If you read my blog around this time last year, you will note that I said I would never, never go on the sunshine tour again. It is late Jan, early Feb and it is damp, grisly and boring. Follow this with a nice email -or two, lovely to see you, hope you are coming and of course the bags are packed and we depart. Well, we tried to leave but the lorry was having other ideas and after four hours waiting for a repair man, currently still lost in the mists of Swindon, we found a fuse, plugged it in and got on the road. We made Portugal a couple of days later and it rained and rained, downpour after downpour, more rain, floods and definitely no sunshine. I am not going to give you a blow by blow account of the Event; suffice to say qualifications were achieved and points were gained.
I am going to give you the experienced traveller’s guide to a 16 day road trip.
First of all, you need a supremo haylage packer. Bales have to go everywhere; under the floor, in the bins, behind the toilet, beneath the bench. The true connoisseur will even leave you a couple to find two weeks after your return home at a local comp. Second, you require a large quantity of bog roll. Foreign parts, road or venue, are not generous with supplies and you need to secure one about your person at all times. Third, you must have a couple of decent packs of cards to enable to sit down with mates in that dead time between horses’ tea and the start of the party. Do not take Triv Pursuit; there is always know-all with all the answers who pisses off everybody else. Fourth, on arrival find the big lorry with three pop-outs and only two horses. They are bound to have everything on board in triplicate in case you have an emergency. Likewise, beware of the charming lad with a naïve smile looking for a dry pair of socks, he will decrease your foodstuffs and supplies at an alarming rate (see two above). Fifth, do buy the Ground Jury a drink but don’t butt in on Karaoke night; it is their prerogative to make the most noise.
My final observation is do you have a useful Mother; can she plait (not knobs), do studs, hold over-excited neds or is she a nervous wreck overcome by the gallant comments from the suave foreigners at the bar and completely falling to pieces before, during and after the cross country. In the case of the latter, leave her at home or increase supplies (see two) to mop up all the split teas, coffees and wine glasses. I will add that on this outing there were no dogs; a first for me and although sorely missed, I had the comfort of not spending half the night running round the lorry park shouting for Nala.
Back to Eventing in the UK…what did I say there? With a full programme planned and entered, we have had precisely one run at Larkhill. So we are packing the trunks again and going to Renswoude at the end of May.
Photographs courtesy of Equus Pix Photography