Friday, 29 April 2011

A Special Day

Of course, like the majority of people in Britain, I have been sitting in front of my television set nearly all day, to watch the wedding of William and Kate. It was the most beautiful wedding I've ever seen (better than Charles and Diana's in my humble opinion).

I think as a nation, we have taken both boys to our hearts after their disasterous start in life, and just want to wish them well and see them happy. That William is happy was self-evident today. I love his relationship with his brother and his dad, and Catherine looked serene and full of poise. I think everyone loved the touch of driving out in Prince Charles' Aston Martin.

I'm very patriotic anyway, but I love all the pomp, ceremony and history involved in these grand royal occasions. I love the cheering crowds, the carriages and horses (including the one that chucked his rider off, how embarrassing for him!) and of course, the kiss on the balcony.

I thought her dress was fabulous (but her bouquet was tiny!) loved the bridesmaids outfits and the way the Abbey was decorated.

And so, I would just like to add my best wishes to those of our country today to wish William and Kate many many years of happiness together. Congratulations to you both.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

A Day At The Races

I've been in a state of turmoil in all this heat, wondering what on earth to wear to Flagg Races, as I'm used to putting on thermals and boots and suddenly it was T Shirt weather, but I needn't have worried, true to form, yesterday the weather reverted to the traditional arctic conditions required for holding Flagg Races.
But we Brits are made of stern stuff, so on went the sweater and the tweed jacket and we set off to Flagg Moor, just south of Buxton. The wind was whistling across the hills as we pulled into the car park, just in time for the first race.

This is point to pointing at its finest. We used to go to Welbeck when we lived in Worksop. That looks much more like a typical racecourse, but Flagg is a proper, traditional steeplechase course. To prove it, they decided to run the Members race in the oldfashioned manner, where you can take your own line. This means whizzing along and jumping the drystone walls wherever you see fit. In the old days this left things wide open for cheating, but things are, fortunately, a bit more organised now.

I have to confess, I don't understand how betting works, but it turned out either Mr O or I picked the winner in each race. And the thing that I am totally envious of, is that members of the Pony Club have their own races, in this case, two at the beginning. They don't jump the jumps and they run a shorter course, but my goodness, you should see them go!
There was one race with only one woman in it and she led in fine style all the way round, then got a slight bump going over the last fence and crashed to the floor, poor woman. Fortunately she was fine, and so was the horse, who sped on and was caught at the end by the huntsmen.

This point-to-point is run by the High Peak Hunt (in their beautiful green jackets) and is very popular. Half way through the meeting the hounds are paraded in the ring by the huntsman and children are invited in to stroke them (the hounds, that is, not the huntsmen!) Harriers are so called because they hunt hares (although that would be illegal now, of course) and are one of the fastest types of hounds (bloodhounds being the slowest, although you wouldn't believe it when you're belting along behind them!) I know a bit about harriers, because each year they put a call out if anyone wants to puppy-walk them, and two years ago, like a twit, I volunteered (we have had a bloodhound before, but they couldn't be less alike).
And so we had these two chaps:
They are Questor and Quavor. Hounds always have funny names for various complicated reasons, usually they take the same first initial as their mother. The bloodhound we had was called Poorbreck, I think his mum was Poppy, but Poorbreck is an area of woodland near Welbeck. They have names like Rogueish, Mermaid, and the very timid Rosewood. We had these puppies for about eight months, by which time they could jump out over the stable door, so they went back to the hunt kennels. They are very sweet chaps, but very sharp, they're not stupid and docile like bloodhounds.
You have to be quite fit to watch point-to-pointing, if you're going to walk backwards and forwards from the parade ring to the track, as it's all up and down hill, although strangely it was warmer at the top of the hill than it was at the bottom. At least you can buy burgers and hot drinks to sustain you, and there's always a beer tent.
As you know, Zak is an ex-racehorse, and is in fact a seasoned pointer. And can I just say, there were several horses there as skinny as he is, and quite a few he'd have given a run for their money, although perhaps not with Mr O as the jockey!
Finally, worn out and windswept, we made our way home through some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen. I so enjoyed it, despite the weather, roll on next year...

