Monday, 29 June 2009

Bletchingley Village Fete

We've just had a lovely couple of days in Bletchingley, although they weren't quite as easy as we had anticipated! Rebecca, Ronan, Tinker and I set off on Saturday morning and arrived in the blazing sunshine to a beautiful, flat field - perfect for shows! However, having struggled to attach the tent to the lorry with just the two of us (normally a three person job), we soon realised that the field wasn't quite so perfect - as Rebecca practically gave herself a coronary hammering the stakes in, the ground was easily the hardest we've come across all year! We'd just finished all the really hard graft and I was in the middle of putting up the stables when who should appear within two minutes of one another but both Tim and Bryn! Boys eh? Who needs them?!

Having finished setting up we were off to the circus! The Great British Circus were pitched about half a mile down the road so it'd have been rude not to go! They are the only touring circus in the country with horses, elephants, camels and tigers - so we were very excited to see them! Unfortunately, the show was disappointing, although there were parts of it that were lovely. The elephant act in particular was beautiful, you could see the trainer had a real connection with his three girls - to the point were he could lie on the floor and one of them stepped over him. I never thought an elephant was capable of being dainty, but that's exactly what she was! They also held each others trunks and tails a lot - really friendly and sweet! I managed to take some surreptitious photos of them (before getting told off for having my camera!), click here to have a look at them and all the rest from the weekend. The tigers were also impressive, although I have to say, for us, the highlight of their act (not intentional) was when one of them turned around and sprayed a couple of people in the ringside seats - absolutely soaking them! Sometimes the cheap seats do have an advantage!!

Once the show was over we had a look around all the stables and the other animals' quarters. All of them looked really healthy and happy, and all had lots of space. The horses' stables were bigger than ours at home, the elephants and camels were turned out in massive paddocks, and the tigers' cages were also a good size. The circus prides itself on their animal husbandry, and it's very easy to see why! We also met up with Yasmine Smart, who is working with the circus training their horses. Yasmine is one of the world's most renowned horse trainers, and is something of an idol to Rebecca and I, so when she invited us to watch her training session in the morning we jumped at the chance!

Having returned to our pitch Rebecca's sister Louise and her boyfriend Shaun came to stay for the evening, so there was quite a few of us in the Jive Pony camp for the night! We had a lovely evening sitting outside, listening to the thunder in the distance but only getting a spattering of rain ourselves!

Come the morning Becca and I gave our boys a good clean (both of them had rolled and also slept in muck so were FILTHY!), and set back off for the circus. We crept into the big top and settled down to watch Yasmine train. She really is incredible, the body language is so subtle she hardly seems to move and yet the horses respond immediately and simultaneously. She was working a group of six Friesian stallions, all of which were between three and five years old, training them for their act in the ring. Although there were only three of them working in the show we had seen the previous day, with a relatively small repertoire, the six of them were being trained together practising far more complicated routines - when they can perform them in the ring it will be fantastic! To see a video of Yasmine presenting a group of six liberty horses in the Big Apple Circus click here - it really is incredible, and both of us felt honoured and privileged to have watched her train. Yasmine will be performing in Gifford's Circus next year, so that will be one definitely not to be missed!

Having returned to our lorry I was horrified to find Tinker had decided to lie down AGAIN, and was, again, absolutely FILTHY! So, he had his second bath of the day and Becca and I set off for a little exploration. We were trying to find the woods to go for a ride, but we couldn't get through the tiny gates, so we ended up riding around a housing estate instead, finding a shop and buying cornettos! These were very welcome as it was an absolute scorcher of a day - apparently the Met Office had issued an extreme weather warning as temperatures were expected to reach 32 degrees C! However, eating a cornetto whilst riding a horse bareback and trying to take photos at the same time is no easy task, and by the time we got back to the lorry I had chocolate all over me - especially my face!

Soon it was show time, and it was so hot I thought both Tinker and I would melt! Despite the heat the show went really well, and then with only a short break in between it was time for the second show! This went really well too - both shows had fantastic audiences, who clapped and cheered in all the right places and gave us lots of encouragement - so thankyou if you were there! The whole fete had a lovely atmosphere to it, and there was lots going on. We saw some amazing trampolining displays, singing puppets, vintage cars, dog shows and a tug of war. The tug of war had a big build up - the teams took the strain, and then... SNAP! The rope broke clean in two in the middle, and everyone on both teams fell over all at once! Not quite sure who won in the end...

