Tuesday, November 5, 2019

2019 - What A Year!

The days are shorter and much cooler ... it must be time to update my blog!

What a ride it's been since my last visit to this page! Make a cuppa and settle down for a read ... we have lots to catch up on!

sunset view from our deck

The year started with us being very diligent, having planned ahead ... our trip to the UK to visit family in May was planned and booked, both of our leave from work were confirmed, and my summer show dates at MREC were firmed up.

Then, less than a month before our flight to London took off, we learned that our "number" came up at the WHA, and we were offered the opportunity to purchase our own place to live. If you know anything about the housing challenges Whistler (and the whole Sea To Sky Corridor) is suffering, you will know that there was absolutely no way we would risk saying "thanks, we'll pass on this one and wait for the next unit that becomes available"!

What was already a busy spring exploded into chaos ... start packing the Squamish flat, pack for our holiday, work to the last second despite a wicked bout of 'flu, fly to London (still the sickest I've been in years) ... away for 3 weeks ... fly back to BC complete with jetlag (but without the 'flu, thankfully), immediately return to full time work, and continue packing.

canal at Hungerford

As it happened, the first two weekends that we were back in Canada, I was committed to take photos at horse shows!

Incredibly, my better half performed a miracle over the weekends that I was away working! He got the last of our stuff packed and everything moved from Squamish to Whistler (with the help of Gusto Movers - highly recommended!), cleaned the old flat from top to bottom, and started getting the new flat unpacked and organized. A feat for which I am forever grateful! 💖

late bluebells

The trip to England was fantastic! We both say it was the best holiday we've had in years! We went to Southampton, Salisbury, Hungerford, and Redhill (all in the general area south and west of London). We both met members of the other's family that we hadn't met in person before, and we caught up with family that we haven't seen in many a year. Happily, we all got on really well ... and we felt quite bereft leaving them upon our return to Canada! Needless to say, lots of photos were taken in England (including two pet photo shoots - you didn't know that I'm now an International Pet Photographer, did you?! 😋 ) ... sadly, I've still to finish processing the travel photos, and loading them for you to see!

drive-by shooting - between Chippenham and Salisbury

I worked five horse shows this season: three two-day horse trials events, and two three-day hunter-jumper shows. Horse trials are a three-phase competition with each horse/rider team completing dressage, show jumping, and cross country tests. These were the first horse trials shows that I've photographed, and I loved it! The hunter-jumper event is arena jumping, with some classes focusing more on equitation (rider's and horse's turn-out, rider's proficiency) and others on timed/faultless rounds. Work on each show usually takes about a week to complete - the days spent shooting, plus the next 4-6 days processing and posting photos during all my waking pre- and post-work and weekend hours, until the job's done.

cross country action

Camping in my new-to-me van, Sven, was positively luxurious ... so much space compared to the little van I used for the 2018 season. He's a keeper, for sure!

Summer in Whistler has been lovely ... we're reveling being in our own place and ecstatic that it is in such a wonderfully quiet location. Our building is very nice, and the neighbours (apart for the nameless, passive-aggressive Parking Police Person) that we've met so far are awesome! When we're in our flat, it feels like we're in a cabin in the woods, with a view of the forest, a natural pond, and the sunset! All our worldly goods are now unpacked and have been put away. All that remains is picture hanging - a good task for the winter months!

enjoying a splash during cross country

I spent four months commuting between Whistler and Squamish, where I was still working. The 50km drive takes 30-45 minutes each way depending on the traffic. Sometimes significantly longer, though, especially at the end of the week when I was traveling "with" the Friday Freakout weekender rush to the mountains.

The few months I spent doing the commute convinced me that I did not want to do it in the winter - I was too scared! If people drove with such little regard for their own and other people's safety in the summer, I hate to think what the winter would be like when you add the challenges of snow, ice, darkness, poor visibility, people who don't know the road, people inexperienced in winter conditions, and vehicles without proper winter tyres!


Long and short of it, I resigned from my position in Squamish in September. Happily, I was only without income for two weeks! I've found a job in Whistler that I think was tailor-made for me, at a company called Sidecut Tuning. It makes high-end tools and products for tuning skis and snowboards. It's part-to-full time in winter, part time in summer (so lots of time for shows!), doesn't involve dealing with the phone, doesn't involve dealing with payments (or lack thereof), and doesn't involve any face-to-face with customers. I spend my time filling orders, packing and shipping and, when not doing that, I assemble tools and products.

