Tuesday, April 04, 2006


April and May "Tour Dates" - Coffee in a field!

Well, we've just finished the first month of our outdoor event season with the usual blend of frozen pipes, "desperate for coffee", customers, early morning darkness, wind, rain and mud. And then more mud, and more mud. Business as usual then.

We trialled our new FDE espresso and then promptly nearly exhausted supplies in two weeks. Our Rancilio machines are being re-built one by one thanks to Steve and the engineers at Coffee Machine Company, but our old original Magister machine stood up to the rigours of a thorough frost while acting as stand-in. Thank goodness it is built like a Land Rover and not a Range Rover.

As more and more small businesses try to cash in on the popularity of speciality coffee at outdoor events, it's nice to be on familiar ground at the British Eventing Horse Trials we attend. Familiar faces, plenty of lively discussion, great coffee...just a coffee house on the road really. Thanks to all our loyal friends - we love you all.

The signs are that spring is "just around the corner" and April represents a quiet month before the season gets crazy from the second half of May onwards. It still promises to offer opportunities for a nice day in the country at some attractive venues though.

April 8th - 9th. Larkhill Horse Trials (Amesbury). Likely to be windy, cold, wet - bracing! A junior level event for the committed.

April 22nd - 23rd. Withington Manor Horse Trials. Perched on a ridge with superb views over the Cotswolds, 3 miles off the A40 between Northleach and Andoversford. A chance to see top international riders with some of their best horses on an advanced course 2 weeks before Badminton.

April 28th - 30th. Hambleden Horse Trials. On the Henley Show ground A4155 Henley - Marlow road opposite the management college. Unique viewing conditions and a walk in the bluebell woods as part of the day. Usually good weather the chance to sample the Hambleden Estate's game and the beer from the Stag & Huntsman.

May 11th - 14th. Aston le Walls Horse Trials. Off the Banbury - Daventry road, about 6 miles from M40 J11. Easy viewing, a huge volume of horses and riders and the first of three events at this venue each year. Come on the thursday to see the top riders exchange Badminton war stories before they head off to Chatsworth.

May 19th - 21st. Mattingley Horse Trials. Hampshire. 3 miles north of Hook and south of Wellington Country Park. 15 mins from M4 J11. Superbly organised, attractive course and a friendly event with good shopping. Mainly for the junior riders or the top guys with less experienced horses.

May 25th - 28th. Tweseldown 2 star 3 day event. Tweseldown racecourse near Church Crookham, Hants. The long format version of the olympic event at a reduced level of difficulty. Cross country day is Saturday. We'll be hidden in a competitor only area near the stables.

May 27th - 28th. Brigstock Horse Trials, Northants. A new event promising an Aston Martin Owners Club vintage rally. If you're nearby worth a look in.

May 29th - 30th. Borde Hill Horse Trials. A junior level Horse Trials in a scenic show gardens right by Haywards Heath in West Sussex. A good family day out on the sunday, certainly.

And all with the benefit of superb Hill & Valley Coffee on sale if you make the effort.

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