Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Snowed Under

Well, another day of snowfall.

I was supposed to be heading to Bristol for a Tanita Tikaram concert with Dan, but they've issued more snow warnings for the South West, and my brake pads need replacing, so decided to stick it out here until it thaws a little.

Shame, I Might be Crying because I love a dose of Good Tradition.

Still, it is extremely pretty here. Went for a lovely walk in the snow the other day with Mum and Merrick.

Snow Boots

I've been doing all sorts of wintry things, from shovelling snow off the path to mashing up fat and seed for the birds. Went up to the tower to ring Plain Hunt the other night and every time the bell rang, snow fell down the sally hole. There's an icicle outside the window that is longer than my forearm! 

Even Kitty's gone into hibernation.

Measured about 6" so far.

It's Ladies' Night at the Masonic Lodge this weekend. Family tradition, and the one time of the year I attempt to don a dress. Little terrified after the excesses of the festive season. Wondering whether I can still fit into one. Should probably give my legs a shave too, can practically braid them.

Attractive image.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Snow Must Go On

How beautiful is this? Snow at Holcot yesterday. 

Woke to a winter wonderland scene from my bedroom window. 

It's the incredible type of snow that settles on every spider web and tree branch. Sometimes the sun is out and sparkling off it, other times thick fog rolls in and you feel as though you're driving through a ghost land.

Started off on Vincent, but decided to switch stables. 

Found the most amazing place called Brampton, which is closer to home. They have:

Outdoor Manege
Cross Country
(My hat on the menu!)

Had my first ever lunge lesson. Wonderful and challenging experience. I've discovered it is possible to perform rising trot with no stirrups and no reins! Requires good balance and strong thighs. Also booked in for an hour's Stable Management training, which was so helpful. I haven't tacked up since I was about twelve. Went through bridles, bits, numnahs, saddles, hoof picks and mucking out. They let me practice on two lovely horses: Stanley and Pepper. Both were extremely patient with me, as was Julie, my instructor. So nice to build up confidence in a safe environment.

I'm trying to get as much riding in as possible - they're forecasting ten inches of snow on Friday! 

Already seeing some of the coldest temperatures on record.

Monday, 14 January 2013


Hmm. I think jumps might be off tomorrow!

Woke up this morning to a whole world of white.

Extremely funny incident. I was due to have a Skype conversation with a consultancy client in India. He had taken a moto for several miles from a village without electricity, so that he could Skype from an internet café.

Halfway through our conversation, the snow caused a power cut at my end!

We had a bit of a laugh about that.

Tucked up nice and snug and cosy by the fire.

Saturday, 12 January 2013


I am SO excited.

There's a road from our house to the Ladybird Park, named because there used to be hundreds of ladybirds there in the summer. The bench is dedicated to: "The Travellers Rest - In memory of an old traveller, Frederick Dawson, who died while riding near this spot. August 1st 1929."

It's exactly one mile from our house to the park, so it's easy to measure your distance. So beautiful around here. I'm trying but, to be honest, I'm no runner. I think I may even be getting worse.

Yesterday, I decided to return to something I really do love. I finally got back in the saddle for the first time in over a year. Went to my favourite stables, Holcot, for a catch-up lesson. Had a fantastic instructor who got me back up to speed. 

When I returned from Africa three years ago, there were a few things I promised myself I'd do. Some of those I have - such as finding a publisher for my books. Others, I have not. Such as learning to jump horses again. I used to be pretty good as a kid, but haven't done it as an adult. 

Really just want to know whether I still can. So, I was crazily excited when, after 45 minutes in the manege, I got the go-ahead. Apparently I'm 'perfectly balanced' enough to attempt jumps. Booked in for Tuesday!

My Christmas present to myself, and certainly an excellent way to get fit.

Can hardly wait!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Jog On

2013 looks set to be a year of crazy dares.

On Friday, I attempted something I haven't done in years.

I went rulking. That's where you pretend you're going for a run, but actually end up walking 90% of it because you're that damn unfit.

When I was a kid, I was so active. Horse riding, swimming, badminton, gymnastics and trampolining. 

Then I went to upper school.

Hockey, tennis, football... I f*cking hated the lot. And nothing, absolutely nothing, was worse than the dreaded cross-country.

It's a word that strikes fear into the hearts of most British kids. They point you in the direction of a field, and tell you to run. Sort of like a fox, from hounds. Inevitably there's a steep hill or twelve, sometimes you have to jump across ice-cold streams, or do battle with wasps and other angry insects.

I don't think I ever fully recovered. Oh, and the shame of unbranded sports shoes... My mum shopped at Tescos, back in the day when it was second only to Happy Shopper. There's a cultural reference only people of a certain age will understand.

So, out of sheer curiosity, I bought myself a pair of running shoes for Christmas. I wanted to know whether running truly was as ghastly an experience as I remembered it, or whether there's truth to that Telegraph article: Girls put off exercise for life by PE lessons.

Kitty and I drove right out into the Forest of Dean, to a remote location where nobody could laugh at me falling flat on my face (or find my body if I happened to be murdered...), laced up my shoes, turned up my music and... well, ran.

The things I have learned:

  • I can't co-ordinate my feet, my breathing, and trying to put my earphone back in, all at the same time.
  • It's good to know how far you're running. The Adidas running trail is 3.4 miles. Shame I took a wrong turn and ended up on the cycle track...
  • No matter how remote your location, you will always find one annoying child who whizzes past you on their BMX, just to prove they can.
  • If you need it, probably best to take an inhaler before you start running. Pretending to be invincible doesn't actually make you invincible, and pushing through the first twenty minutes without air only makes an insufferable situation worse.
  • No matter how much you need to catch your breath and walk, you will always speed up when you see someone coming. It's a pride thing.
  • Where a running track states 'Easy,' there is an oxymoronic Forestry Commission employee with a penchant for practical jokes.

In short, I was right.

Running sucks.

Although, I will admit, I did enjoy being outside. It was a sparkling, sunny and not-too-cold winter's day. Though, I do find following paths a bit dull. Not as dull as a treadmill, granted. But I did have to take a little break to scramble up a hill halfway through. That's the thing about woodland, there's always a mysterious path beckoning. Bound to be a gingerbread house down one of them.

I'd like to say there will be a reasonably priced pair of quality second-hand running shoes on eBay tomorrow, but my good friend Kirstin has suggested attempting to climb a rather big African hill. I wouldn't stand a hope in hell's chance as things stand. So, unfortunately, it looks as though the shoes are here to stay. At least for a little longer.