Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Elephant's breath

We entered the water gingerly for Meena was huge and the sludge between our toes perturbing. The river was warm, as warm as bath water, as the morning sun beat relentlessly on our skin. The mahouts beckoned us forward for the morning ritual of scrubbing yesterdays dust from the elephants body, they passed us coconut shells and invited us to imitate their movements, shouting in Malayalam which Meena clearly understood. Her hulk lay motionless in the river as she enjoyed her morning pampering, the mahouts left no area unclean, taking great pride in their work. Their dotis were soaked through so that their sinewy frames were clearly visible, their brown skin shining in the morning light, smiling wide, sparkly, white smiles to encourage us to feel and touch every area of the beautiful beast.

I was completely overwhelmed, the familiar lump stuck hard in my throat and tears sneaked out from my eyes as I looked into hers. Thank you Meena I whispered, thank you for letting me touch you I spoke, trying to connect with her small yellow eye. Her trunk followed us round in the river, exploring our foreign smells and engulfing the children's bodies completely and gently. She exhaled long warm breaths, elephant breaths, through her incredible and sensitive trunk, gently probing at our clothes and enquiring our origin. I have never been so humbled.

' Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened ' - Anatole France

Friday, 4 April 2014

One more sleep

I can hardly believe it is here. That's the funny thing about time, it comes, it goes, in the way it always has. Tomorrow we are going to India. We have hardly had time to discuss it and imagine what it will be like, India has just sort of crept up on us and this weekend we will be there. I've read a little in the Lonely Planet guide, checked out the accommodation on Trip Advisor, asked the agent if there are any horses I can ride (there aren't) and I am nearly there with the organisation and packing.

He is looking forward to a rest, some time away from the rigours and pressures of his work. And then I reminded him about India and quoted to him what someone said to me this week, worried there might not be too much time chilling.

"Ah, yes, India. You are never alone in India!"

Well, best get right in there then and soak up every last minute.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Challenges and accomplishments

I walked around the fences not taking any of them in, a sweet girl was chatting to me but I could only hear my nerves and feel my fear. I had already nearly fallen off twice in the warm up arena and now I was trying to remember the order of the fences - as well as the advice that I had been given in the last year.

Fletch and I went show jumping at the weekend. I had been looking forward to this for so long but now the time had arrived, my adrenaline was getting the better of me. I just needed to focus, to shut everything out around me, and to try and remember the god-damn order of jumps.

"And next in the ring we have number 133, riding Fletch"

I waited for the bell to ring while we trotted in. I told Fletch he could do it, I told him that I would love him forever if he didn't dump me in front of all these people and more importantly, I told him I had polo's - lots of them - if we got a clear round. I asked for canter and looked for the first fence, Fletch pricked his ears and we were off. Over the first, second fence, next the combination and then he wobbled at the fourth and nearly ran out at the fifth - suddenly my 16 year old self kicked in, and I growled at him to get himself over the fence and not around it. He leapt like ungainly giraffe and understood that I now meant business - we had a little uncertainty at fence nine, but that was my fault as I temporarily lost my way - and then we got it back to together to get a clear round.

Woop woop. A double clear....yeeeeeeeeeeeeeehaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

My grin was enormous, I might have just cried a wee tear, the relief was palpable and the feeling of accomplishment insane. I did it, faced my demons and at the grand old age of 40 I was flying fences and feeling fabulous.

Cross-country next. Gulp.

Thank you Fletch - you amazing horse you - and thank you to his owners for letting me have the privilege of climbing aboard His Royal Gingerness!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Summer's a comin'...

Okay, so we all had coats on while nursing our pints, and someone did order an Irish coffee to keep warm, but we managed to spend yesterday afternoon in the beer garden after school - staying outside until nearly 6 o'clock, which was just heavenly. The children were flushed with the outdoors, playing vigorously on the pub garden equipment which overlooked a field of spring lambs. The neighbours cat joined us to see if anything interesting was occurring. We ate 6 packets of crisps for our tea and grinned, for this was a sure sign that summer is on its way.

There is a rumour of a heatwave this year.

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