Wednesday, 25 November 2015


It was a cheeky last minute trip to see my bezzie and her husband, to be introduced to the next part of their journey. Arriving in Spain I am always engulfed with a sense of overwhelming familiarity and longing - the language, the foods and the waft of cigarettes in the warm air. I always feel I can breathe a sigh of relief when I am with Spain again, a long lost friend, a second home.

Mallorca surprised me with its ease, its clean streets and fancy plazas. The port with its abundance of super-yachts being repaired during the winter, the palm trees lining the streets and the impressive cathedral of Palma all gave off a sense of wealth, pride and international flavour.

My bezzie lives in the campo, the countryside, surrounded by derelict farms and prickly pears. The lambs would bleat in the neighbouring fields, November being a perfectly reasonable time to be born. The geraniums still flowered, the horses wore no rugs and the kids even had a quick swim in the pool. It felt serene as we rode over the land, reins in one hand and talking idly about the last few months.

We walked the beaches devoid of tourists, running with the dog in the freshest of winds as kite surfers impressed us with their swoops in the air and jumps out of the waves.

And as well as the laughter, the partying, the wonderfully cheap-red-wine-by-the-5-litre-container and the paella which made us gasp at its prettiness - we felt like this could be home. The children revelled in trying their Spanish, they joyfully pulled the heads off the langostines and dug out the mussells from their shells, they ran barefoot with a dog and played with kittens, they tried the cheeses and meats at the market. They said they could live here too. 

As long as our cats could come to Mallorca as well.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Mama and daughter

I guess it was always a dream of mine before they were even conceived. To ride alongside my child.

I remember a time in Spain, in those years we lived in Seville before children, when desperate for some equine action I rode in the Donana National park. We were given wonderful Andalucian horses of free spirit and impeccable training to explore the wild nature of the landscape. We cantered with wide grins sharing the same language of love for horses. The owner of the stables took us out - his long, wavy gypsy hair flowing in sync with the horses mane. His 8 year old daughter accompanied us as well - and as we cantered along the dry and dusty tracks, the father and daughter would hold hands, singing a song about how much they loved each other.

I want that one day, I thought at the time.

And so I do.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The Blue Peter Badge

I knew what was in the envelope before she opened it, having accidentally mistaken the letter for something medical. I guess I shouldn't be opening her post any more, with A growing up so fast and nearly in double figures.

I was so excited for her, because in that envelope contained her dream, her nine-year-old dream - a Blue Peter Badge. She had given up hope of one arriving, deeming herself not good enough. Completely on her own, she volunteered to talk in assembly about horse riding - as the Blue Peter presenters were encouraging kids to inspire others into sport. She carefully collected pictures, rosettes, showed the school her hat and back protector as well as choosing a suitable hymn. She even made up a prayer thanking God for all the animals, especially horses and ponies, in the world - I would like to second that, cheers God, horses are pretty ace.

She practised her assembly plenty of times, she learned to speak clearly and passionately about her subject and then bundled all the bits of paper off to the BBC - hoping for a badge.

And when it came her joy was immense, she was proud and rightly so, she even believed that Radzi, Lindsey and Barney had personally written to her - I didn't have the heart to burst that one.

Well done A, you are fabulous! Believe in yourself a little more and see what you can achieve. Or as my Dad used to say:

"Effort in. Reward out!"

He was a man of few words.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Summer of '96

It's been a slog the past few months. A real never-ending slog of work, routine, house repairs and sorting out our shit. The stuff accumulated over the 8 years we have lived here is inconceivable - piles of papers, junk and reminders of bygone days.

In amongst the dust and the filth, I found a little book. This little book was made for me by a friend called Jo, delightfully drawn depicting our days working with animals in Corfu - and partying hard by night. We met in the Summer of  '96, we were both 23,  Jo helped me out at the stables despite knowing nothing about horses at all.

I sat amongst the boxes of junk ready for the second hand shops and was transported. Where are you now Jo? We had such wild times that summer.


We would get up hungover, drink Greek coffee and eat stale bread before work

Next we would feed the zoo of animals at a tourist hotel and drive up the Corfiot mountains in a Fiat 500, with Patchy Poo, the Jack Russell, and a couple of packets of fags

Hoffy, the 45 year old horse, would wait at the gate politely while the others trashed their fencing and had a party on the yard

Despite never sitting on a horse in her life, Jo and I galloped and jumped around the Corfu terrain, taking care to avoid the slumbering tortoises and the grey and brown snakes

Lunch times by the pool - a 5 hour break in the heat of the day

Feeding the horses, mucking out and grooming, with cigarettes on an abandoned car as the sun went down

Partying hard at night - with 2 hours sleep - doing it all over again the next day

If anyone knows Jo Eve - with outrageously curly hair and a talent for drawing - please get in touch. I missed her a lot today.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Before work

Feed the cats
Feed the fish
Take him to the station
Breakfast for the kids
Make a packed lunch for one
Dinner money for the other
Empty the dishwasher
Test spellings
Check homework
Put a load of washing on
Start tumble dryer
Take food out of freezer for dinner
Remind child 1 to take dance kit to school, three times
Remind children to hurry up, teeth, face and hair - a thousand times
Do two hair styles - one plait, one pony tail
Put the recycling bins out
Take children to school
Take the car for a service and pick up a courtesy car

Before I go to 'work'.