30 December 2018

5 Event Riders You Should Be Following on Instagram...plus my fave 5 from Dorset

Who else loves Instagram stories? Or perhaps I should I ask who doesn’t love Instagram stories?

I do wonder what on earth we did before Instagram & the introduction of stories? I know I spend an average of nearly an hour and a half a day on the pesky addictive app, thanks to the new ‘your activity’ feature.

Over the last year, more equestrian Instagrammers have popped up & are fully embracing stories - sharing behind the scenes from their yards, training horses & competition life at horse trials up & down the country & across the waters. Which I find absolutely fascinating, especially the competition side, as it makes you feel like you’re there at the event instead of being inside at work.

Here are some of my fave equestrian Instagrammers from the world of eventing & I can’t wait to follow their British Eventing season in 2019.

Tina Wallace is from Cornwall & documents her eventing highs & lows on the beautiful Banksy, & often features her friend Emma from @emd_eventing94 Their post-event vlogs are hilarious, especially the one after Bovington & the seagull incident.

Becci Harrold is an amateur event rider from Derbyshire who competes two lovely Shannondale horses, Annie & Goldie. Her Insta stories with her northern tone are very entertaining & relatable.

She’s also the owner & founder of Super X Country @superxcountry, so if you see someone with some funky XC colours, they’ve probably Becci's! 

Tamsin Drew is an amateur eventer & co-founder of the popular Facebook group #TwitterEventing. I love following her & her gorgeous horse Ziggy from training at home to competing, as well as product reviews - a right equestrian feast. Plus, she’s a fan of Reformer Pilates!

Harriet Upton is an International event rider based in West Sussex & has a team of lovely horses including Twinkle who’s owned by the Queen.

Harriet not only shares stories about her horses but her fitness regime with @georgebranford & from looking at recent stories, something exciting looks like it's about to launch in the world of Fitness for Riders – so definitely one to follow.

Ben Hobday - if you’re not following this international eventer, what have you been doing? Pure entertainment, sometimes I’m not sure if Ben’s training for eventing or for a reality TV show! Now that would make good entertainment – right?

Dorset Event Riders on Instagram

And here’s some love for a few of my fave event riders on Instagram in Dorset:

Joe shares gorgeous photos of his eventers doing their thing across the south-west: Dusty, Fred, Auriella & JP.

Jess is based at the same yard as Joe Roome, along with her fab 4* event rider mum Jo. Jess is definitely a young rider to keep an eye on in 2019.

Rosie is based over in West Dorset with her lovely string of eventers who loves her hunting too. & she’s often in the style stakes-winning the HiHo Silver best-dressed female at Blair this autumn.

Rachael & her chestnut Johnny live just up the road from us near Beaminster, & are often at the same events as us, so it’s great to see a friendly face.

Alexa is another fellow Dorset event rider, who’s made a remarkable recovery from a spectacular XC fall in the summer of 2018 & never stops smiling. We can’t wait to see you out competing again soon & your sister Kitty too!

Who's your fave event riders or equestrian talent to follow on Instagram? Drop their Instagram handles in the comment box below.

02 December 2018

Interview: Dorset Based Designer Caroline Tucker

1st December in the UK this year marked Small Business Saturday, a day dedicated to raising awareness about supporting small businesses & shopping locally. But, it’s not just about shopping locally that one day it’s about supporting those small businesses all year round. 

Which is why on Country Bumpkin Chic I’m passionate about supporting local businesses in Dorset & on the blog today is local designer Caroline Tucker based in West Dorset.

25 November 2018

Interview: Oliver & Lorna from Ministry of Fudge

During the autumn the lovely team behind Ministry of Fudge got in touch about their budding business over in Christchurch, Dorset & as a supporter of small businesses in Dorset was only too happy to interview Oliver & Lorna for the blog. & I'm delighted to offer readers a special discount...but you have to read on to find out more!

Q1. Tell us about Ministry of Fudge. When did you start the business, what was the reason behind starting up & why fudge?

11 November 2018

Black Cow on the Blog!

Back in the summer, I attended a delightful tasting evening with Black Cow (BC) at Vinny at 6 in Dorchester. Two of my favourite things & I fell in love with Black Cow Vodka just a little bit more, especially with all the amazing concoctions we had in puddings & cocktails.

Big shout out to Zach for organising a top-notch event! If you haven’t been to any of the Vinny at 6 events, you really should check them out. Head over to their Facebook or Instagram page & make sure you’re following them, as they sell out pretty sharpish.

After the event, I got in touch with the lovely folk behind Black Cow Vodka who are nestled over the hill near Beaminster in West Dorset & they were happy to take part in an interview for Country Bumpkin Chic. The first of a few festive posts.

CBC Q1) So, for anyone who hasn’t heard of Black Cow Vodka, is it really made from cow’s milk?
BC A1) Yes, indeed it really is! Black Cow is made entirely from the milk of grass grazed cows on England’s West Dorset coast. Fresh whole milk makes an exceptionally smooth vodka with a deliciously creamy character

CBC Q2) How did founders Jason Barber & Paul Archard come up with that unique idea?
BC A2) The unique recipe is the invention of West Dorset dairy farmer  Jason  Barber. His inspiration came from a desire to diversify the produce from his 250 strong dairy herd & his personal love of vodka.
CBC –  Wow, well who doesn’t love vodka?

Black Cow Vodka founder Jason with his herd of dairy cows

CBC Q3) Is it a fact or myth that after drinking Black Cow Vodka, you don’t have a hangover the next morning?
BC A3) Very true – our founder, Jason often says its so smooth, he can drink it until the cows come home!
CBC – think I’ve found my new Christmas party drink!

CBC Q4) What’s the best cheese accompaniment for Black Cow Vodka?
BC A4) Our deluxe Cheddar, of course! We use all of the milk with no waste, the vodka is made from the whey & the cheese is made from the curds.

CBC Q5) What Black Cow cocktail would you recommend our readers trying?
BC A5) Ooh good one. We’d recommend a delicious warm cocktail called the ‘The Mooled Cranberry’. This cocktail has it all - fruitiness from the blood orange & cranberry, spice from the cloves & charged with vodka. 

CBC Q6) Where can we buy Black Cow Vodka in the shops?
BC A6) You can find Black Cow Vodka in Sainsbury’s, Majestic, M&S, Morrisons & various speciality farm shops across Dorset.

CBC Q7) There are lots of gorgeous items on your shop including the cow print glasses, but what I’m sure everyone will want to know is where can you buy the gold straws featured on Instagram from?

BC A7) Since Black Cow’s inception we have consciously tried to create a sustainable, green working culture. & we’re concerned about the world’s waste crisis, as the UK discards a staggering 8.5 billion plastic straws a year - that’s an average of approximately 130 straws per person per year!

So, we wanted to offer an alternative to the plastic straw & have developed a gift pack with a 24-carat gold plated stainless steel straw. You can shop the gift pack here

CBC - they’re gorgeous & I’m impressed that BC is doing their bit for the environment. If anyone wants to buy me this set for Christmas, it would make me very happy!

CBC Q8) Do you do tours of your distillery & can we come?
BC A8) Yes, we do! Our next distillery tour and lunch is on 15th December. You can find out more details here.

CBC Q9) What’s coming up for Black Cow Vodka, any other collaborations, new flavours, & anything special for Xmas?
BC Q9) We’ve got some very exciting launches in 2019, but sadly can’t share any more details just yet! However, we have recently launched a ‘Travellers Edition’ mini for the Christmas period – the perfect stocking filler or bauble to hang from your Christmas Tree.

CBC Q10) What events or festivals can we see you out & about in 2019?
BC Q10) We’re in the process of planning events for next year, & hope to take The Black Cow Saloon to another festival closer to London & collaborate with a high profile sporting event right here in Dorset!

For NYE we’re hosting a party at Mark’s Bar, Soho where guests will enjoy live music & delicious bespoke cocktail menu. To be the first to hear about our exciting news, please sign up to our mailing list

Thanks, Black Cow for taking part in the County Bumpkin Chic interview, we look forward to seeing the exciting ideas come to life in 2019!

What other west country or Dorset based brands would you like to hear from on the Country Bumpkin Chic blog – let me know in the comments box below.

14 October 2018

Dorchester Literary Festival – an interview with Janet Gleeson

Next week is the Dorchester Literary Festival in Dorset, now in its fourth year & with a fab line up I caught up with Co-Director Janet Gleeson to get the low down on the festival.

Hi Janet, thank you for agreeing to chat with Country Bumpkin Chic…

For those who’ve not heard about the Dorchester Literary Festival, can you give us a brief overview?
It’s an annual 5-day event where we invite a very broad range of leading writers and other inspirational people to come to Dorchester to talk about their latest book. Talks last for about an hour, some are interviews or ‘in conversation events’ some standalone talks, but we always leave time for the audience to ask questions. Afterwards, you can buy the books and have them signed.