We've got another local show this weekend - a one day solo show at Eynsham carnival. Some of our friends are going to be there too, Dingle Fingle and K9 dog display, so it'd be good to catch up with them. Hopefully the weekend will finally be a bit easier - I'll let you know!

Love Rosie xx

Monday, 22 June 2009

Middlesex Show

We've just had a really fun weekend at the Middlesex Show - and survived! Hooray! Rebecca, Ronan, Myself, Tinker and Rachael (our new glamourous apprentice) set off on Friday for Uxbridge. No sooner had we arrived than we were joined by Tim, who had decided to cycle the 25.5 miles to the showground from his work - crazy boy! We were there for a two day duo show, but I was also there for horse boarding!

Our first show on the Saturday was a bit of a tricky one. Not only was the music so quiet we could barely hear it, but we also only had one hand mic between us, and had to take it in turns to struggle with a head mic - not so easy when you're trying to vault!! Despite this, the show went well and our boys were fantastic! After the show there was no time to rest for me - I was off to compete! Having never even seen horse boarding before, let alone tried it, I was being thrown in at the deep end riding one of the fastest horses on the circuit towing a friend of mine, Dan. We had a couple of warm up runs then it was time for the competition! It was the second leg of the National Horse Boarding Championships, with five teams of horses, riders and boarders competing in heats over the two days - so I would be riding in sixteen races!

It was all very exciting, and the horse I was riding (Rohan, Dan's grey thoroughbred) was very keen, knew exactly what was going on and just wanted to race race race! The races were always between two horses in two adjacent lanes, over 100m with 40m stopping distance at the end. The starting off was tricky as you had to accelerate steadily to avoid pulling the board riders arms off - something Rohan and I struggled with! The actual racing was brilliant fun, with all the horses really going for it - I got proper wind tears when I was racing and my show makeup was all over the place by the end! And then the end was difficult as 40m isn't that much to stop a galloping horse in, especially when there's two of you side by side both with mountain boards and riders attached to you!

Having lost Dan a couple of times (once on the start line, once during a very very quick race) and had a couple of slow starts, we soon made up ground and won some races. Have a look at the video below to see us doing just that - at some speed!!

With the competition over (results kept secret until after the final) it was time for our second show - no rest for the wicked! Whilst we were warming the horses up there was a falconry display going on in the arena - next thing we know there's a white headed vulture with a wing span of eight feet swooping over us! I now know what it must feel like to be something's prey! It properly made me jump - it looked practically prehistoric!! Having recovered from the heart attack it gave me (Tinker didn't bat an eyelid!) it was into the arena, and thankfully this time we both had microphones! The show went really well, and we were properly cheered on by all the horse boarders - they were louder than the whole of the rest of the audience put together!

After our show the horse boarders did a demo in the main arena, and after that Tim had a go at being towed behind one of the horses, Sam (another thoroughbred and VERY fast), on his dirt board. Have a look at the video below to watch him, and check out how fast he has to run when he jumps off at the end!

All in all, Saturday was exhausting - and then Sunday came along! It was the same timetable so it was our first show, then the horse boarding competition. We were all working hard as I was riding, Tim was commentating (and has hidden talent for the mic so we may be putting that to use soon...), Rachael was time keeping and Rebecca was being photographer. And then it was our second show. Phew - we thought it was all over but then it was the horse boarders parade in the ring with results of the competition being announced - so I couldn't miss out and was riding in that too! Turns out Dan and I finished second, and only by the tiniest of time margins over the sixteen races - so not too bad after all! I even got a trophy!! It really is a very fun sport and anyone can get involved. The horses were a mixed bunch too - two thoroughbreds (very fast), two friesians (absolutely gorgeous) and a little Andalusian X mountain pony called Allequin. He was my absolute favourite, he was only five years old, it was his first ever competition, and he was unbelievably fast! He was like a little pony express, I couldn't believe how fast he was - he was even beating the thoroughbreds in some races! If you want to find out more, just have a look at the website and get in touch with them, I promise you'll enjoy it!