Monday, 25 April 2011

Fun and Frolics

We've had a very busy few days. On Good Friday we went up to Worksop to see the children, and of course the grandchildren. We had such a wonderful time I didn't really want to leave. It's just lovely to walk into a room and be hugged and clung to by little people with shrieks of "Nanny!" Who could resist that?

Son 2 was there as well and I haven't seen him for ages. He is looking well and enjoying his new job anyway.

From there we continued up to Sheffield to go to Hobbycraft. I always go there intending to buy two things, in this case, some silver embossing powder and organza ribbon, but ended up spending fifty pounds! How the heck does that happen? I am happy with my hoard though and can't wait to start creating with it all.

Today Mr O and I drove to the Barlow Hunt kennels so Mr O could go on their amble. Zak didn't travel very well again, I don't know what's happening to him lately. He was quite funny when we unloaded him though, he seemed to know instantly that it wasn't show jumping. He looked very alert and was being really nosey. The horse in the trailer next to us was banging about and Zak looked at me as if to say, "That horse is being really naughty mummy!"

Mr O tacked up and his group went off at 11am. I ought to explain that I deliberately left Barnaby at home as the groups that set off were split up into 'jumpers and non-jumpers'. I knew Mr O would want to jump, and I didn't, so we'd have been split up. Mr O would have set off with Zak and left Barnaby climbing the walls of the lorry, so I thought it was best to leave Barnaby at home and let Mr O have some fun...

Which it sounds like they did. I saw them jump one fence on their way up the hill, but it sounds like there were several more fences after that, one of which was at least four foot and Zak flew over it. He was very gung-ho apparently, it sounds like it was a good job there were no hounds out. Mr O was quite high when he came back. They were out for over two hours, so they must have covered quite a distance, although he said a girl came off at one of the fences so they took it a bit more slowly after that. I am glad that Mr O didn't come back saying, "I want to go hunting!" though as I really don't want to do it any more!

We've spent a lot of yesterday engrossed in the cross country coverage from Badminton Horse Trials. I can honestly say I've never seen so many people come off in all the years I've been watching it. They were dropping like flies, some with quite bad injuries and a few lame horses. The fences weren't particularly technical either, although I saw a course walk later on which made me realise how big the fences actually were. It's hard to tell with a horse approaching them, but when you see people on foot standing next to them it shows how high the fences are. I hope everyone's okay anyway.

The showjumping was on today, but by the time we got home we'd missed it. I'm a bit gutted really, but it turns out Mark Todd won it, so I am delighted for him. He's returned to eventing after a gap, and is 55, so of course Mr O says I can't tell him to take things easy as he's a mere 53! Thanks Toddy!

So when things had cooled down a bit I got Barnaby in to lunge him. I decided to have a quick go on him bareback. Mr O had the camera. This is how we started out:

and this is how we ended up.
He's really comfy, not like Max. Riding him bareback was a bit like sitting on an old mattress. I really got into it and started to enjoy myself. I think it's a sign of how much I trust him and what a wonderful boy he is. It rounded off my day nicely. Thankyou, my Lionheart.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Showjumping and sunburn

