Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Busy Bank Holiday

Hello all!  I think August has been the longest month going.  I know I am willing it to pass quickly as I have stupidly given myself a monthly craft budget, which John happily agreed to, and which didn't take long to spend!  Because I am trying to stick to it, I am desperate for September, so I can buy some more goodies essentials.
There has been loads of stuff going on in the village this weekend.  There is a beautiful old building called The Bassett Rooms (because it used to belong to the Bassett family who make Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts) which was hosting an art exhibition upstairs and a coffee shop downstairs.
The paintings are  by local artists and they were all lovely.  I think, because I've started using watercolour paints, I can appreciate what's involved.  My favourite pictures were some of our area when it was snowing, they were beautifully done.  I am amazed that there is so much talent in such a small area.
Then the church was hosting a flower festival.  The theme was 'Thankyou for the music' as apparently there had always been a music festival here every year up until 2010.  I don't know why they've stopped doing it, though. 
Some of the displays were amazing.

This display was called, 'These Boots Are Made For Walking' by Nancy Sinatra. 
Very clever.

This is 'Carmen' by Bizet.  It was stunning. 
I'm not sure if the photo does it justice.

The church itself is a beautiful building in its own right. 
I am ashamed to say, I've never been in it before!

And then, outside, the craziest thing I've ever seen. 
Apparently it's a local tradition at this time of year, to make a scarecrow. 
 It's a competition, and the 'Thankyou For The Music' theme was carried through
 to the scarecrow costumes. 
 I'd joked at craft group that I was envisioning scarecrows dressed as Elvis,
and lo and behold, the first thing I saw when I got out of the car:

There were cries of, "Look, there's Elvis!" from passers-by.
Not something you're going to hear very often, is it?!

Only in England, eh?
What with that, and the barmy weather, it's been a very interesting weekend.
Hope yours has been enjoyable, too.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Travel Trauma - Bonsall Moor Pleasure Ride

I hardly know where to start.
We set off with Barnaby and Zak yesterday morning, to go to a place called Bonsall Moor.  Zak was pretty quiet in the lorry, only one brief bout of banging around.  We arrived at the venue and were patting ourselves on the back for a job well done as we lowered the ramp.  We opened the dividers and there was Zak looking sweated up, but none the worse for the journey.  John led him down the ramp and tied him up.
I went back into the lorry to get Barnaby out, but stared at the partition in horror.  There was blood and hair all over it, and a big pool of sweat and more blood on the floor.  The wooden part of the partition had been smashed.
I went straight to John and said, "You need to check the other side of him."  John walked round and stared in disbelief at Zak's side, which was covered in lacerations.  Zak began to shake.
It took a while to calm down and try to think what to do.  Both of us were trying not to cry.  I think I was shaking as much as Zak was. 
I got Barnaby out and saw loads of flies on him.  I swept them aside and saw blood on Barnaby's flank, but realised it was Zak's blood.  For goodness sake.  Barnaby just stood there stoically.
We knew we couldn't travel back in the lorry.  John said he would ride Zak home and come back for me and I could do the ride, but it wasn't really viable for either of them to travel in the lorry.  I knew Barnaby wouldn't want to go round without Zak, and who really wants to swan off on a pleasure ride while their husband's horse is injured?  I said we'd ride home together.
Then we couldn't think what to do about the lorry.  This is one of very few weekends where Pongo and Missis are away.  They'd gone to the V Festival in Birmingham.  If they'd have been there they'd have whizzed over in the car and Pongo could have driven the lorry back.
In the end I said we'd have to ring eldest daughter and son-in-law to see if they could help us out.  We knew it would take about 2 hours to ride home so rang them and asked if they could be at our house by 1pm and they agreed.  They dropped their children off with Daughter 2, then set off for our place.
Meanwhile, the organisers of the ride had given us 2 hi-viz vests and a mobile phone.  We couldn't very well ask someone to transport the horses home as
a) they'd come to do a pleasure ride, not sort us out and
b) there is a massive liklihood that Zak would trash their vehicle, too.

So riding was the only option.
Fortunately, after John had cleaned Zak up and dressed the wound, we walked him round and he was sound, so we tacked them both up and set off for home.
At this point I'd like to count my blessings, because
a) Zak could have broken a leg in the lorry or something that doesn't bear thinking about.  I don't want to go there, but imagine having to call a vet out.
b) It wasn't raining!
c) Considering where we were, it's a miracle that we knew how to get home, as we were south west of Chatsworth.

