Blog #18: Missing my Earl Grey

After all the excitement of the eventing, Jane is settling into the dressage competition nicely, despite more security issues today.

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One last shot of the eventers who were obviously enjoying catching up on social media while they watched Julie and Steiny warm up.

As I type this blog in the early hours of the the Rio morning, I can’t help but think how nice a good cup of tea would be. Having a bottle of water just doesn’t cut it. There is tea available, but its of the herbal variety. We have also been advised not to drink the water here, and just boiling the water in the jug apparently isn’t long enough to kill the nasties. So it’s just bottled water until we get to the press centre, where there is a big urn of coffee, strong enough to keep the tiring members of the press going through the day.

Cheese and ham rolls and cake
Cheese and ham rolls and cake

I’m starting to get into quite the routine, along with those who have also been here a while. The breakfast in the Mess Tent is free (the only free food available) and plentiful, as long as you like cereal, bread, cheese and scrambled egg, and cake. Every day, scrambled egg. And yes, cake. Its a ‘tres leche’ type of cake. This is like a plain cake which has different types of milk poured on it towards the last stages of cooking or cooling – i.e. whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk. Well, I think that is what it is; it’s actually quite nice, but not for breakfast. I took a bit in as part of my lunch yesterday and it was good. Would have been better with a cup of tea.

Last horse on the first day nails it. Dorothee Schneider and Showtime FRH. It was really dark by then, thanks to the rain coming in.
Last horse on the first day nails it. Dorothee Schneider and Showtime FRH. It was really dark by then, thanks to the rain coming in.
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Journalists in the mixed zone during yesterday’s dressage competition

The dressage was good yesterday; I enjoyed the more sedate day after those last two days of eventing frenzy. I have stuck to the same seat our little eventing media gang had in the press tribunes in the stand. Except we have gone from four down to two now. I miss you, Jenni and Debbie! Our spot works well as we can see down into the mixed zone, and when we spy the rider we want to talk to coming through, we can whip down the back stairs and be there in time for them to finally get to the print press crew, after the TV and radio dudes have finished with them.

Some of the army boys inspecting the offending bullet outside the media room while we were up in the tribunes
The view from the tribunes, looking down to the back entrance of the media centre. The mixed zone where we interview riders is to the left. I took this a few days ago when the army boys were inspecting the bullet that came through the roof

It was also quite cool yesterday and in fact I spent most of the time wearing my jacket. It even rained, although not heavily until after the last competitor had finished. That too was quite a nice change. I did wonder whether the rain would come through the bullet hole that’s still in the roof of our media centre. In fact bullets seem to be the feature of the press conferences. At previous big championships, we had a press conference with the top three riders after each day, including on the first day of dressage in both dressage and eventing competitions. Not here. We get press conferences about bullets being in all the wrong places. There were actually two yesterday. The last press conference was the most bizarre I have ever been to. The first one was really more of an announcement that there had been a “security incident” in stables. That was all the information, except that additional security was being put on. I was at that point arranging a meeting with Clarke Johnstone who said cheerfully he was up at the stables but was completely unaware of any “incidents” and also said there was no extra security that he could see.

There were plenty of empty seats yesterday but these spectators were ready for any rain. I'm sure there will be more people on hand today to watch the famous Valegro!
There were plenty of empty seats yesterday but these spectators were ready for any rain. I’m sure there will be more people on hand today to watch the famous Valegro!

It turned out that there had been another bullet found and at the second press conference the story was that it was near the fence near the stables. How far from the stables? 300 metres; no – 300 feet. I’m still not sure which. The General’s English was OK, but when it came to the finer detail, perhaps it wasn’t perfect. I still haven’t worked out if the soldier who found the bullet just stumbled across it or whether it whistled past his ear, which is what happened to Di Dobson on Saturday as she sat typing in the media centre.

Anyway, I’m very much a “what will be will be” and do not intend being diverted from my mission. I intend getting on the media bus to get to the equestrian venue 10 minutes down the road, hoping that no-one throws a ‘stone’ at this bus, and, armed with my cake, spending the day watching the best dressage riders and horses in the world do beautiful things in the arena.