Before I left, I told you a little story of a horse whom I loved a great deal when working as a groom on the verdant isle of Corfu, back in 1996. After some research for a trekking centre for the kids to have a pony ride, there he was, Simba in all his maned glory staring right back at me out of the computer, he was still alive and well and in Corfu. Just simply writing this story had me all emotional, it seems to have had some of you choked up as well. I was to see a little gelding 18 years on, would he remember me? Would we recognise each other? Would it be like the Budweiser commercial, which has me in tears every goddamn time?
The yard was found after a wonderful drive at the base of Mount Pantokrator, through sleepy little villages with shutters firmly closed, a few stray kittens wobbling across the road in search of some food and some love, around hair-pin bends exhilarating and terrifying and past fields of fresh, wild spring flowers. Corfu in all its glory.
I was nervous when we got to the stables. A nice young woman showed the kids which was to be their pony and I nervously asked if Rebel (his name for 18 years) was here. "Yes, yes," she replied, "just around the corner!" pointing me in the direction of his stable. And there he was, all dipped back, grey around the muzzle and sleepy with the early morning sun. An old man who didn't want to be bothered. He barely raised his heavy lids to contemplate me, or sniff me in recognition. He was enjoying the peace of the day before the tourists arrived to trek him through the Corfiot countryside for the umpteenth time in his life.
So I stroked his muscled neck, took his forelock out of his eyes and understood his wishes, glad to have found him again and to know that he has been looked after well.
Just a tiny part of me wished he had whinneyed at my return, blown sweet warm breath in my face and encouraged me to leap on to his back, bare back of course, to gallop around the countryside together once more.