We decided to make the best of it, as we'd come to do a pleasure ride anyway, and both mentally broke the ride up into sections, so nobody felt like saying, "Are we there yet?"  The traffic for the first half was horrendous.  This area is very popular with motorcyclists, and hundreds of them must have gone past us.  I am so glad I knew I could trust Barnaby and that he would get me home.  He didn't bat an eyelid at anything going on in the fields next to us or anywhere else.  I love him so much.
And very quickly they knew we were on a mission and not just a normal ride.  We had to go up the steepest of steep hills and they did it.  It shows how fit they are.  Obviously it was a long journey, but when we got to a place called Darwin Forest, they knew what was going on, it was weird.  Barnaby just suddenly started the shoulder roll and could have trotted for England, it was amazing.
I was worried about John as he'd signed up for a 10 mile ride and suddenly found himself doing 20, but he was fine (because of him being not very well lately).
I have never been so glad to see signs saying 'Ashover Parish' in all my life, and it was actually thrilling to turn into our road and know we'd done it.  They are such strong boys, and so fit, I never doubted for a moment that we'd make it.
I untacked Barnaby and washed him down and John cleaned Zak up again.  It's hard to see how bad the wound is because he's got purple spray on dark skin, but it isn't nice at all, poor boy.
Then Lisa and Steve arrived and we went in the house to have a cup of tea while the men went to collect the lorry.  I am meant to clean it out today but I just can't face it.  It looks like somebody was murdered in there. 
So we made the best of what was an awful situation.  I don't know what we'd have done if Lisa and Steve hadn't been able to come over, I suppose we'd have had to leave the lorry there until today. 
I've seen both horses cantering about this morning, so they are obviously fine.  I am going to put my foot down though, and insist that Zak doesn't travel again for ages (if at all) and that Barnaby isn't going anywhere with him until I know he's totally calm again.  It's not fair on Barnaby to have to put up with that.  He's been a total man about it, but I don't want him to be put off travelling when he's so good.
I have slept through the night for the first time in weeks, absolutely exhausted.  I never want to go through that, or put a horse through it, again.
Mrs O.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook - August

Outside my window: It's starting to get dark and it's only 7.45pm.  Boo hoo!

I am thinking: I wish I hadn't told Mr O I would reduce my crafting budget.  It's nearly killing me to spend such a small amount on craft stuff each month.  Oh well, everything comes to him (or her) who waits...

I am thankful for:  the fact that Barnaby is well and fully recovered from his injury.  In fact, judging from his energy levels today, I'd say somebody's feeding him when my back is turned!

From the learning rooms: practising with a distressing tool to see how to get the effect on card.  It's lovely, and really easy to use.

I am wearing: my lovely grey cardigan.  It is so cosy and bobbley and comforting.  I wear it indoors all the time.  It is my noo noo.

I am reading: 'Love In A Cold Climate' by Nancy Mitford.  I have waited all my life to read these books as they obviously went out of fashion for many years.  If you want to know a bit more about this extraordinary woman, read this.  I am only half way through but am thoroughly enjoying it.  It's very witty, things like this:
'...Lady Montdore loved anybody royal.  It was a genuine emotion, quite disinterested, since she loved them as much in exile as in power, and the act of curtsying was the consummation of this love.  Her curtsies, owing to the solid quality of her frame, did not recall the graceful movement of wheat before the wind.  She scrambled down like a camel, rising again backside foremost like a cow, a strange performance, painful it might be supposed to the performer, the expression on whose face, however, belied this thought.  Her knees cracked like revolver shots but her smile was heavenly...'    I'm afraid I found myself cackling at the thought!

I am hoping/praying: for poor Mr O who is still ill.  He gets the results of his blood tests this coming Wednesday.  Something is obviously wrong, and we need to get to the bottom of it.

On my mind: Our cockerel George has sadly died.  He was quite ill last week, then I found him on Monday morning.  Poor boy.  I don't know what was wrong with him.  I don't think it's red mite as all the other chickens are fine.  I really miss him.  How silly, to be attached to a bird like that.

I am creating: cards, of course!  Commissions are like buses - you don't see any for ages, and then suddenly you get three at once.  A wedding card for Priscilla to send to Hong Kong, and a card for a friend's sister and her son.  Plus my own son next week, so I'm not idle!

I am hearing: Stephen Fry narrating a wildlife documentary.

