to Leeds.  Helen had collected her and taken her to Bedale (North Yorkshire), and then she had to spend all day in the lorry on Friday travelling up to the Highlands of Scotland.  Fair to say she managed to see quite a lot of the UK in a very short space of time!

On Saturday morning we were joined by Dingle Fingle, and it was great to see him as once again I've not seen him for quite a while.  One of my very favourite things about shows is meeting up with people on the circuit - you never quite know who you're going to bump into at which show!  We also met a lovely chap on a penny farthing, and of course it wasn't long before both Helen and I had managed to have a go ourselves.  Needless to say I think I'll stick to the horses!

We'd been asked by the organisers if we would take part in the parade through the town, and although we didn't take a horse Helen and I got all dolled up in our costume and off we went.  We got a lift up from Dingle in his comedy car, which was definitely an experience in itself!  We all paraded through the town ahead of all the floats, doing plenty of cartwheels as we went.  I did feel a bit lost without a horse, as both Steve and Dingle were able to do loads of tricks, .  It was brilliant to watch Steve, he really is amazing at what he does.  He was bouncing his bike off walls and all sorts, whizzing around Helen and I, and hopping up on the back, front and side of Dingle's car - it was all great fun!

Once we were back on the show field the arena entertainment kicked off, and before we knew it it was our turn!  The organisers had decided to go for the double act after all, so we all went in together.  The show went through really well, despite Casper doing his now habitual lap of honour on his own.  He really is very naughty, but we've managed to write it into the script, and everybody loves it when he goes (everybody apart from me that is!).  The Roman riding went the best it ever has, I did all sorts on them so was really happy with that.  The only problem we had was that we couldn't hear the music at all.  The was a very loud fairground right next to the arena, and although the audience could hear our music I struggled to hear it at all - not the best when everything is very choreographed!  We managed though, and it was actually very fortuitous that we had Anne Marie, as an extra pair of hands is always useful during the double act show!

We managed to watch Dingle's act at the end of the day, which is always hilarious.  Helen and I both made the mistake of turning our backs at one point though - and we both got thoroughly soaked by Dingle and his fire hose as a result!

We'd arranged to stay on site on the Saturday as well, so that we could travel back home all day Sunday.  We got off to a good start and left at 8.30am, and I think we were back by 6pm despite Wow Cow taking us for an unplanned tour around Edinburgh!

Our next show is the Smallholders Show down in Ardingly.  It's a two day show and we'll be doing two shows a day so I'll let you know how we get on.  In the meantime, you can see some photos from Tain by clicking here.

Love Rosie x