Some time ago I received a message, from a lovely lady asking for my address so that she could invite me to something very special.
I obliged of course! (Who wouldn’t!?)
Now, the invite came and it was a big surprise, The Earl and Countess of Carnarvon invite you to a special day at Highclere Castle with Dengie Horse Feeds for the ‘From Field to Feed Forum’.
Earl…. Countess… HIGHCLERE… ???
My rsvp was swift (obvs) and I began preparing my curtsy for his lordship.
On speaking to the wonderful Lisa at Dengie, I made arrangements to dine and sleep over the night before with her team and what a good choice!
I arrived at The Carnarvon Arms, a beautiful, racing themed pub and guest house at 5.30pm on Monday. To my surprise the room was just beautiful! I loved the decor, the towel elephant on the bed, the lighting and the springy mattress (I also loved the Rioja served by the glass!!). There were great toiletries, border biscuits and complimentary hot chocolate which I obviously tucked into!
Meeting the Dengie team over dinner and in particular Lisa and Ian who I perched between and plagued with my constant chatter, I was made to feel very welcome indeed. They are such a lovely bunch of people and my loyalty to the brand is now much more than skin deep.
After a good nights sleep I awoke to a very lovely breakfast and 5 minute drive to the castle.
Greeted by the Earl and Countess who were mingling in with everyone and really made you feel as though you were welcome into their home, we were seated for three brilliant talks.
The first, going into detail of gastric ulcers by a very experienced vet, I learnt that even 22% of wild roaming horses have gastric ulcers so it’s not uncommon or unlikely that it is so fashionably diagnosed in our domesticated ones! I also learnt what a Squamous was and I very much LOVE this word ??.
The second talk was on Anti-doping law and procedures when dealing with horses that have been found contaminated! A very appropriate subject for me after my flippant use of Sedalin in the past. It really isn’t worth the heartache to use prohibited substances and I learnt that I will be sure to check EVERYTHING that I feed to my horse even herbal supplement, you just cannot be too careful. Keep or photograph bags, tubs and pots to ensure tracibility of batches should anything come up too.
The third was from Kate Williams, the Dengie nutritionist talking us through the importance of ‘clean fibre’, of how lucern (the crop used for Dengie products) bring heat dried is far cleaner than sun dried and the importance of sustainable British farming that they (and I) have very strong opinions on.
We were then split into groups and got taken on a lightening tour of Highclere’s vast rooms and exquisite decor. I adore interiors, and this surely was a treasure. Not what I was expecting though, as with the grandeur of the property you were always reminded that this is a family home first. It wasn’t pretentious in a palace sense, but much more of a beautiful character home. The countess has exceptional taste!
Onto lunch which was served in what appeared to look like an older milking parlour, carefully restored to a tea room. We enjoyed finger sandwiches, quiche, soup and the best selection of cake* I have had in years (sorry Mum!!). We were joined by the Earl and chatted about horses over tea, probably one of the most surreal yet comfortable situations of my life!
*Had I have not been on my way to dropping a stone, I’d have definitely gone back for seconds on the scones!!
So, a huge thank you to Dengie, to Lisa and her exceptional marketing team and to the Dengie farmers for setting this precedent in our industry. I feel very honoured to have been part of their day and I very much look forward to following what will be another 50 years of fibre feeding success for them.
Love as always