Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Whatever you do, do it with passion.

Alright so I'm going to preface this with saying a copious amount of sugar was consumed on very little sleep yesterday. And for those who know me, will realize that has essentially the same effect as excessive amounts of alcohol on other people So while I found the whole day incredibly entertaining, it's very likely this entire post will be a "you had to be there" moment. Consider yourself forewarned.

So I had a ridiculous amount of fun @ the Royal this year. Rachel and I went together, and passed paths with various other people once there. Never did make it beyond the shopping area. I heard a rumour of farm critters and butter sculptures and antiques and all sorts of things that really I usually just walk through cause I feel obligated but I definitely never saw them. Worse I also didn't wander the stalls or the exercise ring or the job boards. hmmmm So where did we go?

Well we came in and went right to the main ring to watch the medal class (where we met up w/ M who was also watching :). Most were quite good; the girl who won definitely deserved it (always good to see). But I have to admit there were a few that I kinda wondered what they were doing there. But at least they pretty well all got knocked out in the first round. hahaha so then off on an important mission -- food! We managed to get to lunch at a gap so we actually got a table (how civilized :)

Had a definite example of unfortunate translation. The food booth that served fruit drinks in bags was named... Well:

Can't imagine why there was nobody there?

So lunch was followed with a quest for the Apple Blossoms! Albeit not all that challenging of a quest given that they were exactly where they are every year. hahaha but hey, at least we were successful! mmmmmm sugar. And cinnamon. Cinnamon's good for you right? And Apple! Apple a day and all that. Ice cream - well that's a milk product. Equally healthy. So really, when you consider it, this was a reasonably healthy snack. Really. hahaha so while eating, we wandered over to chat with a friend who was manning a booth but sadly she was, well, working. Imagine that. So we gave up on that idea and returned to the main ring to watch the power and speed class. Only switched seats to find a better view once hahaha Fairly entertaining show though and got a couple fairly impressive turns happening :) Spent much of that class deciding which ones we'll be buying as soon as that lottery ticket pays off!

After the jumpers it was SHOPPING! hahaha so excitedly exclaims she who hates shopping. But Royal shopping is different -- more of a social event really :) M unfortunately had to leave us and go be a responsible adult (and/or just needed to escape by that point :) but R and I headed back to the booth area. Managed to visit with our employed friend who had a few seconds of breathing time before starting our trek up and down the rows. Now really, this shouldn't be so challenging. Yet somehow we managed to do some rows several times and other rows not at all! (I *think* we got them all in the end, but it took a few tries :) Was good to see way more booths back compared to last year, but numbers I'm pretty sure are still down from a few years ago. I usually do about 1/2 my xmas shopping there and I didn't do any. Ran into a bunch of people, which is always fun. One pair seemed to be trolling the booths in the same order we were since once we bumped into them we saw them every few minutes All good. Although I never *did* get to see L, who I was intending to hook up with in the first place :( Booooo.

Now I was very good. The only horse thing I was supposed to buy was a blanket for the invisible pony. And the only horse thing I bought was a blanket for the invisible pony. Now that statement might raise some questions for some of you. Others know me so well they'll just smile and nod :) But for those who need the elaboration - yes the only *horse* thing I bought was a blanket. But that doesn't mean I didn't also buy something for me. (I was trying soooo hard to be good to, but every once in a while . . . ) And the invisible pony? Well didn't you by YOUR invisible pony a blanket? Wouldn't want him to get cold. And while one would think that an invisible blanket would suit an invisible pony, it makes him *really* hard to find out in the field >;-P Please note, I did warn you it was a silly kind of day :) But my invisible pony should become visible sometime Saturday afternoon. That would be the pony I'm planning to buy on the weekend whom I don't technically own yet *g* But since I do know general size and shape I bought one from a store that I can easily exchange if need be...

So all this shopping made us thirsty. How do you cure this? More sugar. Clearly. This time the frozen form. Mmmmm slushy.... R skipped that one and went for the hot caffeinated grown-up version >;-P But much to the same effect.

