I am well known in my family for hating shopping. I’m just not good at it. If I go shopping, I go because I have to, because someone I love has a birthday coming up, because some well-worn item of clothing has fallen to pieces, because I’m going to a country with a different climate that for which don’t have suitable clothes. I don’t shop to browse.
I regularly go to the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials and don’t enter a tradestand (ice cream and pick and mix doesn’t count) all four days. Occasionally I pretend that this is because I’m working so hard, but really, that’s the way I like it. If I really need something, I might task The Boyfriend’s Mother, who sees shopping as her vocation, to draw me up a shortlist and then I’ll visit the listed shops.
I therefore hit the tradestands at the Burghley today at lunchtime with a distinct plan. The Boyfriend had alerted me that the event’s official clothing, made by Joules, looked rather stylish having seen it online, so I called in there. Yes, it looks pretty good, one for me, one for him, no need to try on, we have other Joules shirts so we know our sizes, tick. Don’t worry, we won’t wear them together “his n hers” style.
Then I went round to The Italian Knitwear Company in the Burghley Lifestyle Pavillion. I love their V-neck jerseys, but a few of them have gone a bit bobbly after much wearing and washing, so I grabbed two more, in different colours. Again, I know the size, no need to try on. Tick.
£150 spent (perhaps it’s a good thing I don’t shop often), back to the press tent within 15min of leaving it. This kind of shopping, I can do. Other kinds bring me out in hives. I exaggerate, obviously. But it’s not my idea of fun. But there are plenty of people who visit Burghley purely to shop — my aunt often tells me with pride that she didn’t see a horse at all — and good luck to them.
That’s the thing about Burghley — there’s something for everyone here. You want to watch dressage all day with the dedication of a true white boards fanatic? Go for it. You want to have an ice cream, browse the tradestands and enjoy a chat with friends? No problem. You want to walk the whole cross-country course in the heat, discussing in detail exactly how your neddy would take on each fence? Fill your boots, just try not to walk on the carefully prepared track as we are saving that for the horses.
If today’s sun continues, Burghley should enjoy a great gate this year, and judging by today’s dressage, we’re in for a treat. Top riders both showing us how it should be done and taking silly mistakes in good humour (William Fox-Pitt, Mary King), top level comebacks (Pippa Funnell, Mark Todd), first-timers riding with sense and skill (Laura Collett, obviously, but Kate Walls, Nici Wilson, Tamsyn Hutchins and Alice Pearson were all notable today).
If you’re coming to Burghley, I hope you enjoy it in your own way. If not, follow our live dressage coverage tomorrow — Anna Ross Davies was both insightful and humorous today — and then keep checking back here for twice-daily reports, blogs and more over the weekend. And don’t forget to buy H&H next week to catch up on the serious horse bit if you were so busy shopping you missed that.