Tuesday, 29 October 2013

TV Stars

I have to admit that I'm jolly glad to be back home again despite a very relaxing break in Annecy.  I had forgotten just how beautiful it is – well it is 40 years since I was there whilst working as an “Assistante Anglaise”!

We had a bit of a mixed bag of weather whilst we were away – warm sunshine some days and torrential rain and thunder and lightning on others. Still what we most needed was a rest without worrying about what was happening at home.  We certainly got that as far as our alpacas are concerned, since we had Paul and Rachel farm sitting for us once again.
 However, we were a bit concerned about what our TV appearance would be like.  For those of you unaware of this, we featured on Ronnie’s Animal Crackers on Friday 18th October on BBC1.  I suspect that most people would have been concerned if they had been in our shoes, given the somewhat wacky preceding episodes, which is why we didn’t let many people know about it in advance. We had thought that we would have been able to watch it on i-player but apparently you can’t do that abroad!  Anyway we started to relax when we got numerous messages saying that it was good – but you never know if people are just trying to be kind!  There were quite a few inaccuracies but despite all of that we were fairly pleased with it.  Where dear old Ronnie got the idea that we were former townies, I have absolutely no idea!

Filming was quite fun in some ways but pretty stressful at the Northumberland Show, since I was the Chief Steward and really had enough on my plate without being wired for sound all day and constantly being interviewed.  I’m really not at all keen on having my photo taken at the best of times, never mind being filmed for about ten hours in total.

We did have a bit of fun whilst the film crew were here as Paul Vaclik was filming them, filming us.  Though as you can so clearly see, not only was Gallica's halter training going pretty badly but all of our alpacas were looking particularly scruffy - bear in mind that this was only 5 days before the Northumberland Show.  Fortunately, both the weather and the alpacas' appearance and behaviour improved greatly before show day.
Would we do it again - absolutely yes!!


Monday, 14 October 2013

Ants in my pants?

Ok guys, before any of you start getting the wrong idea - I have definitely NOT got ants in my pants. Whilst I was rushing around earlier at a great rate of knots, it did occur to me that my Mother would have come out with the "Ants in the pants" phrase when I was a little girl, if I couldn't sit still for more than two minutes.  It's not that I wouldn't really quite like to sit down for even five minutes, it's just that there never seem to be enough hours in the day to do so.

Last Saturday saw us rising at the unearthly hour of 4.30 to load the alpacas for the Yorkshire alpaca show.  We perhaps could have gone later, but muggins here volunteered to do pen inspections.  Thank goodness we were able to get all the show team penned in the barns the night before.  The thought of groping around in a dark field trying to find your alpacas has never really appealed - wimp that I  am!  We took 6 alpacas although not all of them were ours.  However, they all came away with a good haul of rosettes and little Hester was the star of the team by winning the Light Female champion rosette.  I did actually think that she was in with a chance of taking the Supreme sash as the judge spent a long time deliberating between her and the fawn stud male who did win in the end.  It would probably have been too good to be true to win Supreme, two years on the trot with two different animals - both of whom are Houghton King's progeny. 

Here is Hester, standing very quietly which was brilliant as it was her first time in the show ring.

And here is Octavian who was also well behaved.  He won a 3rd place rosette.  Slightly disappointing but he was sweating very badly and the judge was struggling to open up his fleece which is very fine (14.3 micron with a 3.4 SD)

Sunday had to be spent doing housework - yuck! - and sorting out clothes for our holiday.  Yup we are off to France on Thursday, but I'm dashing off down to Telford in Shropshire as soon as I finish this blog as I've got the first 2014 BAS National Show committee meeting tomorrow.  Was I short of something to do when I volunteered for this - I don't think so!!!!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Absolutely Fabulous!

When you go away and have an absolutely amazing weekend it takes a few days to come back down to earth.  Well we did just that with a bang this morning.  It was only 6 degrees here at 10 a.m. – I was beginning to think that I had turned into a Southern Softie after only 4 days down south!

All joking apart we had a fabulous weekend.  The travelling was pretty easy – no hold ups whatsoever.  The only possible glitch was the suspicion that Alfie (oldest grandson) was coming down with chicken pox on the Sunday afternoon – but he was ok thankfully.

It was great to catch up with the extended Gloucestershire family and to check out Alfie’s growing confidence on horseback.

Little Billy was as laid back as ever – sleeping through his Christening even when the holy water was poured over his head!  I was pretty chuffed at how lovely he looked in his Christening Robe – and as his Mummy said “it’s great because it’s not too girly”!!  As if a little Douglas could wear a girly outfit!

To say I was excited about going to stay at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons is a complete understatement.  In fact, I think Mike was beginning to worry that I might be just a bit disappointed when we got there.  Well, actually, it far exceeded my expectations.  The whole experience of Dinner, Bed and Breakfast was AMAZING!!!!! 
We thoroughly enjoyed walking round the gardens and checking out all the different varieties of herbs and vegetables.   Our bedroom was absolutely perfect.  It was huge and the attention to detail was quite remarkable.  There was even a beautiful French wood burning stove in one corner.  You could just imagine being tucked up there on a winter’s evening. 


I could definitely bore for Britain – and probably the Commonwealth as well! – on the subject of the dinner.  Suffice to say that we had 9 courses, didn’t feel remotely stuffed (technical term) at the end of it and were completely overawed at the quality and the amazing flavours in what sometimes looked to be quite simple dishes. 
Mike’s only criticism of Le Manoir was that I enjoyed myself so much that I want to go back!!!!!!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Just Made It!

I suspect that there are quite a number of you out there who thought that the Christening Robe I have been working on recently was just not going to get finished – in truth, I did feel a bit that way myself at times.   
But...wait for the drum roll!!  Yup it’s finished!  I am rather pleased with it, I must admit although I know fine well that it would not win any prize in a competition.  However, I wasn’t trying to win a rosette but to create a family Christening Robe and this I’ve done.  I did have some rather grand plans for more embroidery on the skirt, but I simply ran out of time.  Nevertheless, considering I have never done any smocking before, I am quietly chuffed with this effort.  I’m sure little Billy will look gorgeous in it on Sunday morning.

We are hugely grateful to Mr & Mrs Vaclik – aka Paul and Rachel,  fresh back from their honeymoon in India -  who are house and alpaca sitting for us this weekend whilst we are down in Gloucestershire.  We couldn’t manage without them.

So in between the showers this afternoon, we just found time to catch up on a few husbandry tasks with a very dirty herd of alpacas.  It’s really easy to get them looking so rough – take one wet alpaca and one barn with an earth floor and this is what you get – simple really!  We’ll obviously have to keep them elsewhere later on next week in an attempt to clean them up before the Yorkshire Show.

Despite their rather grimy appearance, they still look lovely – or am I ever so slightly biased??!!