Thursday, 31 December 2015

This year

I'm not sure about this year. There were highs and lows, as in every year, but the end of this year has clouded the first part for me. My goodbye to Fletch has been the hardest part emotionally. Well, if it's only a horse that has let you down, I hear you say - then count yourself very lucky indeed.

Yes he was only a horse. He was also my challenge, my reason to work (once the bills have been paid of course), he was my inspiration and a need. I feel very lost without him, bereft and lacking in purpose - but I couldn't take the risk any more, being thrown off a little too often than was safe.

We travelled a lot - discovered spring meadows in Greece, raved till sunrise in Ibiza, trekked with donkeys in Romania and visited good friends in Mallorca. Extremely lucky and proud to have shown our children foreign lands - apart from Ibiza of course, they can do that when they are 18, and I don't want to know. He and I worked hard and developed our careers, mine fulfilling me greatly - his not so.

My main memories of 2015 will be of fixing things. The house was repaired, damp penetrating every part, the cars were maintained, the cooker an ongoing 8-week nightmare, the boiler busting, the computers crashing and a royal blue carpet finally replaced. The house looks nice.

So what for 2016?

I really do not know. A new job for him could take us anywhere. A horse of my own? A writing career?

Certainly I hope to open up the world a little wider for the children. And drink more water.

Happy New Year all, may 2016 be a healthy and generous one.

Daffodils in December

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Fragile life

"I'll take the front end if you like, OK, one...two...three..."

We heaved the lifeless beauty to the side of the road, me and a man with a mohican. I looked at her eye, now gone, and touched her warm body - inwardly thanking her for making the world a more beautiful place.

In a moment, a second, a wrong decision - the young deer died crossing the road. In a moment, if life had been 3 seconds slower, the woman wouldn't have smashed her Mercedes. She stood in shock at the side of the road, shaking and near tears - her own life saved, a car and a deer gone. In a second.

I think all three of us took time to contemplate the fragilty of life this morning, waiting for the police on Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Nearly there

I'm holding it together, raising a smile now and then. We went for the complete Christmas-dinner-in-a-packet from Marks and Spencer and the experience was OK, not too hectic and just the right amount for the six of us.

The packet chocolate log is purchased, the packet mince pies abound, there are kindling and logs even though it is 14C outside and presents all wrapped. The tree is slightly mental, adorned with an increasing number of decorations. The kids are happy, even though the tooth fairy hasn't come for 2 nights in a row....I guess the fairies are busy helping Santa's elves?

I'm just not keen on the excess. The gross excess when the world around us is falling apart. And every year I say I won't fall into the trap of buying a huge amount of stuff, and every year I do - pressured into being perfect.

I feel it's like not being able to see straight for a month, it's the hugest hurdle to end the year, the last fence to be cleared and finally the finishing post is in view. Ready to start again as 2016 promises new beginnings.

Merry Christmas to you all, wishing you peace and light. And ponies.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Dear Fletch

Dear Fletch,

Yesterday was the last day I will ride you, being unceremoniously dumped for the sixth time this year was that one fall too many. I feel we have to end it now before one of us gets hurt, that one-of-us is probably me.

This is such a difficult letter to write as we have had so many wonderful times together over the last three years. You have taught me so much, how to ride, how to face my fears, how to be disciplined and how to never give up -  although now I do have to give you up and its breaking my heart.

I don't know why you do those massive leaps and bucks. I don't know what monsters you see in the bushes everyday, I don't know why a small cross pole still excites you to the point of being uncontrollable. I do know that when you behave, you are amazing, taking me higher than I ever dreamed I could.

Maybe you just don't want to be ridden any more. Maybe you want to be free of a rider on your back, I understand that. Maybe you want to graze the fields in your later years. Maybe you are bored of working. You are trying to tell me something and this time I am listening.

I love you very much Fletch, my eyes are swollen and puffy having to end it this way. Your beautiful chestnut body leaps out of walls as photographs show how good we were together. Rosettes prove our prowess.  I hope you make somebody as happy as you made me.

You will always have a place in my heart, you very special horse.


Sunday, 6 December 2015

Shall I?

"Getting ready for Christmas?" the nice hairdresser lady asked.

"Yup, nearly done," I replied "Just the food now." And moaned about all that cooking.