I'm sorry I haven't been about, my laptop seems to have had a mid-life crisis and wouldn't even switch on. I don't know what the matter is, but I think we may be looking for a new one fairly soon.
Anyway, regarding the showjumping on Sunday: The first thing I must tell you is that when we did the first Amber Valley Ride, Zak had cut himself on the lorry partition somehow. The wound is on his hip, which is well above the partition, but he must practically sit down as we go round corners or something, and rubbed himself until he made himself bleed. Poor, poor boy.
So we travelled to Trent Valley Equestrian Centre on Sunday for Mr O to take part in the second round of the Trailblazers. Zak seemed to stamp about a bit in the lorry but was fine as soon as we came out. We'd put purple spray on his wound and padded it up to travel, so it was fine.
It was a very hot day. To our astonishment they were holding first round qualifiers as well as second round classes. This round is split into pony classes, which were held in the morning, and horse classes, which were held in the afternoon. By the time we got there there were still two pony classes to go. They changed the course after each round, and each round had a jump-off, so it went on forever.
Eventually the horse classes started. They split horses and ponies because ponies have a distinct speed advantage over horses because they can turn on a sixpence and cut corners which would make a horse fall over, so this is much fairer.
So once again there was a 65cm class, for round one, followed by a jump off, then they changed the course and had the 65cm second round class, so by the time our class started, we'd been there for three hours. It was incredibly hot and Zak had lost interest a bit by then.
Mr O took him into the warm-up ring and they jumped the cross pole quite well. They went round a couple of times, then went for the bigger fence. I'm not quite sure what happened, but basically Zak didn't want to know, stopped dead in front of it and Mr O went sailing over the fence.
I had one of those crisis moments where I didn't know whether to run to Mr O or try to catch Zak. Fortunately Zak couldn't get out of the ring and some people caught him so I went to Mr O. He said he wasn't hurt and got back on and in the end Zak jumped the fence.
I did tell Mr O not to be a passenger and to ride Zak and get after him.
They went in for their turn and Zak lolled around a bit and had the first fence down. I was so cross. Then Mr O did decide to wake him up and he flew round after that. How utterly frustrating!
So he hasn't qualifed for the finals at Stoneleigh, but he can have another go at a second round, which is good, so we are going to Field House on April 30th (a Saturday for a change, so we won't miss church).
This is the first time Mr O has ever fallen off Zak (we've had him nearly 3 years) and it really worried me. If I'm being purely practical, I can't drive and don't know how we'd get home if Mr O was injured and what would we do with Zak? I guess Pongo and Missis might come and collect him in their lorry, but our lorry would have to stay there until we could collect it so it would all be a bit of a saga, not to mention what state Mr O would be in, plus time off work while he recovered. For those of you who think I'm being a bit OTT, let me tell you that we have been in this situation twice, where Mr O was helicoptored off to hospital and it's not really an experience I'd care to repeat. But I can't persuade him to give it up, so what can I do?

And the other little saga. You may know that I clipped all Barnaby's winter coat out this year and now he's lost a lot of hair, but his summer coat hasn't come through. So now he has the most unbelievable sunburn, my poor poor baby. It sounds like quite a few people have been caught out as we didn't expect it to get so warm so early in the year.
I have put a fly sheet on him, which is a thin rug, and I've noticed it has a strip of fabric up the neck on the inside, so it should at least stop that area from burning, but I have to go to the field every couple of hours and re-apply suncream. It's Factor 50 but doesn't seem to make that much difference. I am putting after sun and wonder gel on, which seems to take the heat out at night, and I'm soaking him with cold water after I've ridden him, which he seems to like (normally he moans like crazy if I make his neck wet). At the moment he seems to much prefer night time to day time, and who can blame him? My poor boy.
Hope it's not too hot where you are.
Mrs O.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Sport Endurance, Clumber Park

