I have decided on a new way forward for Max, as I am not riding him enough. If it is foggy or icy first thing in the morning, he can stay in until 12 o'clock at the latest. If the fog has not lifted by then, he must be lunged, and then turned out. I know this may reduce his turnout, but as it's knee deep in mud out there, he'll be better off indoors, in the dry, with more regular haylage than he'll get out there anyway.
If it's nice, I can ride as early as I like, once he's digested his morning feed. If it's raining or windy, he must still be ridden.
I ended up lungeing him yesterday, as it was foggy all morning, with no sign of lifting. I took him into the lungeing pen, which is just a ring of grass, and of course, being a poor deprived boy who is wasting away (his words, not mine) he wants to scoff the grass, so I have to hold the lunge line up high to keep his head up, and tap him up occasionally with the whip. He bucked, bronked, kicked, cantered and was generally bonkers. Let's just say I'm glad I wasn't on him! He did settle down, but he definitely still has loads of energy, even if his fitness has dropped off slightly, but as I was grooming him, I noticed the muscle at the top of his thigh is rock solid. I love my beautiful boy.
I've been to Pets at Home today, and ended up buying a Christmas stocking for Tessa, but I've hidden it, and she hasn't seen it yet. It'll be a surprise. She has to have something to open, and it is not only Christmas, it's also her birthday. She'll be nine. Imagine having a dog who decides to give birth on Christmas Day, it must have been pandemonium.
We have done the last bits of shopping today, but more importantly, I have been into my local craft shop in Chesterfield, Arcade Crafts. I warned Mr O I would be some time, and that he would be better off going and doing some shopping by himself. As it turned out I was at least half an hour. I wanted stuff to make Mr O a card, but also things to make my youngest grandson Caelan a card to celebrate his first Christmas. There is so much to choose from, it's so hard to decide. I have to concentrate on keeping to one colour scheme, so everything matches when I come to put it together at home. In fact, concentrating is the thing, and I can't with Mr O standing in the corner, trying to make me hurry up.
We went to the Post Office to post some cards and Lorayne's parcel. There was a woman in the entrance way asking everyone what they had come for. I thought, 'Isn't it obvious?' She gave me a ticket and told me to take a seat and my number would be called. "No need to queue," she said. "What?" I'm British. It's my job to queue. It's my right, my heritage. I am being deprived of part of my national identity. Everyone was milling about, not knowing what to do with themselves. We kept an eagle eye on the board, waiting for our number to come up. When it finally arrived, 'Number 1o1 to cashier J please,' I nearly shouted "House!" I was so excited. If you go to the desk opposite to fill a form in and your number is called, without you realising, you miss your turn and have to take another ticket, so it pays to be alert. Quite an extraordinary experience.
The whole point of today, was to relax a bit so I regain some energy. When we got back from the shopping Pongo said he needed to get all the straw bales off the wagon and up into the hayloft, so I have lifted 138 bales of straw. Drew loaded them onto the tractor, Pongo drove them to the hayloft, Mr O off-loaded them, and I stacked them up. I must be a lot fitter than I give myself credit for, as I looked at them and thought, 'I can't do this,' and then did it!
I have finally finished my first ever cross stitch. I am thrilled with it. I know it's very simple and basic, but I did it, and I'm very pleased with the result. Cross stitch is a bit like sex, isn't it, an awful lot of hard work, for something quite nice at the end. The hardest part was putting white thread through white fabric, whilst sitting up in bed with a white duvet in the background. My eyes were actually flicking from side to side, trying to focus.
I forgot to say: Missis has been in Poland all week, and brought me back a gift. She gave me a little package, and inside, carefully wrapped in bubblewrap, were two tiny glass chickens. They are so small, I wouldn't be able to photograph them to show you, yet they are perfectly coloured, incredibly detailed, and even stand up on tiny glass feet. I have wrapped them back up and put them in my desk drawer over Christmas, as I'll have to think carefully about where and how to display them, as they'll be easily damaged.
When Barnaby comes in at night now, he rolls in his stable and starts rubbing his rug along the wall, because he is too warm and needs to have a good scratch. We have to take his and Max's rugs off for half an hour after their tea, so that they can do this, then they have their pyjamas on. Barnaby will actually nudge Max on the bum until he turns round and they mutually groom for a while. They both seem to find it deeply satisfying. Who am I to comment?