How long has the Dorchester Literary Festival been running for?
This is our fourth festival. In our first year, we began with just three days and 15 events, but it’s grown and now we have around double that.

How long have you been involved in the festival & what’s your role?
I’m a founding Co-Director and started the festival with a friend and fellow author Paul Atterbury. This means I get to choose the speakers and chat with them when they visit. But it also means making all the arrangements and worrying if things go wrong.

Paul & Janet
Which authors are coming to Dorchester?
We have an amazing line up this year including Judy Murray, Jeremy Vine, Joanna Trollope, Mark Billingham, Lisa Jewell, Peter Snow, Mark Austin, Lynne Truss and Julian Fellowes are some of the great names. The books we are featuring cover all sorts of subjects: the Suffragettes, Byron, Health, Yetis, Foraging, Rainforests, Orchids, International Veterinary practice, and much more.

Where can we go & watch them?
Events are held at three main locations in Dorchester – Duke’s Galleries, The Corn Exchange, and Thomas Hardye School Theatre. Our website www.dorchesterliteraryfestival.com has all the details.

Who is the Dorchester Literary Festival aimed at?
Anyone and everyone – we deliberately choose as varied a programme as possible so there’s something for everyone, whatever their interests.

Who are you most looking forward to watching or meeting? Will you get a chance to go to all the events?
I don’t see them all as I’m usually rushing about although I see snippets of most. This year I am really excited about the incredible Tara Westover, who was raised in a Mormon family, didn’t go to school till her late teens, yet managed to get to Cambridge – Her book Educated is a wonderful memoir and she’s only 29. The book was a best seller, book of the week on Radio 4, Barrack Obama has tweeted about her - and she’s coming to Dorchester!

Have you been to any other Literary Festival’s this year?
No – I’ve been too busy sorting out the Dorchester Festival and moving house, but I love Appledore in Devon, it’s in a really beautiful location.

And what book are you currently reading? And which one of the authors coming to the DLF are you most looking to read?
I’m reading Dr Dawn Harper’s book Live Well to 101 and trying to take the advice on board! I’m going to read more Lisa Jewell, she’s one of our featured crime writers - her books are real page turners!

Finally, where can we buy tickets from?
You can buy online from the website www.dorchesterliteraryfestival.com or from Dorchester Tourist Information Centre in Dorchester Library. Tickets are £10 or three for £25.

04 September 2018

Part 3: HiHo Silver - Style, Skills & Silver with Emma Warren

Last but not least in this 3 part interview series, is the lovely Emma Warren who is MD at HiHo Silver & the brains behind the Style, Skills & Silver event. She is also the one who’s behind the HiHo Silver Instagram handle & is always so responsive & witty in her responses.

Thank you Emma for coming on Country Bumpkin Chic, please can you give the readers an overview of your role at HiHo Silver.
Well, we’re a small team so we all have to be multi-talented and turn our hands to most things. In the main, I tend to be the one who is working on brand development with Rhea Freeman, some designing, a bit of donkeywork and a lot of social media!

03 September 2018

Part 2: HiHo Style, Skills & Silver with Melanie from Mackenzie & George

Tonight we go behind the scenes of the HiHo Silver Style, Skills & Silver event with British accessories owner Melanie Clarihew from Mackenzie & George, who will be hosting one of the Style sessions.

Hey Melanie, thanks for finding time between preparations for a busy Burghley Horse Trials to get involved in the 3 part series of interviews on HiHo Silver's inaugural Style, Skills & Silver event.

02 September 2018

Part 1: HiHo Style, Skills & Silver with Rhea Freeman

It’s not often that an event pops up in your newsfeed that makes you reach for the credit card straight away. But when British equestrian jeweller HiHo Silver launched tickets for their Style, Skills & Silver event in the Cotswolds, I knew I had to go & be part of the day on 6th September.

With only 4 nights to go until we all meet at The Fish Hotel in the beautiful Cotswolds I wanted to get an insight into what the day will hold, & caught up with a few of the team behind the inaugural Style, Skills & Silver event. First up on the blog is equestrian PR & marketing guru Rhea Freeman who will be hosting one of the Skills sessions.