Hi there, I hope you're having the fabulous weather that we're having, although the forecast says rain for a lot of areas apart from us (we are more or less in the middle of England). I just wanted to say what a fabulous time I had on Saturday. I saw the ride round Clumber Park advertised on the Sport Endurance website. It's my first ride without Mr O, as he had a competition on Sunday (more about that tomorrow). I signed up for ten miles, but when they measured the distance out, it turned out to be twelve miles, still well within Barnaby's capability. Then in the middle of the week, my friend Sam emailed me to ask if I was doing it, as she'd like to take her new young mare, so we arranged to do it together. I got Barnaby out of the field in the morning, gave him a groom and put all his travel gear on. We loaded him in the lorry and began the journey to Worksop. To my surprise we got there quite quickly and were an hour early. Fortunately Barnaby was unusually well behaved, considering he didn't have Zak with him. He seemed quite happy to tuck into the rather nice grass, while we waited for Sam. We couldn't start until 10.30am anyway, as all the actual competitors were setting off first, followed by the pleasure riders. Sam had struggled to load her horse Millie, but arrived about 10.45. Her horse was whinnying her head off in the trailer. I had tacked Barnaby up by then so rode off to meet this new mare. She was quite a sweetie, a coloured horse, but not a cob I don't think. She wasn't quite as big as Barnaby, and soon started batting her eyelashes at him. He just kept staring at her, not sure what to think. I had decided to ride Barnaby in a double bridle (a good move as it turned out) but forgot a breastplate again, so had to tie the map to a D ring on the front of the saddle. My drink cannister was attached to the left hand side too. I coated him in suncream and fly spray, and we set off at 10.58am. Clumber Park is several thousand acres of stunning parkland. It belongs to the National Trust. It's very popular with walkers and people love to bring barbeques and picnics, especially on such a superb day as this turned out to be. We rode along tracks through woodland, but also wide tracks overhung with trees, which was good as we had some shade. And Barnaby went like the clappers. I was trying to hold him back as this was Millie's first time out with another horse, and Sam wasn't sure how fit she'd be, but Barnaby was determined to catch up with every horse ahead of him. In the end I gave up trying to fight him and we gradually overtook other riders. He had an unbelievable turn of speed, even in trot, he hardly needed to canter. The ground was so flat he just flew along, it was like being out hunting. There was a log near the end and I was seriously tempted to jump it, but I wasn't sure about Sam and there were loads of people having a picnic there. It seemed a shame to go carting through them! The thing is, I really wanted to aim for a good speed, but couldn't really, and we did it in 2 hours 39 minutes, which I think is quite slow. If you're going to be any good at it, you'd have to trot most of the way and hardly ever walk. They probably don't stop and drink either, there's probably some way of drinking as you go along. You'd have to be prepared to trot down hill sometimes too, which I'm not very keen on. The direction markers were really easy to follow, but I did like looking at the map, and knowing when each checkpoint was imminent. The only bad bit was that my whip kept getting caught up in the string of the map case, so I might not take a whip next time, it was very off-putting. We had to ride through a really big ford, but luckily the water was shallow. Barnaby has actually been here before and went straight in without hesitation. To give her her due, Millie went in too, and she's never seen water like that before. It's obviously Monday now and I'm only just coming down from the adrenaline. It was like a cross country course that went on for ever! Although it was mega fast, I really, really enjoyed it. So the plan is, when they do the Novice Challenge at Sherwood Pines, I am going to have a go at doing it as a competitor. Barnaby had Sunday off, and I've ridden him today. He was fairly stiff and content to walk most of the way round, which shows he's overdone it slightly, but if he won't listen to me and slow down, that's his problem, silly Hoof. I love him, I'm totally proud of him, and I can't wait to do it again...

Thursday, 14 April 2011

A New Addition

So this is it then... thankyou all so much for your comments on my last post. I have decided to use my other blog, which up until now I've just played about with, to showcase my cards and other creations. If you want to have a look, and hopefully follow, please go to Eden's Tree
I have decided to have a go at some challenge blogs for cardmaking, which would work much better over there, plus as I've said, I make a card nearly every day and there just isn't room on here, although I'm sure the odd card will make an appearance from time to time.
Because the fact is, too, that things are pretty busy on the horsey front, and that's what this blog was originally created for, so the farming and horsey adventures will stay here.
I've realised I need to keep this blog to record what goes on, so that I can compare things from year to year. For instance, the horses are already out at night, which is a couple of weeks earlier than they went out last year. This is bliss for me as I no longer have to muck out (even more wonderful at the moment as Missis is in America, so I'd have been doing all four horses this week).
It's a bit of a problem for Barnaby though, as it's gone cold again. As you may remember, I clipped all of his coat off in the winter. If you're not horsey, I'd better explain this bit of barmeyness. Horses grow a thick coat in the winter to keep themselves warm. Fine. But then we come along and ride them, which makes them sweat like mad and take hours to dry afterwards, which can make them have a chill or a cold. So, like clever souls, we clip all the hair off. It's great for Barnaby because it means he dries in 15-20 minutes. But then they don't have their hair to keep them warm, so we go out and buy massively expensive rugs to warm them up again! Clever, isn't it? Of course, if you're a naturally warm horse like Barnaby, if you get too hot, you rip a big hole in your rug to provide your own ventilation. Or you stand by the fence and rub the neck of the rug on a fencepost until you've shredded it. Yes, we've learned the hard way not to over-rug.
I've clipped him because it takes ages for his winter coat to come out and he's still normally very hairy by the end of April, when everyone else is sporting their sleek, glossy summer coat. But even Barnaby had a little bit of winter coat growing. In the very warm weather last week, he decided to abandon it, and lots of little hairs came off him, but it's left him with very little hair. This has left him prone to a) sunburn and b) cold. So although he's out at night, it's with quite a heavy rug on. The poor boy doesn't know whether he's coming or going.

