Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Badminton horse trials and bird-spotting

The new header photo is the view through one of the window gaps at Grosmont Castle, which will appear in tomorrow's post (with any luck!)

Back again after a lovely weekend away with my friend J.  We went to Badminton Horse trials on the Saturday.  I'd not been for several years, and it was a great day out (though a tad expensive at £28 a head to get in, plus parking).  Just as well it's only once a year!

I'll let the photos speak for themselves:

It's a wonderful course, about 4 miles long, and there is an optimum time in which it should be completed.  Going outside that time means extra penalties.  Fall of horse or rider means elimination.  The jumps are big, but constructed with frangible pins which means they free the rail/part of the jump and allowing it to drop when hit hard, preventing the rotational falls which claimed the lives of several riders in the past.  Competitors start and finish in the main arena, and that is where we ended up having walked the course, and saw the last few home from a well-earned seat.

Thousands of people go to Badminton each year, and LOTS of dogs too! in all shapes and sizes.

This was my favourite.  She'd got tired, so they tucked her up and she had dozed off, bless her.  She was ready for action again now!

There were other horses around the course too.  Here are two of the Berkeley Hunt.  (The yellow jacket is a giveaway).

Mounted police officers in the gloom of Huntsmans' Close.

Children from the local Pony Club branch act as runners.  All were immaculately turned out, needless to say!

All too soon it was time to say goodbye to the beautiful Badminton estate, though we did linger a 2nd time wandering round the trade stands where I bought some Bamboo socks.  WHY have I not bought any before?  They are SO soft and comfortable.  I will be getting more.  In the morning I had bought a warm ribbed hat with a fleece lining for just £5.  A good investment as I wore it the first half of the day when it was a bit windy.

Then it was slowly back home, via the village of King's Stanley, where my friend grew up.  I got a guided tour: )

This William Morris designed church at Selsey was of course locked by the time we got there, but we shall return.

View across the mostly modern end of the village.

Footpath up on to Selsey Common.

Finally, the bird-spotting, which we did a lot of in idle moments back at my friend's house.  Her land surrounds the cottage, and was home to lots of birds, including this leucistic Blackbird (affectionately known as "Pie" of course, short for piebald.)  He was very camera-shy.  We saw lots of him but the minute I appeared with my camera indoors, he was away!

Blurry picture of him on the fence, with Moles behind him.

Greater Spotted Woodpecker on feeder.

Mr Hoppy, one of several Pheasants about the place, and who had a very sore foot after fighting.  He has got a lady friend but she's not sitting on eggs yet, but follows him about the place.

What I DON'T have a photo of, sadly, is the VERY rare Hawfinch (who has a mate and one of last year's youngsters still begging for food).  I saw him clearly from the kitchen window, where he had visited the Yew Tree to feed on the remains of last years' seeds.  Such a beautiful bird, with a white-edged tail, and quite a gingery coloured head.  Very stock with a hefty beak.  Stunning.  HERE is a link so you can find out about it and see how stunning it is.

Anyway, I'm back home now.  No more horses to groom or make a fuss of, or others to watch in action, and it's nose to the grindstone time again!

Many thanks to J & L for a fabulous weekend and AMAZING food!  You should have seen our picnic for Badminton - Salmon gravlax with Crayfish tails and a lovely lentil salad, crudites and hummus dips.  Scrummy.


  1. Super photographs BB. Interesting that you saw a hawfinch - haven't seen one for years, but used to live near to where there were always flocks - they tend to live in the very tops of trees like Scots Pine. I used to have a stuffed one (I used to collect Victorian stuffed birds) but he got a bit moth-eaten and i finally threw him out. The ends of their wings look as though they have been cut with pinking shears.

  2. What a lovely weekend, and all those gorgeous dogs as well. The weather looked good and horses and riders beautifully turned out, don't agree with fox hunting though Jennie.

  3. Watched 2 hours of Badminton on the computer...which I thoroughly enjoyed. We had previously had the Rolex Horse Trials here in PA (USA) , followed by the Jersey Fresh Horse Trials this past weekend! Gotta get back to fence judging and scribing again! Glad you got to go....one of these days I shall do that and Burghley.....

  4. Pat - glad you enjoyed them. Until this weekend, the only Hawfinch I had seen had been a Victorian stuffed one, and it was rather faded and jaded and nothing like the living bird.

    Thelma - as we must disagree then, as I used to hunt regularly and worked in Hunt kennels too. The weather was good - we were worried as on the waya there we drove through some heavy bands of rain but as soon as we began to climb, the roads were dry.

    Lynda - I used to be a Pony Club instructor and helped out in all sorts of capacities at shows and hunter trials etc. I should imagine jump judging at Badminton is a bit more challenging. I was amused to see that each Jump Judge now has their own Portaloo beside their car - makes you wonder how they managed in the past? especially back in the 70s when I used to go before and there were no loos or refreshments actually on the course as there is now.

  5. I was a Pony Clubber as well as an instructor later on....I remember not drinking a THING on fence judge days so you didn't need to go. Or if desperate, ducking behind a bush and hoping no one came by! We did have a Wilkie talkie in case you got desperate and needed a break, but no port a loos! Sheer luxury!

  6. A hawfinch would be a new bird for me...I remember a leucistic blackbird I used to see coming home from school every day, a big white patch on the side of its head.

  7. Lynda - that comment made me smile! It must have been awful for you if it was really hot!

    Simon - I have to say I didn't even know the term "leucistic" until my birding friend Fi put me right this morning. I have only ever seen one with some white on a wing - this one is almost dapple grey!

  8. Wonderful photos. But some of those jumps look much too wide and super scary.

    cheers, parsnip

  9. parsnip - they do look wide, but the horses nearly always manage to sail over them. The wide ones are easier in a way, it's the angles on the skinnier ones which cause the occasional run-out of mistake.

  10. Great photos, looks like you had brilliant weather too.

  11. P.S. sorry forgot to say I love the new header photo!

  12. Suzie - we were SO lucky with the weather as it rained heavily as we were coming out of Gloucester, but as we arrived the sun came out and stayed out! Glad you like the new header - I like views through castle windows . . .

  13. Brilliant action photos and I am full of admiration for the horses and riders.

    So good to hear that you and J had a great weekend together. I can just imagine that picnic!