BWRDC Awards & A Night At Wroxall Abbey

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I drove up the long driveway, getting a glimpse of the mansion house ahead of me, through the grey light and the sideways rain.

Wroxall Abbey Hotel, such a magnificent facade – truly Victorian, and once the country seat of Sir Christopher Wren. I passed by the small cathedral, parked the car, and, head-down against the rain, made my way to The Court.

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I was there for the British Women Racing Drivers Club (BWRDC) Awards and AGM, which I felt I should rightfully attend, as a member, and one who knows very little about the club and what it does.

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An hour or so later, and having met Speed Secretary Jenny Howells (spreadsheet guru, encourager and Imp driver), I was checking in and  trundling off to my room. What fabulous beams! Set within the eaves of the second floor, quiet and secluded, this room had much to boast – mostly, it’s quantity of furnishings:

1 very large bed, 5 chairs, 2 wardrobes, 3 cupboards, 1 desk, 2 tables, 1 tea trolley, 1 sofa, 1 rug, 1 dressing table, 1 ottoman, 2 televisions, 2 heaters, 7 mirrors, 17 pictures, and a sewing machine. I kid you not!

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There was an eclectic feel – dark wood furniture, mis-matched and collected over the years. I guess it was all a bit dated, but you know, it was okay, I’m not complaining. It felt like staying with a great-aunt (a very wealthy great-aunt) and I liked that. It was comfortable and homely, even if it wasn’t my version of home (aside from the mis-matched dark furniture, that is ‘very’ my home!)

I didn’t have a room with a view, the side window looked out onto slate roof tiles and a rogue scaffold plank. But the room felt very safe and cosy, especially when the rain started to beat down on the roof lights, and the wind whistled around outside.

I was so comfortable that I fell asleep for half an hour, waking to dress in my best grandma/goth get-up (with my cool Shae Nakoto necklace) and headed down to join the BWRDC crew.

I’d only got as far as the lobby when I was approached by a roaming Granddad in search of assistance. He’d been at war with an umbrella, his hand awash with the bloody evidence. Perhaps I shouldn’t have forced him into a selfie before getting a first aider, but he was such fun!

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At dinner we raised a celebratory toast to Patty McLaren, who had passed away just that morning. I sat with Jenny and a fabulous lady called Pauline who owns 2 donkeys and 9 Ferrari’s. I ate French onion soup, followed by a really rather good blade of beef with horseradish mashed potatoes, and then Eton Mess that tasted pleasant but looked like something Hannibal Lecter might have dreamt of.

Suzi Perry gave a great Q&A session, she was interesting, funny and charming. Then the awards were presented. My class, the Sprint Championship, was won by Elen Worthington, with Lisa Selby taking second. I came third. It seems the BWRDC don’t give trophies for third place, more’s the pity (for me!)

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In the morning I was first down to breakfast, so I had two bowls of Coco Pops. Winning.

I was given a bunch of beautiful yellow roses by the BWRDC and trotted down the corridor clutching the bouquet like a determined bridesmaid. To the pool!

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I was delighted to find the pool empty, and warm. I swam up and down as the welcome sun shone through the glass roof. I flipped on to my back so as to enjoy the view. Clouds passed over, crows flew by, twig in mouth. Such serenity. My eyes scanned down, onto a group of people who were looking in at me, through the window, on a tour of the facilities I presume. I felt embarrassed, they looked embarrassed, I tried to smile and awkwardly lifted my hand just enough to wave, like a graceless, cheery, short-armed otter.

They moved on, and I returned to my front, concentrated, and got the quarter-mile in.

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It was then time to depart, all to soon. I took one last look at the pleasing Minton tiled lobby floor, said goodbye and thank you several times, and headed out to have a quick look at the Priory ruins before I left, looking back up at the impressive red brick mansion house with it’s gargoyles and charm. The sun was shining. Everything was still and quiet.

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The door to Wren’s Cathedral was ajar, so I popped my head in, to behold some of the oldest stained-glass in the country, and found the MG Magnette car owners club gathered closely at the alter. Not what I was expecting, slightly bizarre, but fabulously ‘Wroxall’!