The hairdresser looked around to make sure no one was listening and almost whispered:

"We get ours from Marks and Spencer, the whole lot, roast potatoes, gravy and everything - you order it on line, pick it up and bung it in the oven - easy!"

"But I don't tell many people because it's embarrassing!" she continued.

We talked about how much easier it was for her mum, and how she wished her mum had got a Marks and Spencer dinner years ago so she could have spent the day with the children and not in the kitchen.

So yes, I am going to do it. A packet Christmas dinner for us this year.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Sick day

To be honest her cough does sound croupy, when she remembers to cough that is.

And of course I can't actually see the stomach ache or headache but apparently it's there, when she remembers.

Otherwise, after all the horses had been done and the shopping bought for the week, she curled up in a onesie after a hot shower. I had the overwhelming urge to cuddle her like a baby and we hugged and stroked for a very long time.

Sometimes you just need a day off.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


It was a cheeky last minute trip to see my bezzie and her husband, to be introduced to the next part of their journey. Arriving in Spain I am always engulfed with a sense of overwhelming familiarity and longing - the language, the foods and the waft of cigarettes in the warm air. I always feel I can breathe a sigh of relief when I am with Spain again, a long lost friend, a second home.

Mallorca surprised me with its ease, its clean streets and fancy plazas. The port with its abundance of super-yachts being repaired during the winter, the palm trees lining the streets and the impressive cathedral of Palma all gave off a sense of wealth, pride and international flavour.

My bezzie lives in the campo, the countryside, surrounded by derelict farms and prickly pears. The lambs would bleat in the neighbouring fields, November being a perfectly reasonable time to be born. The geraniums still flowered, the horses wore no rugs and the kids even had a quick swim in the pool. It felt serene as we rode over the land, reins in one hand and talking idly about the last few months.

We walked the beaches devoid of tourists, running with the dog in the freshest of winds as kite surfers impressed us with their swoops in the air and jumps out of the waves.

And as well as the laughter, the partying, the wonderfully cheap-red-wine-by-the-5-litre-container and the paella which made us gasp at its prettiness - we felt like this could be home. The children revelled in trying their Spanish, they joyfully pulled the heads off the langostines and dug out the mussells from their shells, they ran barefoot with a dog and played with kittens, they tried the cheeses and meats at the market. They said they could live here too. 

As long as our cats could come to Mallorca as well.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Mama and daughter

I guess it was always a dream of mine before they were even conceived. To ride alongside my child.

I remember a time in Spain, in those years we lived in Seville before children, when desperate for some equine action I rode in the Donana National park. We were given wonderful Andalucian horses of free spirit and impeccable training to explore the wild nature of the landscape. We cantered with wide grins sharing the same language of love for horses. The owner of the stables took us out - his long, wavy gypsy hair flowing in sync with the horses mane. His 8 year old daughter accompanied us as well - and as we cantered along the dry and dusty tracks, the father and daughter would hold hands, singing a song about how much they loved each other.

I want that one day, I thought at the time.

And so I do.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The Blue Peter Badge

I knew what was in the envelope before she opened it, having accidentally mistaken the letter for something medical. I guess I shouldn't be opening her post any more, with A growing up so fast and nearly in double figures.

I was so excited for her, because in that envelope contained her dream, her nine-year-old dream - a Blue Peter Badge. She had given up hope of one arriving, deeming herself not good enough. Completely on her own, she volunteered to talk in assembly about horse riding - as the Blue Peter presenters were encouraging kids to inspire others into sport. She carefully collected pictures, rosettes, showed the school her hat and back protector as well as choosing a suitable hymn. She even made up a prayer thanking God for all the animals, especially horses and ponies, in the world - I would like to second that, cheers God, horses are pretty ace.

She practised her assembly plenty of times, she learned to speak clearly and passionately about her subject and then bundled all the bits of paper off to the BBC - hoping for a badge.

And when it came her joy was immense, she was proud and rightly so, she even believed that Radzi, Lindsey and Barney had personally written to her - I didn't have the heart to burst that one.

Well done A, you are fabulous! Believe in yourself a little more and see what you can achieve. Or as my Dad used to say:

"Effort in. Reward out!"

He was a man of few words.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Summer of '96

It's been a slog the past few months. A real never-ending slog of work, routine, house repairs and sorting out our shit. The stuff accumulated over the 8 years we have lived here is inconceivable - piles of papers, junk and reminders of bygone days.

