23 July 2011

Dorset’s Best Kept Secret

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And for once I’m not referring to Weymouth and Portland or Thomas Hardye (although I’ve never blogged about him!) but the Larmer Tree Festival (LTF).
I took my dad to the opening evening for his 60th birthday which made it our 4th visit back to the festi. The LTF has been going for 21 years, so this time it was pretty special all round.

If you’ve never heard of the Larmer Tree, it’s hidden away in North Dorset at the picturesque Larmer Tree Gardens in between Blandford and Salisbury (website). Here’s a quick synopsis from the website which perfectly sums it up,

Est 1990 • over 70 diverse artists • 6 stages • Comedy Club • 150 free workshops • street theatre • carnival procession • intimate crowd of 4,000 • voted Best UK Family Festival 08 • • The perfect escape from it all!

LTF is definitely one of those boutique festivals and because it coincides with certain schools breaking up attracts a certain type of audience if you get what I mean.

For once we got to the LT a little bit earlier than normal and wondered round discovering elements we’d never seen before including peacocks roaming around, now at what commercial festival will you get that? I don’t even think Glastonbury has peacocks! There were lots of massage / heeling therapy tents in the woods. My favourite was this picture.

Monkey in Therapy!
There’s also the Lost Woods which during the day plays host to poetry and readings and by night the sculptures were lit up. Over the weekend there is a mix of music, comedy and arty workshops making it ideal for kids and adults alike.

My dad off to get Lost in the Woods

We weren’t here for any of that though, we’d come to see the legend that is Jools Holland. There were a few warm up acts – C W Stoneking – a guy playing banjo and an awesome beat boxer called Vid Warren although not sure my dad appreciated his talents as much as me.
Vid Warren beat boxing in an amazing setting
Mr Jools Holland without fail was at the top of his boogie woogie game and brought along a whole host of friends from Louise Marshall on vocals, Rosie Mae who is Jool’s daughter, Squeeze drummer Gilson Lavis who gave a awesome solo set, the effervescent and energetic Ruby Turner to Puppet on a String/Eurovision star Sandie Shaw who hasn’t toured for over 20 years and looked awesome for 64 in a sparkly top and short shorts – I really hope I look that good at her age.

Jools & friends
The highlight of every Jools Holland gig is when he plays an extended version of ‘Enjoy Yourself’ this 2007 version was recorded by Jools and Prince Buster is used by Simon Mayo as the opening theme to the Drivetime show on Radio 2 – now you know why it’s so familiar.

So, if you have yet to have had the pleasure of seeing Jools Holland and his boogie woogie orchestra live, go on and book tickets I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed and you will enjoy yourself!

17 July 2011

My secret weapon

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So, after my 17.1 8 year old Irish Sport Horse Barley had bombed round his last BE 100 SJ course like he was high on acid kicking poles out as if that was the new aim of the game, it was time to try out a new bit as he’d certainly got too big for his hooves with his double snaffle.

Double snaffle
Last spring at Aldon Horse Trials we noticed our neighbour in the lorry park was using a Waterford full cheek bit and informed us that they had quite a bit of success with it teaching her horse to stop leaning/tanking off. We ended up purchasing the Copper Waterford Full Cheek Bit from Bit World and 18 months later finally got round to trying it out this week!
Copper Waterford Full Cheek Bit
The first attempt was at home practicing in our field – 20 minutes later after Barley had stopped throwing his toys out of the pram we cracked on with the fun stuff – jumping. It took a while to get used to the way he reacted to the bit as he knew that he had something a little sharper in his mouth and threw his head up after landing. However, 20 minutes later our approach to the fence was calmer - not a nap in sight(!), bascule-ing the top of the barrels (3ft6”) and not bombing off into the sunset on landing. Result – now to put practice into reality!

Show time was in the Open Working Hunter class at Chard Show. After a few tantrums in the practice ring we managed to get Barley under control in time for our round over the 11 rustic jumps 3ft3”-3ft6” which even included an actual bush to jump through rather than over! How did he do? Well, the jumping side was one of his finest smooth clear rounds, for once he actually listened rather than cocking his jaw and didn’t even touch the narrow style which he kicked out with no respect at Bath and West. The show we had to perform immediately after the jumping round wasn’t as good, we struck off on the incorrect leg, which meant I ended up in 3rd place – not bad really, and I’m glad we tried the bit out at a smaller show rather than the HOYS qualifier we’re aiming for in August.

I would recommend other riders to try out the Waterford, the one we purchased has a lozenge in the middle which is slightly milder than others on the market. The reason why riders seem to love using the Waterford is because it’s a flexible bit that moulds round the horse’s mouth creating an even pressure. Its fluid movement in all directions make it difficult for the horse to lean on or take a hold, hence giving the rider control. Reading other reviews, riders seem to use the Waterford for remedial cases and return to their usual jumping bit once the problem has been solved which I agree with.

Hopefully, the Waterford bit will prove to be my secret weapon for the rest of the season.

16 July 2011

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

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Last night I watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s (BAT’s)for the first time ever and without sounding too cheesy it was totally spellbinding and not in a Harry Potter way. I’m still thinking about it now, 24 hours on – which is rarity for a film from the 21st century. I’m also not sure why I’ve never watched it before. So, my fellow readers – I urge you to watch one of the most beautiful films ever made in the 60s starring the most magical actress of our time Audrey Hepburn.

Breakfast at Tiffany's film cover

Here’s 10 reasons why I recommend you watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s:

1. Audrey Hepburn - she's mesmerising as call girl/social lite Holly Golightly, capturing your attention in every scene she appears in with her a certain 'je ne sais quoi' about her with a charming, irreverence and vivacious persona.

The vivacious Audrey Hepburn
2. The opening scene of Holly eating pastries outside Tiffany’s.

3. The fashion - Holly’s wardrobe is to die for, every outfit is a celebration to the fashion industry.

4. That Givenchy black dress – it’s worth a point on its own.

5. Pearls – every girl needs pearls in their life after watching BAT’s.

6. The make up – natural and flawless, the kohl eyes do all the talking.

7. Smoking – I don’t endorse smoking, but Audrey Hepburn just makes it look so god damn cool. There’s even a 3ft cigarette holder in one hilarious party scene.

8. Moon River – which I thought was a famous song because Andy Williams sang it, was actually written by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini for BAT’s and is sung by Audrey Hepburn.

9. ‘Fred baby’ Paul Varjak – the gorgeous writer who is always there for Holly and gets his girl in the end. A proper man’s man.

10. Cat – Poor cat, poor slob without a name – he actually has a good ending!

Paul, Holly and Cat = one happy ending!