We also had visitors on Sunday as Becca's cousin David and his fiancee Anthea were visiting from Switzerland, who came to the show with Katherin, Becca's Mum. Becca hadn't seen him for about eight years, and I think he was quite bemused to see what she was up to! But they had a fun day, and even had a go on Tim's dirt board - pulled by Becca though, not a horse! There was also loads of other stuff to see at the show including a strong man competition (caber tossing and all sorts!), flyball racing, the RAF pipes and drummers band, and ferret racing to name a few - although I didn't get much chance to see any of it - I was too busy! We did manage to get quite a few photos of the weekend though, just click here to have a look at them.

We all had a fantastic weekend and met some really lovely new friends, including the most beautiful little black labradoodle puppy called Eric - I could have taken both him and Allequin home with me! It was exhausting though - thankfully next weekend's show is a one day solo show, which will be an absolute breeze in comparison! It's for the Circus Festival in Bletchingly, and I'll tell you all about it next week!

Lots of love

Rosie xx

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Banbury and District Show

We had a fantastic day on Sunday at Spiceball Park for the Banbury and District Show. It was really lovely to be at a local show, and there were quite a few people there that we knew - although that just makes performing more nerve wracking! We were there to perform our duo shows, and once again we were on the front cover of the show schedule - even more to live up to!
It was a beautiful hot sunny summer's day - perfect weather for sunbathing, not so good for vaulting! Our first show was at 12.25, so we sweated it out in the midday sun! Thankfully our second show was a bit later in the day, although with all our layers of costumes on we were just as hot if not more so!
Both the shows went fantastically well, and the photographer (Mike) got some really lovely shots of us - just click here to have a look at them and others from the day. If you want to see more of Mike's photo's from the whole day just go to his website - there's hundreds of them!
There was lots of other stuff to see at the show, including our next door neighbour Walter the very tame turkey! There were also displays by the Sealed Knot, a tug-of-war competition, horse and cart rides, and the tiniest owl ever (Walter could have eaten him for breakfast!). The park is right next to Banbury canal and I took Tinker for a little walk along the tow path, he wasn't too sure what to make of the narrow boats and wanted to have a closer look at them - but I wanted him to stay away from the water as I didn't fancy an impromptu swim!
We also found time to have a play on the grass board Tim had brought with him, a dangerous looking contraption if ever there was one (it has already broken Tim's wrist once...!). This was in preparation for next weekend when we're at the Middlesex Show and Tim and I may possibly end up competing in a horse boarding competition! This is the blurb about horse boarding.....
'Horse boarding is the discipline of towing a board rider behind a horse. It is a drag race over 100m between two teams. This is a new, exciting and entertaining sport where horses gallop flat out against each other whilst board riders hang on as best they can, pushing the limits of not only themselves but also of their equipment, dancing on that fine line between the quickest time of the competition and the biggest spank of the day. However, it's not always the fastest horse that wins as at speeds of 30 mph + the modified mountain boards become hard to control and board riders often have spectacular crashes allowing the steady and tactical rider to win. This must be seen to be believed.'
If we survive the weekend I'll let you know how we got on. If not, well, it's been fun!!
Rosie xx

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Radlett Festival

We've just had a fantastic day down at the Radlett Festival where, against all odds, it was gloriously sunny all day long! Rebecca, Ronan, Myself Tinker and Alex set off yesterday afternoon for Radlett, where we were due to perform our solo shows. The festival is organised by Rebecca's friend's (Chem) boyfriend's (Alex) mum (Viv) so we really wanted to do super good shows for her!

Having arrived and set up (still using the tried and tested technique of having a wheelbarrow in a trolley as opposed to a ladder!) we all went to bed, only to listen to the torrential rain and incredibly loud thunder all night. Except for Alex that is, who slept through everything! It was still going at 7am and both Rebecca and I started to wonder whether we would be able to go ahead with the shows or not, and just praying for it to at least ease up a bit. However, by the time we got up (later than usual - our first show wasn't until 1.20pm!) it was lovely and sunny! So we starred the horses up, covered them with gold glitter spray and went and did two brilliant shows! And it stayed sunny for the entire day! We couldn't believe our luck, and the festival went brilliantly. There was all sorts of things going on: majorettes; tug of wars; dog classes, with dogs all dressed up fancy dress; a scarecrow competition; and..... ELVIS SCHMELVIS!!!!

We'd seen Elvis Schmelvis advertising banners before (our show earlier in the year in Brighton), but couldn't believe we were actually going to get to see him in the flesh, and we did - complete with rhinestones and cape! We were so excited, so as soon as we could we went and boogied away with him! We were all pulling out some pretty special dance moves, just have a look at the video below to see some of mine and Alex's!!

