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I have been so fortunate to go to Badminton the last few years with my great friend Sam. We became great friends when Sam purchased Pokeys Puzzle from me in 2012. I regularly go down to stay and visit them as its about a 4 hour drive from me. Sam knows how to do Badminton in style and we were so lucky to fly into Badminton (yes fly!) in her helicopter! It was amazing: I have never been in one before and it was such an exciting way to travel! Only 10 minutes later and we arrived, to be greeted with new Mitsubishi Motors, who chauffeur you down to the entrance. It all felt so surreal, Sam had even more surprises in store for us, she had booked a table by the lake and it was UNREAL!! You feel so close to all the action and with the Horseware commentary (well worth buying) whether your shopping, getting a drink or on the toilet you never miss a thing!
We always go on the Friday so have time to look round the shops, I am always instantly drawn to sparkly things and the Hiho stand every time stands out to me. The stand is so inviting, as is Andrew - he always makes you feel so welcome and encourages you to try things on which I think is lovely. Within 5 minutes I have bracelets and necklaces all layered up, adding more and more to by wishlist! Then we go back on the Saturday to walk around the course and watch each fence being jumped. It reminds me that I never want to jump that big haha! But seriously, I always watch the riders in awe, the amount of training and preparation on the run up to this event I can't even comprehend. I know what its like getting fit and ready for a Novice or 1 star! The feeling competing there for them just gives me goosebumps. One year we did the Sunday too and watching the show jumping finale was fantastic. It was such a different atmosphere and I recommend trying the different days if you can.
For first time visitors here are my top tips get the most out of Badminton.
1) Purchase the Horseware radio
2) Look into members passes (its always nice to have a base and somewhere to have a rest and freshen up. They have lovely toilets which are never busy and lovely food with a bar that never had a queue! There is a lot of seating and it's right next to the arena where they start the XC and have lots of other exciting displays on different days. Well worth looking into these members tickets.
3) If you want to live the Badminton high life and there is a few of your going, it's worth looking into booking a table next to the lake, as they do packages which includes champers and private seating. If you divide it up between a few its a great option!
4) Don't rush round the shops, even if you have to do two or three laps like me its worth it, you can easily miss things with so much going on.
5) Take a small foldable brollie or light rain mac, forward planning is key you never know when there might be a rain shower! Oh and footwear, its great to look fashionable however when you've done your first lap and 20,000 steps later you start to regret it!!