Monday, 29 March 2010
It would appear that spring is upon us - if only to leave us again midweek this week with heavy snow forecast, I hope temporarily.

You only need to be in the same postcode as the ponies and you are covered in hair as they start to lose their winter coats- Mr P has started complaining- I think that the main problem is that the hairs are mainly white so show up easily on everything. I had forgotten in my previous post, about mud, that there is an overlap period with mud and moulting- I couldn't help thinking my top paddock would be great for anyone who is restoring a Tudor building, the clay mud and horse hair mix would be perfect for the walls. We have some lovely white fur mats too, where the ponies have rolled, obviously to get rid of the itchy loose fur and left a round patch of white.
Along with all this mess though are the first green shoot signs that the winter is coming to a close- the birds coming to the bird feeder at the stable are fantastic, ranging from our resident Jenny Wren and going through a whole kaleidoscope of colours to peachy pink chaffinches and pretty blue tits. Mr Forks (the pheasant) and his wives have survived the shooting season and now grow fat and appear more colourful and iridescent than ever as the mating season gets underway- I look forward to seeing the big footed, long legged babies darting across the field before too long.
The field is still predominantly mud- however I live hopefully that this week will be the week to see it return to its glorious buttercup gold studded green. Then Riley can go back on his antihistamines early so we don't suffer with his buttercup allergy like last year. He had awful crusty rashes and scabs on all his legs and his nose - it was really painful for him and left him with a very pink nose- poor boy! Both Romeo and Riley now have wolf teeth signalling that they have stopped growing- hurrah! Romeo is quite tall enough thank you! Their mouthes are no longer sore with the teeth coming through so training can begin again- watch this space.
On Sunday we took a day off and went to Chatsworth House- we had a lovely day complete with picnic. We even went to the farmyard, I'm really missing the chickens at home since the ferret incident, and I was thrilled that they had some tiny, tiny fluffy chicks under a heat lamp. Also and heart-wrenchingly a whole load of tiny orphan lambs- they were too cute for words! Unfortunately, I didn't have my big handbag with me to pop one in to bring home... besides MrP is saying that we have enough animals for the time being thank you very much especially with two more foals due in the summer.
We wandered around the kitchen garden (my favourite bit of all of the gardens there) with me explaining to MrP that this is exactly what I want the garden to look like at the new cottage, on a much smaller scale obviously. MrP wasn't convinced though, as at the moment the kitchen garden at Chatsworth looks very bare, we will go back later in the summer then he will see what I mean.

No news on moving yet, hopefully the Easter weekend will get us a buyer for the other house and our advanced day-dreaming about the cottage can really take off...
Friday, 26 March 2010
Well March has certainly been a month of hatches, matches and dispatches...

We had the fab wedding party- we are still eating party food now!

The magical news of Fudge's foal- who I have now been to visit, she is the cheekiest, cutest little button and I took some muddy photos of her.
(I also managed to fit in that visit to Betty's tea rooms at Harlow Carr with MrsC- but it appears that the delicious traditional afternoon tea was not calorie free after all)

And with life's bitter sweet irony we have also lost loved ones.
We lost my new mum-in-law on Monday after a short illness. I didn't really get a chance to know Lily properly- I wish I had, she appears to have been an amazing woman, raising six children on a pit wage. And doing a fine job of it too. We have the funeral next week. God bless Lily, sleep peacefully now.

