Part 3 - The Deep South

We left Alexandra and Central Otago with mixed feelings - sad to say goodbye to that beautiful place that we had had such a wonderful time at but excited by the prospect of the coming weekend of four shows in Invercargill. We had been watching the weather as it was predicted to be unseasonably cold for the weekend and that forecast had not changed at all from the beginning of the week. You know, sometimes the weather forecast will say something on Monday for the coming weekend but gradually as the week goes on they change it slightly as highs or lows move more quickly or slowly than they had predicted at the beginning of the week. Well, in this particular instance, the only thing that happened was that the prediction became more and more positive that the cold snap was on its way and we were potentially going to get very cold and wet at the weekend.

Now, I had had a look at the map that was sent with our show entries and it looked like there was an indoor place for the showing but also some rings outside too. We were going to be in the outside rings but I was hoping that if the weather was too bad we would be able to be indoors. Anyway, fingers crossed as we made our way further to the deep south. Next stop Gore, where Rob has an aunt who lives there. We were booked for the one night there and we found a lovely park to walk the dogs by a river. The air had definitely taken a turn towards chilly and at one stage the clouds looked ominous, but then when we turned around two minutes later, the weather had cleared! (See photos below).

(Click on photos to enlarge)

We had a good time in Gore but I was getting worried about the weather for the weekend and so we went shopping for some gum boots for me as my feet were getting wet all the time, and also some thermal leggings as I was beginning to feel I would need them. Having come on our trip in the spring we had not really packed heavy winter clothes except for one jumper and one thickish coat. So, we purchased the said items the next morning and then headed off towards Invercargill - the southernmost part of our trip.

We got to our motel, the Surrey Court Motel, which was not too far away from the show venue. Brrr! The weather was certainly beginning to turn. We settled in to the motel which had central heating (thank heavens) and then I decided that I wanted to find a river to give the show dogs a wash with a bit of shampoo. As we were driving round to find the river it started to rain and then hail. We found a river and a suitable spot at the river to get the dogs in and so with a nippy wind, rain and hail I gave them a quick wash. I couldn't feel my fingers after a couple of minutes and we were chucking sticks in the river to get the dogs to swim to rinse themselves off. We dashed back to the van and got in and dried the dogs off and ourselves. That was freezing and we raced back to the motel to try and thaw out. This was going to be great fun - not!

Shadow gets close to the central heating (left). Then she gets a warm blanket over her (right).
Now we are really cosy and fast asleep (left), while it is hailing on the roof outside (right).

We got up first thing the next morning after having listened to the hail on the roof and the wind overnight. We were fine inside, snug and cosy with our heaters on, but open that door and go outside and it felt like we really were quite close to Antarctica! I started to thank heavens that I had purchased the gumboots and thermal leggings. When we left the motel it was starting to hail again and was beginning to lay on the road. We arrived at the show venue, parked the van and then went into the show building. That was when it really started to hail and we were left standing there watching some poor person trying to sweep the hail off the deck to the door of the building. It was laying as fast behind him as he was able to sweep it off. He gave up in the end.

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We had left the dogs in the van because we didn't really know what we were going to do. Our ring was outside but things were beginning to look decidedly icy and it was starting to snow.  I didn't want to get the dogs out of the van and wet until I knew where we were showing. There were plenty of mutterings from people to say that they should bring it all inside. There were two rings outside and two inside, but as the time got closer to show start time there didn't seem to be any ring changes.
Bleak view of the rings shortly after we arrived.

The snow began to get thicker and started to lay on the ground in the car park and I began to have visions that by the end of the day we would need to be pulled out. If there's one thing I hate it's the feeling of sliding in a vehicle - to the point where if I think it is going to slide in mud or on snow or ice, I will get out and walk. In fact, this actually happened at Conroy's Dam because the track was a bit slippery in places and that is why I ended up walking back to the dam from the end of the road while Rob drove the vehicle. However, I digress.
Van and car park shortly after we arrived.

The hail turned to snow and got deeper. The photos below were taken about an hour or so after the ones above.

