Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Badminton 2013

Had the most amazing experience at Badminton Horse Trials 2013. Congratulations to Jock for winning and Andrew for his third placing. Photos available on  this album and others by clicking here 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Women, Media & The Olympics


There has been much made of the diversity that these London Olympics will deliver.   Every country will, for the first time, have a female representative.   Women can compete in every sport (yes, even boxing now!).   Just under half of the athletes at the Games are going to be women.   47% of our own kiwi team are women.

 Predictions in UK are that the British women will bring home more medals than their male counterparts in these Games.  Women compete directly against men in 4 events; the equestrian disciplines of eventing, dressage and showjumping and one class in sailing (49er).  Expect to see women shine in the equestrian events (and hopefully our kiwi women!). The first competition of these Games will be the women’s football, when our own team takes the field to play the British team.

The IOC is making small inroads into equality in their structure, with 20 of their 106 board members being women.  Our own NZOC has an equal number of men and women.  For the first time ever, a woman (Debbie Jevans) is the Director of Sport for LOCOG.  

The Games has a very important role to play in changing society through sport.  You only have to look at the influence sport had on the public perception of apartheid in South Africa.  

Diversity is therefore an important and admirable goal for these Games.

NZOC’s website states that “Despite stunning progress on the sport field in the past 100 years, women’s representation off the field remains a serious challenge”   NZOC’s aim to improve this is to focus on the underrepresentation of women on sports’ boards and to this end, have commendably established a mentoring, information and support programme.

I believe this goal needs to go further.  Media shapes, changes, and re-enforces society’s values and attitudes.  It is therefore important to look at just who is bringing us the stories from the Games.

There are 21,000 journalists, photographers, camera operators and technicians from 190 different countries covering the Games this year – twice as many as the athletes.    Many of these are sent to cover the non-sport aspects of the Games, from security to transport.  No doubt there will be others to write the celebrity stories.   

I have not been able to establish how many women there are in this army of media people.   I have, however, seen how many of the 22 (approx) strong New Zealand print media team are women.   None.  Zip.  Nil.   Broadcasting does better, just.   From what I can ascertain, there are 6 women involved in radio or television for NZ at the Games.  

Why doesn’t our New Zealand media team have more women journalists?   Who decides who goes to the Olympics in the media team?   The male sports editors?  The mainly (or is it all, now) male editors?  Does NZOC have to step in to demand better of the media organisations before accreditation is granted?  

Come on New Zealand media.  Kiwis have a proud history of leading the way with diversity so why are we lagging so far behind with your team?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

UK Revisited Trip; May 2012

What a disappointment! Not the place, or the people, but the WEATHER!   Had a few fine days; the ones I spent in Ireland and the day I left!   Badminton Horse Trials was cancelled, and then Chatsworth Horse Trials were also cancelled!   No eventing for me. 

I did get to have a day at the Windsor Show, which was lovely, although it rained and was a real bog.   Nice to get in amongst the horses though.

The rest of the time was spent visiting friends, relations and National Trust Houses.  While the first two were great, the third wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

I was quite glad to get on the plane and head to Kuala Lumpur.   Bryan flew in from Christchurch five minutes before I flew in from London.  Fantastic organisation on my part, the only thing was we came into different terminals, and they were about 25 minutes from each other.  Our host, Peter, was up to the challenge though and we eventually all got to the same place at the same time.

Malaysia was fantastic, we had the best holiday!  Fantastic hosts made the stay so memorable.

Photos (hundreds of them) can be viewed here: https://picasaweb.google.com/108038742003880059367

Next trip?  Africa 2013?   Could be a plan!

Monday, April 30, 2012

London revisited

Arrived back in London at six am after the long haul from Christchurch. Not a bad couple of flights, all things considered. It is NOT a good ideas however to watch sad movies on the aeroplane, especially if you don't like people seeing you cry. War Horse is one such movie. A sure tear jerker for me involving animals.

After dumping bags at Kirsty's I hit the streets. Discovering I still had £2 something on my oyster card was a nice surprise well above the monetary value. Despite that, there is something about London that makes me want to walk. Up the Strand, on to Coventry Gardens, neals road, Shaftesbury ave, tottenham Court Road (including past where I used to work), Marylebone High Street, (quick shop visits there including to my favourite ever book shop, Daunt) and then on to Edgeware Road to meet Katie for a lovely healthy lunch in a cafe in paddington. Loved seeing the history again right there in the streets and buildings especially after all the destruction we have been witnessing in Christchurch.

There was quite a bit of construction going on at various places both for Olympic preparation and just natural progress. Walking anonymously down the streets confident I was unknown was also a nice change after small town life.

I wasn't in a shopping mood but made a few mental notes of places to revisit should the spending urge return. Just being in this vibrant, heaving-with-people city with all it's noises, smells and sights was enough for me, bringing back memories of the good times in the past but also refreshing my thoughts about not bring able to live there for long periods without some regular country respites. I love London but would I change my current situation and life in rural New Zealand? No way!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Coming Back

In a couple of weeks I am visiting UK again. In that time I'll "do" Badminton, Windsor show and visit ireland. Really looking forward to it! If you want to keep up with what's happening follow me on twitter - cheviotjane

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Blog

here's my new blog, which I have started after nearly 3 years living in North Canterbury.
I hope you enjoy it.
PS the earthquakes happened and the blog stalled... No, more than stalled, went into a coma.  Still in a coma.   Facebook and Twitter are healthier though!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Last Post

I started typing this at Heathrow airport, as I filled in time before I got on the plane to New Zealand. I had great intentions of putting up a bit more about activities during that whirlwind time in the last week of being in London but it just never happened. It was a fantastic week, and I really enjoyed spending time with those good friends who I look forward to seeing again in New Zealand one day soon.

