By: Susan & Gemma Henshaw
Friday 30 May and mid morning we load the dogs into the van, hitch up the caravan and set off across the country to Thetford in Norfolk for the West Suffolk DTS double show weekend.
A new venue for the show this year at the Thetford Rugby Club ground, which must be a testing time for the organisers, as you never know what might happen. Thankfully the only hiccup seemed to be the proposed Friday night fish and chip van letting them down, but Sarah Connell had managed to get a message out via the internet so most campers would have known and made other plans.
The new venue is just off the A11 to the northern side of Thetford and it is a large oasis of green enclosed on three sides by forest. We were met on arrival at the entrance and directed to the top end of the ground where a couple of very nice ladies were in charge of getting the caravans and campers into the marked out bays, there was certainly plenty of room around each unit and the ground was fairly flat, just an odd small hole here and there.
As we were setting up we had a quick visit from Sarah Connell who advised us that there might be some adders in the long grass amongst the trees on the far side of the venue and to try and avoid that area with the dogs. (Gemma did almost bolt for home but we managed to calm her down and for the record we didn’t see any snakes) From the camping area there is a small gentle slope down to the ring area and the day parking is on flat ground near the rings. The stay ring is set to one side near the bottom of the slope and there is plenty of room around it. Opposite to the stay ring was Karen Lunn’s trade stand and a training ring run by Alan Chapman, both of which seemed to be doing a constant trade all weekend.
At the side of the working rings, which were all of a good size, lovely and flat with plenty of room in-between, there is the Rugby Club clubhouse which, as long as you booked earlier in the day, served the most delicious homemade, reasonably priced meals on the Saturday and Sunday evenings, all washed down with a drink from the bar, highly recommended by our family.
Alongside the clubhouse was the secretary’s tent and then the added bonus of a McTimony clinic for both humans and dogs run by Mandi Oliver, who also seemed to have a constant queue on both days.
In the evenings quite a few people took advantage of the long walks up through the forest and nearby field tracks, wisely keeping dogs on long leads as everyone was given a notice about the abundant wildlife, there was also a large expanse of grass at the rear and side of the camping area for training and exercising the dogs.
A couple of handy tips for anyone staying on the ground next year, the nearest garage is about 2 minutes away heading into Thetford and the nearest camping/caravan supplies is Holbrook Leisure about 12 miles away, along the A11 at Snetterton. Needless to say we used both this weekend due to a puncture just as we arrived at the venue and the caravan being short of a couple of essential parts!!
We decided to stay on the ground until Monday and after a lovely meal in the clubhouse on Sunday evening we found that there was only a dozen or so caravans left on the ground and we were able to let all our dogs out together for a good romp near our caravan without disturbing anyone else, so the show ground got their approval as well.
So for anyone thinking of entering the West Suffolk DTS show next year, we can heartily recommend it, the ground is in such a lovely setting, plenty of room for competing and relaxing. Sarah Connell and the other members of this club certainly pull out all the stops to make their show a success, definitely one for the diary.
Some of the handlers going home with very happy memories on Saturday were Dot Asplen with her XB ‘Keeping the Baggage’ who won Novice D/B pt.1, and Carole Hanney with her English Shepherd ‘Edenvillage Diamond’ taking the red in Novice D/B pt.2. Winners of ‘A’ D/B pt.2. were Fiona Rowe and her BC ‘Zanyway Prada’ and Barbara Macknish with her WS ‘Dodwell Spirit of Goldlawns’ took the top spot in ‘C’ D/B.
On the Sunday, Lesley Nichols with her GR ‘Dunburgh Taylor Boy’ had a fantastic day taking the red rosette in both Beginner D/B and Novice D/B pt.2. Winners of ‘A’ D/B pt.2. were Nikki Walker and her Lab ‘Flymarston Maggie’ making the long trip over from Cardiff well worth it.. But probably the happiest team from the weekend would have been Linda Bland with her BSD (Gron) ‘Belsharose Secret Affair with Shananro’, who won both Pre Beginners and Beginners on Saturday and the Introductory Class on the Sunday.