This week’s volunteering journey took me and Monteberry to sunny Shropshire – Brand Hall is a venue I had not visited previously, so it was a new territory for me and Andy. A gorgeous venue, nestled in a beautiful parkland which was very well attended both days.
It was wonderful to watch both the Junior National Championships and the Pony National Championships – the Williams and Pippas of the future, and I can say with a sigh of relief that the future of the sport is looking rosy, these youngsters are good. Very good. Plenty of years of great sport ahead for me! Congratulations to all competitors, in particular to Sasha and Saffie on great wins and to all the long-listed combinations ahead of the Europeans.
Our home on Saturday was the first combination on course, fence 4, a skinny roll top to an upright rails into a dark shady hollow. With a long gallop from 3, we had some interested, varied approaches with a few heart-in-mouth moments, but thankfully the day passed without incident. Oh apart from the sunburn, really I need to change my sun cream brand!
Sunday’s home was at the other end of the course, two offset feeders on a tricky 2 and half strides depending on where you jumped into the combination – this made for a few “oh S**t” moments, and that was from the riders, I can’t repeat the fence judge’s language! With only a few minor indiscretions, all made it to the end of the course. The sun made an albeit brief appearance as we arrived at our fence, then the clouds rolled in and we dived into the car!
Now it’s usually at this point in the post that I rave about how good the cake was this weekend – *sighs* “if you wanted cake on course, you should have bought your own?!” was not a reply as a fence judge I am accustomed to hearing. Made worse by then being told that only ‘officials’ get cake bought round in the afternoon.
No cake with my tea, no wonder I was a grumpy madam all day!
Now I do this volunteer malarkey for me, it what’s I love, to give back to a sport that has entertained and enthralled me for years. It is my gift back to eventing. Now yes I can, and often do bring my own selection of sweet treats to nibble on. I suppose I have just gotten into the delightful habit of having cake and a cuppa whilst horses and riders fly by. But really is a slice of cake mid-afternoon a bit much to expect, a little appreciation for driving 250 miles and giving up my entire weekend.
Some cake was served in the officials’ marquee at the end of the day, but to be honest with an hour and halfs drive to get back home to my long suffering cat who would be waiting for his dinner, I needed to shoot off. Maybe a rethink on the cake front is needed, I appreciate it takes extra time to take round, but other events pushed for time pop it in the lunch bags, or just let me know in advance if I need to do the baking this weekend… just a thought.
This week is National Volunteers Week and you have probably seen lots of wonderful content online and on social media about all the lovely ways to get volunteering – British Eventing have some of their ‘Access all areas’ courses running at various locations, if you’re thinking of getting involved with the sport they are a great way to see behind the scenes.
You get a break from my ramblings next week, as I’m off to Bramham (what do they call it, a busman’s holiday? When not volunteering I’m photographing and spectating at events!) and then volunteering at Eland Lodge’s hunter trial fixture, always good fun, not to mention Ronnie’s hospitality and …….plenty of cake!