Monday, 8 September 2008

Wolsingham Agricultural Show and Private Party: The worst weekend in history!

We have officially just had the worst weekend in Jive Pony history, ever! Rebecca, Ronan, Tim, Rachel, Tinker and I set off for Wolsingham Agricultural Show, Durham on Friday morning, an hour later than planned. The drive turned out to be slightly longer than we expected, mainly due to the fact that the rain was horrendous for the entire journey - we had the windscreen wipers on for the whole six hours! We arrived at the site via a tiny lane and had almost reached the gates when we met someone with a trailer who insisted he couldn't reverse the twenty feet necessary to let us past - so I ended up having to reverse the lorry about quarter of a mile instead! When we finally reached the entrance we once again had to be towed onto site and into position, not a good start! Next we had to set the tent up, and the rain was still relentless! We then realised that the rain had seeped into the the luton of the lorry and all our bedding and beds were wet - just what we needed! The rain still didn't let up overnight and Becca got up about four times in the night to push the collected water off the roof of the tent - if she hadn't it would have been resting on the horses' heads by the morning!

Come the morning we went and had a look at our arena, only to realise that the ground conditions were really treacherous so unfortunately it was decided that we couldn't perform. We were really disappointed as we all love doing the shows, but it was just too dangerous. Plus only about two people had come to the show so there wouldn't have been anyone watching anyway! So we packed everything back up again (still in the pouring rain) making sure we packed all our bedding into bin liners this time, and set of for Somerset. The only good thing was that we got to leave at midday - five hours ahead of schedule! As we drove down it became apparent just how bad the rain was, we passed many fields which were completely flooded - some even had large round bales of straw floating around in them!

We'd been driving for four hours when all of a sudden - BANG! The lorry had a blow out on one of the front tyres. I managed to pull over but there was no hard shoulder, so we were stranded on a really busy bit of dual carriageway, stuck halfway out into the inside lane. Having called the breakdown people ('we'll be with you in an hour') we called the police to let them know we were causing an obstruction. Within ten minutes of calling them we had two highway patrol vehicles, three officers and a large number of cones surrounding us! We then noticed that one of the headlight glasses had dropped out and smashed! But the nice tyre man managed to sort us out and we were off again two hours later - and still three hours ahead of schedule!

Three hours later we were happily trucking along, Becca driving now, when all of a sudden we lost all power. Becca managed to pull over but we were level with a slip road on the motorway so once again there was no hard shoulder! We called the breakdown people again ('we'll be with you in an hour') and sat and waited. When he finally arrived the recovery man insisted that we tilt the cab on the lorry so he could get a proper look at the engine. So we moved all our props, bedding, costumes, tack and everything else off the luton, dismantled the front to allow the tilt - only to find that the cab was just too heavy, even with five of us we couldn't lift it! He eventually found the problem (a broken stop solenoid) and fixed it. However, we weren't quite as good as new - now the only way to stop the engine was to stall it! But we were back on the road again - and still half an hour ahead of our original schedule! The recovery man followed us to the next services to check we'd be ok, and we were planning on filling up with diesel, but the services had had a power failure so were unable to serve fuel. We both felt like crying! Luckily the recovery man knew a sneaky back way to get to the service station on the other side of the motorway, but it took ages to get there and back, so by the time we were back on the road it was much later than it should have been. We then had to navigate our way around Bristol City Centre - not the easiest task in a big lorry when you've already been travelling for twelve hours! We finally arrived at our destination at 1am, settled the horses, sorted ourselves out and fell into bed at about 2am!

Morning came and the first thing Becca and I noticed was that it wasn't raining!! We went down to set out the arena and realised we were going to struggle as it was on quite a steep slope, and very very wet. We decided the going was officially soft to heavy! The show started off well, but after only five minutes the generator powering all the sound system failed and we were left with no music, no speakers and no microphones! After an agonisingly embarrassing wait they managed to get it working but the only CD the system would play was ABBA Gold (!) - so we ended up doing the rest of the show to random tracks by ABBA! It was all very strange...

The horses were trying their hardest but the ground was just getting worse and worse, and the sound system was still refusing to work properly, so it was decided (once again) that we couldn't perform any more. So instead Rebecca and Ronan did pony rides whilst I led around one of the donkeys (Daisy) in whose honour the party was being held!

There was live music in the form of the Mangled Wurzels who were absolutely brilliant! They sang all the songs fantastically and Becca and I danced and danced! At the end Becca requested 'Combine Harvester' and then got up on the stage to sing along with the band - the weekend was finally fun!

The journey home was thankfully uneventful, and the boys were more than happy to be turned out into the field - both promptly rolling and covering themselves in mud! I then got into my car and left for home, got about 100m down the road, and realised that I had a flat tyre! I couldn't believe it. Becca came and helped me change it but it was just the icing on the cake for the whole weekend! But despite having the absolutely worst weekend imaginable, every single person we met along the way was absolutely lovely. The organisers in Wolsingham, the rescue and recovery people, the highway officers, Susan whose party it was on Sunday and all her friends and family really made the whole weekend bearable. Everybody was so kind and generous so thankyou very much!

Anyway... onwards and upwards and on to the next show! We're off to Wales on Wednesday for a four day show, and hopefully we'll actually get to perform this time! I'll let you know...

Lots of love

Rosie xx

1 comment:

theoclarke said...

I admire your resilience. Here in Suffolk the weather is much brighter now so I hope that you are having a drier journey to Wales.