WHERE WE WEREN'T . . . . . 
The CLA GameFair is over for another year and, by all accounts it was a very successful one. I must say, having been to a good number over the years at various venues, they really do seem to have picked a winner in Ragley Hall. The traffic management was superb - certainly no hold-ups or delays, unlike another venue which will be coming round again soon and could certainly learn a lesson or two from Ragley. There appeared to be a larger number of smaller parking areas, rather than a small number of vast ones (although this might have. been an illusion!) and access to the entrance from the parking area was easy and close-by. Parking staff, people on the entrance etc were all, without exception, friendly and helpful. Yes, they may have been instructed to be welcoming but there was none of the false-sounding and formulaic "Have a nice day! " that is all too prevalent these days . . .  all personnel sounded sincere in their greetings which made for a great start to the day. Well done the CLA and Ragley Estate!!

The heat was extreme and despite a multitude of advance warnings and publicity campaigns by various organisations in assorted media it was not long before an announcement over the tannoy requested the owner of a white Transit van, with three dogs shut inside it, to return to the vehicle as soon as possible. 

WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH SUCH PEOPLE?? They should be prosecuted and, in my opinion, banned from keeping dogs for a minimum of five years. I do not know the outcome of this incident, I can only hope that somebody had the sense to smash the vehicle windows and get the dogs out before they died, as they surely would have done very quickly on a day when the temperature in the sun was well over 30° Celsius!! ... Edited later to add: I have heard that it was three Labradors left by people for two hours while they took their children to the funfair. Two dogs died and one looks unlikely to survive.

Anyway, after sitting in the still pleasantly-warm sunshine over a relaxed breakfast of excellent coffee and almond croissant, during which I read the Game Fair brochure, I sallied forth to the adjacent gundog area. Shopping was first on the agenda and I succumbed to the temptation of a new game bag and some snipe dummies. The next port of call was the Sporting Dog Pavilion (it is NOT Discover Dogs as I have heard it referred to!!) I am not sure how it is decided which breeds are to appear in this Pavilion, there were some interesting inclusions and omissions! Early on it wasn't too oppressive in there, but the organisers really need to investigate making this very enclosed space more dog (and people!) friendly. The pens/stands are tiny and, as I know from having represented my breed on previous occasions, the human representatives are, quite rightly, requested to remain inside the pen in order to keep access free for the paying visitors; this frequently results in dogs being crowded, difficult to see and so not "displayed" as well as they could, and should, be. Perhaps the organisers should take a leaf out of the RWAS's (Royal Welsh Agricultural Society's) book; they have installed giant fans and air conditioning in the livestock areas in for their prestigious Royal Welsh Show which takes place this week. If they can afford it, I am sure the CLA should be able to do so.

I digress! As previously mentioned, we were not invited to represent the Barbet breed this year, but it was nice to catch up with the owners of one of Nénu's litter siblings. I understand that there were eleven Barbets present over the three days; as this was a pavilion for sporting dogs , not merely breeds classified as gundogs (which grouping doesn't even exist in  FCI classification by the way) it would be interesting to know how many of those on show were trained working gundogs. In the Sporting Dog Pavilion I also met up with one of my training companions, and her dogs, on the Welsh Springer Spaniel stand and chatted at length to a couple who have recently introduced another French breed into this country . . . the French Spaniel. Like another apparently mis-named breed, the Irish Water Spaniel (which is in the Retriever sub-group) the French Spaniel is, in fact, an HPR!!


After a very welcome sit-down here in the Members' Area (but in the shade!) for coffee, I spent the  rest of the time looking at various gundog demonstrations and competitions which were  interesting, revealing(!!) and enjoyable.

Exit from the Game Fair was as trouble-free as entry. If you are interested in gundogs, country sports or rural affairs and you have never visited the CLA Game Fair I would thoroughly recommend that you do so next year at BLENHEIM PALACE, OXFORDSHIRE, JULY 18th - 20th 2014 - visitors come from all over Europe (and the world for all I know!!) both to compete and to spectate! So put the date in  your diary now!! I can only hope that the organisers provide the excellent traffic management that was in place this year at Ragley Hall!!!


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