Badminton Horse Trials

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Whilst I have never ridden a horse, Little Miss loves everything equine so we decided that this year we would visit the Badminton Horse Trials.  By a great coincidence, England played a cricket ODI in Bristol yesterday, so Mr S travelled up early on Friday morning to watch the cricket with his dad and I drove up with the children after school and work.  My Father in Law lives close to Badminton , just a 10 mile journey which made this morning’s drive over quick and easy.  I was really impressed by the organisation for Badminton, I had envisaged queuing traffic both in and out but it was minimal thanks to a very efficient system and arriving and leaving slightly earlier than the main crowds.  We arrived just before 9 and left around 4pm.  When we arrived at 9, we parked and walked over to the traders, this area was huge and we didn’t visit all the stands. When we have a day out like today, we tend to have breakfast on site and like today, its often a pancake.  After breakfast we pottered around the stands,  whilst there were lots of specialist equine stalls there were many country crafts, artisan stalls and food specialists, I particularly liked the Country Living marquee. Grandad had given the children money and they were delighted to find the must have fidget toy on sale at Badminton, without a doubt the busiest stall today.  They were a good buy and when Little Man got fed up with the cross country  he was happy to sit on the grass and play with his new toy.

Before the main event of the cross country there was a fun event in the main arena, the Shetland pony derby.  This was a good starter, the children got to see the arena and some of the jumps and then cheered the ponies on in a race.  After the race we headed out on course to follow the cross country.  Next year we’ve decided that we would change this plan slightly, perhaps watch the first couple of riders in the arena and then get some lunch before heading out to the jumps.  The food stalls on the course were very busy and there was more variety and choice in the centre. Being out on the cross country course was a fantastic experience, you are so close to the action and see the pain etched on the rider’s faces, hear the thunder of the hooves etc.. Most people move around the course so you have front row action for each jump.  The jumps were designed and presented beautifully, lots of natural features complementing the materials of the jumps.  We saw a variety of jumps, water, steep hills, jumps very close to each other, high jumps, wide jumps etc..  I found it was helpful having the programme for all the details of riders, horses and jumps and I really enjoyed following the cross country, much more than I had expected to.  The skill needed for a successful round is immense.  Whilst it is difficult to follow the placings and timings, you can buy a radio for full commentary or there are loudspeakers and large screens around the course.

I had never been to the Badminton estate before and it is a beautiful stately home and perfect setting for the event, its trees and features simply merge into the course.    The crowds were huge but as most people walk around the 30 fences, it is easy to get close to the action.  The whole scene was quintessentially British, lots of tweed, hats and Labradors.  I was quite taken by our day and we are already planning our return next year.  Our horsie mad daughter has written such a lovely piece about Badminton, these words and her excitement at being there have helped make a special family day out.

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Lip gloss, live music and a moment in time #littleloves

Welcome to another week of #littleloves and what a lovely week its been.  Last weekend was one of those really special ones. We had lots of fun on a family day out on the train to a larger seaside resort for funfairs and boats.  Whilst my friend’s 40th birthday party was such a brilliant night out with superb live music, great guests, lots of dancing and sparkles all in the most beautiful castle setting. I really felt blessed last weekend and appreciated spending such special times with my family and friends.  I did realise though that I can’t do the late nights I used to, children just won’t do lie ins for you.

The children’s highlight of our day out …
My highlight of our day out ..

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Whilst I haven’t finished it yet I am reading Dawn O’Porter’s The Cows ( my Kindle ran out of power last night, yep you don’t get that with a book!)   Its so difficult to describe in a few sentences and I’ve not finished it yet but its a story of three women with one strong theme being social media, one is an author of a famous blog, the other is filmed and ends up becoming an internet sensation for the wrong reasons and the other is drawn to Facebook as  means of keeping alive memories of a loved one.  There are some strong moral and feminist arguments in the book but these are presented intelligently and smartly.  I am enjoying and will report back next week with the finished review.

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I’ve watched a brilliant short video made by the children’s school, A Moment in Time.  Its a mannequin style entry of a moment in time at the primary school and shows every single staff member and pupil.  It is a magical video and thoroughly deserves a prize in the local arts competition it has been created for. The school have been brilliant at thoroughly disguising my children.  Sadly, they are not normally allowed in anything published on the internet for security reasons,  however through some careful and clever filming, Little Man and his friends are dressed up in a drama session, whilst Little Miss’ PE moves and strategically placed equipment make her unrecognisable.    The video was just one of the highlights in the school’s annual arts exhibition, the standard and quality of artwork is just incredible and a credit to all.

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Mrs Brown’s eggs

 

 

 

I used these eggs to make a simple omelette. The deep rich brown shells were gorgeous but the yellow of the omelette made it such a sunshine meal.  The eggs were freshly lain courtesy of Mrs Brown, a local chicken and totally free range!

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I was able to dress up on Saturday night to the 40th party and loved it.  I wore a fitted but flared crepe black tunic dress embellished with a few sparkles on the cuffs and neckline.  Its a dress I haven’t worn for ages and normally pair with leggings as its quite short but I felt confident on Saturday and wore it with some tights. I also had been able to pop in and buy a new lip gloss on Saturday afternoon, its one of  the Clarins lip oils and is a multi sensory treat, the smell, the colour, the feel all perfect.  It was the gift I got for the birthday girl too, I knew she’d appreciate it.