It was a fantastic year, lots of adventures, lots of new friends, and lots of old friends that I have got to know even better and enjoyed time with. It was a healing year in many ways and a year of discovery.

It's quite a story as to the reasons for my return to New Zealand, and if you are really curious what it is, then feel free to email me and I will fill you in on the details. It could even be a book one day.... It's a lovely story, and I'm really happy in my new home in Cheviot, North Canterbury. This is a beautiful part of New Zealand and close to a source of some of my favourite wines (Waipara reislings.....)
In the photo section there's some photos of the area, and also some photos of the Glenmark Cheviot rugby team, during their very successful year.

I've been debating for some time what to do with this blog now my travels in the UK are over. I have decided that I'll keep it on the internet for a while but not update it. People are obviously still accessing the photos and hopefully enjoying them.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog as much as i have enjoyed living it

contact email: jane.thompson@actrix.co.nz

Monday, July 21, 2008

Birthday lunch at Gordon Ramsays at Claridges

When your sister has a significant birthday in London, it calls for collecting up the best girlfriends, a cousin and heading to Gordon Ramsays at Claridges. It's a beautiful hotel, decorated in the art deco style (of which I am a big fan!).

The food was great. I had quail starter, the beef for my main and a berry desert. Others tried the trout, chicken (poissin) and Catherine raved about her desert of grilled peaches on a bready thing (aka peaches on toast!). No sign of Gordon. The coffee, while good for London standards, wasn't a patch on kiwi coffee. Oh how I am looking forward to getting good coffee as a standard rather than an exception!

East Sussex, Hever Castle, Dorset, Devon & Dartmoor

To see the photos of the various places mentioned in the title, here's the link.

As well as having some great outings with Aunty Pat, we also had some lovely dinners out. The highlight was the Huntsman pub, near Eridge. Their summer pudding, with sour cherries, was THE best desert I have had in England. Truly superb.

Other notable pubs included the Castle Hotel in Bramber (near Lewes - see picture to the right) and The Elizabethan, in Chudleigh.
Walking to Wistmans Wood, on Dartmoor was fun, but the promised drink at the pub at the end of the walk didn't eventuate as they had finished serving lunch and there was an hour to go before they would serve afternoon tea, and you couldn't get a drink unless you ate! Very strange but not to worry, there was another place further up the road where the obligatory Devon scones and clotted cream were available. The photo is of Phil Trump, having a rare day off, at Wistman's Wood.
We also lunched in Sherborne, Dorset with the Pinneys. That's a lovely town, well worth a visit.
I also thoroughly recommend getting a gps / sat-nav system - saves lots of hassles!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Nobel Prize winners, Charles Darwin relations and world famous novelists

I had the good fortune to be able to attend the panel debate on Creative Energy: what drives writers and scientists which was a joint event between the Medical Research Council and PEN (www.englishpen.org) held at the Royal Geographic Society in London.

The speakers were
- Ruth Padel, poet, chair of the UK Poetry Society and great great granddaughter of none other than Charles Darwin.
- Sir Aaron Klug, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Nobel Prize winner
- Dr Sheena McCormack, HIV researcher at the MRC Clinical Trials Unit
- Ian McEwan, who has written many fabulous books, including Atonement and On Chesil Beach

They were all very interesting and entertaining people, each one of whom could have entertained the whole room for some hours on their own.

Sir Aaron defined creativity as both a flash of imagination as well as being assembled over long periods of separate studies. He stated that it is more important for an idea to be fruitful than true. Science has progressed through people going down wrong tracks, and there isn’t always a direct route to the solution.

Ruth Padel compared poetry to experimenting, and both use metaphors. Creativity is a process of recognition and realisation and goes forward in stages. The metaphor is crucial in both science and in writing. Creativity also relies on being able to bear muddle and mess and cope with the knowledge that there are a lot of details. Ruth herself said that she can only work in a “creative muddle” – she has to have lots of things around her and goes through a process of gathering things until she starts creative. She also thought there is an element of paring away in creativity as well.

Dr Sheena McCormack is involved in HIV prevention work, talked about how she always wanted to be a doctor. She attributed this to coming from a family of doctors and seeing how much they enjoyed their roles. She also discussed creativity from a team perspective, and how it is an organic process where people must have “can do” attitudes. She also discussed the things that cramp creativity, especially the paperwork involved in science proving that you did a good job! As to there being one truth, Dr McCormack stated that the important thing she has learnt is to make the message right for that person and that there is not one truth for everyone, its all about perception (lovely postmodernism themes coming through here, reminding me of my Massey studies!!).

Ian McEwan was a very entertaining speaker as well. He talked about the commonalities between the two different domains of science and art. Imagination is the obvious one but then said that if you look at similarities, you are forced into generalities. Creativity needs persistence, tolerance, drudgery, luck, playfulness, ambition and ruthlessness.

