Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The unscheduled dismount

It's part of riding, they say. Get straight back on, they say. You have to do it seven times before you are a real rider, they say. Yes, falling off a horse is the everyday risk of my hobby, the risk which seems unfathomable to most.

You're so brave, they say.

Don't you think about your children, they ask.

Of course I don't relish the eating of dirt, the tumble at a gallop, the meeting of the ground or the polite unscheduled dismount but it is what makes the sport all the more thrilling.

Oooh, well sat, they say.

Hang on, they shout.

Ooooooh, awwwwww, ahhhhh, they thrill when the rider falls into the water jump. Possibly the most humiliating of all.

I have fallen off many, many times in my life. It doesn't make me a great rider, or a brave one and of course I think about my children before I hit the ground.

This video of me leaving the saddle happened this week, the reason for the hilarity is that I landed on my feet which any Olympian gymnast would have been proud of. A beautiful dismount, knees bent to absorb the landing and then standing up straight - I still had hold of the horse and got straight back on to finish the round before I had time to contemplate the kids.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Half term horsiness

"Where's the hoof pick A?" I heard P ask her sister. 

"I need to muck out Daisy's stable, you brush her tail first though!" I hear about half an hour later. They are having fun with Daisy the pony today, even though Daisy is made of fur and has two rockers instead of four legs. I believe the ponies may be getting under their skin a little.

Half term week has given us a reprieve in the weather. It is fair to say that we have got wet a number of times but have been lucky to see the sun as well. Yesterday afternoon was particularly brilliant, in its sunshine and the experience, for the girls had a go at a gymkhana at their local riding school. The games consisted of a ride and run, a potato race, a dressing up race and a balancing ball race. I was thrown back into my childhood remembering how I would drag my pony to the finishing line, grinning aimlessly just hoping for a shiny, ribboned rosette. And once the girls got the idea of racing for rosettes, the determination was intense.

"C'mooooooon P!" I shouted, "Run, run run!" I jumped up and down, giggling and slightly concerned at the same time, as they have only had three riding lessons.

A's face had pure grit written all over it. That rosette was going to be hers, and I have never seen her so proud of her achievements.

"Mummmmmmmyyyy? Do you think we could get a pony one day?" she asked in the car on the way home.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Friday niceness

"Mummy......" said A with the intonation going up long and gradually at the end.

"Yes A?" I answered putting the car into reverse, hazard lights on, heater and headlights on full blast ready for the school run.

"I wish that there was peace in the world, I mean all over the world and that there was no war. I wish there were no nasty people who do war. And I wish that it was warm everyday with just a little bit of rain so that the plants would grow."

"What a lovely wish A, you'll have to wish that next time you blow your candles out or break a wishbone with your little finger!" I replied, glowing with pride inside.

"And I also wish that people never got ill and they felt well all the time," she said specifically at P who was looking rather forlorn in her ladybird onesie about to have another sick-day off school.

"And if no one was ill there would be no nits. Yeahhhh! I wish there were no nits in the world Mummy!" she exclaimed and continued to look out of the car, day dreaming off into the distance, following the raindrops down the window with her fingers.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014


A was eight at the weekend.

"So grown up!"

"How time flies!"

"Enjoy them before the teenage years...!"

It has gone fast these eight years, a whirlwind of nappies, of weaning, of teething and pre-school dramas. Her first day at big school, learning to skip, to clap her hands, to ride a bike and to swim a length. Her personality is shining through strongly now, a caring and sensitive child with a habit of day dreaming and distraction. A sweet natured child who is fearful of pain. A kind child, alert to others feelings and those less fortunate than herself. A giggly child, a snotty child, a happy child and a child with the longest-ever-wobbly tooth because she is so frightened of them falling out.

My trusting A. Now you're eight you will start to remember more and more of your life, your achievements, your highlights and low times. I feel enormously privileged to be part of your journey and look forward to making some memories together.

Happy birthday sweet girl.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Indian visa

I sat down today knowing it would take a while. But over five hours, I was not expecting.

The countdown to India is actually pootling along quite nicely, despite the rain and red tape, it was only 58 more sleeps to go when we last looked at the calender. We are all starting to talk about the trip a little more, A is imagining the elephants, P can't wait to sleep on a boat in the back waters of Kerala and he is looking forward to having some cookery lessons and trying yoga with the kids. I am anticipating being somewhere totally foreign, where everything is just a little, or maniacally, different to how we know it. I am looking forward to the first smells, the heat, the spices, the towns and cities as well as the rural, national parks where we can pretend to be real life Mowgli's, riding elephants into the jungle. Indiaaaaaah.

Before any journey, there is always the small matter of organisation. The visas are horribly expensive and time consuming to fill in, the five-times photo copied birth certificates, bankers draft (what's that?), letters to the High Commission giving permission for our daughters to come with us. A whole load of unnecessary administration.

"Bet you wish you were staying here now!" the post office guy laughed, when he'd just delivered the information that postal orders didn't come in the amount I was wanting.

I did actually want to cry a little bit, knowing that the visa process was prolonged a little more, meaning a trip to the bank for a bankers draft.

"Absolutely not!" I replied laughing with him at the absurdity of my day, "it will be worth every effort and every penny saved for this trip."

Because we have saved long and hard for this journey. The hall remains unpainted with bare plaster showing since 2010, the kitchen tiles are a lurid green which don't seem too obnoxious any more, the fence and windows are rotten and falling down, the garden is wild and the carpets are stained with cat sick patches. But to us, time and money spent on travelling, tops everything. Even if it does take a whole day to apply for the visas.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

I want to fly away

I had one of those moments yesterday. The one where you turn up the radio really loud and shout at the top of your voice because the words resonate with your life. I expect a number of people did it yesterday, the song being on Radio 2.

I used to love Lenny. He reminds me of university and sitting in my room of bare breeze blocks turning the tapes on my broken, yellow tape recorder -  naff even by '90's standards.  I am laughing at his video now and the oh-so-very-deep lyrics.

I wish that I could fly 
Into the sky 
So very high 
Just like a dragonfly 

I'd fly above the trees 
Over the seas in all degrees 
To anywhere I please 

Oh I want to get away 
I want to fly away 
Yeah yeah yeah 

Oh I want to get away 
I want to fly away 
Yeah yeah yeah 

Let's go and see the stars 
The milky way or even Mars 
Where it could just be ours 

Let's fade into the sun 
Let your spirit fly 
Where we are one 
Just for a little fun 
Oh oh oh yeah ! 

I want to get away 
I want to fly away 
Yeah yeah yeah