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Wroxall Abbey Hotel & Estate | Birmingham Road, Wroxall,  Warwickshire, CV35 7NB

A great big thank you to the lovely team at Wroxall Abbey Hotel & Estate for welcoming me as their guest. 

These Recent Things (It’s Not All About Cheese!)

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The winter edition of Practical Sheep Goats and Alpacas is out, and I know you have been waiting with desperate anticipation. There’s an article included which I wrote about award-winning Italian cheese, if you fancy a read.

I was going to tell you about my healthy goats milk Kefir journey, but I didn’t get very far. It kind of went like this – Day 1. It tastes like 100 dead goats. Not sure about this rash. Day 2. I’ll blend it with a banana. Garrrr, all I’ve done it make more of it! Not sure about this rash, or the difficulty breathing. Day 3. Stuff this sh*t! I’ll do a knock and run and drop it on Liz’s doorstep! Lisa seemed to get on well with it though, and Aoife swears by it. I’ve not heard from Liz in a while.

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We’ve been super busy at Shutter Hub, working on our forthcoming Leeds exhibition (call for entries here) and planning our OPEN, which will be in Cambridge this year (do you want to propose an event?) I spent a lovely day with BA photography students at Northampton University, did some portfolio reviews at Metro Imaging in London with awesome dudes Dan Gaba and Dan Rubin, and headed down to the London Art Fair to be part of a panel discussion on ‘Encouraging diversity in photography’ with Photovoice. It was a superb day, and you can, if you wish, read about it here.

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At the end of a busy month it was really lovely to receive a healthy food parcel from the guys at BOL. We met last year at the Vuelio Awards, and whilst I still don’t believe Paul can drift an Elise, I do have absolute faith in his food. I really enjoyed this Keralan Coconut Chicken and I am looking forward to my next bowl of BOL.

Adam’s been away a lot with work lately, so the other evening we decided to drive out into the wilds of Lincolnshire to Witham and Blues for dinner, because it’s naff and funny. When we got there they couldn’t squeeze us in to their totally empty restaurant and with a frosty neon-pink-lipped smile we were turned away, into the welcoming warmth of a proper village pub, The Wheatsheaf at Hubberts Bridge. We walked in, bringing a waft of cold with us, and we were genuinely welcomed. We ate steak and chips, nothing fancy, but well cooked. There was good carpet and everyone was so nice we wanted to make it our local!

And, potatoes. I need to tell you about potatoes. Elfe potatoes. There must be so many jokes in there, but I’ve not got time for that, this is serious business. Never have I enjoyed a plain potato so much, and I want you to enjoy them too. I found the Albert Barlett version in Lidl, but I am sure you can hunt them down elsewhere.

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When we’ve not been obsessing over potatoes we’ve been busy getting the car ready for sprinting. We’ve got a whole new exhaust system, new bushes,  ball joints, gearbox oil seals, wheel bearings and a vanilla scented air freshener that looks like a rose.

It’s also been quite a month for non -motorsport motorsport activity, as you can read here, if you feel so inclined.

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My brother popped in on his way from Kuala Lumpur to Liverpool, and I popped down to Bournemouth for the evening with Isi for Burning Codes album launch (Isi runs the label they are on). We headed to the cliffs and took in the sea view and bitter cold air, later we ate vegan food in a place called Mad Cucumber. The gig was recorded for a Sky TV channel called Britrox that I don’t know anything about, yet.

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On a recent fen walk I found a shiny brooch lying in the dirt. I thought this might be the best thing ever, but then my mum found this old negative marking a page in a book she was given. I couldn’t wait to invert it and have a better look. It’s such a wonderful find. Who is that woman? When, and where is it? What’s going on? I am intrigued by other people’s old photos, I have a small (but growing) collection, my favourite thing being a set of Kodak colour slides from someone’s 1960’s holiday in Italy. When people used film camera’s each image was far more precious, and there’s something really delightful about that.

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And to add to the shinies, I won this very pretty little bell necklace from Allumer. It’s not something I would have chosen for myself, but it’s really lovely, even MoJo likes it – you can tell by his eyes!