“To float in a determined stupor is crucial” for both scientists and artists.

He also talked about scientists going into “novelists domains” citing an example of a lecture he recently attended where a neuroscientist talked about Revenge. Scientists are increasingly experimenting in emotions, and emotions are no longer the reserve of poets and novelists.

As to the eternal question of how you get to being creative, he said there is no one answer but that creativity does become a habit and once you have been doing it for a while, it just becomes “what you do.”

Vanity is also a common trait between artists and scientists. There’s passion around precedence and status anxiety for both of them.

There were lots of questions and comments from the floor. One of my favourite responses was Ian McEwan’s when asked about the responsibilities artists have. “Listing your responsibilities is like knitting a rope to hang yourself” but then he went on to say that novelists are responsible for coherence.

The only issue with these sorts of events is that there is so much material covered in so short a time and while it did last well over two hours, it was very much “once over lightly.” Still, I felt very privileged to have the opportunity to attend.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rain, Bra Shopping and Cultural Activites

Iit’s been raining here in London since Saturday – so much for the English summer. My tan which had developed nicely after the week in sunny Spain has now all but disappeared. I’m loathe to use the fake tan again as last time people thought I was wearing jungle print stockings – it was sooooo patchy! Never was much good at those such girly things.

Catherine (sister) has arrived and is checking out all the interesting exhibitions and museums in London while I am working. She has sussed out some that I have never heard of, my cultural activities here have been somewhat limited obviously. I do know some good pubs and wine bars however….

I’m only doing half days at work this week so have snuck in a few fun afternoon activities. It was shopping yesterday – took the opportunity to stock up on the wonderful English bra’s. Yep, sounds odd I know but then again, with my “assets” this can be a bit of a challenge. I went to Rigby& Peller, which is where the Queen gets her underwear from. If it’s good enough for her…. Bet she doesn’t have to get a ticket and wait in the queue until her number is called to get a fitting however! The service is wonderful and I walked out with three very lovely items, and a scorched plastic card. I then picked up a couple of real bra bargains at £5 each (confident in the knowledge that I had the right sizing) in the Selfridge’s sale, so the average price per item from the bra shopping went down considerably.

Joined by John, Vivienne and Kirsty, we ventured out in the rain last night to go to a great theatre production at the Tricycle Theatre (just down the road from my place, its a lovely small theatre) – Moonlight & Magnolias. It's a comedy about the writing of the script for Gone with the Wind film. It was hilarious, we laughed and laughed.

Tonight we are off to a panel debate about creative energy, what drives writers and scientists which includes some Nobel prize winners, and IanMcEwan. It's at the Royal Geographic Society so that should be a lovely venue. It was organised through work and is free, another bonus.

Friday sees us heading out of London (yah) to Sussex to stay with my great aunt and then on Monday head further down to Dorset and Devon.

We are due back in London for me to work Thursday and Friday and also to go to see Jeremy Irons star in Never So Good, which is a portrait of HaroldMacmillan, set against a back-drop of fading Empire, war, the Suez crisis, vintage champagne, adultery and vicious Tory politics at the Ritz (I have copied that last bit directly from the blurb on their website).

The week after is Cathy’s 50th birthday, so its lunch at Gordon Ramsays at Claridges on the Monday and then dinner at the Cinnamon Club which is inthe beautiful venue of the old Westminster Library on the Tuesday. Back to work for three more days for me, and then farewell drinks, tidying flat, packing, and onto the plane on the 27th. It’s a whirlwind so I will be glad to get on the plane and even happier to set foot back in NZ. The crowds of England and especially London get very wearying for a country girl.

I'll try to fit in some more details about the various events, especially the writer's talk tonight for all those who visit from Bookman Beattie's blog. The writing activities have been a bit limited lately, its been sporting focus rather than literary. Cathy is visiting the London Literary event today so there may even be an update on that as well!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Barbury Horse Trials Photos


Click on the above link for the photos from the Sunday three star event at the Barbury International Horse Trials. There's lots of photos of Mark Todd and Gandalf, Andrew Nicholson on many horses, Joe Meyer, Dan Jocelyn, Annabel Wigley and various others, even William Fox Pitt!

Rain, rain, mud, mud was the order of the day.

Friday, July 4, 2008


I'm just back from a holiday in Spain with Legs, Pat, Sam and Robyn Carey and took lots of photos, especially of the kids. http://picasaweb.google.com/jane.thompsonuk/SpainWithTheCareys

Tomorrow Cathy (sister) arrives from New Zealand to stay with me in London. The flat is very full at the moment as I also have Aunty Pat and Judy staying. They attended Wimbledon tennis today so I am looking forward to catching up with them and finding out how it all went. Unfortunately some of us had to work.....

Sunday I'm going to Barbury Horse Trials in Wiltshire. I'm looking forward to seeing all the kiwi riders there, there are a bunch of them competing including Jonelle, Tim, Toddy, Annabel, Dan, Joe and more. Blyth also arrives in UK today and will be there too.