Also on the same day I lost my Loulou. Not quite the same as losing a relative I know but no easier on the heart. My beautiful girl lived for 18 and a half years- a good age for any dog. She was loved every day of her life. Loulou went totally blind at the age of two but coped with this with grace, courage and good humour. She was the happiest dog I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and never happier than when she was playing fetch- she would listen for where the ball fell then go snuffling about in the general area with that sensitive Springer nose, to return triumphant and drop the ball at my feet already dancing for me to throw it again. She will be missed. The house already feels a little emptier without her, but I will always know that my life was richer for having known her, there will always be a piece of my heart that belongs only to Loulou and I will treasure our wonderful memories like precious jewels until we meet again for our eternal game of fetch. Sleep tight princess xx

I make no apology for the sombre tone of this post- although it should really be read as a celebration of the life of two outstanding souls - but life includes sad days and that is why we treasure the happy ones. The events of the last week have made me resolve to appreciate life a little more and especially the happy things and things that make me happy
Wednesday, 24 March 2010
Well this week has sprinted past! I hardly know where to start??
The Party – that seems a good place to start… After all my planning and several small nervous breakdowns the party was upon us on Saturday.
3pm onwards the invitations said. This was a ploy on my part to have the older people, such as our parents, there for afternoon tea and then people our age (I almost said younger people, but we are hardly that!) could party away to the Jackie album and Shang-a-lang their hearts out into the wee small hours.
All day Friday and Saturday morning saw the kitchen a frenzy of baking and sandwich making- fairy buns, cupcakes and muffins, tray after tray- more butter cream than you could shake a stick at! Incidentally if shaking a stick at butter cream is your thing I recommend professional help.
Beer and wine arrived by the case and got arranged into glistening ranks on the kitchen table- MrP brought down the beer chiller and stocked it to bursting.
Quiches, pizzas, salads, pat├ęs, chips and dips, cheeses, pork pies, prawns and pasties all made their way onto a groaning table- not forgetting the all important Tunnock’s tea cakes and a shimmering pastel array of cakes. I felt pretty darned proud of myself and went to get changed giving MrP orders to put out the party lanterns, which he tiptoed out to do, hoping that no-one would see him. “They are a bit girly love” he said when they were out. “Well here’s the thing sweetheart. I am a girl!!”
We squidged and squished me into my wedding dress- it didn’t look too bad. I did hair and make up and turned round to find a pristine MrP in dinner suit trousers and a crisp white shirt- maybe today isn’t going to be too bad after all…
We celebrated with a beer from the chiller- then a call from the door- “anyone here want a wedding cake?”
I just want to say for the record “WOW!!!”
Sarah- of Sarah’s Bakery- (http://www.sarahsbakery.co.uk/) had done a stunning job on the cake- it weighed an absolute ton but we got it in position and put on the topper– I almost cried! It was too beautiful for words. I honestly didn’t want to cut it- I’m so glad we did though – it tasted fantastic! Lemon and raspberry muffin flavour! Yum!!