26 August 2018

Interview with Katy Howell from Bayside Bakery

For those who follow me over on Instagram @becky_wren will know that I posted some very yummy photos of brownies from the Dorset Food & Arts Festival earlier in August after discovering the Bayside Bakery stand. And let me tell you, they didn’t last long!
I love supporting local businesses, especially the edible ones, so was thrilled when Katy from Bayside Bakery agreed to be interviewed for the Country Bumpkin Chic blog.

Hey Katy, thank you so much for agreeing to appear on the CBC blog to chat about Bayside Bakery…
You’re welcome, it’s always nice to talk about chocolate brownies!

19 August 2018

Interview: Jez Culley on Paddleboard Yoga

Fellow Country Bumpkin Chic followers will know I’ve blogged about one of my fave passions SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) a few times. Living near the coast, SUP is a sport/hobby that is growing rapidly, & I was so excited when Jez Culley from Helios Colour Yoga started running paddleboarding & yoga on the Kingston Maurward College lake last year. It’s so therapeutic and surreal to be striking a pose with swans swimming by. 

12 August 2018

Recipe: Mrs Darlington's Marmalade Fruit Loaf

Here at Country Bumpkin Chic we like to support local events, & at the beginning of July popped along to the Charminster Pre-School Fun Day. It was a colourful array of stalls selling everything from your standard bric & brac, through to some unique products from Loving by Nature Dorset selling baby clothes, children’s clothing stall Flamingo & Fairy, Pop Fizz Clink Prosecco Bar through to my local village Post Office selling Mrs Darlington’s jams, curds, pickles & chutneys.

I picked up a jar of Mrs Darlinton’s Lemon & Lime Curd, as well as the Medium Cut Orange Marmalade for £5 – a right billy bargain! I also picked up a few free recipe cards to give a whirl.

Mrs Darlington or Marion who’s based in Cheshire is the Mary Berry of recipe creation & it’s a real family affair with founder Marion, and daughters Sarah & Wendy both working for the business. The website is so kitsch & country & with their strap line ‘Made with Love’ at the heart of the brand, oozes authenticity.

I decided to give the Marmalade & Fruit Loaf recipe a go, it seemed pretty straightforward & didn’t need any exotic ingredients which is one of my pet hates.

Below are a few snap shots from my baking session & a shot of the recipe card, which you can view online.

05 August 2018

Horses: Ode to Aldon Horse Trials

Last month Aldon Horse Trials Team aka the Batten family announced that after 40 years of holding horse events, there had been a change of land ownership & sadly Aldon as we know it will no longer be a fixture on the British Eventing calendar.

I actually found this really sad news & felt pretty emotional. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

Aldon holds a lot of memories for our family. My mum competed on her gutsy chestnut Landmark at the first ever Horse Trials around the Novice, because back in those days they didn’t have anything less than Novice. Something I’m reminded of quite regularly.

It was a great base for the Cattistock Pony Club & growing up as a child we had so many fun rallies, hunter trials & unaffiliated one-day events. We even had an area PC ode, back when the show jumping followed after the cross country. I somehow managed to concuss myself after I landed on my head after Mirage & I got a little strung out after the XC. I was gutted not to be able to finish.

Aldon was the highlight of the British Eventing calendar & for many eventers marked the start of the eventing season. It took a lot to stop play at Aldon. I was fortunate enough to compete at the coldest ever Aldon on record earlier this year before they cancelled the Sunday due to the ground being knee deep in the white stuff.

The International event in the autumn was a great way to finish the season & celebrate all that you loved about eventing. When they started running the 2-day event it gave amateurs like me a real taste of what it felt like to be a professional eventer. I loved the time I competed on my mum’s horse Tynagh in the Novice 2-Day, it was a real thrill to be able to fly around the steeplechase. Something we’ll probably never do again as they’ve cut out steeplechase from 2 & 3-day events.

It was one of the friendliest events on the circuit which is down to the family feeling the Batten’s created – everyone just got stuck in, whether you were volunteering, competing or supporting. It will be such a huge loss to the British Eventing calendar, but I’m hugely grateful for all the experiences & memories.

Below are some snapshots of the memories from the Wren family across the decades on various ponies & horses.

What’s your favourite memory from Aldon? I’d love to hear about it & reminisce.