Congratulations also to Katie McVean, Sharn Wordley, Daniel Meech and Bruce Goodin for making the NZ Olympic showjumping team. All the best for Hong Kong guys.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A weekend with the Relies in New Forest

Just back from a fantastic weekend in New Forest with various relations ranging from great aunts, aunts and uncles, cousins, cousins once removed, second cousins and the family of my great grandfather's brother.

It was a fantastic weekend and thank you to Kirsty for organising it. Kirsty had discovered the hotel, the Bramble Hill Hotel, on a cycling trip in New Forest and it suited the purpose perfectly.

The food was good, very solid English fare, including Rabbit Pie (see photo of Beau Maurice about to tuck into his). The chef assured us that he hadn't just gone out and shot one of the many rabbits frolicking on the front lawn.

Eating was certainly one of the most common activities of the weekend - a full lunch and then just a few hours later, dinner!

We had a few more guests at lunchtime on Saturday, taking our numbers to 16 for lunch. Guests included Roger and Anne (Bryan's sister) who took on the challenge of meeting so many "Maurice" family at once! We were also joined by a 92 year old retired (obviously) Lieutenant Colonel who was related somehow - he was very spritely and had made the trip from the Isle of Wight for the day to meet us all.

I went for a long walk early one morning and encountered many of the free ranging New Forest ponies, and of course took lots of photos of them. There were a lot of foals, and three of them put on a great display of foal frolics. There's something about watching foals experimenting and practising their turns, bucks, paces and kicks that makes me relish life - I seem to resolve to enjoy life like the foals were.

There's photos of all the various people attending (New Forest Social), photos of the lovely New Forest Ponies and New Forest scenery, and also photos of Winchester, where Vivienne and John Allan, Sarah Bannister and I spent some time on the way back to London.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New Zealand Olympic EVENTING Team

The NZ Olympic eventing team has been announced and well done to Mark Todd, Andrew Nicholson, Joe Meyer, Caroline Powell and Heelan Tompkins. It's a strong team and hopefully they will do well in Hong Kong.

Commiserations to Annabel Wigley and Emily Butcher, the two Canterbury girls who missed out. They put in a good effort and certainly would have given the selectors something to think about. 2012 perhaps. I'm sure Dan Jocelyn will be back for those Olympics as well.

As to the announcement of the team - well what the hell went on there? I heard via NZ that the team was announced (and who they were) a whole day before the official announcement. While I kept hush, having realised that the official NZOC announcement hadn't been released, the Horse & Hound didn't, putting it up on their website and even getting a quote from Toddy.

By the time the official press release was put out, all the major NZ media outlets were covering it on the basis of the H & H story.

Yep, having worked at NZEF covering the last Olympics, I realise that the co-ordination of the team announcement has to be carefully orchestrated and has to work in with the NZOC. It can be a bit tricky but obviously this year it seemed to have been more than tricky - impossible. What's the story there then? Where was the communications plan for the announcement?

The other big question I have is "what about the NZ Olympic showjumping team???" When is this being announced? All the media seem to be covering the eventing team announcement as the "New Zealand equestrian team" but there's no mention of the showjumpers. Perhaps a little note, even on the NZEF website, to tell us when this team will be announced, may clear things up a bit. It gives the impression that the showjumpers don't count, and that its all about eventing, eventing, eventing.

More musings and questions I have include:

  • Are we getting an email newsletter from the event this year or do you have to be a paid up member?
  • Is the NZEF website going to be the place to visit to find out all the news about the NZ riders this time or will we have to rely on the usual media sources which only have limited information?
  • Where do we send our good luck messages to?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Longleat Horse Trials

Time to do some more horse trials - and with Tim and Jonelle competing at Longleat, it was the perfect opportunity. Longleat is an amazing estate. As well as having a huge house / castle, it also has a game park complete with lions, tigers, monkeys and sea lions. The day I was there was for horses however, and there certainly were plenty of them. The novice horses all competed on the Saturday and Sunday was for the intermediate grades, as well as the 2 star.

Tim had four horses in, Jonelle gave Nimo a run and there was a strong contingent of other kiwis. Andrew Nicholson rode eight horses over the two days, for three wins, a fourth and a six (and some also rans). Joe Meyer had five in, with two being placed sixth. Dan Jocelyn also had five in, for one win. Bruce Haskell also had four competing but didn't place on any.

There were also a number of kiwi spectators there. Beanie and Michelle (both hailing from Southland) showed huge endurance and staying power, although you will see some photos of them catching up on a bit of sleep at odd times during the day. Those Southland girls certainly know how to party.

Full marks to Jonelle who not only rides so well and keeps Tim under control (sometimes), she also is the most amazing cook and hostess.

Hi also to Steve, co-owner of one of the horses Tim was competing on. Steve has this blog bookmarked on his computer!!!!

Of course the blog wouldn't be complete without a host of photos for you to view. These can be found on this link> http://picasaweb.google.com/jane.thompsonuk/LongleatHorseTrials

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Glenmark-Cheviot Rugby

While in NZ, I had the pleasure of attending a few games of club rugby. Having never photographed rugby, I gave it a try and you can see the results here. There are photos from both the first and second division games, at Cheviot and at Kaiapoi.

