Well, I’m back from Canada and am completely knackered and jet lagged! Apologies for having not posted in a long while, the run up to go to Canada was a flurry of revision, packing and skipping around in general excitement! I thought I’d split the final report over a couple of posts, as there is so much to talk about!! First up is pre competition spiel!
Saturday 30th September: The British squad met up at Heathrow airport, which was a nice early start to the day with a flight time of 10.05am. So with 3 hours check in window and 1 hour drive to the airport I was up, dressed and in the car by 6.00am! We had just enough time to get some team photos and say goodbyes to our families before braving security…luckily no mishaps there!
We shovelled down some breakfast, before heading over to the gate…I don’t think any of us had actually looked at the time, as we got to the gate as it was closing! Whoops, but at least it meant less time on the plane! The plane journey was the usual 9 hours of food, films, revision and no sleep before touching down in Vancouver at 11:30am their time where we met up with the other international teams, chilled for a bit and then went for dinner. We then did a quiz practise (we did awfully seeing as we had been awake for over 24 hours!) and then it was off to bed.
Sunday 1st October: We were up bright and early for Breakfast (where we experienced a power cut that nearly got us stuck in a lift…thankfully we hadn’t actually got in the lift at the time.) We transferred over to our 2nd hotel right in the centre of Vancouver, before re-boarding a yellow, American School bus (HELLS YES) and heading off to Whistler. Whistler is a skiing resort up in the mountains where the 2010 Winter Olympics were held. We went up into the mountains and rode on the “Peak to Peak” which is basically a cable car between 2 mountains super high above the valley. Lots of yummy food was had, and copious amounts of photos taken with the teams!
Monday 2nd October: Today we visited the Vancouver Mounted Police stables based in Stanley Park. We were so lucky to be allowed to go for a tour of their lovely facilities, and their tack room was quite frankly immaculate! The afternoon was spent in Vancouver Aquarium, a really impressive one at that. Loads of outdoor space, and some really gorgeous fish, dolphins and sea. Afterwards myself, Victoria and our chaperone Ruth walked back to the hotel through Vancouver (the others got a cab) which is my favourite way to see cities.
Tuesday 3rd October: The morning was spent at Granville Island, a little shopping spot by the river, and had a mooch about as well as having lunch here. The afternoon we went to a spot called Canada Place and went to something called “Fly Over Canada” which is basically a simulated flight over Canada. Then it was back to the hotel, quick shower and change before heading back out for an evening dinner cruise around Vancouver. For those of you who don’t know, Vancouver is on a sea inlet (a massive one at that), so we sailed around the edge of Vancouver whilst having a really lovely dinner.
Wednesday 4th October: This morning we had a free morning. My team went shopping to the Canadian’s version of Selfridges, aka super nice! Then it was a quick lunch before heading off to Paintballing. Now, whilst I am a fairly ok shot, I am a wimp when it comes to getting shot at, so myself and two of my team mates did “target practise” instead, with the others pitted against each other! The evening was spent with the Vancouver Pony Club branch doing “Games” practise (turns out I am the queen of charades, who knew) and having dinner. We went to a beautiful yard with amazing facilities to do the practise, 5 arenas, polo field, cross country field and a race track running around the perimeter…I’m probably giving Lucy ideas of further expansion projects for Lavant! It was then a quick shower, packing and bed as we were flying off to Kelowna the next day for the competition.
Thursday 5th October: A super early start for our flight over to Kelowna, but thankfully there was no turbulence once in the air. The skies were completely clear of cloud so the views were incredible as we flew over the mountains. It was only a 45 minute flight, but the scenery was just stunning and I really got a feel for how vast this beautiful country is. Having landed we went straight to the hotel to check in, before heading off for lunch. The afternoon was spent bowling…and in classic Helena style, my first go was a strike…and it all went downhill from there!
Friday 6th October: Today we headed over to a place called Myra Ranch where we did a version of “Go-Ape”! Who knew I was so rubbish with climbing things and heights. We also went on an hours trail ride where we rode Western and it was so nice going back to this riding style which I love so much. I spent 2 weeks riding Western in South Africa back in 2013 and it’s really amazing how easily the riding style comes back to you.
By the time we got back to the hotel, most of the National Teams had arrived also. The evening was spent sitting in on a Canadian Pony Club Youth Meeting, run by its older members who sit on the Board and are involved with the decision making of the organisation. They’re very forward thinking and proactive which was really nice to see, and it was great to be able to be involved with this. Then we had dinner, some last minute revision with the Canadian team (which I never do the night before but turns out it saved my skin) and then off to bed for, you guessed it, an awful night’s sleep.
Tune into the next post to find out how the competition went, and just how hard it was!