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Saturday, 31 October 2009

Goodbye James Herriot, we will miss you

Last winter it snowed quite considerably and unexpectedly in February, and Mr O struggled to get home in the car. He got quite near on the main road before the police stopped him and said he wasn't allowed to go any further. He tried explaining he only lived ten yards further on, but the policeman wasn't impressed and told him to turn around. He drove miles to come in from the other direction but so many cars had been abandoned he couldn't get through and had to park up and walk the rest of the way. He walked the last two miles in the pitch dark up the steep hill, knee deep in snow. When he finally got home, exhausted, I said, "Oh, you should have stayed in Worksop!"
Because of this we have been looking at 4x4 cars, and have always been quite keen on the little Fiat Panda. This subject has been dropped over the summer, but suddenly last week, with alarming speed, John saw an advert and went to Sheffield to view the car, and last night arrived home in it.
This means we have said goodbye to our Chrysler Cruiser. No longer will I feel like the gangster's moll getting out of the car to go and do some shopping on a Saturday morning. Or even worse, we will no longer be guided onto the point-to-point course because people take one look at the car and assume we are the course vet. I didn't even like the car, I don't know what I'm upset about. The gear stick was very kitsch, and the engine sounded like a milk float struggling to get up a steep hill. But the new car has a lot to live up to. Chrysler drivers wave inanely when they drive past each other. Nobody's going to notice a tiny Fiat Panda, are they? But in February when we are knee deep in snow again I have a feeling I may be grateful, and will reserve my judgement until then, after all she is a 4x4. I am calling her Amanda (le Panda). But I will miss you James.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

No matter what you may have planned for the day it all goes out of the window the moment you walk out of the door and are shrouded in mist. It will be like this, as I recall from last year, from now until March. The only variation is on what time the mist will disperse, or when it snows in February for two weeks, just to make a change.
But, unlike last year, I am not going to get depressed. I am going to turn the horses out, muck out, and then if the mist has cleared I will work one of the horses, or maybe two if I get time. I have had a very good half term, as Missis has been home, so I've only had to do my own stables. The hard part is going to be training John that as he owns two horses, and it is now winter, he can take on the responsibility of mucking them out at the weekends. But I have to be nice to John now that Max has broken his Market Harborough, as I desperately need to borrow Mr O's. God help us if Max breaks that one as well!
I have finally swept all the leaves up from our tiny garden, and it does look slightly bigger but very dull and empty. Gardening generally has been a big disappointment this year, but again I think the experience will have better prepared me for next year. Basically, nothing grows up here because we live on a hill. You only have to walk a hundred yards down the road and everything's coming up roses (well daffodils anyway) and ours don't appear for six weeks after that). I brought all my favourite gardening books with us when we moved, but haven't looked in any of them. I gave the old- fashioned vegetable book to a charity shop, and it turns out that's the one I could have used the most.
If anything goes wrong where Missis works, she has to do a 'lessons learned' sheet and hand it in. I feel rather like that regarding this summer, I need a sheet that says, 'things I could have done better'. Sadly I spent a large part of the summer indoors on facebook, when I should have been outside doing things. We should have had more meals outside and gone for more walks. And I probably should have painted the outside of the stables. But compared to last year it's been bliss. I would still rather poo-pick in the pouring rain than go to a meeting to discuss all the complaints I've had this month and sit trying to think up novel ways of avoiding them in the future. And I must confess, if I hadn't had facebook I'd have been in severe danger of joining the Womens Institute just to have had something to do!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

"You'll be living the dream," they said.

It's almost a year since we moved to Derbyshire from Nottinghamshire, and we have come a long way since then. We were on a wonderful livery yard, but with two injured horses it seemed silly to be paying for facilities we couldn't use. We looked at a farm in Lincolnshire, but it didn't generate enough income for both of us to give up work, and if Mr O still had to commute, it defeated the object. We looked at a very cheap livery yard, but it was cheap because there was nothing there, and they wouldn't take our lorry. Back to the drawing board.
Then one day we went to our local tack shop, and there on the board was an advert. A woman wanted someone to come and look after her horses, in exchange for cheap livery. We had nothing to lose, so we rang up.
We came to look round on a very windy day, not knowing that would be the tone for the next six months, and were satisfied with what we saw, including the tiny cottage we would be living in. On paper it didn't work at all, and yet, for some reason, we knew it was perfect.
And so we moved from a 5 bedroomed house to a 1 bedroomed cottage, so that we could afford to keep our horses. I can remember how foggy it was the night we came to sign the contract, and thinking we would drive straight onto the verge and into a dry stone wall because we couldn't see a single thing. No streetlights to guide us, nothing, just darkness. Anyway, we obviously did sign, and drank a lot of wine to seal the act, and the next day I handed my notice in at work and two days later we put our house on the market.
It was quite funny when I went into work on the Monday morning, white envelope in hand, as my Manager also had horses and knew the saga we were having trying to find somewhere to move them. I said, "We've finally found somewhere to keep our horses."
She said, "That's good!"
I said, "Not really - it's in Derbyshire." She looked confused. I handed her the envelope. I knew then there was no going back. It did give me a small degree of satisfaction.
All the girls at work were very encouraging. The credit crunch was in full flow. "You'll be living the dream," they said.
So this is the story of our dream, and the reality.