Sun, strawberries & Mr Thompson’s comedy show

The last three weeks have been a blast, firstly there was a trip to the volunteer mecca that is Eland Lodge – Ronnie’s lasagne is a treat to be savoured, and it didn’t disappoint!

Myself and my long suffering volunteer partner Andy were deployed to the fence known as ‘The Edge of the World’ and it very much lives up to the name. Monteberry felt a bit wobbly looking down the drop, it was a long way down!

For the novice class it is a steep drop fence, dropping down into the area known as the brick kilns, positioned at the top of the site, at the highest point on the course. We had a fabulous view of the sizzling site below. Some heart-stopping moments, but everyone made the drop and we had a glorious afternoon of sunshine to sit and enjoy the view in.

Our BE90 fence in the morning was some friendly steps, but then went down into a briefly wooded area, so many combinations greeted it with some suspicion – with one horse obliging by letting their rider slide down there neck and check the drop out first. Talk about timing, as Olympian, four star rider and all round gent Andy Heffernan was on hand to help with tack adjustments and a leg up to the rider and they were soon on their way and Mr Heffernan got back to his course walk.

Having waxed-lyrical about Eland’s hospitality previously, it goes without saying we were incredibly well looked after – a hearty breakfast, mid-afternoon ice creams and then Ronnie’s legendary evening meal. They truly value their volunteers, and their efforts are very much appreciated and enjoyed – Thank you to John, Ronnie, Jo and all the team at Eland for making us proud to be part of team Eland.

Last weekend was somewhat of a ‘busman’s holiday’ – what does a photographer/BE volunteer do on their weekend off? Why go Eventing of course! Off I headed to a blisteringly hot Barbury Castle for two days of spectating and photographing world class action.

This weekend the volunteer journey continued to Stafford. Event number fifteen of the season, and if I’m honest the mid-season fatigue has kicked in now.

Always good to be at a Dave Thompson briefing, its mid-season now so he’s perfected the joke repertoire somewhat, they are almost hilarious now. Out onto course, where we find ourselves in a familiar part of the course, (it would be nice to see some other parts one day).

After some horrid drizzle, the clouds parted and the sunshine came out just in time for the strawberries and cream to arrive – a lovely summer offering from the bun-run. Quite a few almost falls but all riders remembered their hug tight glue and thankfully no paperwork was needed at our fence.

Now to brush off that mid-season fatigue; book flight tickets Strezgom to get me to the Europeans; accept the invite to Gatcombe for the Festival and get planning for Burghley. See you all at Aston-le-Walls, but hands off Margaret’s carrot cake, that’s all mine!

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