Everyone is thanking the two main organisers, Tim and Barbara, and rightly so. I know there were a lot of other people involved in making it a great show but Tim and Barbara deserve the highest praise, every team needs strong decisive leadership and that is what they gave, massive congratulations!
And so it is time to tell the tale of the mighty Patou over the past weekend. Did we enjoy the show? Oh yes indeed.
It all started on Friday morning. We had planned on taking Gus out of school at midday and Harry, our excellent house/animal sitter was due at 1pm. We planned to be on the road by 2 and we were, but not before a rather unpleasant tantrum inducing series of events.
I was so ahead of myself that I had packed all the show stuff on Thursday in order to leave a relaxed and stress free Friday morning. This is a point well worth remembering.
I hitched up the trailer and carried out my usual pre departure lighting check. I was missing a left indicator on the trailer. No problem I had a spare bulb which I duly used. Still no left indicator. And now....... no brake lights on the trailer either. Now at this point I must stress that I am in no way a mechanic of any sort. Basic electrical matters bemuse me. Minor engineering mishaps leave me bewildered.
I unhitched the trailer and looked at everything whilst the first wave of general muttering passed my lips. Using the mantra of 'turn it off and turn it back on again' I put everything back together. Now I had no left indicator, no brake lights on the trailer and no brake lights on the Discovery!
I stood and looked both bemused and bewildered and then went to fetch my hammer.
I stood next to the offending tow hitch, hammer in hand, but didn't know which bit to hit first. I then went inside to buy myself a bit of thinking time and told Sue that I wasn't having the best of mornings (or words to that effect).
The thinking time gave me inspiration as I remembered that I had a Haynes manual somewhere. Having located it I consulted the electrical section. Fuses! Of course it must be a blown fuse! Ha ha, how I chuckled as I located the two fuse boxes and the fuse removal tool anticipating a speedy end to this slightly annoying series of events. I removed a fuse and it did appear to be missing a piece. A spare was located and I finally had brake lights back on the Discovery. I started to calm down slightly as it was surely only a matter of time before I had the trailer lights up and running too.
Twenty minutes later (I don't feel the need to paint a picture of the intervening action sequence), I slumped, sweating, against the garden wall, my hammer slipped out of my fingers and landed amongst the pile of tools, spanners and screwdrivers which had all been used to no avail. I surveyed my surroundings noting that the garden furniture which was now where it hadn't been 20 minutes previously and considered the throbbing in my right foot.
Silently I put all my tools away, hitched up the trailer again and went inside. I could do no more, it was time to go and we would be travelling with a right indicator only. I was a beaten man, exhausted and mentally crushed we set off for the National! It couldn't get any worse and that was a fact!
A pleasant Friday evening, notable for getting sandwiched between two northern beauties late on, rolled into show time on Saturday.
I am not allowed in the ring very often these days, Gus and Sue enjoy it so much and do a great job, so I am relegated to team photographer and general dogsbody.
We had taken a team of 6. The two junior black Qjori girls, Violet and Willow were first up.
Here is Gus with Violet, personally selected for Gus, by me, as being the best of the two. What do I know as a short while later they were unplaced and doing the 'walk of shame' back to the pen. Look how attentive he is though, superb!
Sue, meanwhile, was with Willow who took a very nice third place. We were up and running!
Next was Vanilla, a junior brown Qjori girl. Now we ummed and ahhed about bringing Vanilla as she has had a pretty rough start to life and as such is small, still a little on the thin side and her fleece is quite brittle about an inch out from her skin. However, her fleece is lovely and she had come a long way and would be indoors surrounded by food for two days. Just to make her feel less stressed we had also entered her mother, Amelie.
Another large class and Vanilla took a fourth place rosette. The judges got it spot on with their comments noting the brittle fleece and her condition as well as pointing out that she had a lovely highly structured fleece, nice words to hear.
Gus demonstrates the best way to hold a rosette once it has been bagged!
After Vanilla came her mum, Amelie in the senior brown female class. Now the records will state that Amelie won a first place rosette and no-one needs to know that she was on her own in that class, no-one! It's not her fault that she had no-one to beat!
So the females done it was brown boy time. Sadly another walk of shame for Gus as Warrior failed to impress the judges but hey ho onwards and upwards!
Now Amelie is not just the mother of Vanilla, no, Amelie is also the mother of our lovely boy Tsar and it was now Tsar time.
Regular readers will know all about Tsar and that for a long time we didn't know if he was going to live let alone enter a show ring. Well he did enter the show ring and he was awarded fourth place in a very high quality large class of intermediate brown males. We love that boy so much it hurts sometimes you know. Stupid I know, but there you go.
So that was it, a great dinner that night followed by a relaxed Sunday watching a lot of very pretty pale coloured alpacas in the show ring and then home time.
Four rosettes, a hangover and a good time. Not a bad weekends work!