It was quite handy on Sunday though, as we did the first Amber Valley Riding Club pleasure ride. It's called The Bolsover Ride and this is the third time I've done it and the second time on Barnaby. I don't know why they call it that as I don't think it's particularly near Bolsover (fab castle there) but I'd have to check on the map.
This ride is listed as 14 miles, but we've always felt it was longer. When you do a lot of endurance rides, you get a feel for distance, and although there is a long uphill slog of about 2 miles at the end, it still feels like a long way. And so, imagine my delight at hearing a conversation at the burger van at the end, where two women were discussing the distance, the first woman saying that she felt it was a long way. The second woman said that it was actually seventeen miles, but the organisers felt that if they put that on the schedule, no one would do it, as it's so early in the season! So, thanks for that then. That means my beautiful boy did seventeen miles in incredible heat, well done my darling.
I have to say, I spent the first few miles feeling very lop-sided. At first I thought it was my stirrups, but it turned out the saddle was slipping because the girth was loose. In the end we stopped near a bench and Mr O pulled the girth up another hole. How can this be on my Lardy Lad? (I also look distinctly lop-sided in the photos, so needless to say, we won't be buying those!)
Because of this, I put the weigh-tape on him yesterday and to my astonishment, it says 504kg. That means he's lost a total of 92kg since the beginning of March. I can't believe it. If, like me, you don't 'do' kilos, it's the same as 14.48 stone, which is roughly what Mr O weighs! He must feel like hubby just got off him! I am so happy about this I could cry. I don't want my beloved boy to drop underneath me because of a heart attack or something, so I am thrilled at this progress. It's probably the slimmest he's ever been. It makes me want to give him a treat, just to say, "Well done!" No wonder he went like the clappers yesterday, if he's half the man he used to be!

So don't forget to pop over to my other blog folks, and leave a comment to let me know you've been. I am going to be busy, running two of them, aren't I?
Take care everyone,
Mrs O.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Time For Some Cards

I've been very busy with cardmaking for the past couple of weeks. Because of all the horsey stuff going on, I may decide to use my other blog to show you my cards (it's sitting there dormant at the moment). I'll let you know if I decide to go down that route though.

For some reason I have loads of birthdays to make for in April. I do one for my eldest grandson and one for Pongo and Missis' eldest son (henceforth to be known as Badger!) I decided cars were the thing this year, especially as Badger had a Go-karting party on Saturday. So here we are:

This isn't quite finished, I did put '11 today' on the front as well. Here is the one for my grandson:

I heat embossed the car image. You can't really tell, but it gives it a completely different effect. Both cards have little pockets inside, where I've put money in. Apparently both boys were quite fascinated by this. Christian actually said, "Look what I've found inside it!" and was thrilled.

I made this for my lovely aunt. I saw some ideas for these in a magazine, and then only a couple of days later I actually saw the stamps and paper for sale in my local craft shop. I'd fallen in love with them in the magazine and could hardly believe I was looking at the very things I needed. I snapped them up pdq, I can tell you! I think I'll be using this stamp a lot.I had the idea a few weeks ago of making a note of everyone's birthdays in our Bible Study group so that I could make each person a card for their birthdays and get everyone in the group to sign it. This has gone down very well, much to my pleasure. So, with several cards on the go, my group leader rang me last week to say that Debs has had her baby and could I make her a card from the group. They've had a little girl, who they still haven't named (?) so I made this. I thoroughly enjoyed making it:

I've put flock on the baby's hat so it has a fluffy feel. The image is set on a doily, which feels like a crocheted baby's blanket, so the whole card is very tactile.