In amongst the dust and the filth, I found a little book. This little book was made for me by a friend called Jo, delightfully drawn depicting our days working with animals in Corfu - and partying hard by night. We met in the Summer of  '96, we were both 23,  Jo helped me out at the stables despite knowing nothing about horses at all.

I sat amongst the boxes of junk ready for the second hand shops and was transported. Where are you now Jo? We had such wild times that summer.


We would get up hungover, drink Greek coffee and eat stale bread before work

Next we would feed the zoo of animals at a tourist hotel and drive up the Corfiot mountains in a Fiat 500, with Patchy Poo, the Jack Russell, and a couple of packets of fags

Hoffy, the 45 year old horse, would wait at the gate politely while the others trashed their fencing and had a party on the yard

Despite never sitting on a horse in her life, Jo and I galloped and jumped around the Corfu terrain, taking care to avoid the slumbering tortoises and the grey and brown snakes

Lunch times by the pool - a 5 hour break in the heat of the day

Feeding the horses, mucking out and grooming, with cigarettes on an abandoned car as the sun went down

Partying hard at night - with 2 hours sleep - doing it all over again the next day

If anyone knows Jo Eve - with outrageously curly hair and a talent for drawing - please get in touch. I missed her a lot today.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Before work

Feed the cats
Feed the fish
Take him to the station
Breakfast for the kids
Make a packed lunch for one
Dinner money for the other
Empty the dishwasher
Test spellings
Check homework
Put a load of washing on
Start tumble dryer
Take food out of freezer for dinner
Remind child 1 to take dance kit to school, three times
Remind children to hurry up, teeth, face and hair - a thousand times
Do two hair styles - one plait, one pony tail
Put the recycling bins out
Take children to school
Take the car for a service and pick up a courtesy car

Before I go to 'work'.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

National Poetry Day

This is the only poem I remember, which I could recite aged five. I can see clearly the page on the beautiful book it was from, it makes me feel cosy and safe to recall.

Come to supper Sarah
For it is getting late
There's bread and fruit and honey
Waiting on your plate.
"I'm just coming Mummy
see what made me stop
the sun has turned a lovely red
just like a lollipop!"

A fitting end to the perfectly autumnal day.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015


"Don't worry, it's over a minute until your turn!" grinned the timekeeper admiring the horse I was riding.

Keep breathing, breathe out Sarah, breathe out. I circled Fletch a few times, he knew exactly what was coming up next as he started to get excited, jig-jogging on the spot with ears pricked to the jumps and the far-off fields. My stomach had stopped churning so nauseatingly, the adrenaline was kicking in to my arms and legs to 'fight or flight' the situation. I was going to do both.

"30 seconds!" said the time keeper.

30 seconds? Still? The slowest countdown. Don't think about it, of course he will jump the first fence. Circle him again.

"15 seconds!"

Oh come on. You're kidding. I need to go now before I cry. I might cry. I think I am actually going to cry. Breathe Sarah, breathe.

"OK, 10...9...8...7...6....5....!" counted the time keeper.

We circled again, a big circle this time and began to trot towards the start flags.


Thank God for that, we were off, over the first with ease and speed, and the second and the third. Flying high in glorious autumnal sunshine, our hearts pumping in unison as we galloped attacking the jumps with perfection. This was brilliant, the best feeling in the world, Fletch was jumping out of his skin and feeling like he was loving it. C'mon, we can do it, I talked to him and praised him all the way round.

We had a hiccup at fence 14. That meant no clear round or rosettes for us today, but on we rode, galloping over the last fence and through the finish. 



I never feel so hyper-aware like I do when I am jumping cross country. When it is over the adrenaline courses my veins for hours and I relive every fence, talking about it to anyone who will listen. The relief of being home safely is palpable. It takes all my concentration not to cry, again.

It's hard to match that feeling - that skin-pricking aliveness -  addictive, almost.

Photo courtesy of Fizzogs Photography: 

Monday, 28 September 2015

My castle

We had the delightful news that we need a new boiler this weekend. I have not showered since Thursday but resorted to the old flannel wash and trying to shampoo my hair in the sink. It's grim to be honest. It comes after six months of such heavy house expenditure that I almost laughed, almost.

It is keeping us in the rat race, get a job to get a mortgage, get a better job to pay the mortgage and keep the house standing when it would like to fall down.