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In the end the gundog group started at about 8.30am outside. All we could do was to wait either in the van or occasionally under a gazebo until we were due on. Nearer the time I decided that as we had three dogs to go in the ring, we would put up the soft crate by the ring and put all three dogs in it until we were ready for them. We wrapped it in a tarpaulin and had to try and tie it down as the biting wind came in fairly strong gusts. Heavens it was cold. I was wrapped up in thermal leggings, trousers and waterproof leggings, gumboots, vest, t-shirt, two jumpers, two coats and a woolly hat. I decided that there was no way I was going to go in the ring with anything less on and to hell with what I looked like.

Sherry was the first of mine to go in the ring. The poor judge (who came from Australia) must have wondered why he was being punished. As the golden retrievers were about to go on in the ring the hail started coming down quite heavily again. The judge by this time had lost all feeling in his hands. The steward was in jandals and said that she didn't feel the cold in her feet. However, by the end of the gundogs it was noted that she had put on better shoes, so I guess the cold even got to her. The judge was judging the dogs under the gazebo at the entrance to the ring. It was bitterly cold and the ring was slightly sloping and the upward side was against the wind, so quite hard work. Dear Sherry was so excited by the snow and hail on the ground that she wouldn't run properly. She just wanted to play. Kula was next in the ring and Rob managed to get his hands out of his pocket to take a quick video of us before his fingers froze.

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We didn't win a challenge at this show but we didn't really care. Kula was needed out of the crate again but the judge was so cold and didn't want to see her again and chose either Shadow or Sherry for Reserve of Breed (I can't remember which one of them).

I think the gundog group at this show was the fastest I have ever seen them show, and not only that but there were hardly any people or dogs at the ringside but amazingly, when it was a certain breed's turn to be in the ring, they would suddenly turn up out of nowhere.

When we had finished, we raced the dogs back to the van and left them in there. I went inside the main building to try and warm up and Rob stayed in the van. I watched a bit of the showing but I was fairly well frozen and having trouble getting warm and so eventually I went back to the van and found Rob sitting in there with the engine on and the heater running. Boy, was that lovely. What an expensive way to thaw out but I can tell you now, we were not the only people doing that in the car park - it was full of people trying to keep warm in their vehicles.

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Luckily the powers that be decided in the end to create three rings instead of two inside during the lunch break and hold all the shows in there, yeah. And so there we camped with our three dogs in the one soft crate, all nice and snug and warm. It was here that we were able to introduce ourselves to some of the golden retriever people at the show. In particular we met and chatted to Carolin and Judith. They were extremely helpful and Carolin ran Sherry for me in one or two shows where I had all three girls in the ring. I also got the chance to run her boy in the puppy line up one time. So that was really great to make new friends there.
Girls in the crate (left). The indoor venue before they changed it to three rings (right).

During the morning the guttering on the building was bending with the weight of the snow and hail in it and every so often some would come down in the middle. As the day wore on the snow and ice began to melt and they ended up with a small waterfall coming from the guttering and this was seeping in under the door in the middle of the hall. So there were gentlemen there sweeping this out as fast as it came in. It was good to know that the snow and ice were melting though and the temperature definitely got a bit warmer in the afternoon. Not so much that you could take your coat off for very long even inside, but I was happy that the snow in the car park was turning to slush so that we would be able to drive out of there pretty easily. In the afternoon show Sherry got the bitch challenge but didn't get anywhere in the group award. I was very proud of her though.

Phew, well that was a day and a half done. Hail and snow, freezing and a little warmer. I shouldn't complain, it got to the balmy temperature of seven degrees in the afternoon - but make that -3 degrees with the wind chill factor included! We were very glad to get back to the motel in the late afternoon and settle in for a nice warm night.

Sunday was not nearly so bad, in fact it just plain rained all day long. In the morning there were rumours that we were going to be back outside again but thankfully it was decided that they could run the show with the three rings inside all day if they used one of the rings for one group at lunch time. So that is what they did. Both Kula and Sherry got challenges in the shows on that day and so we were well chuffed with that. That meant that out of the six shows that we had entered in the South Island, we had won five challenges, only missing out on the snow one in the morning.

As soon as the last show was over we left and started to make our way back up the east coast of the South Island - homeward bound.

Click here to be transported to the Homeward Bound leg of the journey.