Posts Tagged ‘horse’

Those who follow my blog regularly will know that I am an avid collector of old bits and pieces. Being of a certain age and having inherited (and thrown out) a great deal of stuff in my time, I am very choosy about what I buy these days. I’m very loath to accumulate more stuff. In an effort not to buy more things that just stand about, I’m blogging about them instead as I have done before here.

Today’s avoidance is this lovely horse from the Bucket Tree. I see a bit of a theme developing.

wooden horse

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Garden in late evening light

It’s hard to be in the city when the weather’s so nice. I want, instead, to be lying on the grass, watching insects at close quarters scrabbling over blades of grass; hearing aeroplanes passing almost silently high, high overhead on their way to North America; and listening to the rather freaky, ‘munch, munch, scrunch blow’ sounds coming from behind the hedge over the lane, where a small herd of steers, accompanied by a random, greying and threadbare-tailed horse, are assiduously cropping the grass.

In my garden, all taming is temporary as it’s the time of year when the geraniums run riot and the profusion of alchemilla mollis decides to lay its blond curls on the grass before turning brown.

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I’m not watching the men’s Wimbledon final, as I have no TV here at the cottage. My days of being interested in tennis are sadly also behind me. Sadly – because I was a great fan as a teenager, even subscribing to a tennis magazine monthly for a while. My father had brought me up on tennis, having once played in a minor ‘plate’ event at Wimbledon in the 1930s. I was rubbish at it and still am but both my children had lessons as I was determined that they would be better than me. They are. At most things, especially maths. Meanwhile, I somehow lost interest in tennis, which I always preferred in black and white anyway. It was easier to see the ball.

Anyway, all this is by way of saying that I have been doing other things this weekend. Riding in the morning yesterday, where I encountered the smallest pony I’ve ever seen – it’s Sue’s three-year-old grandson’s  – at the farm. Rather like a very large dog. The ride was gorgeous – I thought it would be incredibly hot and had slapped on some precautionary sunscreen but we actually spent a lot of time riding through cool and shady woods to the sound of birds calling high up in the tree canopy.

very small pony

Then I went to the Bishop’s Lydeard school fete. There was no ferret racing this year, or guessing the weight of the cake. No, the fete had moved totally into the 21st century, with a cordoned off area where a local driving school (presumably with dual control vehicles) was giving letting kids drive around in their cars. What I would have given to to do that as a child!

Touring the stalls, I swiftly bought a rhurbarb plant for the garden and a delicious raspberry, almond and vanilla loaf cake. Mmm. I took some pictures of it, but my camera ran out of battery and I found that I’d got the wrong charger with me, so uploading them will have to wait. Suffice to say, I’m going to have to try and track down the recipe, it’s that good.

Then in the early evening, I put up a bit of trellis which I’m going to try and train one of the honeysuckles up. I think this is probably a naturally occurring one  – you see that a lot here, all mixed in with hedge, miles from anywhere, so unlikely to have been intentionally planted. The trellis was bought for a song at a car boot sale.

garage and trellis

I’m going to have to be careful, as one thing leads to another when I start working in the garden and, before long, I’m weary and cross, and have run out of time before I have to leave for another working week. So now I’m calling it a day and going inside for a cup of well-deserved tea and a slice of cake. All the other things will have to wait patiently on my ‘to do’ list until next time.

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I got into a terrible mood today. Low in blood sugar probably and exhausted with all I was trying to achieve as I’m not going to be able to be here for a while and I only got down here yesterday morning, courtesy of a 24-hour gastro bug, the final straw was when the strimmer suddenly starting smoking and ground to a halt halfway through my work on the roadside banks.

