Countryfile Live 2018 and the TOG team

Back home and back to Earth with a bump!

We have just returned from a jam packed 4 – day experience at CountryFile Live at Blenheim Palace and what a great event it has been.

The weather was baking, reaching 34 degrees on Sunday, with very little breeze or cloud cover. It was hot, hot, hot!

Thank goodness for the free water stations. I certainly went through several litres of water each day. It was really great to see so many people using the watering stations and using refillable bottles. We are very keen at The Outdoor Guide to reduce the use of plastic water bottles. It’s a huge thumbs up from the TOG team to Countryfile Live for introducing this initiative.

Many congratulations to Adam Nicolson for winning the Wainwright Book prize with his novel The Seabird’s Cry. The judging panel for the 2018 prize was chaired, for the second year running, by our very own Julia Bradbury. Can’t wait to read the book. It received a lot of praise from Julia.

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It was great to wonder around the exhibitions and meet so many of our TOG Partners. I loved the display from The Camping and Caravanning Club – tents old and new. It certainly brought back memories of my camping days as a young child with heavy canvas fly sheets, separate ground sheets and tent pegs made of wood… oh happy days.

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The RSPCA was set up to welcome all the dogs that attended the show with their owners. Based on last year’s figures, over 10,000 dogs were expected to the attend the show. Now that is a lot of dogs. The dogs were treated to cold water paddling pools to cool down and many of the stalls around the showground were providing water for our pets. The funniest sight I saw was our MD, Gina, riding the Pony Cycle. I’m sure we have video evidence somewhere!

It was great to meet Ted … the star of Tales of Ted and the Weekend Warriors and their dog Chilli (two of our DogTOG bloggers). Such beautiful dogs.

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We had chance to spend team with Vinny and the team for Da Vinci mobility, who were exhibiting a whole range of wheelchairs from push doable to their new all- terrain power chair, and Debbie and the TerrainHopper Gang who were exhibiting their 4 x4 beast of an all-terrain wheelchair. Flags were flying for Access for All.

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On Friday we had two children with us – Ellie and Maisie (aged 13 and 8) who loved the free activities that were provided for the young folk by the National Trust. The bug hunting gave us welcome relief for the sun as we searched under the shade of the trees for mini-beasts. The volunteers that manned this activity were so lovely and spent time with the girls helping to identify the creatures that they found. All bugs were safely returned to their habitats after their inspection. Maisie managed to complete 12 of the 50 tasks to do before the age of 11 and ¾. Well done Maisie! They also loved the activities in the Woodland Trust area and even went home with a tree!

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Visit PeakDistrict and Derbyshire team made us very welcome and we are now all fired up for our filming of accessible walks in Derbyshire in September. Hoping to meet some of our new mates very soon… They all seem to know the names of some good pubs in the Peak District.

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The temptation was too great to pass by The Healthy Back Bag stand…. So many pretty colours to choose from. (I’ve not yet shown Andy my latest purchase… but they are so handy for on the back of the wheelchair!)

A huge shout out has to go to all the staff at the Countryfile live show… from the organizers, to the security team, to the cleaners and the to the stewards, the car park folk to the ground crew. What a fabulous job they did keeping everything flowing seamlessly. The grounds were immaculate. I didn’t see one piece of rubbish on the floor. It was amazing. They were working long, long hours each day and how they all managed to keep a happy smile on their faces in the heat and sun was an absolute credit to the CountryFile Team.

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I am so looking forward to the 2019 CountryFile Live Shows. It’s coming back to Blenheim Palace but also it’s coming up north too – To the wonderful Castle Howard, near York.

Thanks CountryFile Live.

Here’s to next year.