Tuesday, 31 March 2015

A week of ups and downs

I learnt two things this week;

1. You only have your health
2. Never predict how its going to be, ride like you're going to win

It took three weeks to fully recover from this cold/virus/sinus and searing headache thing. Poor A had 7 days off school and 7 loads of drugs to clear her severe chest infection. Even hard-nut P had a day off for an earache. My wisdom tooth reached ridiculous levels of pain and after three and a half hours in the dentist chair the grotty, rotten tooth was out, leaving me dribbling and relieved - I could now get on with my life.

Fletch, the great big orange pony I am lucky enough to ride, has changed his behaviour from 'Winter Fletch' - a lunatic on speed - to 'Summer Fletch' - a much more chilled out horse, with only the odd flip-a-dee-doo-dah to keep me concentrating. He surpassed himself this week enabling me to learn and took me to victory twice, even in gale force winds with the rain lashing sideways soaking us both to the skin, literally.

And with all the pain of the tooth and the adrenaline of show jumping and dressage competitions, I haven't had time to think about Greece. A spring break wandering through ruins, eating olives and sitting on deserted beaches before the hordes arrive. We are off to seek solace in some silence, a break from the everyday to be ready to tackle it all head on when we return.

The ginja-ninja on fire - you can achieve the moon when your tooth doesn't hurt

Monday, 23 March 2015


I turned off the radio and talked to my daughter instead. She sat in the front of the car, her mouth slightly open as always and stared out of the window, dreaming. I wondered if she had heard what I had heard on the one o'clock news, the atrocities, the killings, the paedophiles, the cyclone, the bombings and the racism. She didn't ask any questions, I wonder if she had heard.

I hate the news now. I don't want to hear it, it depresses me and leaves me wondering where the humanity is, where the kindness has gone and where the beautiful planet is going. I am scared for my daughter and her children, as our grandparents were probably scared for us. 

But I don't want my children over-protected, naive and ill informed. I would like them to understand the world from an early age without being frightened of it, to be sensitive to other peoples plight and emotionally attached to the whole earth and not just to Sussex, with its comfortable ways and privileges. 

So we will start with CBBC Newsround together, a nightly ritual in between their obsession with Tom and Jerry and Junior Bake Off. A gentle introduction to the world and its problems, hopefully.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

An adventure

I'm a sucker for a cute cat video or of kids singing along in the car with their parents, or clips of guilty dogs and babies giggling. I could spend hours on YouTube, roaming from one animal video to a birth clip to a political statement. One time I found myself watching a video of blackheads - but we won't go there.

The best video this week by far was of Hessu, an older Finnish gentleman, and his pony Rosebud. It has moved me many times for I have watched it a lot this week, while nursing my sick daughter and my poorly self. Hessu is a softly spoken man who discovers a love of horses later on in life, he touched a pony for the first time as he lead his daughters while they learnt to ride - "Since then, it just got worse" he lilts, I hear a smile in his voice but unable to understand the language. Is it possible to have a horse because you would like to, to go places on, to have adventures with?

Please watch An Adventure by Ella Kiviniemi - it might move you, it might make you think about adventure and what that means, it might make you believe you could do something you thought was impossible. It might also want to make you gallop towards the horizon, because you can.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Media floozy

When I was a kid, a very long time ago, I enjoyed writing off to magazines. I would send pictures of my pony, write letters to problem pages - the equine variety, enter competitions and write short stories. I loved the thrill of buying the next magazine and seeing if I had made print. I even won £10 once for voicing my opinion on gymkhanas, I know -  and that was a lot of money all those years ago.

It seems I have had a run of equestrian magazine success again of late. My childish self has sent photos of Fletch with little stories of our success and failures to magazines asking for readers input. Come on, it was the only way I was ever going to be published in the Horse and Hound. 


And Local Rider magazine - Local Rider being the whole of the South East, not just my village.

But the best most exciting piece of news so far, is that Freddie the Shetland, the little pony that the children ride, is going to be a super-star. I entered him into a competition to be the mascot of Forelock Books...and he WON! Freddie is to have his very own photo shoot, the girls won a full set of books and he is going to be in various magazines. 

