Friday, 28 June 2013

Fire and Rain

Alright chaps?

Boom, boom, ching.

Weekly catch-up.

It's not just my luck pants that have a hole. Looks like I need some new boots, too. Bit miffed about that, but they've served me well. Picked these up a few years ago at Matalan for about a tenner. Riding boots went through a fashionable phase but the cheap knock-offs in the shops were actually perfectly fit for purpose. They've lasted a long time.

That's almost as big as the hole in my pants, which I was also wearing. I was right. The luck leaked out. I met Clint today, who is by far the most forward-going mount I've had there. He's about 20, an old man by horsey standards, but twice as energetic as Andy and Lump put together.

Halfway up the hill we had a little 'altercation'. He spooked at a swarm of flies and decided to do a tap dance. I'm embarrassed to report that I shrieking like a girly girl, but proud to say that I recovered quickly, stayed in the saddle and regained control. Luck very nearly wasn't the only thing leaking out of my lucky pants.

That wasn't the end of the adventure. We ended up going down a trail that starts by passing a clearing someone uses for fly tipping. We've been there a few times, and it's a bit creepy. Today, some guys had turned up and were burning the rubbish on a massive, petrol-induced bonfire. The flames were almost as high as the trees.

The horses weren't too certain about going past. You could feel the heat from it. Then, just as we are passing, something on the fire exploded with a massive bang.

Yeah. That was fun.

Gives you so much respect for police horses that go through riot training.

Finally... it bucketed down.

All in all, an eventful ride. 

Got back and someone had nicked my parking space, so had to walk a block in the downpour. Couldn't have been more drenched. Would have traded my jodhpurs for a wetsuit. I soaked it off in the tub, then settled down in front of the telly with beer and a bag of Kettle Chips, just in time for Djokovic.

Hasn't it been an incredible Wimbledon so far? Di and I talked about it most of the ride. Wednesday saw the most player withdrawals of any of the four majors, ever. Nadal's gone, Federer, Hewitt, Sharapova, and Tsonga! Truly bizarre. They played the theme tune to Casualty during the daily round-up. Even Darcis is out, the guy who beat Nadal. That's always slightly annoying when someone comes out of nowhere, takes out a top seed, then disappears again. It's incredible to watch them do it, but then you're denied the fun of watching the big names later on in the tournament.

Still, Murray's in, and Laura Robsen. Plus, really liking Dustin Brown's style.

Probably going to be a Djokovic/Murray final, but so far things have been a bit unconventional, so anything could happen.

I'm all stocked up. Have beer, chocolate, crisps and sandwiches. Plus this awesome double chocolate spread stuff, and a good book to unwind with after the excitement.

No riding for a couple of weeks as I have an AGM next week, then off to Hollowell Steam Rally.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Happy Solstice

Geraint, Suki (and babs), Moi

What an incredibly wonderful way to spend the longest day of the year.

Slightly emotional reunion.

Headed to my old stomping ground of Cardiff to meet up with my friend Martin at Chapter Arts. They've completely revamped the place since I used to frequent it. Opened it all up, bright and breezy, really beautiful. If you're ever in the area, do go!

Had a lovely lunch with Martin, author of a must-read book on Social Enterprise and a consultant to the Voluntary Sector. Fantastic catch-up, learned a lot about co-operatives, and fascinating conversation on imagination and the mind.

I'd mentioned that I was in town to a couple of old friends on the off-chance they were about for a Friday afternoon drink.

The photograph above is kinda special.

Many years ago, back in my 'married' life, I fell over Geraint (Gedge) in a pub. Meanwhile, whilst working for a charity in town, Suki appeared on secondment as a trainee Social Worker. I introduced them to each other, and thus began an incredible few years of drinking. There was a gang of us - so close (and so drunk!). A couple of golden years.

Towards the end, my partner and I split. Extremely amicable, but a little bit of heartache moving out of the gorgeous house we were living in. We both stuck around in Cardiff for a year, and I did my MA at the uni there. Then I signed up for VSO and headed off to Africa.

Before I left Cardiff, we had a leaving do at one of our favourite pubs...

Me, Phil, Suki, Gedge and Gareth
(Spot the famous one!)
Strike a Pose

Gedgy Breasts!

You get the picture.

Anyway, there was a beautiful sunset the day I left Cardiff, and I saw Suki again for a last goodbye in Gloucester about a week before getting on the plane.

A couple of years ago, soon after getting back, I popped to Cardiff to see Gedge, but Suki was out of the country. I knew she'd had a little boy as I went to see one of her favourite performers, Greg Trooper, soon after she gave birth and got him to sign a baby grow.

Thing is, I'd not actually seen her in six years. I had absolutely no idea she was coming out to see me today, and no idea she was seven months pregnant with baby #2!

So, the picture up top is really wonderful. Two years and six years respectively, for a gang of people I spent almost every other day with for three years.

Most of the gang is no longer there. Everyone's either moved away or drifted off into domestic bliss. 

But for Suki, Gedge and I, it was like we'd never been apart... err, other than the soft drinks! Me because I was driving, Suki because she was pregnant, and Gedge out of sympathy. 

Home now with a large glass of red.

Never so long again!

So, thank you Martin, Gedge, Suki and baby for a lovely day, and lots of nommy food. Now that I have rubbed the sacred lucky baby belly, I am excited to see what the future holds.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Flower Power

Thursday catch-up. Been a pants week, but just back from the stables. Talk about speed dating! Stepped out with Andy today, had an incredible ride. Di and Julia were there, too. We decided we're Robin Hood's band of merry (wo)men. The green woodland we went through is so oldy worldy. 

Really, really humid, overcast day. Severe case of sweaty helmet hair. Thunder storms forecast.