I was very saddened to hear of the deaths of Cole Higginson and Ponky (Nick Upritchard), two of the Division 2 players. My sympathy to their families and friends and their team members. There are a few photos of them in amongsts the ones I took. Feel free to download copies or email me and I can send through higher resolution ones (jane.thompsonuk@gmail.com).

Friday, June 13, 2008

Back in England

I'm back in England again. When I left, trees were bare, it was cold and the garden was semi-tidy. Now every tree is green and lush, it is warmer, and the garden looks like a tropical jungle. A few hours will need to be spent getting it back under control.

Once I had lunched with Kirsty in a pub, shopped in Oxford Street, jammed myself into a tube, heard lots of languages being spoken as I walked up the road, revelled in the fast broadband, reacquainted myself with my flatmate, walked to St John's Wood to drink wine with Vivienne, then I felt like I had made the transition from New Zealand back to England.

Also, must comment what great service I received from Air New Zealand on the two long flights London to NZ via LA. The food was first rate - the best I had ever eaten on an aeroplane! Didn't feel cramped at all, I seemed to have seats that had lots of leg room (helps to have short legs of course). Well done Air NZ.

I start work on Wednesday - just for ten days before I head off to Spain with Legs, Pat and the kids. So I should have lots of time for updating the photos. I will load up the ones taken in New Zealand for those interested - just click on the link through to the photo albums. http://picasaweb.google.com/jane.thompsonuk/

Monday, June 9, 2008

Autotours Reunion - Updated with more photos

UPDATED: If you are after information on Auto tours, check out the facebook page for the London Walkaboaut Club 1980s and 1970s.

It seems to be reunion time. We have just got back from attending the Autotours reunion which was held in Christchurch over the weekend.

This involved a good number of the people I travelled around Europe with on the 10 week Autotours trip back on my very first OE. Our trip started in June 1981 and we certainly had an amazing time. Lifelong friendships were made, and two marriages (Lyn and Brad, Hutch & Janine) and four children have resulted! In fact, there are a couple of other marriages that occured through the connections made on that trip (Coot and Sue, Griff and Vicki).

This is the fourth reunion that has been held and the first in New Zealand. Jeff did a fantastic job of organising activities. Some of the punters did a bit of a trip around parts of the South Island first, whereas others arrived for the weekend. Christchurch put on a wide range of weather, from warm Friday night to snow on Saturday.

We had people coming from South Africa, Western Australia and New South Wales.

The few photos that I took can be viewed on this link http://picasaweb.google.com/jane.thompsonuk/AutotoursReunion
UPDATE: I've put on the photos received from Jeff and some of the others. As you can see, we had a lot of fun!!! What a great bunch of people.

Hopefully I will be able to get some more from some of the others - I think I was too busy talking and enjoying everyone's company to take photos! I have certainly missed a few of the others that were at the reunion, notably Hutch & Janine who were not able to make the dinner on the Saturday night.

It's back on the plane to the UK for me on Wednesday. I have had a fantastic time here in New Zealand, but wish that something could be done about improving the broadband here, working on a slow connection is SO frustrating! It's like going back into the dark ages. Grrr. I'll upload some of the photos I have taken once I get back to London.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

All Quiet on the Blogging Front

I'm currently in New Zealand enjoying a lovely autumn. There won't be much news on my blog for a while. I will post some scenic photos of the various places I am visiting at some stage - perhaps when I get a faster connection than I have at the moment. I'm back in London on the 12th of June, hopefully by then the weather will be lovely!
You can always email me if you want any specific news or photos - jane.thompsonuk@gmail.com

Sunday, May 4, 2008

"Badders" All over for 2008

The presentations are currently still going on, but the result is through. Nicolas Touzaint held on to his lead from last night to take out the trophy. Emotional isn't a strong enough word to describe his reaction on completion of the showjumping. He was absolutely overcome, sobbing loudly, barely able to support himself. It took at least ten minutes before he was able to respond to the press. Amazing scenes, and I managed to get in a few good photos which will soon be uploaded for you to view.

Nicolas really is an exceptional rider. Well done to him, he rode brilliantly.

Caroline Powell did herself proud. She ended up fourth overall, a superb effort. Lenamore jumped clear in the showjumping and looked full of running. Out of all the horses I saw finish after yesterday's cross country, he finished the best and he certainly looked it today.

I had the chance to have a great chat with Andrew Nicholson and yes, I am still a BIG fan. He's a top bloke. Andrew has quite a reputation amongst the members of the press, some of them are downright scared of him. I've always found him to be amazing and that view hasn't changed. He had a bad day yesterday and his horse, Silbury Hill, did a tendon and will be out for at least a year. That's horses for you.

Im now going to get on and write those articles for www.horsetalk.co.nz. Then its back to London.

Badminton Update

All the horses are through the vet check.
Some more news from yesterday on Andrew Nicholson on Silbury Hill. Unfortunately the horse has broken down, and the last news was that the horse was being evaluated and under veterinary treatment. What a shame, he's a lovely horse but hopefully his injury isn't severe and we will see him back again soon.

The first part of the showjumping has just completed. Im sure you can all view the results on the Badminton website rather than have me repeat them here verbatim. So far, however, there have been only two clear rounds, none of them by the kiwi riders.

The top 20 riders go at 2pm, after the parade. Joe Meyer, Annabel Wigley and Caroline Powell are the three kiwi riders still to ride.

