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: