I had taken the Patou 'marquee', hurdles and all the other alpaca paraphenalia down on Friday morning. When I arrived they insisted on towing me to my pitch with a tractor as the showground was a sea of mud. I asked them how I would get off again and they said I would have to wait for a tractor. Nice, we'll see, I thought.
Tent, I mean marquee, up and everything unloaded, diff lock engaged and I went home. Mud?
I was in a mighty Landrover I didn't need help.
After I left, however, there was the mother of all downpours which turned the very muddy place into a very wet even muddier place. That was when the organisers had the discussion. They decided that as so many people were already onsite, and with a dry day forecasted, to go ahead. Well done guys, good decision.
I loaded up the girls early on Saturday and we arrived at the end of the queue to get in at about 8am. The end of the queue was about a mile from the front of the queue which meant for a long wait. An hour and a half later I arrived at the car park where I was informed there was a 2 hour wait to be towed on. I don't think so, the girls have been waiting long enough.
No problem. I parked up and released the girls for a bit of extra curriculum halter training.
We walked onto the showground heads held high and attracting comments from all around. Everywhere you go with these beautiful creatures people marvel and take photographs, I am always immensely proud to be seen with them and my girls looked great. They didn't much like the deep mud though but then who does?
Our pitch was at the far end of the showground and after a 20 minute walk we were there and ready. Once the girls had water, food and were content I went off for breakfast and found the biggest bacon baguette I have ever seen, marvellous.
Here they are, Poppy, Lola and Fifi, wowing the crowds. Never seen so many pairs of wellies!
The picture below gives you an idea of how muddy it was. The tractors towing everyone on had turned it into a ploughed field in places. We were on a little grassy island.
The girls who behaved impeccably really were very popular, some couldn't get close enough!
Luckily for me my pitch was within 100yards of an assortment of fine food establishments, the toilet and the bar. What more could a man ask for? The sun came out and the crowds flocked in.Two things struck me during the day that I hadn't really noticed that much at previous shows. Firstly as people approached the alpacas they started to smile (the people not the alpacas), almost everyone, it was magical.
Secondly was something I already knew really, that people can be stupid, rude or both at the same time. The number of people who loudly asked me stupid questions whilst I was plainly in conversation with someone was staggering. Most stupid question of the day? "Are they mammals?". I must admit I almost replied "No madam they are crustaceans, isn't it obvious?"
I did meet a lot of very nice people who were genuinely interested in alpacas and also fellow alpaca owners.
It was nice to meet Janet Stamp, a reader of this blog and alpaca owner. Thanks for introducing yourself Janet and thanks for reading.
So a great day was had by me and the Patou girls, we had all had enough at the end of the day though and were keen to get home. Next part of the adventure was the extrication of team Patou. How were we going to get off?
By 6pm I had packed everything up and had made my way back to the car leaving the alpacas to guard the stuff. I had briefed them to spit at anyone attempting to enter the inner cordon. They were primed and ready to fire.
When I asked what the procedure for getting off the site was I was told that I could try myself. But if I got stuck I would have to wait and someone would come along and tow me out eventually.
That was it, diff lock engaged once more and the extrication operation was on.
The 12 year old Land Rover towed the 28 year old trailer onto the site. We ploughed our way through the mud. In a lot of places we couldn't stop we had to keep going, we slid and we slewed but we carried on. In my head the theme tune for the great escape was blaring out as I tackled the task with my shades on and a steely grin on my face. All I needed was a big fat cigar to complete the picture.
I made it to the pitch, the alpacas were excited, they really were. They knew we were going home. I quickly loaded up, the alpacas jumped into the trailer and the exit route was planned. Follow the tractors basically, and off we went. Ten minutes later we were on the motorway heading home. Job done.