From the first speculative "Hi Sarah can you make wonky wedding cakes?" email I just knew that Sarah was the woman to make it- and we have become good friends through my rambling "you know the way strawberries tumble about in champagne? thats what I want the hearts to look like" mails and my "Arrrgh! Riley has kicked me in the face!! I'm going to look like a gargoyle on my photos" ones- I really do owe her lunch!!
More and more people came- our presents seemed to take on a theme (bottles of champagne- mainly pink!) it made me wonder what impression people had of me- I mused for a while then realised people had probably weighed me up pretty well actually.
It wasn’t until the next day we discovered that we also had a whole heap of gift cards too- more about that later…
The lollipop flowers were a hit – so were the jars of sweets
The house filled with people- outside it poured with rain- my deputy hostess with the mostess (MrsC) was on great form and the table was replenished as needed. (I owe her lunch too or maybe a "calorie free" Betty's of Harrrogate afternoon tea)
My sister inevitably got lost on her way here but turned out to be lost just around the corner- need I say more?
A great time was had- with only the odd incident- the signing frame was signed with just one or two spelling problems (but I have a cunning plan for this) and the last people staggered off to their taxis at about 1 o’clock in the morning
So I feel properly married now- not that we weren’t before but we have now undergone trial by wedding party together and still love each other- we can now get on with the rest of our lives in peace- or so I thought…
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
One day life will be simple- I keep telling myself this like some kind of mantra. It is unlikely to be this week though- The party looms ever closer. I am trying to do bits and bobs- cleaning the house- tying ribbons on things- buying crisps and sweets and breadsticks and mini eclairs. My heart is really not in it though. I doubt very much that I will fit back into my wedding dress after what I have eaten over the last few weeks- and if not my wedding dress then what? It is supposed to be a wedding party... More about the party later in the week though.
Today has been marred by getting a bill from British Gas for a cottage I moved out of 18 months ago! Not for the gas I used 18 months ago but for the last 3 months- half an hour on hold listening to the British Gas advert can send you more than a bit over the edge- and no I don't remember my reference number from 18 months ago and the meter reading I gave them in September 2008 was a moving out reading - check the records you sent me a cheque for the overpayment!! Just the fact that they have sent it to my present address should tell them that I no longer live at that cottage anymore. This seemed to be too much for the customer service guy to compute - I went back on hold- eventually I got through to the complaints department my mood no futher improved by the wait on hold and a nice lady said she had sorted it out for me - I took names and wrote this all on the bill ready for when I get the final demand...
The good, fab, brilliant, magical news of the week though, is that my lovely Fudge has had her foal. Fudge is on loan to Mrs C at the moment for her daughter Spanner to ride at some point and the foal belongs to her. Every pony deserves to be loved by a little girl and this one is getting very loved!! MrsC has named her Magic (because Merlin is a silly name for a girl) which is lovely. I will explain - Fudge is my little mare's stable name her proper name is Pantycoed Guinevere so Mrs C wanted something Camalot like for her baby. Merlin was first choice but I agree it is a silly name for a girl. So I introduce to you Magic! Lots more photos will no doubt follow. Then we have two more foals to look forward to in the summer. Can't wait!

