I have been on a bit of an adventure today: Met with a hotel, conversed with a "local", made new friends, avoided the Gendarme's, visited three Venues, attended a Chef de Missions’ meeting and written a route card.
I waived goodbye to the Reining staff who set off to unload their kit, the Dressage staff were off to meet Gareth Hughes + horse and the Para-Equestrian staff (farrier duly rested after 14 hours sleep) who were set to receive all of their horses this morning and athletes / coaches / carers this afternoon. Having ushered the masses out of the hotel, I enjoyed a coffee and then destroyed my green credentials by driving for an hour to the eventing Venue and Team Hotel.
It was a beautiful day and so the drive down the motorway was rather relaxing and an escape from the hustle and bustle of trying to pull all the strands together for what is a very complex Games logistically (and certainly for transport).
We have been lucky enough to have Toggi clothing since 2004 and you will see the Team GBR livery at many competitions around the world. It sill surprises me that there is a constant need for people to exchange kit that does not fit but it is important that everyone feels comfortable in the clothing.
There are, close to the motorway, a couple of military cemeteries that are a vivid reminder of the part Normandy played in recent history and how minor some of the challenges are that we are facing are!
I met with the Eventing Hotel and ensured the mobile homes were going to be a prime location, the Foie Gras has been ordered (Mr Breisner is somewhat of a fan) and that they had a some brushes and water ready – I fear that there will be some mud around in eventing land.
I then set off for a drive by visit to the eventing venue and to write a route card for the journey from hotel to venue. This necessitated a trip down a narrow and twisty rural French lane. As I eased around one particularly tight corner, I found my progress impeded by an elderly Frenchman, resplendent in traditional French beret, mounted on an equally elderly bicycle. Said Frenchman was clearly taking evasive action in order to avoid sniper fire as he was slowly weaving from side to side. On noticing a large Land Rover Discovery he stopped, dismounted (gingerly) and came over to speak to me. It was at this point that I worked out this gentleman’s employment – he is the local Calvados taster. Well I can only assume that based on the fact that he had clearly “had a couple” and it was only a few hours in to the working day. We had a great chat; I do not speak French (beyond Menus and Wine Lists) and he spoke no English. He mentioned “la guerre” a few times and I think I manage to tell him I had been in the Royal Artillery which made him very happy and gesticulate a great deal. So I can only conclude that he is now my lifelong friend or some errant artillery shell raised his drinking den to the floor in 1944.
It is a beautiful bit of countryside around Haras du Pin with some wonderful architecture and stunning views. I even managed to make more friends when I was caught short (too much Coke Zero of course)…….
Now we all know WEG is very very very expensive for an Organising Committee. But really…..really, do we have to have so many Gendarmes hiding at the side of the road with speed guns, waiting to extract €90 from us to help fund WEG. Well you have not caught me yet you buggers!
I returned to Caen to visit the three Venues and scored 3 / 3 for turning up just after Team GBR personnel had disappeared! I’m feeling a little unloved!!!
The second Chefs de Mission Meeting involved a great deal of chat about transport and parking. It is a real headache for the Organising Committee but there may be some tweaks required if the Staff that support a number of disciplines are to get around all the Venues.
Opening Ceremony tomorrow; the GREEN light approaches.