I've taken a heap more photos including the vet check and these will be downloaded tonight when I get back to London.

I've just seen Vicki Glynn coming back into the media centre with about ten bags under her arm, so we can tell where she has been for the last hour or so!!!

Chris Barclay, from NZPA, has thoroughly enjoyed his first ever equestrian event. We've given him a good lesson in all things horsey but have not yet been able to convince him to buy any tweeds or those gumboots with tulips or daisies.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Badminton Horse Trials Photos

Stories will go up eventually, and I will get around to editing of the 500+ photos I have taken! In the meantime, if you want to see the photos in their "raw" state, check out the link here. http://picasaweb.google.com/jane.thompsonuk/BadmintonDressage

There are also photos of the cross country. Check out my photos of Rodney Powell on the NZ bred ZinZan. It was one of the best recoveries I have ever seen and I managed to capture it quite well!
I'll put some more up today after the trot up and the showjumping.

Articles that cover the comments from the kiwi riders can be viewed on the NZ Horse Talk site (http://www.horsetalk.co.nz/) - Robin has been doing a great job of editing the rushed quotes I send through to her from the kiwi riders.

We are here at the grounds early on the Sunday, about to go out to the trot up. Its threatening rain. Update: It is raining but hopefully only a shower. If it keeps raining at this rate, we are going to get very very wet. There's been lightening and thunder as well.

One of the saddest sights I saw yesterday was as we were driving out, quite late after filing stories and sorting photos. As we were driving out, we passed Andrew Nicholson, also driving out, as his event is over and he was heading home. His face said it all. His day must have been one of the worst he has ever had over his long and successful career. The event is also over for other fantastic riders, including Pippa Funnell and Andrew Hoy.

We'll hopefully get a chance to do a bit of shopping in between the trot up and the start of the showjumping, we have only just scratched the surface of the many shops here, but already I am the proud owner of a scottish scarf and a winter jacket.

Had a brief catch up with Toddy. His return to competing is being very well received here. Everyone is delighted to see him, he certainly is a legend here - and rightly so! He's off to a one day event today as is Jonelle Richards and Tim Price who were also here yesterday.

There's quite a kiwi contingent. It was good to see Vicki Latta here yesterday, on hand to support the young kiwi riders and giving them encouraging words after the cross country.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Anzac Day dawn service in London (Hyde Park Corner)

There were a few activities to commenorate Anzac Day here in London. The day started early with the Dawn Service at Hyde Park Corner. It was quite a pleasant morning, and a good crowd (about 3,000) assembled to hold the celebration at the NZ memorial end. Apparently it has been held at the Australian memorial (which is only 100 yards or so away) but as we now have our lovely memorial, it was held there.

For other photos, you can view these on http://picasaweb.google.com/jane.thompsonuk/AnzacServiceLondon2008

It was a good service, albeit not exactly moving. Traffic steadily built up as we were in the middle of one of the busiest roundabouts in London. Derek Leask, the new High Commissioner here in London, gave the main speech. I don't want to sound critical, but I think he would benefit from a few sessions with Maggie Eyre!!! The other thing that really annoyed me about the service was the version of the NZ national athem they played. It was really fast and really high so to sing along with it was near impossible. The aussies had given a good rendition of their athem, but the music played for ours meant that there were only a few embarrassing murmurings.
The picture here is Ms Frances Adamson, Acting High Commissioner for Australia, Derek Leask (NZ High Commissioner) and the Duke of Kent.

The karanga was great, and I enjoyed the readings. The Duke of Kent was there to represent the Queen.

Vivienne and I had taken the day off and elected to go to the huge shopping centre outside of London called Blue Waters. Didn't see any blue water but there were so many shops, we only covered less than half of them before we called it a day. We did have a few new purchases by the time we left but neither of us elected to buy those knickers for £70, even though they were on sale and could have been purchased less 20%.

The day finished with attending the NZ Society's event in the penthouse at New Zealand House. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera, but the views from up there must be the best in London. They are truly spectacular. After a few lovely NZ wines, we had done our dash for the day. Next Anzac day I will be celebrating it in NZ, and look forward to that.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hampstead Heath

If you are looking for something to do on a Sunday, how about a walk on Hampstead Heath, followed by a good pub lunch? This is what Kirsty, Wendy (Australia), Vivienne and I elected to do. Despite the rain, it was fun and the lunch was superb.

Here's me, Vivienne and Wendy outside the pub. Of course it rained while we were walking, it stopped rained while we were in the pub and as soon as we were ready to leave, yep, you guessed it, rain again!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spring and Foxes in London

There's been a lot of things going on lately so my blog has been suffering. Not all the things happening are suitable for this public forum, ha ha!

There's been a fox in my garden (see picture), the squirrel has had babies (sorry no picture), the lawns have been resown (again no picture but thanks John), and we have used the outdoor furniture for the first time in ages and ages and ages (see photo featuring Bryan, Andrea, John, John and Vivienne). We need some more gas to get the BBQ going but that day the NZ Lamb roast did the trick.
While the weather hasn't been exactly wonderful, its nice to have some more daylight at the end of the day.

