Its that time again! It should be remembered that Blenheim hosted the last CLA in 2011 and was blessed with very sunny days. Last year ‘s event was not to be as Belvoir suffered from the onslaught of torrential rain a week or so before reducing the showground to a quagmire. On the back of Badminton it was a bitter pill to swallow. The summer of 2013 ‘s heatwave may well be remembered for as long as 1976 s ‘ if it carries on through Gatcombe and up until at least Gatcombe if not Burghley.
Thomas Dainty ‘s roadcrew arrived on the wednesday for an uncharacteristic early set up. Ragley Hall itself does not strike one in the same sense as Blenheim Belvoir or but nevertheless is set in superb undulating grounds that were soon to be invaded by the rural hordes making their annual pilgrimage to this coming together of all things countryside. It was quite simply the hottest day of the heatwave thus far without a stick of wind or even light breeze. We achieved the minimum required by way of preparation and returned thursday evening. Fortunately by friday an ever so gentle breeze had developed. It was not enough however to put off many thousands from abstaining from what is traditionally a very very busy opening day. It was said that the organisers went so far as to make friday tickets valid for the next two days such were the numbers lost .
We at Thomas Dainty enjoyed a days trading even if a little below usual level of activity. A 90 degree plus heat is not the best weather to be trying on the new sheepskin lined SCOTT boots. The boot is a 2013 production no doubt engineered to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the conquest of Everest. Tongues were wagging by saturday morning with rumoured dissension in the Food Arena, which sandwiched betwen the archery and Clayline was as far away as possible from both the Members and Entrance A. I counted eight independent ciders on offer but my favourite this year was www.southdownsvenison.co.uk who were all the way from Petworth bringing with them a too die for redcurrant sauce! Joules apparement were so incensed by trading that they sent one crew home. It has to be said at times Avenue A did feel like Row Z such was its distance from the Members and the Main Arena. As one level headed trader opined ”one cant really blame the CLA as they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t .”
GUN MAKERS row is the place to be at the CLA but tought to pull off unless you are a firearms merchant ! The good news for those in the boiling Country Living tent was that they were a hop skip and a jump from the drinks tent! Charlie Inness of www.hunterstweed.co.uk from whom I recently purchased rolls of tweed for my next Regent suit fortunately had a corner spot close to the air flow www.regenttailoring.com. My favourite discovery of the show was to be found here in the form of www.lesserspotted.com which for either the spontaneous or birthday gift is just what the doctor ordered and original to boot.
Back on Avenue A the likes of Show Giants DUBARRY, MOLOH, TIMOTHY FOX AND HI HO SILVER were slugging it out along with FLYING FOX whilst everpresents such as ASK SAL or more accurately ASK JANE, JOHLIND , OXFORD SHIRTS, OAK AND ROPE
(our neighbours ….www.the oakandropecompany.co.uk, bag specialists CHAMELON EARTH (www.ChamelonEarth.co.uk) were in support. The Fabulous Rampant girls headed by the enthusiastic Emma followed by her rampant Gems Jolly Jesse and Beaming Bryony made for this seasons Top Team! Thanking the girls for their lifesaving tea and tea and tea!! www.rampansporting.com . tFortunately INVERAWE (www.smokedsalmon.co.uk ) were providing excellent susatenance in the form of their smokies and smoked salmon and cream cheese sarnies. Moreover they offered up the best value glass of vin blanc to be found anywhere on the circuit this year. The CLA is also the one show where you the public and us the traders get to catch up with the ever so talented Oliver Preston and his good Lady wife (www.oliverpreston.com). He continues to prodiguosly produce cartoons cards and books that are uniquely entertaining. Everyone of the traders mentioned has a story to tell but this years CLA was very special because John Price, supported by his wife Lindy had recovered from serious illness to be able to not only attend the CLA but to sell his ties and assorted mens accessories. He has a particular line of all English classic braces au present. We enjoyed a wonderful Thai meal in Stratford with them saturday evening. Well done John for a magnificent effort and keep up the recovery.
Last but not least full marks must go to Laurent Huwart of Belgium who has persevered with the CLA, weather, bad positioning, the travel for many years. This year he had a better position. He produces a magnicent guide to safari and hunting lodges throughout the world. He is extremely knowledgeable and most definbitely worth a visit at blenheim if you did not catch him this time (www.magicsafarilodges.com ). The CLA is in part about the trading fraternity but mostly its about the general public who come in literally their tens of thousands. We met so many intersting friendly people once again that no matter how hot or sometimes wet conditions are we to endure one cannot fail to enjoy ourselves and mark next years CLA on the calendar back in Woodstock. From the lads down from Blackpool, to the Burnley abatoirist, the arborist from Stowe, the apple farmers from Kent, the farmers from Rutland to Josh Caudwell fresh out if Uni embarking upon a Photographic career (www.joscaudwell.com) it was great to meet you all and thankyou for your custom. If you missed it then THOMASDAINTY .CO.UK will be at Gatcombe the weekend ofAug 3rd BURGHLEY horse trials September 7th and for a final flourish the GOODWOOD REVIVAL the following weekend.
As for the shoes, well brogues sold well, as did TWEED, PENNINE and SCOTT boots. We maintain a select stock of CLIFTON the magnificent correspondent shoe and others are avaiable on an MTO basis. The TUSTING www.tusting.co.uk gorgeous Orange Traveller bag is sold out but also avaiable by order from Thomas Dainty with a 10% discount !
Good hunting and thanks again !