And here's the inside. I hope they like receiving it as much as I've enjoyed making it.

So what do you think? Should I split things up so the card making stuff is separate from the horsey stuff? The way things are going there will be a lot of competitions to write about this year, but I make a card nearly every day as well, so I'm not sure what to do.

Mrs O.

P.S. Can I also just say, in case you've been wondering, that there is clearly something wrong with the HTML on my blog at the moment, so it keeps putting everything together in one single paragraph. Even if you add the HTML in manually, it doesn't save it. I don't understand what's going on. Have I caused it? Any ideas?

Saturday, 9 April 2011


I've been meaning to show you these for a while. As you may know, we have the older chickens, 'Ladies Who Lunch', and two of them, Peggy and Penny, hatched lots of babies last year. The babies are now just over six months old and have found an irristable urge to lay a daily egg. At first they watched the older ones, then you could see them thinking, 'Should I be doing that?' And now, one by one, they've started slinking off to lay an egg. Then they began laying them wherever the urge took them, but now quite a few of them make it all the way upstairs to the hayloft, where they've made some nests in gaps between the hay bales. Goodness knows why, there's a perfectly good nesting box downstairs. Some of them don't make it into the actual nest before laying the egg, so when I go up to collect them I have to tread carefully, as there are eggs scattered all over the place. One of them prefers to lay her egg downstairs on the haylage pile, and yet another likes to lay hers in Zak's stable. She arrives quite early, usually while I'm still mucking out, and looks daggers at me in her desperation, until she finds a quiet corner and lays her egg and gives a big, chickeny sigh. Of course, once you've laid an egg, you have to cluck loudly to all and sundry, so everyone in a five mile radius is aware of your achievement. What baffles us is why the cockerels get carried away and join in! If three of them have laid at the same time, the noise is unbelievable. The ducks have finally decided to join in with the egg laying too, so, frankly, we are inundated with eggs now (we have eighteen hens, two cockerels and six ducks, but only three seem to be girls). And this is the result: On the right is a duck egg, but on the left is one of the normal sized chicken eggs. It's not very clear here, but it's actually blue. This year's duck eggs are huge, they fill the palm of your hand. They're bigger than they were last year. I assume, as the ducks have matured, so their eggs have increased in size accordingly.

Above, you can see the duck egg compared to the size of the tiny eggs the pullets are laying. I keep calling them 'dolly eggs' as they're so small. One of them was so tiny, it was the size of a Cadburys Mini Egg, you know the sort you put on your Easter cake. You get two spoonfuls out of these eggs and they're gone. So cute. Here's another way to show you the size:

I think that puts things into perspective, don't you?

On another note, you may remember that last month I challenged myself to go for a walk, finding my way on the map and I got hopelessly lost and had to retrace my steps, much to the dog's amusement. Well, rejoice with me friends, for I have boldly gone where many people have gone before. Because I'm doing more TREC competitions this year, and Barnaby is good at it, I have decided I can't let the side down and must learn to use a map and compass properly. My kit list has come through for the competition in May and it definitely says I will need a compass. I thought I'd lost mine (the irony of having a lost compass is not wasted on me!) but found it down the back of the book case (not in the map box where it belongs). So on Thursday I decided to google 'map reading made easy' and see what it came up with. All I can say is, some of the explanations were so complicated it made me wonder how anybody manages to find their way anywhere. For goodness sake, Girl Guides can use these things, how hard can it be? Anyway, determined not to give up, I decided to look it up on You Tube. I instantly found a video where this guy says, "Lay your compass on your map pointing the way you want to go, adjust your orienting lines, take it off the map, make sure your needle is pointing North, and follow your 'direction of travel' arrow." Piece of cake. Why doesn't everybody explain it like that? So I got my map out, went out of the gate and followed the above procedure and it worked like a dream. I was so excited, I did it again and again and round I went on the route where I got lost last time. It was a doddle. I still didn't take 'Er Indoors with me as I wasn't entirely sure I was going to make it and didn't want her to have an opportunity to gloat a second time. I came back full of the joys of not getting lost. Now I just need to work out how to do it on a horse. I can't wear the map case round my neck, as if it twizzles round it'll strangle me (never a good look) so normally I strap it to Barnaby's breastplate (even if it flaps about it doesn't frighten him) so it sits on his shoulder, but to orient myself properly I'd like to be able to turn the map round, so we'll see. I also asked some facebook friends how fast a horse walks and what trotting speed is. It turns out a horse walks at four miles an hour and trots at eight miles an hour, so I need to incorporate that into my calculations. So my next aim is to train Barnaby to stand still whenever I say so, so that I can concentrate on reading the map. When I did my first comp, Missis had the map and I didn't see it throughout the orienteering phase. She got us hopelessly lost. She has since admitted that she can't read a map! Fab. Then last year, Mr O took the map and he only got us slightly lost. But as you may know, he likes to do everything at lightening speed, and it turns out, we were too fast! So I am doing some competitions on my own this year and I've got to know what I'm doing. There is a torch on the kit list, but surely they don't think I'm going to still be wandering about the countryside at ten o'clock at night, do they? Oh they of little faith! Mr O would have come and got me long before that happens and I'll have slunk home with my tail between my legs (and Barnaby's, presumably, between his!) Watch this space...!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook - April

