Saturday, 11 October 2014

Kings Bromley Show

Photo by Beth Dillon

The last weekend in July saw us heading up to Staffordshire for Kings Bromley Show. Luckily Imie was out of hospital and on the mend, although she still looked quite pale and interesting!  As the show was northwards Helen was due to meet us on site, so it was just Tinker, Casper, Monty , Imie and myself who set off on the Friday afternoon.  After the expected horrendous M6 traffic we finally arrived on site, and what a beautiful little show ground it was!  Everything was very square and neat and tidy, with lots of white marquees and plenty of bunting - perfect!  We had our own little coral, which meant we could have the horses wandering about whilst we set up.  The horses always love going to shows, as there is always so much more grass than they have at home.  Unfortunately Helen had got held up in traffic as well, so it was just Imie and I setting the tent up.  Poor Imie was still feeling very weak, but we just about managed it between us.  We'd just got the main awning up on the lorry tracking when Helen turned up - perfect timing!

I'd been looking forward to this show, as some friends were also going to performing with their horse act, Big and Little, and I had been wanting to see them for a while.  Pete and Tash had also bought the old Jive Pony lorry (affectionately known as Big Dur), which I had spent many a year driving up and down the country, so I was looking forward to seeing the old girl too!  I know it's silly to get sentimental about vehicles, but when Becca told me she'd sold Big Dur to Pete and Tash I was so happy it was still going to be out and about on the show circuit, and was hoping I'd bump into it (not literally of course!) sooner or later. 

There was also another old friend on site who I hadn't seen for a year or so.  John Pollard, or Polly, has a parrot show using rescue parrots which he trains to do all kinds of things.  He has a lovely set up and the birds really have fallen on their feet when they end up with Polly.  He came over for a chat whilst we were setting up, and it was great to have a long overdue catch up.  One of my favourite things about going to shows is meeting up with other performers.  Over the course of the year we meet up with so many old friends, as well as making plenty of new ones!

It was such beautiful weather that once we were all set up we decided to dine al fresco.  The shop table doubles up as a brilliant dining table, although unfortunately our camping chairs are a bit too low - our food ends up at about chest height!  The horses were still mooching about, and typically they both wanted to get far too involved.  I got up to take a photograph but has to dash back as I nearly lost my supper to Casper!

After a peaceful night (I always sleep really well at shows) we woke to find Pete and Tash had arrived during the night.  Big Dur had been re-signwritten and smartened up quite a bit inside, with lots of spotty oil cloth and new paint.  It looked great but it was funny to be back inside it.  When Becca bought it it seemed like a massive lorry, and it was compared to what we'd had before.  But then I'd bought my lorry which is a bit bigger with a much more spacious living, and having got used to that Big Dur seemed quite small!  And Becca has since bought an even bigger new lorry - lorry size is escalating!!  We spent a large chunk of the morning catching up with Pete and Tash, and it was lovely to see them.  Monty got on well with their two collies, mother and daughter Pickle and Lily, and we also had a visit from Alice, one of our most loyal fans who we hadn't seen since Stapleford Carnival last year.

We were due to perform our double act, and the arena was absolutely perfect for us.  Just the right size and dead flat - a welcome change after our last show at Rushden!  We just about had time to watch Pete and Tash's first show with Billy and Magpie before having to dash off to warm up, and it was really sweet.  Billy and Magpie are ex-circus ponies, and they have a lovely little liberty routine which we all really enjoyed watching.  You can find out more about their act on their website.  Before we knew it we were into the arena and away!  The show started off really well and was going perfectly until the start of Tinker's dance.  We'd just got into it when a fly flew straight into my mouth and went straight down my throat.  Yuk!!  I was coughing and spluttering whilst all the time trying to continue on with Tink's dance as if nothing was happening.  It felt like it was there for an absolute age, but by the time Tink was finishing up with his bow I'd manage to dislodge/swallow the offending fly.  Much as I hated it I'm sure it was a far worse experience for the fly!

The rest of the show went through really well, and Casper was a very good boy!  Helen was once again very nervous about her walk freestyle, having fallen off at every previous attempt during performance, but... SHE STAYED ON!!!!!  Not even a bit of a wobble in the lie out, hooray!!  I was so pleased for her, and you could tell by the grin on her face that she was over the moon as well.  I knew she could do it, it was just a matter of time.  It helped that Casper was walking nicely, and he kept up the good behaviour for my canter work.  A chap called Mervyn filmed this section of the show, so you can see for yourself how good he was.  I was a bit cautious though and didn't let go as much as I usually do - I wasn't going to be lulled into a false sense of security as I know him too well!! 

