Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Pippin the pigeon

In the unnatural storms of this week, a little pigeon lost her way. She was found under our car sheltering from the rain which beat down relentlessly, threatening our imminent camping trip. We know she is young because the tag around her leg said so, the Internet helped us decipher that she was born this year and that she was all the way from Dalkeith in Scotland. She was very wet and bedraggled, A said she was must be feeling 'under the weather' which we all giggled at. We gave her some bird seed, and not bread, which she immediately pecked at - probably starving from her journey. We then gave her a little blanket, a pot of water and let her rest. She is still with us now, in the utility in the cat carrier. The fatty catties are unbothered by our new feathered friend, seemingly more concerned with catching the many zeds now that winter is nearly upon us.

We have called her Pippin. I keep checking to see if she is OK, we are waiting for her owners to get in touch to advise us what we should do next. She is now dry, perkier and hopefully with a full belly and a good few nights sleep she can begin her journey home again. Or if she decides to stay with us, she would be very welcome indeed.

Monday, 25 August 2014


It's been a cracking summer holiday, the spell being momentarily broken today by Clark's shoe shop and the continuous rain. We had a fantastic week in Somerset my home county - it's an honest part of the world, a more real place than that of Sussex. Somerset is a bit grittier, if that's such a word, more raw, slightly harsher and reveals a sense of calm. As much as I like being a Sussex Mama I am always relieved to reach the West Country, to be rid of the twee-ness and commuter belt feel.


Watchet is a great place to visit. It is charming and I think I could live there with its ancient harbour, brown mud-coloured sea and views across to Wales. I love the coastline with its distinctive red cliffs and alabaster caves, the beaches are a stone-foragers delight hiding fools gold and fossils for the lucky seekers. We wandered along the narrow harbour wall meeting a red lighthouse at the end and watched some young people dive into the harbour waters with their clothes on. It looked like a lot of fun. We talked to a man catching an eel, its snake like body getting caught in the line as he tried to release him.

"Poor bugger's already been caught today!" he exclaimed taking 2 hooks from the eels mouth.

He threw it back into the silty water hoping for an eight pound sea bass next time. We talked local fish, sustainability, fishing with nets and using mud-horses. He took the time to explain to us the intricacies of fishing in the famous lilting accent, he seemed to have that time and didn't mind sharing his knowledge with us. It felt like such a privilege.

The tiny museum held treasures free for the visitor to look at, an old sea swimming pool which was free for anyone to use and to our delight, a free art workshop for the children to practice their fabric painting and flag designs. It felt like everyone we met felt proud of their village and genuinely wanted us to share its gems. Somerset ain't no Cornwall - but I know where I would rather be.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Fletch is at it again

"Well done! Shame about the jumping!" the judge smiled as she handed me a fluffy pink rosette. That's fifth out of five. I grinned, knowing the horse as I do, having being on his back for nearly two years now.

Fletch didn't feel like jumping that day, it was easier to go round them - so he did. I had to do the walk of shame from the ring, elimination at a fence because he ran out three times. He knows I am as soft as butter and that he was going to get loved anyway. Everyone commiserated our efforts, made comments at Fletch's cheekiness saying he should know better at his age and we all agreed that I need to be more assertive with him. They say horses reflect your emotions and that is certainly true in the assertive-ness stakes.

We tried the jumps again in the lunch break. I tried being more positive but Fletch DID feel like jumping them this time. He didn't feel like going round them, he sailed them all not batting an eyelid and wondered what all the fuss was about. I'm sure he grinned an inside grin.

"Ohhh, he's so cheeky isn't he?" they all commented again.

Yeah. You never know what you're going to get with Fletch. Beautifully composed and red rosettes all the way, a meeting of the ground, fly bucks up the fields, reluctance to move forward and a reserve champion of the show. Because we have had it all this week. Onwards and forwards Mr Fletcher, onwards and forwards.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Forty one

I've never liked my own birthday - or Christmas for that matter, perhaps I am just a miserable old fart - but turning 41 has to be the most dull of them all. A slight trough from the peak of being forty. All that self-centred searching due to becoming a decade older, the realisation of your own mortality, the panic that  sets in because there's not much time left, the lists of ways you plan to use the next forty years and the promise to yourself of not wasting a moment. Everyone has a crisis at forty but it kind of fades by the time you reach 41, it's just another year.

So I am going to do some of my favourite things:

1. Have coffee in bed
2. Ride my favourite horse of all time and feed him carrots
3. Go to the beach rain or shine and marvel at the sea
4. Drink champagne, a really good one
5. Eat prawns, you know those huge ones which are almost sweet and so good with garlic mayonnaise
6. Be with friends and loved ones

I think that's a pretty special birthday after all.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

A holiday in the holidays

Today has been my first day off this holiday, it's been a crazy-busy summer so far, but at last nothing at all was planned for today - perhaps a little pre birthday celebration but Hurricane Bertha soon put pay to that. I was supposed to be continuing my eventing career by entering another One Day Event, 5 cm higher this time, but I sensibly decided I hadn't had enough time to prepare - Mark Todd wouldn't have done that, but I guess that's why he's an Olympic champion many times over and I am not.

Anyhow, a day of nothing does not sit well with me. OK, the sheets were washed, lunch and dinner prepared and a blustery welly walk accomplished - but it seems I would rather be busy to the point of bursting than having a cosy day inside. Let this day be just a blip in a long and exciting summer - I couldn't bear to think it is already the beginning of the end, although I did smell autumn a few days ago and the blackberries are already ripe for picking.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Cluck cluck

What a fantastic weekend of fun, laughter, grown-up partying with plenty of soul searching and heart-felt issues discussed. A hen weekend in your forties is a rare treat, to be able leave the kids at home and escape with some female friends. I don't do it often enough.

We had lunch out with no one needing a poo or saying they don't like tomatoes. We drank prosecco at lunch time and were the loudest in the restuarant. We rode horses of the ex-race-horse- kind and whooped though the woods - jumping logs as if we were on our hairy ponies 30 years before. I still get a rush of excitement mounting a new horse, hoping I stay on. I chose an orange one called Jaffa - Team Ginger all the way I say. He looked after me like a true gentleman with hay fever and horse flies bugging him along the way.

We nosed in people's gardens, pondering on the house prices of Surrey with its immaculate villages and perfect ponds. Stopping for a quick drink and struggling to get back on we cantered home, twisting, turning, ducking the branches and grinning madly at each other like pony-mad kids. It was a shame it had to end.

Horses will always be a part of all of our lives and it was so wonderful to be able to share the enthusiasm with others. These women get it. The addiction.

And on to the evening of a warm swim in the disappearing sun, a glass of champagne in hand, toasting a friend of many years and wishing her happiness with her soon husband-to-be. It was all quite emotional and held so much more meaning than the hen parties of a decade ago - although even at 40 plus we still drank through penis straws and giggled.