It was 7pm last Saturday when I finally pulled up outside Patou HQ, weary, knackered, hungry and gasping for a drink. After four and a half days at the Royal Bath and West show I was home, ready to unload the show team and all their kit. The last show of the summer (well maybe just one more in August) was over and so was I, almost.
We had a good show, but it's always difficult for breeders coming from the dark side at the Bath and West as it is run as an age championship, rather than the more familiar and MUCH BETTER colour championship. It basically means that the black, brown and grey juniors are compared to all the other light coloured juniors and so on. That invariably means that the Supreme championship line up is made up of white, light and fawn alpacas, from my point of view that looks a bit dull to anyone watching. OK, so it may be argued that they are the best alpacas in the show and so deserve to be there, but for spectators and breeders of the darker alpacas it is all a bit..........boring. Oops.... did I just say that?
At this point I must point out that there was one exception in the line up this year.
Shining out like a beautiful ball of anthracite amongst a ring of dirty cotton wool, smoulderingly good looking and seemingly tearing a hole through the atmosphere from another darker world was a super Inca female. Black as the ace (or should that be Jack) of Spades, she stood alone amongst all the general assembled beigeness. All was not lost, we, the champions of the dark side were represented by the best of us all.
Actually I was also in the line up with a little white boy owned by Classical Mile End alpacas. He went on to win Best of British, very deservedly.
In that Supreme line up we stood next to the eventual Supreme Champion, a junior fawn female owned by Houghton Hall Alpacas, who was absolutely beautiful. Her fleece was simply gorgeous, like molten gold. A very worthy winner.
Right enough of that drivel. The highlight for team Patou was that we were represented in the ring by two young Patou warriors, Gus had been accompanied by his best mate, George Fry and both of them were up for a scrap. Having camped on site we were up early and breakfasted ready to do battle on Thursday, junior day. Unusually the Bath and West show not only runs as an age championship but also runs in reverse order. I have no idea why, but it does. That meant the whites were in first and we weren't in the ring until after lunch.
Just before lunch, however, was a small matter of the junior handler class. Gus and George were entered in a line up of five eager handlers, including, past master and hot favourite, Isla May, a very shrewd operator with a steely glint in her eye.
The boys couldn't match Isla and she took the trophy, Gus coming second and George a very creditable third. Top marks to Barbara for her judging in, undoubtedly, the toughest class of the show!
Lunch was taken as the boys prepared for the proper show classes and it wasn't long before they were doing battle in the junior grey class. First for Vickery with Gus and second for Wasimba and George, the Mighty Patou were up and running.
As usual it was a all over in a blur with Gus going in six consecutive classes, brown, black and grey, not just for us, he was in demand.
He took Wesley in the junior black male class and came second behind some old bloke from Somerset, who was a little too smug showing off his first placed rosette!
The nuts and bolts of it were that we ended up with colourful display of rosettes as the big boys Tsar and Talisker took first and second in the intermediate brown class on Friday.
I am now at home with plenty to do, we are shearing next Wednesday and we need some sunshine to dry the shearing field up or we won't be able to get any vehicles in, I mean, come on, it's June! Where's the bloody sunshine!
We also have females to watch, ten girls have now passed the eleven month stage and are lying around like a load of beached whales. No galavanting about from now on, we are firmly and properly on 'cria watch'.
I also have a a group of animals to get ready for export, but more on that when they have safely landed the other side of the channel.
So what am I doing sitting here in front of the computer I hear you all roar!
Enough said, now where are my wellies?