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Brilliant Blenheim

Thursday, 19 September 2013

As someone who works with over 350 volunteers, I know full well that people who volunteer have a whole range of motivations for doing it. So what on earth makes me take a precious holiday day off work, give up a whole weekend and drive a round trip of 350 miles to spend three days living in a tent and getting absolutely soaked?

Well, we got asked to volunteer at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials. Can't say no to an offer like that, can you? It's the third biggest event in the UK and only Badminton and Burghley are more important. We started out as British Eventing volunteers last February for flips sake! I honestly never expected to be rubbing shoulders with people who'd worked at the Olympics so soon, if at all. It just goes to show that being dedicated (and also chatty on social media!) gets you noticed. Not exactly a case of who you know, but more a case of making yourself known, if that makes sense?

What makes us want to do it? Well, we truly love the sport and this is an amazing chance to be a part of it (and let's be honest, the chance to exchange a few words with fitties like Oli Townend and Andrew Nicholson when they're walking the course doesn't hurt either!). Fence judging usually means a long day but it's always a lively one. We had an enormous amount of fun at Blenheim and as the teams were a little bigger than at one day events, it meant there was plenty of opportunity to mix with other volunteers. We spent most of Sunday having a fab time and roaring with laughter with the three other fence judges at our fence.

Most events look after their volunteers really well but the team at Blenheim were exceptionally good to us. We got free entry and camping passes for all four days, programme vouchers, a cross-country course walk with the course designer, all sorts of brilliant special offers from their clothing partners, a fab goody bag (honestly, the way to my heart lies through pens and post it notes), as much coffee and cake as we could manage without bursting, branded clothing for the weekend and a lovely hog roast on the Saturday night. Who wouldn't want to volunteer?! It was worth every second of that extremely tedious drive down the M6 and M40 to get there.

Let me shower you with photos:

Our fence on the Saturday. Choo choo!
Our fence on the Sunday. A water jump!

Horses, horses everywhere. I was too busy fence judging to take cross-country photos so these were snapped on the Friday whilst we were wandering around.

Shopping happened. Behold my lovely new hat. A) it fits (this is rare when it comes to my enormous head), B) it suits me (also rare) and C) it's waterproof. As it rained pretty much all weekend, this was kinda important.

I did also wear the trusty badger hat though. It was cold as well as rainy. Stupid autumn weather.

The Mothership modelling her official rugby shirt and fab new boots.

Brekkie in the Odd Socks tent, accompanied by about 7 pairs of soggy walking shoes. Did I mention it was a wet weekend?

Well, one has to keep up one's standards, even when camping.


  1. Alex you lucky bean, this looks amazingggg! Judging the water is surely one of the toughest - although I guess at that level the horses have a better attitude...
    The hat really suits you x

  2. That hat really suits you and I love that train fence!

    Maria xxx

  3. Love the train fence. Not that I know anything about eventing, but I'd have given that rider an extra point for their coat. :)


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