No matter how crap a week you're having - horses are the answer. Don't care what the question is.

Took some more pictures of the garden yesterday. So pretty.


Hop Vine

Decided to start re-blogging my time in Africa a while back. Feeling a little wistful for times gone by. Added a new Africa tab to this blog. 

Think it's time for me to have a bit of a think about the future. But Wimbledon starts this week, so no need to rush. Might just focus on strawberries and cream instead.

Hmm. We'll see.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Holey Pants

Flambo (cat) & Pip (dog)

Check out this incredible picture. Do you remember ages back, up near Killin, talking about Pip and Flambo? Flambo following Paul up the snow-covered mountain? Both of them coming out for a walk with us?

This is a picture Paul took a couple of weeks back. They followed him right up another massive hill. I'm with Lindsay on this one: Flambo is devoted to Pip, and will go anywhere she does. It's incredible. Never seen anything like it.

This is a totally random post, as I feel bad if I don't blog at all for days on end. 

Look, pretty flowers from my friend Meg's garden. Hope she doesn't mind me nicking these from Facebook, but I love looking at the colours of summer:



Opium Poppies

Cheeky Sparrow

Those last ones are some of my favourite flowers: snapdragons. I used to spend hours as a kid tormenting ladybirds by putting them in their mouths and watching them crawl out again. Simple things...

When Meg isn't tending her garden in England, she's busy running the Kinamba Project in Rwanda. Remember - the dreadlocks?

So, that's the sane part of my post over with.

I went out to see Mr. Si-by baby today. Feel a little dejected. I thought it was love, but turns out he's anybody's for a pack of polo mints. 

Still, he knows how to thrill me. We went up to this stretch of flat through the woods and let fly. Give me a horse over a Porsche any day. Love that feeling when they know it's time to go. That split second from standing start to full throttle. Nothing like it. 

If only I were three foot shorter and could cope with mornings, I should have been a jockey!

But I'm not, and I can't. So, instead, I spend my time on social media having utterly bizarre conversations about pants.

There has been a lot of upset in our fine country recently about PRISM, and what the CIA may, or may not, be listening into.

Well, I for one am terrified. Could you imagine what might happen if they tapped into this sort of personal data?!


ME: Oh no! I have a hole in my lucky pants, and it is my policy to throw away holey pants and only keep unholey pants. Dilemma.

JANE: Darning needle?

ME: I fear it may be more serious than that. It may be too late to save the luck. :(

JANE: Can you not place a luck-bucket under the relevant parts? You'll have to walk strangely, but you'll be lucky....

JOHN: Holey crap ;)

JENNY:  Cut a patch out the pants, up cycle onto new lucky pants. Or make a lucky merkin? Nothing says lucky like a merkin!

PALMA: Why throw them out when you will have automatic air conditioning when the hot weather arrives ;p

JENNY: Hot weather? What is hot weather?

PALMA: LOL! It's that thing that you get once every decade or so :p

JENNY: Well if some luck runs out of M's pants maybe the sun will shine?

HARRI: Turn them into a flag and declare yourself a Republic? Alternatively, frame them. Turn them into art. Or a wallet.

JENNY: Ooh handbag is cool! You should so write a short story about the adventures of your lucky pants, they are getting a lot of interest!

ACIES: Some people's pants have all the luck...and the interest. Bah, humbug. Maybe it's that time of the decade again? I shall have to prepare a large copper of boiling water with a dash of oil of vitriol and give them a nice long soak!

JENNY: My pants haven't been a topic of interest since 1994, never thought of washing them!

ME: A short story, you say Jenny? Oh, my lucky pants have had many adventures. I'm so torn now between patching them up and reincarnating them as a lucky merkin. Do people who wear merkins ever get lucky? I'm not sure whether I can declare myself a republic. Perhaps a state of confusion?

Ah, what the hell. Why bother writing my own story when you provide such rich plot structure. Think I'll just copy/paste all this to my blog.

[NB: They thought I was joking...] 

Funny thing about these lucky pants, I'm fairly sure I've had them since my Uni days. I have a strange inkling that Mrs. Kingswell may have had something to do with them (shall ask her when she comes to visit next month). I can't possibly think who else would have given me a pair of lucky pants...

Anyway, so that they are not lost to posterity, I have scanned my pants. Feast your eyes on this PRISM. Sure that'll stop you snooping for a while at least!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Here Comes the Sun

Just back from seeing my main man - Si man. Been out in the sunshine with Di and Liz. Nice canter through the fields. Stunning view of the Wye Valley with Wales half obscured in a heat haze! Doesn't happen very often. Home and healthily knackered.

It is love. A very uncomplicated affair. We both enjoy long walks, the wind in our manes, and a mouthful of cow parsley... well, okay, that last one's more him than me.

It was one of those rare T-shirt days, where we got to strip off our body warmers and windbreakers. Couldn't believe the same trail had been a mud slide only a week ago. I even managed to get slightly burned boobies in a V-neck. Slathering on the Aloe as I type. People may scoff that I put foundation on before hacking but, top tip - Body Shop Moisture Foundation: SPF 15.  

Mostly it's sweated off by the time we get back.

Showered down, had lunch, and decided to take some photographic evidence of summer in the garden. You never know how soon it will be gone. So, enjoy. I certainly am.

Cathryn's contribution to our Green Man collection

Broad Beans

Fancy French Lavender

I simply adore Aquilegia

Ganesh, the Remover of Obstacles


Bleeding Hearts, with Ganesh in the background

Know froggie isn't the most handsome, but I just love
the way the lichen colours his skin like a real frog.

All of this made possible by the little insects that work so hard.
This one pollinating our strawberries.

Light through stained glass on the wall