I waited for it to cool, trying to weigh up the options: test fuse; rush into Bridgwater and buy a new strimmer as the productive part of the day waned; leave banks looking foolish; have a cup of tea and a hot bath. I went for the latter option but only just. Nearly pipped at the post by a very strong desire not to leave my banks looking foolish.

primroses in long grass with dewdropsThis probably sounds silly, but it’s really obvious where I’ve strimmed and where I haven’t. The grass has been left deliberately very long to protect the primroses in the last few weeks, consequently we’re also overwhelmed with dandelions. Why does this matter? Do the locals go past shaking their heads, saying: “That woman; hasn’t a clue how to strim a bank,” or “Place has gone roight down’ill in the laast couple of years, will you look at all those daandeloyons!”? I suspect not. Anyway, in case anyone should think the latter, I went round and pulled the heads off all the remaining ones before I had my meltdown bath. And, of course, also to stop them proliferating. (While I did so, I was also happy to note that some of my euphobias have headed out of the garden into the road – a kind of proliferation of which I approve.) I do love this place but sometimes I wish there wasn’t quite so much gardening.

So, to try to stay positive as I sit here on a beautiful day bathed in sunshine feeling a bit defeated. I have achieved the following Good Things this weekend:

  • I planted a little privet bush to fill in where some of the hedge died in the autumn. I’m going to cut back the old bush as the new one grows and hope not to have too much of a hole in the process. I’m not too sure if this will work.
  • I painted the hinges and bolts on the garage with Hammerite – very satisfying and looks very smart now.
  • nest in bush with birds' eggs in I found a robin’s nest at the end of the garden low in the branches of the holly bush where the compost goes. Couldn’t really photograph it well because of the lack of light and I didn’t want to frighten the sitter bird too much by staying there too long.
  • I did lots of weeding – two wheelbarrows full, fact, although you’d hardly notice it.
  • I had a riding lesson: I am less crap than I was but not by much. I can now go into a canter voluntarily sometimes without Sally having to use her whip. I’m going to need so much practice at this.
  • I did all the paperwork that I brought with me. Slightly scary now that the four day week started in February is beginning to make itself felt in the bank balance.

So all in all, it’s only in my stupid head that I have anything to feel fed up about. So I’m going to stop. Now.

Oh, and Postscript: I got a good bee picture:

bumble bee and flower

or two.

bumble bee face on in flower

I should also like to add that the German word ‘zwitschern’ sounds so much more like the noise I’m hearing the birds making outside, than ‘tweeting’.

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Actually, these are not yesterday’s pictures because I forgot to take my camera with me but, honestly, in the melée that happens before a ride sets off, it wouldn’t have been much use to me, as there’s so much going on. So with another wonderful day at hand, I walked over the fields to Manor Farm to take some pictures of this morning’s rides setting off.

man pushing wheelbarrow

riding boots in the tack room

broom

two horses

I rode Joseph, here on the left, yesterday. On the right is Harry, who has one blue eye and one brown.

horses at stables

riders in country lane

This last picture is mostly the view that I had of the other riders yesterday, as I was riding last in the line.

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The weather is fantastic – fabulous after several weeks of such drear greyness; bright blue sky, a hard frost early on but clear views all the way up to the coast. In the stable yard, the horses are whickering and neighing in anticipation of our departure. They know it’s going to be a different kind of day. The chickens run amongst the horses feet in their stalls, clucking busily. The riders chat to each other while we wait for the horses to be got ready. Most of us don’t know how to saddle or tack up a horse efficiently enough, so Sally, Sue and Sophie are running about getting everything ready.

Soundscape

I get to ride Joseph, smallish and slightly slow but responsive enough. He has to go last because otherwise he kicks the horse behind. This means that when the woman in front of me is not yattering on over her shoulder (she has verbal diahorrea but I miss every other word she says) I can fall back far enough to ride in peace. This means I get to hear the creaking, leather on leather noises that the saddle makes as the horse moves beneath me. There are boggy patches, where his hooves squelch as they suck at the red earth under his feet.

Up on the tops

On Quantock Common, birds skim low over the heather and land in the distance, chirping. Joseph chomps at the vegetation if I let him get close enough, his teeth making a satisfying crunching sound on brambles, grass, twigs; anything that he can grab with his big, yellow, horsey teeth.

Lunchbreak

When we stop for lunch at Ramscombe, the barbeque spots and picnic tables are full of families with yapping chihuahuas, small screaming children and men standing around smoking, looking uneasy in the countryside. In the shade of the woods, it is still only about six degrees, although it’s sweaty out in the sun, beneath several layers and a fluorescent vest.

