Monday, 22 April 2013

A nice little story

Many years ago, when I was young, fresh and had no responsibilities of such, I found myself working as a groom in Corfu. A yard nestled away among the olive groves and cypress trees. There were many horses to look after, young ones, old ones, completely ancient ones, ones without an eye and ones who were worth thousands. It was a busy day feeding, cleaning tack, putting escaped horses back into their field, mucking out  and riding. And it was the riding that was completely unpredictable - some needed breaking, some needed bringing on and some needed retraining altogether.

Simba was my favourite, he had a long, curly flowing mane and deep, chocolate eyes. He had a compact little body and arrived as a stallion - which the vet soon sorted out, but Simba still thought he was a stallion. What he lacked in height Simba made up for in beauty, prowess and showy paces, making sure that everyone was looking at him. He came to be trained for the carriage so he could pull fat tourists around Corfu town, but he was terrified of traffic so that put an end to that career, much to Jackos and Stomatis's disappointment. So he became my fun horse for months, we discovered trails all over the island together, we jumped hedges in the way and galloped along the Ropa Valley floor, we stepped over snakes and were careful not to run over the tortoises who pottered about the place. We made friends with the locals calling "Yiassu!" as we passed their adorable and simple homes.

And then he got sold to an English woman who owned a trekking centre where I assumed he would be taking tourists (sometimes fat ones) on rides over the Corfiot terrain. He left my heart soon to be filled by Roger who was an altogether much more sane animal.

It is four and a half sleeps until I revisit Corfu. I don't think I have ever been so excited about a holiday and my excitement is infectious - A thinks of nothing else and our Gerald Durrell obsession is reaching fever pitch.

So I had a little mooch on the Internet to find us a place to ride when we are there, the girls now riding every now and then and enjoying the experience. As I browsed the trekking centres available, there he was, Simba staring out at me from the page. His chocolatey eyes as deep as before with grey hairs showing his age all around his muzzle. The website said he is now called Rebel, a spirited horse  - he must be 22 years old, or older. An email to the owner confirmed that Rebel is indeed the Simba I knew and discovered the island with.

17 years later I am going to see him again, my excitement is palpable. Four and a half sleeps.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Happy birthday blog!

It's my blogaversary today.

And to greet me out of the window was a bird on a wire. The swallows have returned, a few days ago actually, to mark a whole year of being.

It feels so complete her being there, having had her own year of adventures and survival. Mine may not have been quite so dramatic but a year nonetheless, of growth and change. The blog has provided me with a platform to celebrate, to commiserate, to ponder and to share.

Happy birthday blog and thank you for reading. 

Thursday, 18 April 2013

That time of year again

It's exam time again for so many young people. I feel so dreadfully sorry for them and angry that they have to conform to these standardised tests that teach them nothing. I feel especially sad because it is A's turn this year although its not her first test. She is being tested in her Maths and Literacy, aged 7, and is 'training' for it now - the bubble of sadness I feel about this rises in my throat. We already have had plenty of meltdowns about Maths and I have tried introducing it into everyday life with a little success, but mostly we have tantrums and self-loathing when it comes to the sheet of homework she has to do every week.

"I am rubbish!"
"I can't do this and everyone else can!"
"You hate me cos I got one wrong!"

Eh? Where is all this coming from? Poor little mite has 30 boring questions again and again, week after week of sums. Drilling. Parrot fashion. Rote learning.

"For a fair selection everybody has to take the same exam! Please climb that tree!"

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid" - Albert Einstein

But when she is really interested her eyes light up, all blue and wide-eyed, taking in the information hungrily. I read her books 'far above her age' and she listens intently, staring at the ceiling lying in bed while her sister snores after the first page. She asks questions about what the words mean, why people say what they say, she asks questions any adult would ask. And if I ask her about the book the next day I know she has understood it perfectly, because she is interested.

So as we approach the SAT's exams, we will be away in Corfu- learning through language, and culture, through food and nature, through travel and transport. She will write in her diary which is already packed with her glue and scissors ready to stick in any curious little tit-bits. A far richer part of her education.

Why I hate school but love education - Suli Breaks

Monday, 15 April 2013

A poem rounding up the hols

What an amazing Spring break
this Easter holiday has been,
First we went to London
but not to see the queen

Mum and Dad needed a night out
a boozy meal without the kids,
followed by the cinema
drinking hot coffee with those lids!

Slightly sore heads the next day
we braved the underground
to see some fabulous butterflies
and a Lebanese cafe was also found.

A large family Easter lunch
and chocolate egg hunts galore
we all ate far too much
and passed out on the floor!

From city to country again
this time we travelled out west
to visit Granny and her dog
more wine put me to the test...

We all hiked over Exmoor,
pony rides and ice cream fun,
although it was blooming freezing
we did get to see the sun.

A long drive back to Sussex
and up to London again
for some antenatal work
and to see some long lost friends.

Finally we came home,
to Sussex where we stayed
I gardened, rode and cleaned the house
the children played and played.

A day out with Granny Cat
on the wild and windy shore
lunch out and chocolate cake
but the children wanting more.

What lucky, lucky children I have
to gallivant around the place
ending yesterday in glorious Brighton
another ice cream and sun on our face.

So back to school this morning
uniforms, packed lunches, homework too
not feeling down about it at all this time
'cos in two weeks we're in Corfu!

Thursday, 11 April 2013


I frequent our local town infrequently. I utterly and absolutely loath shopping, especially when it is an urgent matter like bras or jeans or kids shoes at the end of the school holidays. Today I needed all three, plus other bits and bobs that I'd been putting off for far too long. Living in the middle of nowhere and having no TV means I am blissfully unaware of what's out there, what I should look like and this removes any desire to acquire things.

I feel so bombarded when entering the town, advertising shoves young, flawless things in my face, not one type of bra but 648 (and try finding your size), rows and rows of clothes, shelves full of lipsticks and women so photo-shopped they are unrecognisable. I always start out positive and experience a slight elevation in adrenaline levels at the thought of spending some hard earned cash on some hole-free jeans. The reality sends me into a panic and I am shocked at the price of stuff. The choice is bewildering. So, much to his disappointment, I picked one black bra and one white - the 2 pack kind - tried on with half an eye on the job to avoid the rolls and wrinkles, and then paid and ran.

I didn't even start on the jeans, couldn't face the decision making - meaning I have to go back next week. Maybe a shot of gin before I start would take the edge off the situation.

Monday, 8 April 2013


I awoke under my own duvet this morning, with my own cat sat in the crook of my armpit. It felt so good to be home after 7 nights on the road, visiting family and the like. I don't often feel this way about Sussex, or the house we live in. Having been here for over 5 years now, I've always felt like a visitor just passing through. But today I really felt as though I had come home.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Porlock Weir

There are some places in the world that just feel right. Like all the ley lines, chakras and good calm karma have converged in one place making me feel I ought to be there. Porlock Weir has this affect on me, and Bossington next door. Beautiful rugged Somerset coast line, no one about, fisherman's cottages all wild and cosy - it's a romantic sort of place.

Porlock Weir

The sea starts to be a clearer blue from Porlock Weir, on its way down to Cornwall. Most of Somerset owning a muddy, silty brown kind of sea. Today the sea was full of white horses, feisty and full of life. The pebbly beach had interesting stones which P enjoyed weighing herself down with. The shops were shut or empty and a little cafe at the end of the village was selling Thai noodles, a very odd eccentricity on the edge of Exmoor. 

It just felt so good to be here.