Having waved goodbye to Polly, Vincent and the children, Anna and I set off for Tunbridge Wells for a first look at wedding dresses. We had a lovely morning at the Pantiles Bride, where Anna surprised herself by liking dresses that were completely different to what she had imagined, and looked beautiful in all of them. Sophie sadly missed out on Friday, but joined us for a second morning of trying on dresses in Lindfield. We also managed to fit in appointments with three different caterers over the weekend. The important bits of "wedmin" are falling into place now with caterers, flowers, the church and the marquee all booked. We have one more day of dress shopping and then hopefully we can have a relaxed few months before the organising starts in earnest.
On the Sunday I took all the horses to Felbridge. Catokyo had felt green at home so I jumped her in the Discovery before the Newcomers and she jumped both well. Culana had felt very confident at Michael Duffy's so I put her straight in the Newcomers which wasn't such a great idea as she felt extremely green and we had a few misunderstandings on the way round, however, as the show wasn't too busy I had another round at the end of the class and she jumped round beautifully. Benny and Emma both had a confidence building run in the 1.20 with Emma finishing 2nd.
The following week it was Benny and Catokyo's turn to visit Michael Duffy. Once again we had a very helpful afternoon. Benny now has completely different brakes which seem to help me a lot and Michael had helpful ideas for getting Catokyo to jump out of a slower rhythm and not to land so far from the fence. On the Monday Shane had time to give me a hand with Benny and Emma, who both jumped well, and Shane smartened me up with Emma.
We went to Felbridge on Tuesday to test everything out. We had Emily Moss and Mai on board as well so it was a busy day, luckily Steff was with us for the whole day as somehow even when the day starts slowly it always gathers pace as it goes on. Emily and Mai were placed in the British Novice and jumped well in the Discovery. Both Culana and Catokyo jumped very well straight round the Newcomers, Benny jumped a fantastic double clear in the 1.20 and Emma was just pipped into 2nd in the 1.30. Many thanks to Sean Marsh and Voltaire Design for providing such good prize money that I ended the day in profit for the first time for ages.
We have also had two weeks of beautiful weddings. David Simpson married Louise Pavitt just in time to watch Nick Skelton's gold medal round in Rio, and the following weekend Lucy Bunn and Ben Townley were married from Hickstead. Both were lovely, happy occasions full of family and friends.
I took Emma, Culana and Catokyo to Edenbridge and Oxted Show on the Bank Holiday weekend. After a very late night at Lucy's wedding I did wonder whether this was more effort than strictly necessary, but it is a very busy little agricultural show and is great experience for youngsters. Both Catokyo and Culana jumped double clear in the Newcomers and were placed, and Emma jumped a fabulous round in the 1.35 to finish one out of the money, but it was very good to give her a run over bigger fences on grass. Catokyo was rather green on Sunday so I took her back for the Newcomers on Monday.
Quite a lot of time last month was spent on kitten rescue. Pebbles is fantastic at climbing up, but not so clever at climbing down. The top daily total was five rescues, and she does find herself in some very strange places. She is very sweet, although quite fierce and certainly seems to be discouraging the rats in the yard. I'm not being terribly successful at keeping her out of the house as she follows the dogs in when she needs some company, but she seems to be growing up into a great little cat.
All this rushing about would be very hard to achieve without all the help I have from Steff and Mark. Mark certainly was super-groom at Edenbridge where he had to hold either Culana or Catokyo while I jumped the other one as there were very few horses in their class.