We attempt to eat our packed lunches standing up, holding the horses’ reins in one hand and food in the other. We all walk in small circles as the horses nudge us trying to get a bite over our shoulders. They eat a few carrots and get a long cool drink in a stream. The horses are not keen to get their feet wet and, of course, I’m reminded by Joseph that you can lead a horse to water but cannot make him drink. So we stand there for a while, waiting, until we give up.

Every now and again our crocodile of horses, if there can be such a thing, grinds to a halt as one or other horse decides it needs a wee. For some reason, most of the riders find this hilarious and the efficient, high pressure hose noise of them weeing is accompanied by schoolgirl giggling.

Hometime

The ride lasts six hours all told, then the horses’ hooves echo around the stable yard again on our return, and we slide off their backs, crooked and bent like old people, until our knees loosen up again. Even my neck feels in a total crick. We go inside to hear the kettle efficiently click off after whooshing up boiling water to give us all a relaxing cup of tea.

Tomorrow, if I can get my gadgets to behave, there may be pictures…

photographer's shadow

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red sky in the morning, shepherds' warningA fine red sky this morning, so, of course, the early morning’s clear weather has deteriorated into a fine, drizzly mist, so thick now, that you need fog lights to drive up here in the Quantocks.

Luckily, though, the dry weather held out until we got back from riding. I was riding a much smaller horse called Joseph today, which was nice because I actually felt like I could get my legs down far enough to gee him up properly. Trigger is just so broad but Joseph was a dream, but perhaps I’m actually just getting better at riding.

We rode up to Fyne Court, a direction in which I’d never ridden before, and then back again. Did loads of trotting which I can now manage absolutely fine and, apart from sometimes feeling a bit fretful about what I’m doing with the reins, I felt quite in control. Cantering was harder and I need more practice at that. It was great to go riding with a group that didn’t include a total novice, so that we could actually do more difficult stuff than just walking. So many cars, though, on the roads and a tractor and rattly trailer came along, which really spooked Trigger and Harry, who were in front of me and went dashing off up a bank and into the woods. I wore my lovely new half chaps that the children gave me for my birthday. Thanks!

Sad news though of John H., who has just had to be taken into a care facility because he has suddenly got very confused; he’s probably disturbed by the new kitchen they are having put in at the farm, so hopefully it will settle down again, when the work’s finished. It’s only two weeks ago that I saw him driving past the cottage on his quad bike. Let’s hope he can come home again soon. He’s such a character.

It is starting to feel a bit more springlike. Quite a lot of bushes have got buds on and there are putative narcissi everywhere. In my garden, there is one single dwarf narcissus blooming and I saw a single daffodil on a verge as we were going along. I have a bush that’s covered in blossom but have no idea what it is. I will photograph tomorrow. Apparently, it’s going to get much colder again next week, with temperatures back down to almost freezing, so this mild spell has been a bit of a false hope. It’s still February, after all, but it feels like a very long winter.

After making some spicy vegetable soup for a late lunch, I went in to Bishop’s Lydeard to buy some supplies, which included a visit to the fabulous butcher’s. Everyone in there is always chatting away, so there were many apologies for keeping me waiting but it gave me time to look at what I wanted to buy. So instead of the single chop for tonight’s supper, I also came away with a free range chicken and some Exmoor blue cheese, which I haven’t tried before. I love the slower pace of things down here. Even in the Co-op, the staff are slower. In London, they are in such a rush to get to the next person in the queue that I end up feeling so slow and clumsy, fiddling around with my purse and my Onya bag, while the assistant taps her nails impatiently, as though I were about 105. There’s just no sense of actually ‘serving’ the customer there; it’s just all about taking their money and moving on the the next, so it feels like such an indulgence to shop here.

A hen chicken (Gallus gallus)

This is rather a long ramble and not a very interesting one, so I hope you’ll forgive me. So I’ll end with something that has been exercising me a bit today, given that I’m in the adoption mood. Through Twitter I came upon a farmer who has had to give up his business because the supermarkets are paying so little for his eggs; he needs to sell off all his laying hens before the end of March. His daughter has made a great video about them in the hope that they can be sold rather than sent for slaughter. Shame I really can’t have chickens… (There’s also some nice music.)

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