Friday, 26 September 2014

Croft Carnival and South Tyneside Family Fun Day

I'm so behind with the blog it's untrue!  But going right back to the first weekend in July we had a road trip of a weekend planned.  Adam and I set off on Friday, with Tinker, Casper and Monty on board.  We were off for Croft, near Warrington, where we would be performing our double act at their carnival on the Saturday.  Imie was staying with her sister nearby so was due to meet us on site, and Helen would be driving down to meet us also.  Once again it was a Friday afternoon spent sitting in Traffic on the motorway, this time it was the turn of the M6!  We finally arrived to a beautifully kept green, but unfortunately the organisers weren't aware of the size of the lorry and stable tent, and hadn't accounted for the amount of space we needed.  We ended up with the lorry wedged into the corner of the green as far as we could get, and luckily the tent fitted perfectly between a group of trees.  It was as if we'd been made to fit the space!  It was a little bit drizzly as we were setting up, but I didn't mind at all as it meant the boys' new spotty rugs could come out!

When we arrived Monty jumped out of the lorry as usual, and was met with looks of horror by the organisers.  It transpired that the green had a very strict 'no dogs' policy - oops!  We promised he'd be on his best behaviour, and that we'd keep him in stealth mode for the duration of our visit - easier said than done!  

It also turned out there was no place for us to warm the horses up on site.  Warm up is obviously vital, so they ended up coming up with a solution.  Across the road from the carnival field, and down the way a bit was a green space designated for dog walking - perfect!  We'd just have to factor in walking there and back into our preparation time, but it would be lovely to warm up away from the hustle and bustle of the carnival.

In the morning (after a quick stealth walk for Monty!) we tacked the horses up and headed down for warm up.  As we were doing the double act we had both working at the same time, and we had a good practise with both horses behaving brilliantly.  Helen ran through her freestyle a few times as well, as once again she was going to be performing during the show.  This time she'd be on Casper, so a little bit different to the previous week when she'd been on Tinker.  Fingers crossed he behaves!  Before we knew it we were back on the carnival field and it was show time!

Tinker opened the show and was his usual brilliant self, but out of the corner of my eye I could see Casper being an idiot and making Imie's life very difficult.  The music box was a big trailer covered in mirrors down one side, and he was using this as an excuse for silliness - he obviously saw a fool in the mirror and decided to join in!!  This didn't bode well for Helen, and I could see the dread in her face as the moment for her freestyle approached.  She started of beautifully, but before long it was time for those dreaded shoulderstands.  Casper was being particularly unhelpful with an incredibly active walk, not making it easy for her at all.  Unfortunately this was her undoing, and once again she tumbled off during the shoulderstand on the back.  I know she can do this move, so we're just going to persist until she can do it in front of an audience every time!

Casper was very full of beans throughout, but the show went through really well.  The audience were amazing, and really supported us right the way through.  It's a great feeling to be up on a horse clapping along to the music and have a big crowd clap along with you - I love it!  Imie and I spent a lot of time following the show chatting to people with Tinker and Casper, and all our shop goodies went down really well.  We were so busy that by the time we were finished Helen and Adam had virtually packed the whole stable tent down - result!  When it was time to leave Helen and Imie went ahead in the car, and Adam drove the lorry.  It felt very strange being driven in my own lorry, as it's not something that has happened before.  Although I've been driven miles and miles by Adam in Devil's Horsemen lorries it felt odd being driven in my own. I could definitely get used to it though!  

We were on our way up North again, this time up to South Tyneside for a Fun Day.  Because it was the weekend of the Tour de France in Yorkshire, we avoided the M62 and went up the M6 and across the A66 instead.  I've always liked driving the A66, and the whole drive was beautiful.  My ex-boyfriend, Ben, had recently moved into a farm along the A66, so as Helen and Imie had whizzed ahead in the car they stopped in to say hello to him.  They hadn't been there long though before we flew by in the lorry, and then the race was on!  As we were driving I was texting Imie saying how many miles we had to go and our ETA, she was doing the same and even though we'd had a good head start they were gaining on us!  We ended up arriving at exactly the same time, who'd have thought my old lorry could nearly beat a nippy little Golf!

We were right next to the seaside, so having set up Adam and I took Monty for a walk along the beach.  He absolutely loves the water, and is obsessive about his ball, so with the combination of the two he was in heaven!  It was a very tired, soggy, happy hound that returned to the lorry with us - he definitely slept well that night.

We all did, and were up bright and early the next day ready for the show.  We were the only act in the arena all day, which was great as it meant we could set the bunting up and leave it up all day.  It also meant we could warm up in the performance space, which usually means Casper is very well behaved as he's already seen everything there is to see.  The only slightly strange thing is that we then usually end up having quite a large crowd gather during the warm up, and today was no exception.  It's always a bit odd being applauded for simple warm up moves, but is something I always appreciate!  Warming Casper up in the arena did wonders for him, and he pulled his best show of the season out of the bag.  I was very grateful, as I had some old friends who I'd not seen for ages in the audience, a lovely couple called Alan and Dorothy.  Alan and Dorothy are great friends of Ben's, but I hadn't seen them since leaving Yorkshire in December.  South Shields is pretty local for them, so they'd made the trip up to see the show, and was really lovely to see them and have a long overdue catch up.  Also in the audience were some friends of Helen's, so we were really hoping today would be the day she managed to stay on!  Alas it wasn't to be, the shoulderstand on the back once again proving to be her undoing.  Adam was taking photos and managed to get a hilarious sequence of shots showing the whole thing - you can click here to see them along with lots of other photos from the weekend.

After another great show from Tinker we packed up and headed for home.  It was a long long drive, made even longer by the remnants of the Tour de France traffic which had us stationary for quite some time.  We finally made it home and Peroni (Adam's horse) was very happy to see the boys back - he doesn't like being on his own in the field, even if he has got neighbours.  Even though we covered some miles we had a great weekend, made easier by having Adam share the driving with me - and Helen share the vaulting!  I'm determined that she'll master the freestyle and make it through with out falling off - maybe next weekend?!  In contrast to this weekend's mammoth road trip we have a relatively local one day show next weekend, so local that we're doing the whole thing in a day and won't even have to put the tent up!  It's Rushden Party in the Park in Northamptonshire, and I'll hopefully get around to telling you how it went soon!!

Love Rosie x