Events coming up include the dawn service at the NZ memorial here in London on Friday (unfortunately its not a public holiday here...). There's also drinks at the penthouse of New Zealand House, hosted by the NZ Society that night. I'm off to see Aunty Pat in Sussex for the weekend and then the weekend after that is the Badminton Horse Trials which will of course, be one of the highlights of the equestrian endeavours. I'm looking forward to catching up with the kiwi contingent there.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

British Open Showjumping, Birmingham

The British Open Showjumping championships is as much about entertainment as it is about top showjumpers performing. The music, the lighting, the programme are all designed to make it a great outing for the family. And there were plenty of them here on the Saturday I attended the event in Birmingham.

The British Open started on Thursday and qualified riders compete over four days culminating in the final on Sunday night.

The Saturday programme started with a speed event (Table A 1.45m against the clock) and was won by Eric Van der Vleuten from Netherlands, who jumped a clear round 1.6 seconds faster than Robert Smith from Great Britain.

The programme then diverted from the “pure” Showjumping, starting with a Scurry Challenge. This involved a pair of ponies in a cart with the driver and the groom going hell for leather around a course. Flying sand, grooms clinging on like riders in a motorbike sidecar, and great crowd support and cheering. Ponies were cute and had the cute names to match. Piglet and Pooh Bear won the event, followed by Branston and Pickle, and the pairs such as Zig and Zag, not to mention Bill and Ben, also looked like they were thoroughly enjoying themselves.

The Parelli display was very tame after the pony scurry, and the barrel racing didn’t go down that well with the crowd who were increasingly opting for the shopping area where you could buy anything for your horse or pony not to mention whatever fashion statement you were after for your own look.

The Open Indoor Cross Country Power & Speed event was frankly a bit of an anticlimax for us kiwis as I had hoped that Andrew Nicholson would compete on the Saturday as well as the Friday night (which we couldn’t attend). Knowing how hard Andrew works, he probably had a full team of horses out eventing. He had finished 8th in the eventers showjumping the night before. The eventers showjumping on the Saturday comprised of a duo of an eventer and a showjumper, competing against the clock over a course comprising corners and other cross country type fences for the eventing rider and a showjumping course for the showjumper. The winner of the event was the combination of Mark Kyle from Ireland and the 18 year old William Whitaker of THAT famous family. Ollie Townend, always popular with the high ratio of female eventing fans, placed second with William Funnell (Pippa’s husband).

There was a lovely tradition that was started with the showjumpers where the riders threw their rosettes into the crowd to the appreciate kids who clutched their rosette as if they had won it themselves. Ollie continued this tradition – after all he probably doesn’t treasure his rosettes anymore after collecting so many.

The third round of the main showjumping competition was won by Harvey Smith, who once again rode a superb round on Mr Springfield, the horse he finished fourth on at the Athens Olympics. Apparently there have been a series of injuries and a long recovery time but he was very clean today. There were 13 clear rounds and then a series of four faulters so the riders obviously coped well with the course.

The highlight of outing was the Puissance in the evening session. Sitting through the various “entertainment” events that were repeated from the day session again in the evening session (such as the polo, the parelli demonstration and the barrel racing) was a little trying, made easier by a visit to the bar for a while, but the Puissance event, which started at 9:30pm, was well worth the wait.

The eventual winner was the 18 year old William Whitaker, on Haddon House Leonardo, who jumped 7 foot 2 inches to take the title from Dale Burnham who didn’t manage to clear the wall at that height. An exciting new combination in the event was Ellen Whitaker on Ladina B. They placed 4th equal. She is a fantastic rider, and the big white mare is an exciting talent. the photo at the top of this blog shows William standing in front of the 7 foot 2 wall.

Other things enjoyed included the music (played nearly constantly but adding significantly to the atmosphere), the pageantry as only the British can do, and the opportunity to see some exciting young european talent competing.

There's a few photos from the British Open - more to be put up as soon as I get a chance to sort them all out!

The Whittakers ended up winning the event, Robert, Michael and then William taking the honours. For more information on the results, please visit http://www.horsetalk.co.nz/news/2008/04/047.shtml

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sir Edmund Hillary's Memorial Service at Windsor Castle

Attending Sir Ed's memorial service was a privilege. I didn't have seats in the chapel, and with a bunch of other hardy kiwis, we stood out on the lawn and heard the service on the loud speakers. No big screen however....
As well as the Queen, Princess Anne and the Countess of Wessex (Sophie, who is married to Prince Edward), Helen Clark was there as was Jenny Shipley, Sean Fitzpatrick, Hayley Westenra, Maggie Eyre and a bunch of other important New Zealanders! The Queen didn't stay around long for me to get a decent shot of her, but Helen came around and talked to as many people as she could. She was very relaxed and shared a joke about her having to head home using Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport. One of the bright sparks next to me suggested she should just take hand luggage.

It was interesting to see the media working, with both TV One and TV 3 there, as well as a bunch of other photographers.
The most amusing bit was at the end of the service when God Save the Queen was sung. We presume it was Reverend Michael Boag who had left his microphone on. Anyway, whoever it was gave a stirring rendition of God Save the Queen, and nearly blew the outside speakers. Unfortunately he wasn't quite in tune and it sounded simply dreadful but highly amusing. Most people outside were laughing, and no doubt there will be a photo of us being very disrespectful during the national anthem.