One for me, one for you x

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There is nothing quite like live music and the band on Saturday night were superb, it was one of those parties where people are up from the first song to the very last dancing.  The playlist was full of happy, uplifting tunes and it made for such a lovely atmosphere.

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I know last week I wrote how much I was looking forward to the weekend but I have that same feeling again today.  Tomorrow, Friday,  Mr S is off to Bristol to watch England play a ODI cricket match and then after school  the children and I will drive to Bristol (3 hours on Fri eve mmm) and join him so we can travel to Badminton for the horse trials on Saturday,  its cross country day.  Although I’m not a horsie person I’ve always wanted to go and now we have Little Miss who is horse mad it seemed a perfect family trip.

Thanks to Morgana at http://www.coffeeworksleeprepeat.com for hosting  #littleloves.

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It was 20 years ago today..

Jane Merrick tweeted the above as it’s 20 years today since the general election of 1997 which gave new Labour its landslide victory.  Whilst I made a response I realised that there was so much more that I wanted to say to 24 year old me.  

Dear Me in 1997

Tonight watching the election results is one of the best times you’ll ever share with Dad, you’ll never feel this optimism and hope for our country’s political future again, so savour every moment. By coincidence you are in London at a conference next to Buckingham palace on the day Blair leaves office and Brown succeeds him, you will skip lunch and join the crowd to see the two PMs.  Twenty years later you are still as interested in politics just frustrated and angry with the political system.  

At present, your boss at work really is a horrible bitch, it’s your first teaching job and you’re not sure what to do. By Christmas you cannot cope with her and leave without a job to go to. It works out brilliantly you’ll end up at your old secondary school and have the best years of your career, your colleagues will be the best you ever work with and you will have many happy times. The boss bitch suffers a nervous breakdown and her husband walks out on her because of her unreasonable behaviour, you only feel pity for her.

You’re feeling lonely and just can’t seem to find anyone special. Later this month you go on a school exchange to Crete and meet theHeadmaster’s nephew, you enjoy a holiday romance for the next few months between the two countries and become so much happier and confident.  Next year you meet Mr S on a night out with friends, you’ll move in together a few months later and marry in Rome in the week of your 30th birthday.  As a couple there will be lots of amazing holidays including two Ashes tours of Australia and the Caribbean.  Having a family will be the most heart breaking journey, there will be lots of fertility treatments and these will be the darkest, saddest times of your life. Don’t give up, you will eventually adopt the two most amazing children, life will get its happily ever after. 

At the moment you live in Cardiff because of your job. When you leave it you return to Bristol for family and friends and this is where you live until 2004. In a surprising move you and Mr S decide to leave the city and to have a more relaxed, simpler life in a small rural seaside town. Its the best move you make and you’ll be your happiest in a small, friendly community.  The move leads your career in a new direction too, you become a special needs teacher and in 20 years time you’ll be balancing being mum with your part time job as Head of School! 

You will still have a few years left with your grandmothers, both live to an old age and see you happily settled with Mr S. It’s Nanny’s last Christmas when you and Mr S get engaged, a happy memory as you announce the engagement on Christmas Day, following the proposal at his mum’s memorial tree in the hospital garden. Grandma will develop dementia and she will no longer see you as her granddaughter but sister.  You will be proud to have had these two women in your life and will still miss them.  Your relationship with mum improves over the years and unbelievably she becomes a home making Grandma knitting clothes and quilting for her grandchildren.  Her and Dad are incredibly supportive with the adoption and show unconditional love to your children.  

Twenty years later you’re still in contact and see your old school friends although none of the trio live in Bristol anymore and visits are fewer. However when you do meet up it feels like no time since you were last together.  

You’re going to your cousin’s wedding later this year, the date doesn’t seem important but you will never forget it as it is the day when Princess Diana dies in an accident in Paris.  You’ll go to see the flowers at Kensington Palace with a friend and be moved by the scene.  The Olympics comes to London in 2012 and it’s amazing, you’re so proud to be British and decorate your house with union jacks and cheer in the streets when the Olympic flame is brought to your town. Sadly the pride at being British is seriously shaken by Brexit and the politics of 2016.  There are some brilliant tv series to be watched in these 20 years, This Life, Sex and the City, Friends, Cold Feet, Strictly Come Dancing  etc. There is also a series of children’s books published, Harry Potter, you will cry more at the end of the final book than for any book you have ever read.  You still follow Bristol City but despite coming so close in 2008, they haven’t made the premiership yet, on the positive they have been much better than the gas in these two decades!  England fail in every major football championship.  When you meet Mr S you start to share his interest in cricket, this leads to watching lots of cricket and the relief that sometimes the England cricket team is very good, 2005 is a vintage year.  Whilst you do the odd aerobics class now you’ll be amazed to hear that despite hating cross country at school you start running and do races, even half marathons for fun!  It’s your stress buster and all important me time! 

I’ll leave the rest of the future as a surprise but honestly it’s remarkably good, in 20 years time you will be happy.  You’ve never learnt how to walk in heels or been able to grow your hair long but you are you, a genuine person with family and friends you love dearly.

Enjoy the next 20 years, embrace it, love it and live it with passion.

Love Me in 2017