Part of the fun of going to the Royal is seeing all the people you haven't seen for a year. The other part is making new friends. R and I made lots of new friends *g* hahaha easy enough to do when they're captive in their little booth. The first was the book guy. He had a great booth that had an assortment of knick-knacks, but what drew me in were the books. Journal type books - cover with white pages. But the covers were all leather (either cow or camel?!?!) and the paper was all made from recycled shirts and it was all stitched together and just very very kewl. So I was looking through these and found a design I liked but it was nqr... And Rachel was looking through the scrapbook size version at the same time (those were stunning! But I'm not doing any more scrapbooks :) and we're asking questions (ie, where do you go to source camel leather???) and chatting with the guy (he goes all over the world finding obscure local crafts and arranging to have them bought and shipped to him), but while doing this I moved every single book to find just the right one. And was very sad that I seemed to be failing. So he starts digging through his under-the-table (literally :) boxes to find the "right" one pulling out book after book after book, explaining what some of the symbols meant and trying to figure out what combination would work for me (they're all hand made, so sometimes even if it was the pattern that I wanted it'd be on the wrong colour leather, or with discolouration in a place that detracted rather than added, or the right cover but not a back I liked etc etc etc). I genuinely think he was as excited to have somebody interested in his stuff as we were looking through it. And in the end, he did find just the right one for me. So I had to buy it. I mean seriously, after he went to *that* much effort and kept us entertained for like half an hour, how could I not?

So our next new friend was the sham-wow guy who was amused that R was as into his product as he was. A short-lived friendship admittedly, but somewhat amusing. Then there was the saddle guy. He was technically last, but we're inserting him here for narrative purposes :) He was selling super-fancy super-high-tech saddles and seemed pretty convinced Rachel was going to buy one (it's the scarf I tell you! :) He freely admitted to being bored out of his mind (at that price range and with exactly one product to sell there aren't too many people browsing) so we chatted with him for a while and got the whole spiel and tried out both the jump saddle (which I liked) and the dressage version (which I did not). I think Rachel has both on her lottery list though. He mostly amused me to no end because he had clearly decided who the likely purchaser was and I was mostly there as an afterthought; yet R and I both knew the winning lottery numbers hadn't yet been drawn. We had a similar conversation with the bitless bridle guy (he was quite the entertaining cowboy. If he's there when you are, definitely strike up a conversation about his riding adventures :) whose products were more affordable but we restrained ourselves. Honestly mostly because I didn't see any that I liked that would fit my horse, but we can claim it was my great self-restraint instead :)

