Getting up ridiculously early for the Sunday morning 3-hour blast to Burghley House certainly paid off as it got us a parking spot not too far from the entrance, then again the ‘press’ car park ticket helped too! I felt quite at home pulling up in the Discovery 4 that Land Rover had leant me next to the other Discovery’s, well it is a horsey event after all and the Disco is an exceptional tow car.
After signing in at the press tent and grabbing a bite to eat, the 2 Muddy Madams, junior and senior, went off to watch actual horsey stuff whilst I ventured into the thronging crowds in search of interesting companies who were selling their wares. As you can imagine, there was a host of exhibitors selling horsey gear and arty-farty craft stuff, but I was there searching for interesting gubbins that we outdoor types would find useful.
The first stand that caught my attention was Almost unwearoutable, a company that started out almost 40 years ago supplying top quality hand knitted clothing and accessories in quirky designs. Unfortunately it was left abandoned so I didn't get to talk to its owners about their curious claim, maybe later.
Amongst the many shoe, boot and welly sellers at Burghley, I was most impressed with Caroline from Thomas Dainty and her collection of British, hand made shoes. I particularly liked their Tweed C boot, a casual country boot with large punched brogue details with a welted Commando rubber sole and an upper in Almond Country Grain. At £345, cheap they aren't, but according to their website, one of the great advantages of purchasing hand-made footwear is the ability to have your shoes refurbished at the factory where they were made. There are many instances in which shoes that have been well maintained by their owner and regularly repaired by Dainty lasted for more than 25 years, and they still look and feel first class. As is often quoted, you get what you pay for.
Tom Glover from Peregrine Clothing was very busy, he ought to be as Peregrine has a heritage going back over 240 years and is another English company to be proud of. I have to admit, their Bexley jacket is something that I'd like to buy someday.
The Land Rover Experience Terrapod seems to become more elaborate every year wowing the spectators and participants alike. This year they had Discover 4's and Range Rover Sports pivoting in the air and negotiating a huge hydraulic see-saw thing, it was very impressive.
I’ve seen this at many shows in the past, and I always smile when people in the queue are aghast at what these vehicles are capable of. The likes of you ‘n’ me would be like, ‘Pah, that’s nowt, you should’ve seen what I angle I was at last week..’ A couple of families actually walked past saying that it was too dangerous and scary - please!
Just behind the Terrapod was the Land Rover Lawn. This is a little place where customers can get complimentary refreshments from an old converted Airstream caravan, just flash your Land Rover key fob and get free food, Land Rover do like to look after their customers.
Walking back over the bridge towards the main arena, the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment caught my eye. Although they had finished there demonstrations, they were kind enough to put on a little show for me and the camera, they're seriously talented, both dogs and their trainers.
By this stage I was getting a bit peckish, so I meandered over to the food village to see what tasty samples were on offer. The only two companies that I spent my hard earned money on, or Muddy madams as I forgot my own money, was Nova Scotia Farm Products of Yorkshire who's steak pies were simply awesome, and the Fudge Kitchen who sold... yup, fudge!
After lunch in the press tent all the journos were escorted to the main arena for the final event, show jumping. Now, as I've mentioned elsewhere, I'm not a horsey person, but I love watching close up what these riders and horses are capable of, they're seriously impressive.
Anyhow, once a German bloke called Michael Jung had won, Muddy Madam, MM Senior and I retired to the press tent for more refreshments, and watched on as the winners and runners up were interviewed by news crews from all over the world. It’s an odd experience being surrounded by all the hustle and bustle of live TV.
Once the dust had settled and everyone began to leave for home, we headed back to the Discovery 4, and as there was no point in competing with the herd trying to escape, and I was in no rush for the 3-hour journey, we set up the Cobb BBQ and Ghillie Kettle for burgers and a brew. It was a lovely end to a good day.
As ever, the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, giving it its full title, was a hit, the weather was spectacular, the horsey stuff was nail-biting and the whole event was well executed. A huge shout-out has to go to the marshals who always do a splendid job. I have to admit, even though I’m not really a horsey person, I always thoroughly enjoy Burghley, the atmosphere is second to none and with many hundreds of exhibitors, you'll never be stuck for something to do.
The return 3-hour journey to Muddy Towers was of course a pleasure, the Discovery 4 is a fabulous all-round vehicle that can fulfil many roles. Click here for our review.
For more details of Burghley, check out www.burghley-horse.co.uk and I might see you there next year.