Day 18 – London

August 12, 2013

Today we left the New Forest and our hosts. It was a sad start to the day. There were a lot of hugs and then Juliet and Colin dropped us at the coach (bus) station.

I really can’t say enough good things about our hosts. Ron and Moreen are so kind and made us feel truly at home. Their home is just as warm as I remember it from a decade and a half ago. I hope I don’t wait that long to visit with them again.

I have known Rob for a very long time and have always thought the world of him. I still hold that he is the best games trainer I have ridden for. His style always gave me the drive I needed. And no one can deny he is one heck of a fun person. Well, nothing has changed there.

This is the first time I have really gotten to spend much time with his lovely wife, Chrissy. And I found that I feel just as at home with her as I do with the rest of the Lockyer family. I can’t wait to see them back on our side of the ocean when they move later this month.

And don’t forget the little Lockyers, Emma, Sophie and Sara. So different and really enjoyable. Sophie seemed completely at ease with us, and joyfully told us about everything on her mind. Emma was more quiet but spunky and also an amazing games rider. I am sure there will be some teams looking to pick her up in the US this fall. little Sara, I got to know her in the start while she was getting ready for her first day of Pony Club camp and she told me all about her pony, Lilly Lockyer, aka, White Daisy. She was all done up in her proper British pony club outfit complete with purple tie.

Then there is the legendary Colin Carson. Not only is he fun, funny and a general joy to be around. He is also a wealth of games knowledge and history. The man knows the sport, and the man knows horses, riding and how to work with riders. The team was lucky to have the opportunity to get some coaching from him. And I certainly learned my fair share from him as well.

Sian and Megan Griffiths not only let us ride their ponies, Jiggy and Hattie. But they made us feel like part of the family. I hope we can return the pony favor in the future.

The real person that made this whole trip possible was Juliet. She lent us her beloved pony Ciska, she picked us up from the airport, she took us to all kinds of fun places. And she has become a real friend. I am going to miss her the most. I truly felt completely myself with her. I know if we lived local to each other we are be real buddies and I am already planning for her to come visit!

Jumping back to our day.
We said our good byes, loaded into our coach, and took off for London.

We arrive and grabbed 2 cabs and made way to our hotel. (Rob and I booked it that morning. We found a nice hotel with a room for 6 people!!!). The Saba hotel in Hammersmith is a nice spot. I totally recommend it. Comfortable beds, clean, and friendly staff.

About ten minutes after we arrived, Mackenzie and Jordan showed up to join us for a day of adventures!

We grabbed a bite to eat at a nifty little French style cafe (salmon sandwich for those that are interested) and then jumped onto the subway system.

Bragging Jura little, Megan and I had those maps figured out and shuttled our group all ofer London, hopping from train to train throughout the day.

We fit in some touristy sight seeing, like Big Ben. And we did the London Dungeon experience. It was a sort of historical guided tour slash, theme park attraction. Everyone working was dressed up and given a character from different parts of London history and as a group you toured through, learning about events and time frames. But it was also interactive. They took people from the crowd to join in the purification. Megan was put into a torture cage as a tractor. Very cool. They also had two brief rides imbedded into the experience. A water ride, and a drop. I highly recommend it.

We also got in some shopping and did Oxford Circus. We went in one if the largest Apple Stores, looked at shoes, got fruit filled crepes, and finished with a very late dinner and topped it off with desert. It was an action packed run through London. We only wish we had time for the Harry Potter experience.

When we got back to the hotel I arranged cab pickups for the morning and we finished packing and hit they hay.

Tomorrow we leave for home. :0(

It only loaded a few of the photos. I’ll add more in the next post

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Day 17 – Cock of the North Final

August 11, 2013

I forgot to mention in yesterday’s blog post that Sammi had family visit and cheer for us on Saturday! It was really neat.

Moving on, we woke up Sunday and got moving. We packed up the tents and such and were ready for our 3rd session heat 1.

The session went ok, not great. There were a few fumbles but it could have been worse. We ended up the top team going into the C final, just one point off a the B final.

We had a long break, so we spent time socializing with some our new friends, cheering Emma, one of our hosts, on in her Mini final, and finishing the packing.

We also had a visit from fellow MGAAer Makenzie! In her usual hot pink she made us all smile.
Our final rolled around and we had our game faces on. We went in ready to play hard. And we started our pretty well. But we did not manage to keep it up consistently and had a few total throw away races. We ended 4th in the C final.

The drive back to the New Forest flew by and before long we were unpacking the lorry and then packing our bags for our departure Tomorrow morning.