From the kitchen:  I made a strawberry cheesecake yesterday.  It was low-fat (a Slimming World recipe) and absolutely delicious.  I used leaf gelatine for the first time in my life - fascinating stuff. 

Noticing that: the creative side of me is becoming quite dominant.  I am having 4-5 hours sleep a night as I lay there with card making ideas running through my head.  I am seeing 'design' everywhere, especially in one particular cinema advert.  I don't know how else to describe it.  I see things in terms of pattern and colour and whether things go together or not.  This is a completely new experience for me.  It's a bit mad but I'm thoroughly enjoying it!

Around the house: I am bracing myself for removing every single book from the book case, dusting them and putting them all back again.  Thank goodness for libraries.

One of my favourite things:

I don't use a diary, I use a journal, and everything is written in it, from my inspirations to shopping lists. I was thrilled to find this  Cath Kidston version in Waterstones, and even more thrilled that Mr O was willing to buy it for me!
This is one of the inside pages, but some are different:

How can I fail to be inspired, writing in a book like that?!
A scripture thought: 
 'If the Lord delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm;
 though he stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.' 
Psalm 37: 23-24

A few plans for the rest of the week:  A pleasure ride round Bonsall Moor tomorrow.  It's just over 10 miles which will be a doddle for the boys at the moment.  I just hope Zak travels well. 

A picture thought:  I walk round the corner, and this is the view that greets me:

Even on a misty day, it never fails to take my breath away.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Life Is Full Of Ups And Downs!

On the upside: I am thrilled to say that Barnaby is much better, he's sound and rideable, but the wound is still there.  Fortunately he let's me pick the bad leg up to pick his feet out, and when he does this, all the leg hair (that he won't let me clip off) moves out of the way, and I can put a big dollop of Sudocrem along the wound.  If he lets me do that every day, it'll heal up pretty quickly now. 
I nervously got on him on Saturday and walked him around in the manege.  I am much better at telling if a horse is lame by riding them rather than watching them trot up, although I know this isn't always feasible.  He felt fine.  In fact, he felt absolutely wonderful, so we went for a quick hack, which turned out to be a lot quicker than I'd intended.  He flew along the lanes and we were back in no time, with him in no pain whatsoever.  So that's one less thing to worry about.  Such a joy to have my boy back.
On the downside: Mr O has been quite ill and now we think it may be gall stones.  He's got to go back to the doctor's tomorrow for blood tests.  Our lovely friend the chiropractor has recommended that he drink cider vinegar with cloudy apple juice, as this will naturally get rid of gall stones.  We have looked into this and it seems she is right, so Mr O is doing it.  I'll let you know what happens.
On the downside: the monotony of life is getting to me.  This is not helped by the number of people, including my sister, who think I am living a life of lottery-winning style luxury!  Some days I work non-stop from the minute I get up until the minute I go to bed.  What annoys me is that this is not our farm, but we do all the jobs on it.  I clean the trough, poo pick the field, level the manege, clean out the chickens, clean out the ducks, feed the cats, water the plants, weed the garden, etc, all physical jobs (did I mention the washing and ironing?) which people seem to think they can pile on me.  I know I live somewhere wonderful and I don't have a boss breathing down my neck, but I don't have a wage either.  Missis has never poo picked the field or cleaned out the trough and only levelled the manege a couple of times before the novelty wore off.  I've seen to their horses while they were on holiday and am doing it again this weekend (and the dogs, too) but we haven't had a holiday this year, and if we did, we'd take the horses with us, and I'd still be poo picking.  At least if you go out to work you get to leave it all behind at the end of the day.  My 'jobs' never seem to end.  Phew!  Glad I got that off my chest. 
Because of this:
On the upside:  A new shop has opened next to the Post Office in the village.  It's called 'Vintage Junk'.  I've been in for a mosey round and really liked it.  There was a little notice outside saying that on Thursdays they have a get together where people bring their knitting and sewing and have coffee and cakes.  Spurred on (mostly by the lure of coffee and cakes) I decided to go down last week and see what's what.  And I'm so glad I did.  It was like a breath of fresh air.  I seriously don't see enough people from day to day, and it was so lovely to sit and chat with some like-minded women and have a laugh.  I actually took down and did some cross-stitch, which is something I haven't done for ages.  It was so nice to be motivated and look at somebody else's four walls for a change.  I am, of course, going again this week, and will try to take some photos this time.
I also said that I make cards and took a few to show them.  One of the women asked if I could do her a christening card that day, so I rushed home and made one.  She was very taken with it, which is a relief! 