29 July 2018

Interview: Ian Watson – CryoLabs, Poole

If you follow me on Instagram @becky_wren you’ll have seen way back in June I visited the new CyroLabs in Poole, Dorset. After a recommendation from one of my Dad’s friends, myself & my Dad decided to give cryotherapy a try. I was recovering from a fractured arm & my Dad had a few aches & pains - mainly from the horses!
Before I went into the chamber which gets as cold as -160C I couldn’t touch my shoulder with my hand, but after the session, my mobility had hugely improved & my physio was really impressed.

I caught up with founder Ian Watson to find out more about Cryotherapy & the new cool therapy everyone is talking about.

Founder of CryoLabs, Poole, Dorset - Ian Watson

28 July 2018

Equestrian: My Omega Equine All Star Academy Entry

So, after 2 years of watching the All Star Academy on Horse & Country TV, I finally plucked up the courage to pull together an audition for series 3, sponsored by Omega Equine. With a little bit of persuasion from my mum, help filming/directing from my best friend Rach & assistance from my gorgeous goddaughter Evie. Oh & of course my stunning models Barley & Leo, the application is in & the video is now live on YouTube!!

Have a watch of our video below & let me know what you think… please be kind =)

19 July 2018

Fitness: BeachFit Weymouth 20-22 July

Wellness & fitness festivals are all the rage in 2018. So, when I saw the Facebook post for BeachFit Weymouth hosted by GymPro Apparel on 20-22 July pop up on my newsfeed, I knew I had to find out more.

I caught up with the energetic & enthusiastic founder of BeachFit Weymouth & GymPro Apparel Adam Rai to get the low down on the event.

05 June 2018

What to take SUPing?

A question friends often ask... what shall I take SUPing? & when you think about it, not a lot really. 

So, here’s my top 5 essentials for getting on the water.

1. A SUP!

Your SUP board, of course, is essential if you want to go for a paddle on the water. You might be fortunate to own your own either inflatable or hardboard. Or you might be heading somewhere you can hire one.

I bought my Fanatic Fly Air Premium 10’8” for £475 from the lovely Lucy at SUPFit at the end of her season teaching back in 2016. Brand new it would retail about £840.

04 March 2018

An interview with London Marathon first timer Rachel Heywood

I’ve known Rach Heywood (nee Eversden) since I was 4 years old. We’ve been best friends for an incredible 30+ years. And boy have we experienced lots of fun adventures together from growing up in the rural village of Bradford Peverell, to attending the same schools, learning to ski in Austria, attending our first concert – Kylie Minogue through to being Rach’s bridesmaid back in 2013.

And now it’s a huge honour to interview Rach on the amazing challenge she’s about to take on tackling the London Marathon for charity, so without further ado let me introduce you to Rach Heywood…

04 February 2018

An interview with David Partridge from Nowhere2far Stand Up Paddle Boarding

I first met David when I was on a surf trip last autumn in Lagos, Portugal. At heart I’m more of a SUP’er than a surfer, and was keen to get out on a board, which is how I met David. During my 1 week, I managed to cram in two river SUPs, a sunrise & sunset. So, was delighted when David, with a little bit of help from his lovely wife Holly agreed to be interviewed for Country Bumpkin Chic.

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to David Partridge….

28 January 2018

An interview with Claire Williamson from Sea Legs Cartoons

I started following @sealegscartoon on Instagram before Christmas and admired the fun surfboard cartoons, they can't fail to make you smile and think of catching fun waves in the sunshine. So, I invited the artist behind the cartoons, Claire Williamson, to appear on Country Bumpkin Chic.

21 January 2018

My Top 5 Insta Pages

For anyone who follows me will know I have a wide range of hobbies & eclectic tastes. So, it’s no surprise that some of my favourite Instagram pages are a bit left field. But why be dull I say, variety is the spice of life?

Anyhow, here are a few which are making me smile in a very grey January.

Sea Legs @sealegscartoon
I first spotted Sea Legs on @surfgirlmag it’s fun little surf wave based cartoons based on a surfboard enjoying life with his mates. For surf chicas & chicos, it can’t help but make you smile & dream about heading off in search of the perfect wave.

07 January 2018

Top Tips for Tackling Tough Mudder

Cider makes everything better....

So maybe your 2018 resolution was to sign up to Tough Mudder or some other obstacle race? Do something out of your comfort zone or set yourself a new challenge you might be thinking?

Yep, that was me last year when I fell in to peer pressure to sign up to Tough Mudder at Badminton Estate (also that place for that well-known horse event) in Gloucester. At the end of the day, it was for charity. I just tried not to think about the 10 muddy miles & 20+ obstacles. It’s like cross country for humans. Right?