Afterwards we had our photo taken with him (or Martyn as he's known off stage!), and as well as being very talented he's a really lovely guy. So we're hoping to see him at a show again soon! Having absolutely worn ourselves out dancing like maniacs (far harder work than vaulting!) we packed down and set of for home, and as we were loading the horses it started raining - how's that for timing!

We managed to take quite a few photo's of everything, just click here to have a look. We're off to Banbury Show next weekend which is just down the road for us, for a one day duo show - and we're hoping the weather will be just as kind to us! I'll tell you all about it when we get back.

Love Rosie xx

Monday, 1 June 2009

Suffolk Show

Phew, what a busy week we had last week! No sooner had we got back from the Caravan Club Rally than we were off again to the Suffolk Show with just one day in between to recover, reorganise and repack! So on Tuesday Rebecca, Ronan, Myself, Tinker, Tim and Alex set off up the old A14 (which the lorry can practically drive along itself by now!) to Trinity Park in Ipswich.

We were delighted to discover that the organisers had allotted us a huge space so the boys were able to have their own personal paddock whilst we set up. However, we weren't far into the set up when we realised we'd left our ladder (necessary for putting up the tent) in Leicestershire. Oh dear. We soon got around this problem by putting the wheelbarrow inside the trolley and making a kind of wheeled type library ladder - not very sturdy but very very funny! Having set up in record time we went to mark out the arena, only to discover that all our paint had run out. So we had to resort to using gold spray paint - very decadent!

It was a bit drizzly and cold on the first day, and for once we were glad to put all our layers of costumes on, even the leatherette jackets! Both the shows went really well, although we'd had to wait for over an hour before the first one due to the ring running behind time!

Thursday was much nicer weather - and it was Rebecca's birthday! We decorated the lorry with balloons, and celebrated with yummy banana cake (made by Alex) for breakfast - probably not the best idea when you have two shows to do! Both the shows went fantastically well, and were both videoed, so we'll be making that show reel very soon! The crowds were brilliant and gave us lots of encouragement throughout - we even saw people doing the greased lightning dance alongside us during the roman riding! We also introduced a new section for the show - roman riding for Thunderhoof with his two pink ladies - it has to be seen to be believed!! After each show we got absolutely mobbed by the public wanting to talk to us and say hello to the boys - Tinker and Ronan are both so good with people, they absolutely adore all the attention!

We also managed to have a look around the showground, although there is always so much there we can never fit it all in! As well as all the hundreds of shopping marquees there was a fairground, every sort of livestock class you can imagine, loads of agricultural displays, and a Dalek. Yes, a Dalek. It (he?) was even saying 'Exterminate. Exterminate.' It was in the BBC Suffolk marquee along with an Ood and the Tardis. All very strange....

There were also lots of equestrian classes, with everything from gorgeous little donkeys to immaculate teams of four in hand, and from Mountain and Moorland (lots of Ronans) to coloureds (hundreds of Tinkers) and imposing ridden Spanish horses, there really was something impressive for everyone!

We managed to take quite a few pictures, just click here to have a look at them. All in all the Suffolk Show was everything we had been looking forward to, and more. Another reason Rebecca and I enjoyed it so much was that Tim has been delegated as Head Chef (Alex is Sous Chef) and between them they cooked us some lovely food, and we felt properly spoiled. (Still not sure what to do with the butternut squash they've left us with though...!)

I hope everyone's getting the chance to enjoy the gorgeous weather, and we're just grateful we're not having to vault in it (leatherette not so good...)! Rebecca and I took our baby boys, Casper and Navvy, to a fun ride in the sunshine around Cotswold Farm Park yesterday. Tinker and Ronan did look a bit confused when we set off in the lorry without them though! It was the first time either of them have been anywhere and done anything like this, and their eyes were on stalks for a while, they didn't know where to look next! It was really good education for them and they even managed to jump (I use the word in the loosest possible form!) some little logs and tyre jumps. As well as this they both managed to concentrate enough to perform their tricks in the lorry park when we got back, despite all the distractions! We took a few photo's, click here to have a look at them. We all had a brilliant time, and really enjoyed ourselves - we hope to go to another one soon!

We're off to the Radlett Festival this weekend for a one day solo show on Sunday - easy peasy in comparison to last week! I'll fill you in when we get back.

Lots of love,
Rosie xx