THE BE VOLUNTEER – Long hours, grumpy cats and awesome August

During the Monday office dawn chorus of “How was your weekend, get up to much?” a colleague exclaimed in disbelief “What you sat in a field for 12 hours?!?” Yes, I did sit in one of the Taylor’s beautifully maintained and prepared fields for 12 hours last Sunday, and I loved it!

What’s not to love?! Watching world class sport, the final selection trial for the European’s and Margaret’s carrot cake. 

Last Sunday we trundled off to Aston Le Walls, always a great event that attracts a full subscription of competitors, and a varied course. The lovely Maddy greeted us, and after a JC briefing off we drove out to a fairly narrow but inviting house in the middle of one of the back fields. With three classes throughout the day;  Intermediate, Novice and Advanced; we saw plenty of the course and the surrounding action. 

For the last class of the day, a section of Advanced, we were back at fence 3; what can only be described as a massive log pile, wider than I am tall; which gave us a great view of all the main action. Now I truly enjoy all levels of this wonderful sport, a BE80T class gives me just as much pleasure as a 3*, but we were really treated to some world class competition with this small Advanced class – it was the final trial before the selectors cast their choices for this year’s European Championships and there’s little old me with a front row seat watching the likes of Gemma, Nicola, Ros and Tina fly by. Lucky me!

The cat was less than impressed though with my late return home at 9.30pm though, oopps I’m in the dog house again! But I came home having had two, not one but two servings of Margaret’s prized carrot cake, so I was a happy. Margaret and her team do a fabulous job of looking after the team at Aston, she is much admired.

This week bought the selectors decision of who I shall be lucky enough to see out in Strezgom – massive congratulations to all selected combinations. A great team, and a pretty good guess from me as I correctly guessed 4 out of the 6 combinations. With less than three weeks to go, I need to get packing – exciting!

This week’s volunteering adventure took me, Monteberry and long-suffering volunteer friend Andy to Cholmondeley Castle up in Cheshire. A very beautiful setting for a great weekend of eventing. The ground was perfect, and by some miracle escaped the deluge of rain on Saturday night, so going was perfect.

After a warm welcome from Gemma of Musketeer Event Management and another of Mr Thompson’s comedy briefings, off we ventured to our fence, a tricky combination of offset brushes, which despite some competitors returning to walk several times, rode nicely all day. 

A few of the usual sharp intakes of breath with a few of the choices of lines/strides, but thankfully no drama’s at our fence and certainly no escaped Shetlands running riot around the XC for 20 minutes like they had at Calmsden! (I love horses, they never cease to make me smile)

We don’t do this volunteering malarkey for the treats, just being a (very small) part of this great sport and getting a front row seat is reward enough for us, but we’re always grateful to be well looked after. There were terrible tales of bottles of water being rationed/unavailable at an event over the week, thankfully not at Cholmondeley. We were looked after really well this year at Cholmondeley, and got a lovely goody bag and there was even a heavenly chocolate brownie to be had! Heavy showers meant we spent a little more time in the car than we’d have liked, but don’t you just love the British summer!

August is a real treat of eventing for me – this weekend we are off to the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe, then Hartpury, jumping on a jet plane to Strezgom topped off with Bede’s lovely hospitality at Shelford – I must have been a really good girl to deserve these next few weeks – kick on!

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