Off to tie more ribbons on things...
Friday, 12 March 2010
The horses were collectively in a foul mood this morning- it was as though someone had choreographed them into it- “okay she’s here now – so remember; ears back flat to your neck and stick your nose out to make a snake face- ready? Off you go…”
I was greeted with 5 angry snakes, they all stamped and snorted and banged their doors with their hooves. More snake faces were pulled as I put in feeds and changed rugs.
I do wonder sometimes if I have horses as some kind of weird penance for something I did??
Every winter feels like this- the short cold days, endless wheelbarrows, ice, snow, wind, rain and mud.
Ohhh the mud! Thick cloying mud that sucks your wellies off- thin porridge like deep mud that splashes up your jeans and on your face- and worst of all clay mud that sticks to your boots and weighs down your legs- mud on boots- mud on jeans- mud on horse rugs- mud on head collars- mud on (and in) the car- mud on horses (forming impenetrable hard brown beads in their manes- and staining their coats) - mud on buckets, gloves, dogs, carpets you name it!
I make wishes for signs of spring, just a hint of green! Then the mud will then be replaced with huge clouds of horsehair as they moult their grubby winter coats and emerge chrysalis like into the beautiful creatures they can be – for approximately 2 weeks then they start getting their winter coats again. The two weeks – usually sometime in July is glorious- you can sit in the long grass and watch these gorgeous creatures for hours, no mucking out to do, no sweeping, no feeds to make up, not even a lot of grooming needs doing. And for those heavenly 14 days you pay with 50 weeks of looking like something the cat dragged in from one of his less successful hunting trips; hair scraped into a pony tail (it’s practical) mud splashed jodhpurs, muddy boots, jackets and fleeces worn for warmth and definitely not for style, broken dirty fingernails and a vague memory that somewhere you own a make-up bag, but you’re not quite sure where you put it…
Add to this the expense (which MrP graciously accepts) – horses are not cheap creatures to own- and the personal injuries and I do wonder just why I do it.
I guess for those magical moments like when Willow was born and Pebble brought her up the field to show off what she had done, with an over excited Romeo in her wake. For those rare moments of freedom (I will get them this summer I am determined) with the wind in your hair and the floor a blur beneath you- the view always looks a little better viewed between a pricked pair of horse ears. For those special, snugly, nuzzling moments where half a ton of animal shows just how gentle he can be and lays his head against you while you breath in the delicious horsy scents and for the fantastic joy of having a horse see you arrive and whinny as he gallops up the field to greet you.
Today was not one of those days- I fed the snake faces and turned them out into the field as quickly as possible. Pebble (the prettiest pony in the world) is still staying in to give her some respite from the constant demands for milk from Willow. Hopefully we should be able to get a partition up this weekend and she can be completely weaned. She is way too big to be suckling now and poor Pebble is losing condition with her and with the foal which I’m sure I felt kick when I groomed her the other day.
Anyway “The Party” looms another day closer and I am no nearer being ready for it- the stupidmarket beckons – we are out of dog food and milk- and Cairo is demanding a walk.
Thursday, 11 March 2010
Anyway I just lost Safi - again!! You would think I would learn!! I’m not a completely stupid woman- but I do seem to lose my bloody dog with amazing regularity. I can tell when she is about to do it- not before I let her off her lead obviously – that would be stupid- she sniffs the wind in a particular way, she looks elegant and noble, then she is off like the clappers, as though she is running for her life.
Cairo, my other Saluki, (see photo) runs for the joy of running, mouth open, tongue lolling in a great big doggy smile, his head bobbing as he runs greyhound style, covering vast amounts of ground with every stride- huge figure 8s over the fields but he never ventures too far- not unless he sees another dog anyway.
Safi though, she is a mystery 9 times out of 10 she will be fine then just when you think it is safe- whoosh she has gone!
They do say if you have a Saluki that does come to call that you should doubt its parentage as it won’t be a full Saluki. I know nothing of the parentage of my two, they were both rescues- Safi however does appear to be a full Saluki. She comes back…. Eventually! When she is ready to and not a second before. Dogs apparently have no concept of time- mine certainly don’t!
The first time she went missing she came back half an hour later looking for all the world as though she had been dipped in milk chocolate- she had fallen into a recently dug foundation trench that was half full of silty, slippy clay water. It dripped off her ears, eyelashes and whiskers- if I hadn’t been so worried about her I may have laughed- the two old boys who had come out to help me look for her certainly did- after I had bathed her I then spent an interesting hour cleaning the bathroom, the stairs carpet and walls.
Safi’s escapades are how MrP and I got together- she completely disappeared one Sunday afternoon in Filey and I didn’t get her back until the next day- with the help of a lovely woman called Lucy (who I have never got around to thanking properly) who works in a solicitors office in Filey and rang me to say that she had found Safi on a nature reserve- bless her she went back and got her in her Land rover – took her home- fed her and then took her into work with her, complete with one of her dogs bean bags so that I could go and collect her. I was so emotional and relieved I just managed a feeble “I don’t know how to thank you- you are an angel” and brought Safi home, touching her all the way to make sure she was real. MrP rang me to make sure I had found her and that we were both okay that night- then he phoned me the next night and the next… but that is a different tale.
This was only a minor escape by Safi standards. No bobbing head and lolling tongue for her- she is like a black streak across the fields- her feet barely seem to make contact with the ground. Shouting to her is pointless, you know that the wind is whistling past her ears and she wouldn’t hear you. About half an hour she was gone- it seems like days- fortunately we live in quite a rural area but your senses are heightened to every dog bark, car horn and siren in the distance. That awful pit of your stomach sickly feeling comes over you. Then after what seems like an eternity she trots back up the bridle path as though nothing had happened. I resolve to never let her off her lead again- I always do- until the next time when she gives me her well rehearsed RSPCA butter-wouldn’t-melt face and a crumble and let her off.
I could have done without it today “The Party” looms ever nearer and the ribbons for the Willy Wonka style oversized lollipops have arrived…