So, sorry about the moan, but things have been getting on top of me a bit lately.  I am astonished to be just as busy during the summer as I am in the winter, and it's all physical tasks.  I am not a man, or a machine, and wouldn't mind so much if other people joined in now and then.  I know they say, 'A woman's work is never done,' but this is ridiculous.
Mrs O (climbing down from her soapbox somewhat reluctantly!)

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Ashover Show

We are very fortunate that we have a big village show here every August.  This year they were celebrating 80 years of the event.  Although I had withdrawn Barnaby I decided to go down anyway, just to have a mosey round (okay, I went to eye up the opposition a bit, too!) I got there in time to see the TARRA ex-racehorse class.  There were only four in it.  Perhaps I should have taken Zak instead of Barnaby?!  The cobs were all stunning, and all of them looked a lot bigger than Barnaby. Maybe it's because I was on the ground. There is a height limit for showing cobs of 15.3hh, but some of these looked at least 16hh. No photos I'm afraid as I decided to video it instead to show Mr O when I got home. He couldn't get the day off work, unfortunately (hold that thought!)

But if it's horses you're after, you can't go wrong with these guys:

(or girls, obviously, as they are clearly mare and foal!)

There is usually a good turn-out of shires here, but it was lovely to see them with their babies.

Have a close look at the curly coat on this foal.

Of course, not all horses are huge, look:

This little colt came fourth in the youngstock class. 
 He let me get down and give him a cuddle, which was so sweet.
And then I saw these guys, who were significantly bigger than the colt:

Deer hounds, apparently, and very friendly (but I did have a cake in my bag by then!)

Of course, there is the possibility that you're not interested in the animal side of things,
but there is another side to Ashover Show, that mostly revolves around food.  Let me explain:

Five eggs on a plate, either five the same, or five completely different.
Not got chickens?  What about this, then?

I may have a crack at the lemon curd next year, so watch this space!

And every type of vegetable known to man.
Something for Mr O to aim for, for next year?

There was also a fabulous craft tent but I didn't dare take any photos!
And then the rain came down and I decided to wend my way home,
walking up the steepest of hills
with only blackberries to sustain me.
I did see these chaps, though:
A taste of rural England, at it's very best.
Even though it decided to pour with rain in the afternoon.
(and I got home to find Mr O poorly and asleep on the sofa!)

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Poor Barnaby

Oh dear!  Disaster has struck.  I went out to get Barnaby in to ride him on Monday and noticed immediately that something was wrong.  When I looked closely I could see blood on his fetlock.  I brought him in to the stable (thereby noticing he wasn't particularly lame, thank goodness) and examined the whole area.  He's got a gash that runs in a ring around the fetlock, and it's very bad at the back.  It's obviously very tender to the touch but he let me wash it, and put cream on it.  I have a feeling he's been caught in the electric fence and cut himself open trying to free himself.  It's one of those wounds that's borderline on getting a vet out, but once I'd cleaned it up it looked a lot better.
I've taken the line of electric fencing down, but it surrounds the apple tree.  He'd jumped over it once last week and was a bit stressed as he wasn't sure how to get out and now it looks as though he's had another go and got caught up in it somewhere.
I tried to stay very calm, and he'd been calm too, but I noticed how, after I'd given him lots of sympathy, he went out slightly lamer than he'd come in, obviously milking it for all it's worth!  (That was worth a couple of mints at least!)
But the downside is, I can't take him to Ashover Show, which is today.  After all that hard work and schooling, what a waste of time.  I am so cross.  But now it's raining anyway and I have to go all the way down to say I'm withdrawing him.  Better take a camera and make the most of it, then.
George, the cockerel, has been unwell this week, too.  I went out on Monday morning to find him floundering on the floor.  At first I thought he was having a dustbath, but it soon became apparent that he couldn't get up if he wanted to.  We put him in isolation and sprayed him with the red-mite spray, and I'm pleased to report that he's much better.  He doesn't look his best at the moment, as he's moulting anyway, but I can't bear for him to be ill.  He's gone back with his girls this morning, which has cheered him up considerably.  The girls are gutted thrilled!
Pongo and Missis came back from their holiday in Cornwall early, on Sunday instead of yesterday.  They've been greeted by a letter that says planning permission for the roof has been denied.  They wanted to have a square roof instead of the sloped one, in order to have an attic and a higher roof on the ensuite bathroom, which is tiny.  It is for the children, but adults can't stand upright in it.  I am disappointed, too, as we'd have gained an extra bedroom, which I would immediately have turned into a craft room! 
And crafting I am, as the weather is bad and I'm not going to get on Barnaby until the weekend, and see how he is.  I need to clip the hair off his legs (not a good look for the show today anyway) but there's no way he's going to let me while his leg hurts.  My poor baby.
So I'm off out, to have a look at other people's horses, cows and chickens, while mine stay quietly at home.
Have a great day everyone,
Mrs O.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