Mervyn also managed to get a couple of really good shots of the show, you can see them here along with a few others.  The whole show went brilliantly, although by the end I felt like I may actually spontaneously combust.  It was one of the hottest days of the year, and to be running around and vaulting virtually non-stop for forty-five minutes is beyond exhausting!  We had a lovely time though, and were so well looked after.  It's definitely a show I would love to go back to again, so fingers crossed we get invited another year!  Next up is a trip down to Poole for the two day Poole Town and Country Show - I'll tell you all about it soon!

Love Rosie x

Friday, 3 October 2014

Rushden Party in the Park

 Helen and Charlie in their playsuits - neither of which burst during the show, unlike mine!

The week after our long road trip of the North of England, we had our closest show of the season.  We were due to perform at Rushden Party in the Park and as it was only about forty miles away, and we weren't performing until the afternoon, we decided to travel that morning rather than the night before. Unfortunately during the week Imie had been rushed to hospital with suspected appendicitis (although she had the appendix removed it turned out to be a case of E coli - much nastier!  She's fine now though, phew!!), so it was a last minute call to Charlie who was thankfully available.  So in the morning we set off with the lorry crammed full; Tinker, Casper, Monty, Helen, Charlie and myself.  It was such a gorgeous hot sunny day that there was no need to set the tent up, just the stables which we did in no time.  As usual, we asked if we were able to turn the horses out into the arena whilst we set up.  The organisers were quite sceptical, and one lady seem convinced the horses would jump out!  I assured her they absolutely wouldn't - the grass was so lush and the arena very large, there was no way they were going anywhere!  It was also fenced with metal barriers, and as neither of mine have ever been taught to jump I knew they'd never attempt it.  She wasn't convinced though and I had to promise my insurance was in place and that I took full responsibility for any 'mishap'.  Needless to say they barely lifted their heads and just ate the entire time they were in there!

The arena itself was a tricky one.  It was on quite a slope and must have been ridge and furrow historically.  As such I knew it was going to make for a difficult time vaulting.  I wasn't wrong and as soon as I went in on Casper it felt like we were on a roller coaster!  I managed the first freestyle with no problems, until the very end.  I did a big flank off and as I pushed off from the roller I heard a rip and felt my costume give way - eeek!  I was wearing the stripey playsuit which has a halterneck.  The halter neck strap had torn from the top of the playsuit on the left side, leaving the whole of my costume precariously positioned with nothing to hold it all up!!  I motioned to Helen that something was wrong, so she talked and talked until I managed to sort something out.  What to do though?!  My mind was racing - we've safety pins in the lorry but Charlie won't know where and pins are painful to vault in.  I couldn't cover it with the cardigan as there still wouldn't be a way to hold the playsuit up.  Then I realised what to do.  I ripped a hole in the top of the costume, poked the strap through and tied a knot in it.  Not ideal as the halter neck was now so tight it not only hurt but was under more strain so may give out on the other side.  Fingers crossed it would be ok though!  I hate costume malfunctions, but it's only the second time it has ever happened, the first time being at Castle Howard last year when the zip on my dress burst!

On with the show!  Next was Casper's dance which he did beautifully.  However, he was an absolute monkey in the games section, and kept doing laps of honour on his own whilst bucking and farting - much to the crowds amusement!  Not mine though, as each time I would have to sprint around the arena to fetch him from wherever he ended up - not ideal on a boiling hot day in a big arena with a precarious costume!  Helen was to do her freestyle next, and given that she'd fallen off the previous two attempts she was pretty nervous.  But she stayed on!  First time ever in a show!!  I was so pleased for her, and the audience gave her a massive round of applause.  Still, however happy she was, I know she was very happy to give Casper back to me and take the microphone back!  I wasn't looking forward to the last freestyle because of my costume, but thankfully it held.  And chatting to people afterwards it would seem nobody even noticed - phew, got away with that one then!!

Tinker put in a near perfect show, as ever (what on earth I would do without him I don't know!), although even he struggled with the arena a bit.  However, I don't think we found the arena as difficult as the motorbike display team that were also performing.  They had to adjust all their ramps, take offs and landings.  Nothing any of us could do about it though other than get on with it!  To be fair the arena was on the flattest part of the whole park, it's just a very wonky old ground which you notice more upside down on a cantering horse or flying over ramps on motorbikes!  We had a great day, although it felt very odd to have the whole thing done and dusted in less than ten hours - it's usually at least twenty-four or more!  Everyone was really friendly and looked after us well, the crowds were brilliant and the weather was amazing - what more can you ask for?!

I didn't get any photos of the day unfortunately other than one of Helen and Charlie and a very sweet one of Monty, both at the top of this post.  Next up is Kings Bromley Show which I'm very much looking forward to as some friends are also there with their act, Big and Little, which I haven't seen before.  I'll let you know how we got on soon!

Love Rosie x