It felt comforting getting back to our little home, and it was wonderful to see the rest of our hosts again. I know we are all going to be sad I leave tomorrow. (Frowny face)

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Day 16 – Session 1&2 Cock of the North

August 10, 2013

There are three heats of open this weekend and we were in heat two of the first session of 8 races. It was a rough session for us. Collectively the team rode rather slow and there were too many mistakes.

It was not our best showing. We had a little chat, some lunch and spectated a while before session 2.

Speaking of lunch, lets talk about the baked potatoes available at the food vendor. I saw Crissy eating one and it started a chain reaction. The potatoes are oven roasted in a big iron style oven. Then it is split into a container with your choice of toppings piled on. I took Crissy’s lead and went for curry and cheese. Megan and Sammy picked chili and cheese.

Did I mention its cold here? Well it is. Like hoodie and jeans during the day. I am liking it, but I did not pack my weekend bag as appropriately for it as I would have liked. Burrrrr.

Session 2 was much better. The team had some speed and the mistakes were a lot less. We had one hand off fumble that landed in the field if play. Sammi expertly picked it up while mounted but Krista forgot to yell to her to recross the A line. Elimination. The trainer takes the fault on that one.

We ended the day feeling much better about the second session.

Colin gave Krista and Sammi a ride to the grocery store to pick up some cash and Krista and Sammi opted to get fancy bread for sandwiches for dinner for everyone.

Mean while Leah and Julia went to the showers. They were a little traumatized to find it was a large open room community shower.

After dinner Colin did a little camp site coaching, which was much appreciated. And then we spent a while goofing off, including a fun round of snapchat led by Jasmine.

It seemed like a really long day already and most if us were pretty much ready to crash. But there was an evening social event complete with DJ. Krista insisted that everyone “make an appearance”. After all, the rider declaration (form) warns against “anti social behavior” which could cause a ban from the northern competitions.

The “disco” started off slow, with 20-30 young riders dominating the dance floor. As the evening wore on the age group shifted and the girls hit the dance floor where they spent most of the remaining night. Mean while Krista socialized with some old friends and some new ones.

It was a really good night and a great social event to cap off the end of the trip.

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Day 15 – Travel to Cock of the North

August 9, 2013

We had an early start today to get the lorry packed and ready to head out to the Cock if the North competition. We had to run over to one field to pick up fencing. Thanks to Colin, who let Krista drive his car, we had that back and were able to pack the feed and ponies quicker.

Mean while Steph and Trevor brought Jack by for us to borrow and gifted Julia and Krista polo shirts! And Juliet picked up haylage. P

We headed out around 11am. Krista and Sammy rode with Jazzy, who drove the horse can and everyone else loaded into the lorry.

We arrived in the afternoon and got the pony paddocks and tents set up. At this competition, like most in MGAGB, there are not stalls so everyone puts up paddocks.

Rob played chef and was kind enough to invite us to a pasta dinner after everything was set up.

We also got to meet out 5th pony, Barley. He is a medium, solid built paint pony. Very quick, but he is also a little new to games, and doesn’t know what vaults are. We decided Leah would ride him in some races.

After some joking around it was finally time for the briefing. 10pm seems very late for us, but its the usual here. We it our heat assignments, done by drawing numbers. From and organizational point of view, I love this method.

Pretty soon it was time to bed. We ride at 10:30 in the morning!

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Day 14 – The Beach

August 8, 2013

Today was beach day. But we started the day with a game of ring toss and then practice. It went pretty well and we were happy to have Colin pop in with a few tips and tricks.

*The rest of today’s blog is guest blogged by The entire team.

The beach was cold at first but Megan was brave, hezahhhhhhh, and led the charge into the water. Most of us followed.

It did not smell salty but it tasted salty. Most of us were dunked by Rob. And it was cold but you went numb pretty fast and then it wasn’t so bad. But none the less we were out and back on the sand before too long.

We sunbathed and napped for a while. It was nice until the wind blew then it was cold. Then we had ice cream. Genius. It was awesome. Ice cream on the beach when you are cold, oh yeah.

On the way home we stopped by a tack store, droll. They had pony sized everything. Krista ran into an old horse friend and they discussed borrowing a 5th pony for the weekend.

There was a whole room for boots and a wall of bits and a dog section and even a chicken section. There was a whole room for blankets and a whole room for clothes. It was heaven.

We picked up Rob’s lorry from the inspection station and krista took over driving the mini bus. Sammi and Megan braved the drive with her. Krista drove great until a bush popped through the window.

We dropped the bus,finished the drive home in the lorry and went out for dinner at Toby’s Carvery. Yummy. We all liked the Yorkshire Pudding. They had gammon, turkey, beef, ham and assorted veggies.

We finished the night with happy birthday and cake for Sophie’s 10th bday. Yum again.

And tomorrow we are on our way to Cock of the North.

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