Outside my window: it's still light, at 8pm, which is so fabulous.

I am thinking: what a good boy Barnaby was today. We did seven miles in quite windy weather and he didn't put a foot wrong, bless him.

I am thankful for: my eldest son helping me muck out last week. I was ill on the Wednesday and if he hadn't been here I think I would have cried!

I am wearing: navy blue jods and a sweatshirt, so comfy.

I am reading: The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas. I have just satisfied my own curiosity and found that it was first published in 1943. It's a story of a roman called Marcellus who was one of the soldiers who crucified Christ and threw dice afterwards and won Christ's robe. The story is unravelling of his adventures in trying to track down who this man Jesus was and it's gripping. I'm just over half way through.

I am hoping/praying: that the people will come and fix Son 1's boiler so he can actually have a bath, poor man.

On my mind: I must send off entry forms for the Chatsworth sponsored ride, the TREC event in May and the pleasure ride round Clumber Park. And I must get birthday cards made for so many people this month.

From the kitchen: Tonight it was lamb shanks, so delicious. Tessa got her share as Mr O has forgotten to buy dog food yet again!

I am creating: I am practising with my heat embossing gun. It is absolutely fascinating. But how do you hold a stamped image and not burn yourself, as the gun is quite hot? In the end I got an old heat resistant chopping board from the kitchen and stuck the image on that with a glue dot so it didn't blow away while I applied the heat gun, and didn't have to touch it at all - result!

I am hearing: my darling husband sniggering whilst watching his favourite team (Manchester United) playing Chelsea. The washing machine is burbling away in the background (Tiny Cottage is open plan).

Noticing that: the painting of Zak still hasn't been put up somewhere.

Around the house: The place is spotless! This is because Missis rang and said the architect was coming round at 2pm so we had 10 minutes to clean up. I hid all the dirty dishes in the oven! (I bet you've never done that!)

One of my favourite things: Eccles cakes. We saw a TV programme a few weeks ago about how they're made. We both declared that we don't like them. Then Mr O bought me some and I've been eating them ever since! Basically they're loads of sultanas and raisins wrapped in pastry. Gorgeous.

A scripture thought: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." John 14:1-4

A few plans for the rest of the week: summoning up the strength to walk down to the village and back to see if I've sold any cards. I need to clean my tack before the pleasure ride on Sunday.

A picture thought:

Every year the daffs come up in our field over the road. This year was the perfect time for Mothering Sunday, so the boys sold them to passersby and made quite a bit of money. I think spring must be my favourite season.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Disasterous Day!

Part of me doesn't want to write this!

I had the brilliant idea of finding some showjumping for Mr O to do so he could get some practise in before his second round of Trailblazers on April 17th. We had a look around and found a competition at a place called Hargate Arena. As it happened, it was part of a combined training competition, which meant there was dressage on at the same time. So clever old Mrs O. has a brainwave and decides to enter the dressage, just as a bit of fun for her and The Bardy Lad.