I'm not sure I even want a house any more. A yurt would do, leading a nomadic life, moving when we had grazed the area. Or a campervan, or a horse-drawn Romany caravan.

Of course I romanticise when others would be so grateful for solid bricks and a roof over their head.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

School blues

I feel I am at school with them. Its a full time job getting them there with the correct stuff completed on the correct day, never mind the voluntary and money contributions required.

So far, in the 2 weeks and 2 days they have been back, I have supported, helped the children with or been asked to:

1. 4 sets of spellings
2. 2 sets of times tables
3. 3 sets of x 10 spelling sentences
4. 4 lots of maths homework via the computer
5. 1 drawing and labelling for science homework
6. I project curated, ordered and paid for (sewing kit)
7. One Victorian costume cobbled together
8. Wellies in school on the right day
9. One assembly organised and delivered
10. Pestered them mercilessly to read their books
11. Make cakes for fundraising teas
12. Sponsor a Dragon boat race
13. Pay £20 voluntary contribution
14. Pay £30 deposit towards a £400 school trip (yes you read it correctly, £400)
15. Filled in countless medical and permission forms
16. Bought new shoes, trainers, shorts, cardigans, dresses etc
17. Paid £5.95 for a reading book they were all required to have, yes we have to buy our own books
18. Donated 2 bottles on non-school uniform day for the fete tombola
19. Required to donate time or spend at fete
20. Dress them for school photos and purchase
21. Asked to volunteer to hear the children read, offer time in school garden and help on school trips.

This is a state primary.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Song of the Sea

It's the most beautiful film I have seen in a long while, and had I been alone I might have cried a lot more than did. I would have allowed the tears to really flow rather than hold them back, not wanting to scare my children or all the other people in the cinema.

The animation was just exquisite, magical, entrancing and entirely enthralling. I am sure it was lost on the children although they seemed happy enough when they left the cinema. My heart was heavy with loss, with bottled up feelings, with characters I wanted to meet, with storytellers and faeries. 

It was a truly incredible little film, heart warming and heart wrenching. For all ages, but especially mamas. 

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Hope in Trafalgar Square

It's been a tough couple of weeks, there seems to be sadness and unfairness all around. My screen is filled with those images, so terrifying and helpless. The radio gets switched off regularly so as not to give the children nightmares, they may not even be listening. We still don't have a telly so are cosseted from the moving pictures of grief.

There was hope in Trafalgar Square on Sunday. A man writing his feelings in poetry on the ground. An eclectic band of people and musical instruments making the crowd smile. A Turkish man spreading some love by making rings for free, to passers-by who could not quite believe it. We all crouched with him, looking at the intricate curls of the electric wire, his array of cheap beads, a real Aladdin's chest to us all as we chose our jewels. I wanted to ask him about himself, fuelled by the media's fury on immigration and desperate refugees.

But he just wanted to smile with us, enjoying making us rings from electric wire - it would have been rude to ask.

For a moment, on the surface, not scratching anywhere below that - humanity smiled, mingled and took selfies. For just a moment, there seemed hope in Trafalgar Square.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

My favourite place

"What's your third favourite colour?" P asks while wandering along a farm track.

"Which is your second favourite animal...and you're not allowed to say horses, cats or dogs...?" she might ask. Or my personal favourite;

"What's your favourite light bulb, Mummy?" P queried in all earnest.

It's a game that can last for a long while, especially on walks or tedious car journeys which involve the M25.

"Where is your favourite place?" is a game we have played often, even partying around a pool in Ibiza with over 18's.

My favourite places are the ones which produce calm, awe and near-tears. In no particular order:

Where moor meets the sea, wild weather and wonderful walking

East Africa
 The raw wilderness

The islands, the cities, the culture, the language, the countryside

Where's your favourite place?

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Back to basics

We arrived in a village called Rasca, with two large rucksacks - a hangover from student days when back packing was the only way to get about. They were full of medicines, underwear, just-in-case dresses, three books perchance I should suddenly increase my reading speed, clothes for all weathers, sun creams, wires and gadgets. The children had two mini rucksacks full of things to do, pens and the like - all ready for our great Romanian donkey trek.

I thought I had packed light but after deciding that two donkeys between eight people was more than adequate, we halved our loads. And then realising that most of the space in the donkeys panniers would be needed for food and water - I halved it again.

