The weekend of 16 and 17 September had been very carefully planned..... every detail accounted for and far more than was necessary was crammed into the llama lorry for the trip. The Royal County of Berkshire Show is the National Show where camelids come together to be judged in various classes, and to ascertain the ultimate gene-pool for future llamas born in the United Kingdom (and further afield).
Here at Faster Lente Llamas, we had decided that Pharaoh should once again attend the show, along with his son, Mesen-Ka (pronounced 'Mesenka'). Mesen-Ka is just 14 months of age and has never been off-farm before, so this was a big decision for us. Having walked Pharaoh up the ramp to the llama lorry, we spent almost an hour trying to coax, nudge, tug, and wrench a young, inexperienced and frightened male llama who did not want to walk up the ramp. In an attempt to derail our efforts, Mesen-Ka kushed (lay down) half way up the ramp and firmly dug in for the stay! It took the strength of three of us to pull, push and lift him until he gave way and threw himself into the truck, where impending death was clearly waiting for him!.
Having realised that he was not going to physically die by being in the llama lorry, Mesen-Ka kushed down alongside his father for the remainder of the journey.
So, do things really happen in threes?
1) An hour into our journey, the system management light lit up on the dashboard and we crawled at 15 mph to the nearest safe place to stop. Having last year's insurance and breakdown cover paperwork in my trusty plastic wallet, and having remained with the same company, I was cavalier that they would be able to find this year's information and rescue us. Not so. You really find out what your insurance company and breakdown service are like when you really need them... After being on hold to three different telephone numbers for up to half an hour at a time, and with battery feeling a bit unhappy on my mobile phone, the result of the issue was that they were prepared to recover the llama lorry and take us to the nearest garage, which they reliably informed us would be shut at that time of the night. Having ascertained that this was the actual amount of rescue that we would receive, we considered crawling home at 15 mph to call it a day. However, that is not the Faster Lente Llamas way of doing things.
I telephoned the AA, we spoke to a polite young man who initiated a rescue for us before I had even paid to join their organisation. As I was finalising payment for their service, an AA car pulled alongside us and my heart lifted in relief. The AA Mechanic, Sean, described himself as someone who likes a challenge. He was challenged by our llama lorry, and won! What an absolute star. We continued en route to Newbury with Sean following behind for a couple of miles to ensure we were OK. Well done, AA and Sean the Superstar AA Mechanic!
2) Our journey was going to see us arriving at 8.30pm - half an hour after the gates close to exhibitors at Newbury Showground! Having replenished some battery on my mobile via the truck, my llama colleagues, and in particular Caroline Champion and Tim Crowfoot, visited the gate stewards to explain our plight. They agreed to keep the gates open for us until 9.30pm. Well done, Newbury Showground stewards and Caroline Champion and Tim Crowfoot.
3) Having arrived safely at the showground at just after 8.30pm, Chris (husband) started to erect the tent in the dark. Shannah and I escorted our wards to the pens where we settled them in with a bite to eat, some fresh water and hay and a cuddle. Having missed dinner, we thought it wise to exchange that meal for a piece of cake that one of our BLS colleagues had baked..... absolutely delicious, and a glass of wine. No dinner meant no insulin injection. However, my background insulin is required whether I have food or not, but I forgot to take it.
The following day, I felt incredibly ill, and complications that occur when people with Type 1 Diabetes don't take their insulin started to kick in - Worried that I would be too ill to take Mesen-Ka around the show-ring, I alerted Shannah to the fact she may have to pick up that job, as well as her planned role of looking after Pharaoh. The competition started at 10.30am and luckily my adrenaline kicked in. With tiny sips of water to keep me hydrated, Shannah and I walked Pharaoh and Mesen-Ka around the ring, with a fantastically enthusiastic audience and a knowledgeable compare named Amanda Huntley who was able to explain what was happening and what the judge, an expert in the field named Vicki Agar, would be looking for in the llamas walking before her. Having visually judged the pair, she then body scored, checked teeth for bite etc, Vicki Agar was able to award her prizes. The boys were in two separate classes, Pharaoh for 12 years + entire males, and Mesen-Ka in the 6-18 months entire males class.
Pharaoh received a second place in his class, and Mesen-Ka was awarded first place in his :-)
Because Mesen-Ka had won his class, he was automatically entered into the champion class where all first placed llamas were to be judged for the Champion and Reserved Champion places.
A very gorgeous 7-year-old female was placed first and named Champion. Mesen-Ka was placed second, providing this young boy with a superb Reserve Champion!! His first-time off-farm and first time at the show. Absolutely fantastic result. Well done, British Llama Society colleagues, llamas and friends.
4) Is there a 4)? Well yes, I was still very poorly and so we packed up and headed back to Cambridgeshire for the treatment that I needed. Well done Queen Elizabeth Hospital, A&E, MAU and Diabetic Nurses, Sarah and Alirae.
All done and dusted, a fantastic weekend with an unexpected but delightful array of rosettes. Well done, Mesen-Ka and Pharaoh, and of course Shannah Wiles, my Right Hand Woman Extraordinaire!