Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Home In Time For Tea & Medals

This last Saturday proved most eventful, after 1 puncture, 3 flights (one missed), and 16 hours I managed to get to Luhmuhlen for the HSBC European Eventing Championships, and back home in time for Highclere and a day out with the children. Home in time for tea and medals, mission accomplished!

For a moment, as I sat on the hard shoulder of the M4 in a 'lame' car, I almost gave in, and was prepared to just turn around and head home. Trusty iphone to the rescue, and a few searches later revealed a further flight out of LHR that would get me to the Europeans. OK, it was going to cost me a little more than I bargained for but money's replaceable, you can't buy back time or experiences - Sod it! Time to get that wheel changed.

Nicholas Touzaint
I'd gone with a few key objectives in mind - take a few good photos, get used to using my new camera in a more pressured environment, and learn from a few professionals. I'm reasonably pleased with a number of my photographs, I learnt a lot watching & talking to others, and there's nothing like a championship event or having 30 minutes from buying a ticket to plane departure for adding a little pressure. So I now have a number of things to work on over the coming months, and I'll probably take a photography course over the winter to get more of a handle on the technical side of the camera, so that I'm prepared for the big gigs next year.

Bored yet? Still reading? Ok, back to eventing. Thankfully I managed to get most of the Luhmuhlen action recorded while I was hopping on and off planes, and snapping European eventing's great & good in between. The headlines are well known by now; The Germans won everything, Fox-Pitt won even more respect than usual for his scuba diving on Cool Mountain, and the French & Swedish qualified for the Olympics. What I found more interesting was Tina Cook's style of commentary was exactly the same as Mike Tucker's, slightly surreal. Despite Team GBR's obvious disappointment, I thought it was a great championship, just the sort of thing that attracts more people to the sport.

Highclere on Sunday was a real mixed bag by contrast. Heavy rain had turned the going into a sponge, real energy sapping stuff. Further rain on the day from intermittent heavy showers meant the ground just started to cut up, until some of the galloping lanes turned brown, a far cry from the usual lush green parkland turf.

Tractors were pulling lorries out of the carpark. Andrew Nicholson's lorry needed two large tractors to drag it through the mud to the tarmac roadway, shortly after which I spotted the event's host, Lord Canarvon, inspecting the carparks, and thought they might cancel, and sure enough, Monday's activities were cancelled before the day was out.  I did managed to snap a few horses out on the cross country in between showers and chasing after the children as they tottered about oblivious to the day's proceedings attracted to the brightly coloured fences - not quite what you'd call an adventure playground.

Oh, and dogging horses that run out both at the fence and off the course - Nick Gauntlett narrowly missed me as he ran out at the angled houses, and ducked through a crossing point! I didn't notice until he appeared larger than life in my view finder. It could have been worse, he coud have been riding his 4 star stallion, Chilli Morning. Stallions have been known to back up and finish the job.

It's September tomorrow, the weather is already cooling down, I should feel like the season is coming to a close but I can't help but still be a little excited that we have Burghley, Blenheim, Pau, and numerous others to look forward to.....more camera practice ahead!

Highclere Gallery

Europeans Gallery

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