Eight people's stuff for 9 days

We took two pairs of pants each, two pairs of walking socks, a couple of tee shirts, one pair of shorts, a long sleeved top and absolutely nothing to play with. We travelled lighter than I ever had before and washed our pants in the shower nightly, we washed our socks and didn't bother with the shorts and tee shirts. It was liberating and I felt completely free.

We survived on very little and managed. The children played in puddles and ponds, ran in grass meadows and made nature art, they went to bed early with stories from our imaginations. Everything felt just a little bit more alive - magical almost.

To come home and see all the unnecessary clutter in the house has caused manic clearance and recycling. Just owning what you need gives the mind so much space - I intend to halve our possessions - and then halve them again. And if I'm feeling really brave, halve them just once more.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

The epic Romanian donkey trek

The searing sun would find its way through the intricate lace curtains of our hosts family home, waking us all. Time to get up, put fresh pants and walking socks on, heavy boots and nine-day-old shorts. I would sort the donkeys, putting a concoction of potions around their eyes to keep the flies and other insects away - my soft Englishness taking great care with this process, using all our own repellents to help the donkeys face the day. Breakfast would be one of cold meats of unidentifiable origin, lumps of pork fat, white cheeses and jams made from the prolific bilberries and raspberries which grew wild in the countryside. We would smile and joke with our hosts, not a word of language between us, saying our goodbyes as the Romanian mamas hugged the children to their aprons and great maternal bosoms.

A day of walking with donkeys. Through pine forests and open plains, up hills and around mountains, across grazing land ferociously protected by mountain dogs, over streams and past ponds, down deep riveted sheep tracks and stoically along brand new EU funded roads.

We kept walking, with donkeys carrying our needs, their loads lightening as we drank the litres of water necessary to combat the 35 degree heat. The children were incredible in their resilience, playing word games, marvelling at insects and fire-bellied toads, taking it in turn to lead the donkeys and never complaining. Sharing precious Haribo sweets brought from home, one at a time knowing the sugariness had to last until the next break, until we finally arrived at our new family for the night.

It was difficult, it felt heroic, the walks were up to 20km a day, the heat was almost unbearable, the maps were wrong, the instructions a disaster, it felt like the last great adventure to be had on this earth and we all accomplished it together. Flopping down with weariness each night, smiling and remembering the days gems, bellies full of fried meats and gherkins - the satisfaction provided us all with a calm so rarely found in our culture.

I could have just kept walking, forever.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Not our finest moment

"Horses are great levellers!" the owner of Fletch said, Fletch being the huge, great chestnut horse I ride.

I'm not entirely sure why Fletch thought he had to level me, I certainly hadn't got too big for my boots or cocky about my riding, I still respected this massive ginger beast and was looking forward to a day out competing. This was my third, but biggest and boldest, One Day Event I ever had the courage to enter. Yes I had nerves jangling away inside, but the amount of time I had prepared for this, I felt I was ready.

We had spent hours hacking up and down hills to get Fletch fit, I had cantered around the fields practising my forward seat and I had spent a small fortune on lessons and schooling sessions on cross country courses. I love and cherish this horse, happy to pick up his poo and groom him until he gleams and polish his tack until it shines. And then he dumps me into a fence in the warm up arena in front of everyone yesterday. In front of him, in front of the kids, in front of my friends and their children!

And then he did it again in the show jumping phase of the competition. Elimination and the walk of shame from the arena. I hung my head low, my ego (not that there is much of it) and body bruised.

But across country he was a demon. Flying everything in our way, galloping between fences and me whooping, having a thoroughly good time.

That's horses for you, and if I choose a sport where most of my luck depends on a half a tonne of animal - then I have to expect a few steps backwards, a few crash landings and mortifying moments. But it's all worth it to gallop home safe, flying the final fences enjoying every minute of the ride.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Time for the off

We are lucky to be going on holiday again. Lucky to be going away at the exact time we need it. He is like a coiled spring and my head is so full of work, kids, health, house repairs, horses and the everyday - we need a little break.

We are all off to Romania to walk with donkeys.

We will walk in the Carpathian Mountains, with donkeys carrying our basic needs, up to 20km a day, trundling from farmhouse to farmhouse. There may be bears, there may be fierce mountain dogs protecting their sheep, there may be blisters and moaning, there may be hunger and winging but there will be space.