My Week So Far

So it's like this:
Monday: Woken up at 6.45am by Mr O's alarm going off.  He'd left at 5am and forgotten to switch it off.
Tuesday: Woken up at 6.50am by the geese honking.  I leap up in panic in case a fox is trying to get into them.  It turns out Mr O went to collect some eggs and decided to let them out for the first time ever.
Wednesday: I am woken up at 6.55am by Tigger, who says, "Hello!" in a very loud voice.  I look around, startled, as I assume he is trying to get in at the open window.  This would be a first.  It turns out he came in the house as Mr O was leaving for work and wouldn't budge.  Mr O was running late and didn't have time to argue, so he left him there.  I quote that it 'never occured to him that he would try to go upstairs.'  We live in an open-plan house.
So if you'll excuse me, I'm off back to bed. (And yes, at 6.55am this morning, I was woken up by the rain drumming on the window).  Grrr
Mrs O.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Treasure Hunt

Well I did it!  We drove onto Lorna's yard at about 10am, which turned out to be far too early really.  There was showjumping in the morning, which I didn't really want to do, and Barnaby was confused about why he was there and tied to a lorry and not turned out, as it's his old yard, and that would be a perfectly reasonable thing to do.  Mr O took him into the indoor school and let him play and run around.  He said it was just like old times.
And that's the thing really.  I felt partly homesick and partly relieved that we don't livery there any more.  I took Barnaby for a hack to settle him.  It felt so peculiar to know where I was but know I didn't belong there any more.  It was quite fun to go whizzing through the fields, though! 
Anyway, we had lunch and soon it was time to get changed into our costumes and get our horses ready.   Here we are:

Told you it was a sight to be seen!
Here's the team:

There were some amazing sights, though:
So we set off as a team, with poor Mr O on foot, to suss out what the clues meant, and find the hidden objects.  Unfortunately quite a bit of the searching involved walking up and down on the cross country course.  Barnaby was thoroughly excited as he'd been there a few weeks before, popped a few logs and been told what a good boy he was.  He really couldn't understand why I didn't want him to do the same thing again (especially as I'd put his cross country boots on him as part of his outfit) and Mr O had to hang onto him, to stop him whizzing the length of the course.
One of the other clues was in the geldings' field.  Barnaby took three strides into the field and went to get down and roll!  I just shouted, "No!" and hauled him up, but two strides later he tried to do it again.  He thinks I'm a real spoil-sport now. 
Eventually we'd gathered all the objects and went back to the start, to run round and find the extra items for the scavenger hunt (including a bra!) so we could hand everything in.  By now, Barnaby had formed a little harem of his own, as all the other riders in my team were on mares, and he didn't want to be separated from them.  As they set off back to the yard to untack their horses and put them away, he suddenly cantered over to them, with me still on board!  Oh dear, poor boy.  A bit too much for him, I think.

It was very interesting to catch up with people.  Poor Jess Caudwell.  She has always loaned horses on the yard, and been lead a merry dance by some owners, I can tell you.  She finally decided she'd had enough and her parents were brilliant about buying her a youngster to bring on.  She'd only had him a year when she went to him in the field one morning, to find he was lying down.  It turned out he'd fractured his pelvis and broken his stifle.  He is now retired, aged five.  How awful.
And my friend Julianne, who fell off a horse she was schooling and broke her collar bone.  Not too bad, you might think, but it's severed all the nerves in her shoulder and now she can't ride.  It just goes to show that you should make the most of every single day, because you never know how long it's going to last.  I don't want to sit here in ten years time and moan that 'I could've...'
Lorna had invited us to stay for the party and presentation at the end, but we decided to load Barnaby up and bring him home.  I have Hugo to feed as Pongo and Missis are on holiday, and Zak needed his tea, too.  Barnaby went trotting into the field to let everyone know he was home.  And I am thoroughly glad to be 'home', too, and counting my blessings, I can tell you!