It was pretty cold outside, there was a very light shower, but nothing much. Vivienne and John nearly froze, as they believed the weather forecast which said it was going to be cloudy but warm! John did look nice in his suit though!

There's the usual array of photos you can view by clicking the attached link. The BBC has a very short clip (from TVNZ) which can be viewed here http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/nol/newsid_7320000/newsid_7326600/7326622.stm?bw=bb&mp=wm&asb=1&news=1&bbcws=1

Saturday, March 29, 2008

1979 Inter Pacific Pony Club Team

Many years ago, a bunch of young horseriding people aged between 18 and 21 converged on Western Australia from all parts of the world. On Tuesday night, nearly 29 years later, four of us had dinner together in Sherborne, Dorset. Of course the photo album came out, and we all laughed at how we had changed in the intervening years. Who was that skinny blonde in the photo wearing that funny coat playing silly buggers? She looked vaguely familiar.

The four in the photo above (L to R) are Phil Trump (Devon), Bryan Harris, (Canterbury NZ), me, and Richard Pinney (Dorset).

The old photo shows Bryan, me, and Phil. That's Peter Abishenagaden on the right. This photo was taken back in August 1979. Weren't we so cute?

Easter in Ireland

Here's a few photos taken during my stay with the Carey family in Ireland. It was a great holiday, and included a bit of shopping in Dublin, walks in the beech forest and around the local castle, not to mention reading books, playing with kids, and eating lots of easter eggs! Sam's birthday present of the football kit was a great hit - he wore it for four days including sleeping in it!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Plenty of Activities

I've just returned from Easter in Ireland which was a "great craic" albeit rather cold (especially after I receive lots of reports of the glorious weather in New Zealand). I'll be posting the photos up as soon as I get a chance.

Tonight I'm heading off to a semi-reunion of people from the 1979 Inter Pacific Pony Club teams. We've got two from the New Zealand team (Bryan Harris and myself) and two from the English team (Dick Pinney and Phil Trump). David Green who was in the Australian team and who has lived over here for years and years, can't make it unfortunately. Will post some photos from that. Its a shame I haven't got some copies of the photos of us from 1979 to compare today's ones with!

Another amazing event to look forward to is Sir Edmund Hillary's memorial service at Windsor Castle which I have managed to get myself on the invite list (thanks to New Zealand House and a ballot system). That's in early April.

The British Open Showjumping champs in Birmingham are also on the agenda in the beginning of April and I must get my accommodation organised for Badminton Horse Trials which are the beginning of May! Then there is that Anzac weekend BBQ that I have been promising to host....

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I received some very sad news from Whangarei. Bob Tait passed away yesterday.

My condolences to Glenise, Karen, Sandra and Blyth and all the grandchildren.

Bob was one of life's real characters. I have very fond memories of Bob from the pony club scene and then as we all graduated on to bigger horses and new adventures. I remember fondly Bob bringing the kids chips and jugs of what he called "Tigers Juice" (which was also known as boring old raspberry cordial and lemonade). This kept us happy while the oldies had something a bit stronger, at places like the Tangiteroria pub.

Bob always had a twinkle in his eye, and a wicked sense of humour. He'd tease us kids remorselessly at times, but also knew when we needed that little bit of encouragement which he readily gave. As we grew older, he was always interested in what we were up to. The photos here were taken at the 2004 Burghley Horse Trials where Glenise and Bob were watching Blyth compete (and finish 8th at what was said to be his last Burghley).

He and Glenise were fabulous hosts. How we ever managed to get home from the Taits' house sometimes is a mystery.

I hope those of you able to get to his funeral give him a good send off.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tate Modern

Back in England, and it was off to the Tate Modern with Jan on a damp Saturday afternoon. This was my first visit inside this wonderful art gallery. I had walked past it often enough but never had ventured inside. Today we wanted to see the Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and Francis Picabia exhibition but first had a look at the much publicised "crack" in the floor (aka Shibboleth).

The work was by Doris Salcedo, originally from Colombia. According to the official blurb, this is “the first work to intervene directly in the fabric of the Turbine Hall. Rather than fill this iconic space with a conventional sculpture or installation, Salcedo has created a subterranean chasm that stretches the length of the Turbine Hall. The concrete walls of the crevice are ruptured by a steel mesh fence, creating a tension between these elements that resist yet depend on one another. By making the floor the principal focus of her project, Salcedo dramatically shifts our perception of the Turbine Hall’s architecture, subtly subverting its claims to monumentality and grandeur. Shibboleth asks questions about the interaction of sculpture and space, about architecture and the values it enshrines, and about the shaky ideological foundations on which Western notions of modernity are built.”

All very well, but for me, the fascinating part was watching the people interact with the work. Of course then I had to interact as well, by taking photos of the people interacting! Fantastic. If you want to see the results, you can view them here http://picasaweb.google.com/jane.thompsonuk/TateModern

The Duchamp, Manray and Picabia exhibition was great - very extensive and very out-there at times but certainly interesting. They were great mates, and must have had some fun times in their creative space! If you would like to know more about this exhibition, or the Tate Modern, you can check it out at the official website http://www.tate.org.uk/

The visit was topped off by a drink in the members bar (thanks Jan!) and an attempt at some photography at dusk on Southbank.