Since moving up to Whistler, I've done one pet photo shoot ... can't show the photos yet, though, because they're a Christmas surprise, so watch this space! Another pet shoot should be happening soon - it was won by a silent auction bidder at the recent Whistler Animals Galore fundraiser!


I have one more thing to do before I wrap up the 2019 horse show season, and that's to run the annual Holiday Special! This is coming up later this month, and gives competitors one last chance to get their show photos at a discounted rate.

Then I'll start planning my 2020 season. With the more flexible work hours, I'm hoping to add more show dates to my calendar!

So ... what did you get up to this summer?

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Introducing Sven

The past few weeks have been seriously crazy for me. But full details will have to wait until another time. This post is about an addition to the family:

As some may know, my little blue camper van perished last fall, when the engine developed problems. Unfortunately, too expensive to fix. We didn't feel right trying to sell him on to someone else in that condition, so donated the vehicle to www.kidneycar.ca in exchange for a tax-deductible receipt. 

After an exhaustive six-month search, we adopted Sven last weekend. His Swedish-born American owner has just left Whistler bound for Maui (poor guy). No, the man's name wasn't Sven. But the van has been kept clean, maintained and finished inside with incredible care and attention to detail that you'd expect from a Scandinavian. And it smells piney, like the inside of a new sauna!

The vehicle is a 1994 Chev G20, so it was given life the same year we got married, and the year arrived in Canada! Like us, he has low mileage for his years, so should have a few more laps around the sun left.

He's a stealth camper, and for sure still need some work (like actual insulation between the paneling and the body), but is definitely ready for action when my horse show season starts the first weekend of June! Uniquely, he's the only van that we've seen that is a "panel" van on one side, and a "people" van on the other.

Here are some photos (thanks to P for these) to give you an idea:


Panel Van on One Side

People Van on t'Other

Work Van Up Front

Scandinavian Lodge in the Back

The wooden centre part of the bed can be pulled out towards you, and the mattress folds out to full length for maximum stretch-out comfort. I'm pretty sure that I'll be able leave it as it is, though, and be quite comfortable. That'll leave extra moving-around space in the "entrance hall".

There is plenty of privacy with drop-down curtains on the back 3 windows, and covers complete with magnetic corners for the side door windows. I have a black-out privacy screen for the front 3 windows.

Yes, this van is substantially bigger than the last one! I'm driving it around Squamish as my daily driver for the next couple of weeks, getting used to it before I make the road trip to Maple Ridge for my first equestrian event in June.

Until sometime in the summer, here's wishing you all a wonderful spring!

Hope to see you next time!

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 Round-Up & Previewing 2019!

Happy new year! I hope you had a wonderful festive season, making precious memories with those dearest to you.

I confess, it has been 4 months since my last blog ... and this time I'm not making any well-intentioned but likely-empty promises about posting more frequently in future!

2018 was an amazing year for me and my equestrian event photography. Over the past summer I learned a great deal not only about horse sports photography from both technical and business perspectives, but also about how differently shows are run here in North America! I also enjoyed taking photos at local shows when my work and shooting schedules permitted.

Show Jumping at the SVEA Two Phase in June
I am delighted that I've been invited back to MREC for several events in 2019. I'll be the OP at two three-day hunter-jumper shows, and at three two-day events - very exciting!

Equitation at the MREC Hunter Jumper in August
Hunter-Jumper shows are a combination of equitation, which has the rider and horse being judged on the correctness of their skills both on the flat and over arena jumps; and show jumping. For the most part, classes are individually judged and have little impact on each other.

Show Jumping at MREC Hunter Jumper in August
Eventing is a completely different type of competition: Each horse/rider pair must complete tests in three disciplines: dressage, show jumping and cross country. The winner is the horse/rider with the fewest penalties when combined over all three phases.

Cross Country Equitation at MREC in August
In addition to the five competition weekends, I will be working at two clinics as well. These teaching events will be hosted by LHC Equestrian and will feature world class instructors with proven success in international competition. More details on those to come soon!

Clinic with Beth Underhill at MREC in October
2018 wasn't all about horses, though! In between equestrian events and my full time job, I thoroughly enjoyed shooting the action at the annual Kite Clash held here in Squamish (which, btw, means "mother of the wind") ...

Kite Clash in Squamish in July
... and a couple of pets for fundraisers (Whistler Animals Galore and Second Chance Cheekye Ranch), too!


Freyja & Shasta

Sadly, Buster the friendly blue van, has gone to the great parking lot in the sky ... his ticker gave out and we were unable to resuscitate him. Watch this space for updates.

And now, all that remains is to wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and prosperous year ahead!

Welcome 2019!


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