It was quite warm on Sunday morning so I got up early and bathed Barnaby. I have to say, he looked stunning afterwards. His tail was like silk. I put him back in his stable and he promptly rolled. He stood up and had straw all over his head, grinning away at me like the village idiot.Marvellous.

Anyway, the time came to load up, so we set off for Hilton, just south of Derby. We parked and decided to leave the horses in the lorry for a few minutes while we went for a look round. It was a beautiful place, with a huge show jumping arena, a big indoor arena to warm up in and then we walked further along and found a huge dressage arena. The warm-up arena was completely separate too, the whole place was vast and looked fabulous.

We came back and got the horses out of the lorry. They stood quite happily munching on their haynets so we went off to sign in and watch the showjumping. There was a 1'9" class, followed by a 2' class, with about 8 competitors in each. Then there was a 2'3" class which seemed to go on for ever. We'd been there for ages by then.

My dressage was on at 1.22pm and it was 12.30 so I thought I'd better go and tack up. Mr O didn't come with me which felt a bit odd. Barnaby was quite calm so I tacked him up and got on and rode off to find Mr O but he'd vanished. I get very flustered when things like that happen but decided I had better concentrate on what I was doing so I carried on round to the warm-up arena. Once we got in there Barnaby completely changed as he realised he wasn't with Zak. I tried to trot him round and get him to concentrate but it was awful. I was in a snaffle, remember, so had a lot less control than I would normally have. The test has canter in it, so I thought I'd risk a little practise, but Barnaby just cantered round with his head between his knees. I knew it was ridiculous to keep going and decided to quit while I was ahead so I rode up to the judge's caravan and said I would withdraw. So that was that.

I rode back to the showjumping area and found Mr O. in the warm-up arena. Zak was behaving very oddly as well. Basically, he just refused to jump. It was so strange, he was getting right up to the fence before running out. He has never done that in his life. He did it a couple of times, then Mr O asked me to leave, as Barnaby was being a bad influence on Zak!

I walked back to the lorry and made Barnaby stand and eat some grass. After a few minutes of worrying that Mr O was going to get thrown off, he appeared at my side and said that he too was going to withdraw. He tied Zak up at the lorry and stomped off to the secretary's caravan.

So what a total and utter waste of a day. We were both so disappointed and frustrated. We loaded the horses and drove home, knowing we were going to have to say to Pongo and Missis that we hadn't even done it, whilst putting a brave face on it. As so often happens on these occasions, we talked and talked about why on earth it had happened. Basically we've decided that apart from the Amber Valley rides, the horses aren't going anywhere together in future. I really don't understand how a horse like Barnaby, who is as bold as brass at home, can't be separated from his best buddy once he's travelled with him. He used to do it with Max. We were at a hunter trials once years ago when it was announced over the tannoy, "Could the owners of the blue and silver lorry please return to their vehicle as their horse is distressed." Distressed? Barnaby was rearing up and typing his name into the bodywork with his hooves. As soon as he saw Max he calmed down.

So, bear in mind that we sold Max last year. And what happens? Barnaby immediately latches on to Zak. Blooming marvellous.

But the good thing is, we've had a look at the things we want to do and Mr O has finally agreed that I can do some TREC on my own. Because it does seem that if Mr O wants to go somewhere, like the showjumping, he goes, but if I want to go somewhere I can't unless Mr O wants to do it too, and if he doesn't it never occurs to him that I might want to do it on my own. Or he'll make an excuse such as the entry fee is too high or it's too far to travel. It doesn't seem fair to me. So we have decided that if one of us wants to go somewhere they can go. If we both see something on the same day, the most important competition wins, eg, I can't go somewhere on April 17th because we've agreed that Mr O's second round is the most important thing on that day. I think this will work out very well, and am so excited to be able to do the TREC training day and a ride in Clumber Park on April 16th which I am desperate to do.

Oh, and just to cap it all, when we got home the heavens opened with hailstones, thunder and lightening so we got drenched. And then, the cat came in and threw up in Barnaby's water bucket, just to finish the day off nicely. It's a good job I can see the funny side now, isn't it?!

Have a great week, everyone.

Mrs O.