It's made my week - and the girls - as we sit on the sofa full of chest, sinus and ear infections.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Parents evening

I don't really know how they're getting on - when I ask how their day at school was, they grunt and demand something to eat, or reply "Fine!" - keen to get on with the Playmobil.

We do the homework under duress, it is mostly done without tears these days but never without some kind of breakdown or negotiation. They seem to be doing okay, they sometimes get their spellings correct, or tell me about a house point, or a song they have learnt. I know they enjoy school but I look forward to the parents evening, eager for a nugget of information about the children, hoping to hear stories of brilliance, kindness, good behaviour and above average scores.

Of course that is not the case.

I came out of my allotted ten minutes feeling a bit flat, one child doesn't try at all and gets above average scores and the other tries her very best, scores very highly in the kindness stakes but is below average in her school work.

It only took the journey home to sort it out in my head, they both like going to school and learning, they are happy well adjusted children, not every child can be at the top - and what relevance does it have in life anyway.

I mentioned to P that the teacher would like her to try harder and she replied that she doesn't try hard because the books are boring (fair point) and she doesn't want to be on the brainy table because their spellings are too hard. Another fair point my P, your savviness will get you far.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

The trek

The rain lashed sideways at a 45 degree angle, biting with cold as it hit our cheeks. My head was fuzzy from the night before - I was hoping the filthy, Cornish weather might clear my hangover and wake me up. It was nine o'clock in the morning. A ridiculous time to be up on a Sunday when the kids were at their Granny's, but up we all were like keen little pony clubbers, weather unimportant as we donned our chaps and boots for a trek over the Cornish countryside, egging each other on and keen to get cantering.

We chose our ponies, ones with feathery feet and moustached upper lips, all looking mightily displeased to be going out in such a storm. I was looking forward to just sitting there, not worrying if my pony was going to spook or buck or leap - my fat, hairy trekker surely had no such spirit in her.

We whooped and hollered out of the drive, being badly behaved adults giggling madly with excitement and the weather. The stink of the sweaty steam started to arise from the dirty ponies coats, their ears pricked and their gaits quickened as they could feel they had riders on their backs and not novice holiday makers. We galloped up stony tracks where Fletch would have winced in pain, his feet a lot more delicate, we jig-jogged through the villages, she spooked at an umbrella and even bucked when we picked up speed. We were all having a thoroughly good time despite being so wet I could wring my knickers out.

And once up the top of the hill, E's pony started to buckle, her legs started to collapse and we all screamed to E to jump off, while the pony had a roll - in the mud - in the rain. The mud and grass stuck comically out of her bridle and saddle as she shook herself off and E remounted. I thought I was going to be sick I was laughing so hard.

"I'm so sorry," said the escort rider "they are never usually this naughty!"

I'm so glad that they were, whenever I feel down I will think of that ride in the Cornish storms and giggle - giggle hard.

Monday, 2 March 2015


"God made this part here," - he indicated to just below my shoulder blade - "for a gun to be held!"

Well I'll be darned, I had no idea and smiled an inwards smile, I do like a passionate person.

"Be the gun," the instructor continued, showing me how to put my cheek on the stock of the gun and stare down its long barrel.

It was heavy holding the gun for the first time. I shivered with nerves and the biting wind of a Cornish February. The instructor calmly reassured my fears as I told him I was a bit scared and that I had never shot a gun before. It was a gun for goodness sake, I mean, I could turn around and hurt someone with it. I could miss and blow my foot off, I could accidentally hit an animal - I could potentially kill a person. That is a huge amount of power and I didn't feel very powerful at all.

"When you're ready, shout PULL and follow the clay  - pull the trigger when you line up the clay and the bead at the end of the barrel." Everyone was watching. I felt a tiny bit sick.

"Pull!" I squeaked.

I fired the gun and it shot out of my shoulder and ricocheted into my bicep, missing the clay completely and stunning me with its force.

I obviously wasn't being the gun or maybe God had forgotten to make the space in my body for one - either way it hurt and I had to do it 29 more times.

But once I smashed one clay into tiny smithereens I was hooked - a shooting Mama - no clay was safe in my path.