There will space to stretch our eyes, silence only for nature, walking with purpose to exercise those tired cramped muscles, there will be a mind able to wander, to glory in the now. From farmhouse to farmhouse, walking with donkeys, for 12 whole days with nearly nothing in my head.

See you on our return xx

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Fringe benefits

She had been asking for weeks. Can I get a fringe? She had been practising in the mirror, making a fringe out of her pony tail, staring at herself coquettishly, this way and that - deciding that a fringe would suit her very well indeed.

It changed her face entirely, her mannerisms and the view of herself. My baby girl is growing up.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Start of the holidays

A beautiful evening and the beach beckoned. Lets run to the sea when school is out. Six glorious weeks starting with paddling, rock finding, fish n chips and a strong glass of Pimms. The kids squealed, the parents sighed with relief and apprehension, the seagulls circled hoping for a something fried and I revelled in the now.

It's the best time of the year.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Cherries and chips

I cannot wait for the end of term.

It's been a whirlwind of sports day, the school performance, last assembly and leavers assembly (I missed both), open afternoon, school trips, school fundraisers, cake sale after bloody cake sale, school reports and a good old dose of the nits.

We squoze P's birthday in to all the chaos. An afternoon of cherry picking with friends amongst the idyllic Sussex countryside, followed by a pub meal and beers for us lot. It was a glorious summer evening, the kids sweaty with play and filth, and hyper with E-numbers and over stimulation. P enjoyed her day, her cake and presents. I allowed myself a brief look back at her entrance to the world, remembering the good bits and the funny bits - choosing to ignore the carnage.

Lovely little P, a big grown up seven year old now. Knowing your own mind and telling us how it is. I can't wait to have you back for six long, fun-filled, fabulous weeks when we can get to know each other again. A time when we can both realign ourselves with no rules restricting our discoveries.

I cannot wait for the end of term.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Kent County Show

We'd been building up to this for quite a while, training Dexter to walk and trot nicely and to stand like a good boy while the judge judges. We had bathed him three times, brushed through his mane and tail, oiled his feet and trimmed his face. We had manically run around Kent and Sussex as well as trawling eBay to collect the outfit necessary to take him to the competition. A strange tradition of tweeds and Victorian looking collars, culottes and navy tights - all to show Dexter off as a pony capable of teaching a small child to ride.

We had never done anything quite like this before, let alone at county level. P was silent as we dressed her in her finery, her quietness betraying her nerves. Dexter dozed in the hot sun as we waited to enter the ring, the woollen scratchiness of the tweed irritated my head and the heat of the day made our outfits hot and heavy. Fourteen ponies, their riders and leaders all entered the ring hoping for a rosette.

I have no idea what the judge was looking for but I know that Dexter behaved himself impeccably, P rode beuatifully and we all had a brilliant time.

We were 11th out of the fourteen, nowhere near the top but the judge gave us a consolation rosette anyway.

"I came 'special' " P exclaimed excitedly - yes my lovely, you came 'special' and a very proud mama I am too.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Brightling Park Horse Trials

We had such a great day at Brightling Horse Trials yesterday. We were all supposed to go as a family, enjoy a picnic and perhaps a beer or two but the day unfortunately started with rain, which put him and P off entirely. So as they went to the pub for a roast, A and I donned our waterproofs and wellies for a day of thrilling riding and the most beautiful English countryside.

Looking at the spectacular view over Brightling Park towards the sea, was a blanket of emerald fields, divided neatly with dark green hedges and dotted with follies. As the rains and the mists lifted the colours of the English summer shimmered with fertility and beauty - this was the Land of Hope and Glory, England my England, a Green and Pleasant Land. Not one to normally feel a great amount of national pride, I did yesterday. There's nowhere quite like Sussex on a glorious English summers day - and to top it off with horses and my pony-mad daughter, it was a day to make my heart swell. I felt well and truly blessed.

We watched the bravest riders and and the most courageous horses, we measured the size of the jumps compared to ourselves and we 'ooohed' and 'ahhhed' at their enormity. I wondered if I could do it, imagining myself up there flying the jumps, galloping along to the cheering crowd. I was completely and utterly inspired and will be entering a competition soon, bigger and bolder than anything I have ever done before.

This morning I woke up sweating with nerves and anticipation, having dreamt of riding cross country all night. 

I can't wait. I'm so scared. I love it. It terrifies me. I am so excited I am counting down the days. 

Pippa Funnel