But our new best friend by far was Jeff. Poor Jeff. I think he wished he wasn't wearing a name tag that day. Now you have to understand, it was about 7/7:30ish by this point (the show we wanted to see started at 8:30 and this was our last real conversation before that :) and all we (or at least I anyways) had had to eat or drink had been essentially sugar, sugar and... oh yeah - sugar :) In various forms. And I'd been having a lot of fun being silly all afternoon. Jeff is alone in his booth. Nobody even *pretending* to look at his product. Again a booth whose sole purpose is to sell one product and one product only. And that product? A board game. Or I guess technically a card game since there was no actual board. hahaha yes a horse card game. Which had the whole thing neatly laid out on a table, and R and I couldn't help but take a look at one of the cards on the way by. So Jeff senses our fleeting interest -- the first he's probably seen in hours and starts into his spiel right away. And you know what, he's good enough at it and it's somewhat interesting, that we listened. Well that and when you're that sugar-high anything can be amusing. So we listened for about 10 seconds. If that. Jeff is explaining about the pace cards (ie how fast your horse is going) which of course led Rachel and I to defending our preferred speeds -- apparently in this game going slow is an advantage! Sheesh. If you walk you get 3 skill cards and if you gallop you get 0?!?! Totally not cool. Unless you're Moe >;-P Skill cards? Sweet! So while Jeff's trying very hard to explain how the game is set up and should work, R and I have moved onto skill cards and applying them to our own abilities or lack-thereof. Here -- you can have this one, I can do that. But I need this one. So Jeff explains how skill cards are used to get you over a jump. And somehow actually got us to play a whole hand correctly. And then there are events -- we never did find out exactly how or when the events come into play; possibly because we interrupted Jeff so many times he lost track of what he was supposed to tell us. But events were fun things like eating a bug or tripping before a fence. Theoretically there are good events too, but we didn't see any signs of them. Art imitating life perhaps? So we played another round and found some more obscure rules (there are a lot of rules in this game!) But then had a good laugh as my event was something like "got to a bad distance" and my skill was "perfect jump take-off point" so I argued those two automatically cancel each other out. Apparently Jeff's rule book didn't agree but by this point he was laughing almost as much as we were so it was all good. At some point Jeff's boss (or partner? I'm going with boss, it's a better story) wanders out -- apparently disturbed by the laughter. But even she could see Jeff was really trying to teach us how the game was played, we were just having way more fun with our own rules. She didn't like our version of the game so much and was very unhappy when I found a typo on one of her cards. Oops. hahaha I suggested we should get one half price for that, but somehow that didn't go over so well and she wandered away. But Jeff kept trying. And then realized, we'd forgotten a key step! To do all this you need a horse! Poor Jeff was a little flustered -- apparently due to all our creative-rule-interpretation he missed a step in the spiel. So we investigated the horses and picked very much how we would pick in real life. Mine was short cute bouncy and blond. R's was grey and big :) Priorities people! But in a complete reversal of real-life scenarios, mine had special skills that were going to help me out over like half the fences on course. Rachel's yeah not so much. So sad... We never did figure out exactly how to finish the game, and I swear even Jeff was making stuff up as he went along (what do you *mean* I have to take her pace cards??? All she wants to do is walk! -- regardless of the fact that she was *technically* cantering at the time, but this reality is somewhat interpretive -- That's not kewl at all!) Or it could be that we just shuffled his explanation so many times he was only randomly remembering rules that would otherwise have been delivered in a calm organized fashion. How boring. >;-P Was it ever funny though. I actually, genuinely wish I'd bought the game -- just so we could play it our way. It could live in the Beast for those long rainy shows... But alas, I'd already bought my book.

So we tried to put the game back the way it belonged and went to get... that's right, more sugar! Armed with cokes, cinnamon bun and mini-donuts we headed back to the show ring.

Got there in time to see the end of one of the driving classes. So the announcer made some comment about, "Cheer for the one you like!" R's immediate answer: "Go BAY!!!" I'll give you one guess as to what colour every single horse in the ring was >;-P hahaha ok given enough sugar, it was incredibly funny at the time.

Then was time for dressage. But before you start yawning -- it was fun dressage. As in the first rider in the ring was wearing a Zorro outfit, followed by two girls in Spanish dress and one other zorro-esque look. Yup that's right, quadrille night. Teams of four. Fun music. We had Zorro and friends, followed by the Cowboys, followed by Elvis (that's right - four of them. Complete with horrific Elvis-hair hat covers! I hope there are no more of those in existence. hahaha). The last team took a very serious approach and did a Remembrance Day ride, but even theirs had some fun at the end. The Remembrance Day ride was by far the best from an audience standpoint. They really had their act together. Riders were in sync, ride was well choreographed, clearly had practiced at least a *few* times. But alas, the teams were judged more for dressage than performance, and the ones that did not put on nearly as coordinated a show scored much higher -- presumably due to the technicality of what they tried to do. All in all though was highly entertaining. To all except the unfortunately grouchy lady sitting near us who asked us to refrain from speaking during the performance "as a favour to her" (all I could think is "what possible reason would I want to do you a favour?") and positively steamed when the group down in the corner dared to *gasp* applaud! Really, they're wearing Elvis hair -- how serious do you intend to take this? hahaha ah well, at least the rest of us had fun :) She left after dressage. I'm not sure anybody missed her.

Then onto the jumper class and more of the earlier "which one would you want?" game :) Really, I haven't laughed so much over absolutely nothing in a very long time. Was quite a fun evening. Although I admit, going over budgets at 8:00 this am on very little sleep and recovering from a sugar hangover was less fun. But such is reality eh? Off to teach!

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