So last week was no different in the build up to the biggest alpaca show ever to be held in the UK. The British Alpaca Futurity had a record number of over 440 alpacas entered into the two day show to be held at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. We had also entered our biggest show team ever. Now eight alpacas doesn't sound much but we only have a small herd and an even smaller trailer. So proportionately eight alpacas was a lot.
As a result, a week before departure my mind started playing it's usual tricks on me. Sleep became difficult to come by and I was fidgety and restless day and night as my mind raced around in circles.
Nights were particularly annoying as two separate trains of thought kept my brain racing when it was supposed to be shutting down for the night. Firstly, the concern that I wasn't going to make it to Coventry. Mechanical failure, illness, acts of God were all things that I tried hard not to consider as I lay there trying to count lazy alpacas jumping over gates.
Secondly, and completely opposite in emotion to the first train of thought was the notion of what was going to happen when I got there. I can't tell you how many times I worried about how on earth I was going to cope when all eight of the Mighty Patou Show Team were required to be in the championship line up. Travelling solo (school and work keeping Sue and Gus at home) meant that I would need seven extra handlers to help.
So it was this ultra-optimistic and simultaneous gloomy pessimistic thought process that I battled with each night leading up to the show. Death or Glory. Nothing in between. It was exhausting!
As usual I made life difficult for myself on the way. I engaged the sat nav system and faithfully followed it for over 120 miles, then at the crucial moment when it was telling me to exit the motorway near Coventry I decided it was not to be trusted and that I would navigate the last stretch by instinct alone. What? Why? It's just me, it's what I do, I can't explain it, I am an idiot at times.
So, several minutes later I was to be found shouting obscenities at myself for being such a prat (I was using slightly stronger descriptive terminology) as I was stuck in a traffic jam, on a motorway north of Coventry, heading towards Manchester.
Anyway, having calmed down I arrived slightly later than planned and unloaded. Calmness descended, the animals were settled in for the night and all was well with the world.
Two show rings meant I had to be on the ball on Friday, the whole team would be in the ring leaving Saturday free for wandering around seeing what everyone else was up to.
First up I had Patou Nutmeg and Patou Pinot in the junior black class. I was absolutely delighted when Pinot was placed second behind the eventual female black champion. I could have packed up and gone home then, job done, happy days. Nutmeg picked up the 6th place rosette.
Thank you to Pinot's handler, Rebecca Oglesby, who obviously did a great job!
I was brought straight back to earth when Misket and I were asked (amongst others) to take the 'walk of shame' in a highly competitive junior brown female class.
Next up was Spitfire with a disappointing 6th and when Viking and I trudged out of the ring empty handed my head was starting to drop, this was tough. I wasn't the only person saying this was the toughest show ever.
Greys next and it was Wasimba time. We love Wasimba, he looks great and is a bit of a favourite in Patouland. I was delighted with a third place as there were some very big names behind us which always makes me smile. I don't have a picture of Wasimba in the ring but here's one I took yesterday, he deserves to be seen. Being expertly handled here by Gus.
It was then junior brown male time and I entered the ring with Inca Instrumental, a male bred by the Inca Lord, who we are lucky to co-own with them. He looked tremendous and I was happy enough with a 3rd place rosette out of a class of nine. First would have been better obviously but there we go. I looked at the winner, a cracking little Meon Valley boy and couldn't argue much with the result. Well I could have, but the decision had been made.
Tsar was all that was left and I have to say he was looking great. A big class of ten adult brown males and some serious competition meant a sixth place. Disappointing but redeemed by the judges oral reasoning who said some very nice things about him.
Job done and six rosettes bagged. Satisfied. Beer time.
Friday night was quite a long one. I was somehow kidnapped by a mottley bunch from the north, including some odd fellows from Scotland. I was very pleased to see that Dave and Joy from Apple Vale (thanks for the photos Dave!) also came along so that when the northerners became drunk and unintelligible I would still have someone to talk to.
It was a good night and although I did promise to write my whole blog in scottish, I just can't. It sounds too much like a pissed Glaswegian ranting about tatties or something.
So I will say this and this alone. Fair fa' your honest sonsie faces, ya wee scottish bastaaartts!
Thank you all for making it a great show.