This weekend I have been at Robertsbridge Village Market and Eastbourne Fine Food Market. I love doing markets and meeting customers. But, in all honesty, this weekend I would rather have been at Badminton. It's arguably the greatest sporting event held in this country, and it attracts the second largest crowd of spectators in the world, only beaten by the Indianapolis 500.
Before children and baking, eventing was a key part of my weekends during the season. Not competing, sadly, but volunteering for British Eventing (BE). On 6 July 2005 I was sitting at my desk in London when Jacques Rogge announced that the 2012 Olympics had been awarded to London. I decided there and then that I was going to be a part of it. In an uncharacteristic moment of defeatism, I accepted it wouldn't be as a competitor, so I registered to be a Games Maker. In fact my target was pretty specific - I was going to be a Fence Judge on Cross-Country Day of the Three Day Eventing. I had zero experience, but 7 years to do something about it. So I spent the next few seasons trawling through the BE website, contacting organisers, offering myself up for whatever needed doing, and attending Fence Judge training days. I was a Crossing Point Steward (one step up from Car Park Steward, frankly), Fence Judge (properly respectable job with a walkie-talkie and whistle), I worked in the control box (basically Royalty - head-set and someone brings you lunch), I was a bouncer in the hospitality tent at Blenheim (high profile and able to tell eventers to rack off, you can't bring your takeaway food in here).
Fast-forward to early 2012 and I was asked to attend a Games Maker interview for the Equestrian events. I went along, told them what I'd been up to, and heard nothing. I knew enough people by now in the eventing world to know when roles had been filled. So I applied through the ballot for tickets to be a spectator on Cross-Country Day instead. I didn't get them.
By March 2012 I was seething, and planning my next move. Then out of the blue I got an email from the organising committee congratulating me on being accepted as a Crossing Point Steward!
In truth, I was put on a crossing so dangerous my partner and I actually demanded to speak to the Head of Crossings and tried to insist it was shut before someone was killed, live on television in front of 6 billion viewers, with me audibly shouting 'I SAID THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN!!'. But he refused (because then noone would have been able to access the two dozen Portaloos we were standing next to) and I spent the entire day with my heart in my mouth, screaming at mainly foreign spectators to 'move please...quickly....QUIIIIIIIICK!' - with the 10-second warning we had that there was a 500kg horse travelling at 30mph coming round a blind corner 50 metres from us. Against the odds, everyone survived.
Later that year I got pregnant with the Bee, and that was the end of my volunteering for British Eventing. But maybe next year I could sell muffins at Badminton...
Oh and Grizzly Bear's Olympic dreams also came true - tickets to the Beach Volleyball final at Horseguards. Marvellous.