I am evacuating England. Well, that is what it feels like because as I leave, everyone else is arriving. You see, I like to be on the forefront of a trend and now that everyone is “doing” England, its time for me to get out and blaze a new trail.
Last weekend was going to be my final event in England before I returned home. I really thought it was not going to be canceled this time. We were due to leave on Friday because it was 6 hours away and I had early times on Saturday. About 4 hours down the road, we got a flat tire. Because we always try to be at least 5% prepared, we had a spare but no tools. I wasn’t going to let that stop me though. I pulled into the first turn-off from the highway, which happened to be a flower shop with some very disturbing lawn ornaments. At first I was fairly positive I was replaying some scene from the latest horror movie but 20 minutes later the kind owner had changed my tire. Back on the road, feeling rather full of myself for my quick turn around, I started hearing very strange noises from the lorry. There was some metal rod stuck in the undercarriage that was scraping along the road. Was I going to let this stop me from getting to this event? Nope, I slid underneath the lorry, which was actually very low to the ground and very difficult to fit under. All the while I was shouting things at Logan such as:
“Are you sure the parking break is all the way up”
“Great, I even need to be skinny to fit under this lorry”
“ARE YOU DEFINITELY SURE THE PARKING BREAK IS ON BECAUSE I AM STUCK”
After a bit of trouble, I got the rod out from under the truck, took a picture of it on my iphone and sent it to my mechanic with this tag line…“Do I need this piece of equipment to drive?” He said he wasn’t sure if it was safe so, naturally, we kept going. At this point we were about twenty minutes away from the event and I thought we were home free.
That’s when I got the text. Who was it from? British Eventing. That’s right…British Eventing is so cool that they text people. I bet you can imagine what it said. All national classes at Great Witchingham have been canceled due to rain. The worst part was that one of the horses on the lorry was in an international class which means I had to stay at the event all weekend and NOT COMPETE. I was very angry and kept threatening to text British Eventing back and tell them what for. Cooler minds prevailed by explaining that no one would receive the text message if I sent it because British Eventing was not an actual person. I feel that this story is an allegory for my entire experience in this country. I have overcome serious obstacles only to be thwarted by the weather. The only redeemable quality of the weekend was that Laura Collett let us stay in her lorry (which is nicer than any home I have ever lived in) and cooked for us. So basically I drove 6 hours to go on a vacation in Laura’s lorry. Great.
After another FAIL of a weekend, I felt very secure in my decision to leave the country and head back home. I planned on spending the last week packing but I DID make time to head down south and visit my compatriots one last time before they headed off for the Olympic village and I headed off for fair weather. It was Emma Ford’s birthday the night I went and of COURSE everyone was ready to celebrate so Nat, Will Faudree’s groom, organized a 20-person sit down dinner. Not an easy feat but if you know Nat there was no doubt it was going to come off. It was really fun and I have to say that all the riders seemed very relaxed if not a little bored and the horses seemed happy. Sara McKenna, Emma, Meg Kep, and I may (or may not) have then decided to go out on the town and may (or may not) have been bombarded by 18 to 20-something college students wearing not much more than their underwear. Meanwhile I was dressed in a long-sleeve button down and some boat shoes. It was NOT surprising when they tried to turn us down at the door. But that is a story for another time.
All in all, my last few weeks in England were about as successful as my British accent and so I am happy to report that I will be home soon. I am leaving the American Olympic team to hold up the “face of America abroad” in my absence. Perhaps I should lend them my tweed jacket…
Barnaby in his field...