Monday, 1 February 2010

JANUARY DIARY

The main story of January at Badminton as everywhere else was of course the weather! On two or three days the village was pretty well cut off and we couldn’t get in to the office and to add to our woes this coincided with the opening of the Box Office and lots of teething troubles with our new ticketing system. As I write at the end of the month things seem to be going more smoothly but we are very grateful for the cheerful acceptance of the difficulties our customers experienced.

The heavy frosts actually made one aspect of the coursebuilding easier when we transported some huge tree trunks across the frozen ground, doing no damage in the process. Alan Willis and his team have now finished the preparation of all the fixed fences and will go off to other courses for February – then in early March will return to start putting out the portables, pinning the frangibles and building up to the event.

Finalising plans with all our contractors has continued, with some quite exciting changes afoot. In particular we are really enthused about our new waste disposal arrangements – not normally the most exciting of topics – with locally based M.J. Church taking on the contract with a mission to recycle the vast majority of our waste. The recycling ‘pods’ will be highly visible and we fully expect our eco-conscious visitors to put their rubbish in the right containers.

Just before Christmas we had the very bad news, as it then seemed, that our regular final day military band, the Band of H.M. Royal Marines, Commandos, could not come in 2010 – the, so far, only major casualty of our date change. They have been good friends to Badminton and much appreciated by the main arena audience for well over 20 years. Happily now we are going to be entertained by The Light Cavalry Band,  which while based at Bovington in Dorset has wide connections locally to Badminton as the band of the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars was amalgamated into it in 2006.

By the end of the month the tradestand layout should have been finalised. It is quite a tricky jigsaw puzzle and this year we have seen very few exhibitors drop out. A few stands reduce in size, others enlarge and some want to move to another avenue – not always possible! We will have a few new faces but not very many as a percentage of the total. Occasionally other changes we make have a knock on effect – for example this year we are expanding Relish’s Deli next to the Scoreboard into a much bigger Wine Bar with plenty of seating, so the British Horse Society stand has had to move ... and so it goes on.

Our catering offering will change in other exciting ways, to include a new pub and a Badminton party – watch out for an announcement soon!

The basic administration of the event has to be put to bed very soon now, so all the ‘briefs’ – the written instructions for every official or activity – have to be updated, with all of us trying to remember to put ‘Sunday’ instead of ‘Saturday’ everywhere. We are quite certain that something with the wrong day of the week will leave the office this year.

The highlight of the last month for the Event Director has been to survive a formal VAT Inspection unscathed! While these are only routine and while the inspector himself was absolutely charming, no business looks forward to these and we can hardly believe that we have not made any major errors over the past two or three years. It calls for a glass of champagne – but not of course claiming back the VAT on it!

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