Nope, I haven’t migrated to warmer climes (though given the barely noticeable appearance of Summer in northern Europe, I could have been tempted) but I’ve had Australian visitors, who brought a large armful of virtual sunshine with them on their recent visit.
Jake, Nuala, Rhîan (our niece) and Tom only stopped off for three days during a turbo-charged tour of Europe’s high points, but we were so glad they did. Even if we couldn’t compete with the culture of Paris or the fleshpots of Barcelona (and had serious jealousy pangs looking at their itinerary: Amsterdam/Berlin/Milan/Venice/Rome…) we could, at least, be the mid-tour safe haven, with hot showers, comfy beds, endlessly rotating laundry facilities and fresh food. (Realistically, these days, we couldn’t envisage sleeping in hostels or on trains and living on McDo’s as they were, but it sounded so enviably bohemian!)
Sadly, during their visit, the weather was too overcast for flopping round the pool, but it was a clement sightseeing temperature, so we dragged them round crumbly old castles and medieval towns, certain that this was as far from Perth (Western Australia) as one could get – literally – and all with a generous dose of green as antidote all those racy, reverberating capitals and tourist honeypots.
Even so, Cahors looked pretty good as a tourist attraction…. Outside the Hôtel de Ville trees, benches, lampposts and waste bins wore knitted vests …??!! Apparently anyone with spare wool had donated it to local retirement homes where enthusiastic knitters had made multicoloured woollies to garb the town centre. Idiosyncratic, but certain to raise a smile!
Best of all, our Australians were beguiled by the horses. Only Nuala is a rider, and a trainee vet., but they all hung around the boys as if they could teach them the meaning of life, stroking and generally adoring them.
As we all know, horses just take this as their due (here Pom is modelling his sweet-itch, mane-saving Batman style mask). But it did make life easier that the visitors took it as read that the horses’ routine came first!
If you’ve followed earlier posts on this blog, you may recall that I’ve been an equine “lonely heart”, advertising locally for riding companions.
Recently, a lovely Australian lady, also into Spanish horses, (she has an 8 year old gelding and a 2 year old filly) has been in touch and (touch wood) I hope we are on a similar wavelength when it comes to our styles of riding and views on horses. We’re not too far apart geographically either, only a half hour’s drive, but I still need a trailer (more of which later).
My new Aussie friend (Kerri, are you reading?) brought her husband over to visit and, as we’re all hard-core house restorers, we brought out our old pictures to show them, over a glass of wine. I won’t bore you with endless shots of half-built walls or semi-installed bathrooms, but amongst the massive hoard of lab. printed photos, (remember those?!) I was glad to rediscover some very old pics. of my first pony, Dolphin, which I had thought were lost.
For those of you who fondly remember life in black-and-white or Instamatics, here are a couple of favourites (Dolphin was “Godolphin Juniper” a 14.1hh Welsh section E pony; my partner during my teenage years.)
(Note the sophisticated jump supports!!)
Ah Dolphin, I’m sorry you had to put up with me as a teenager.
And so to the vexed and long term quest for a trailer. I’ve seen wrecks and crocks and crooks selling crocks, but honest, modestly-priced-yet-sound horse trailers are like the Holy Grail. A couple of years ago we went to see a house for sale (Hi Jill!) whose lovely owner has since become a good friend and who had a great trailer for sale at a decent price – although it was on UK plates and not registered in France. At the time, we believed we couldn’t pull a trailer without a special “E” licence (costing around 1,000 euros) so we alerted horsy neighbours to the opportunity and Eric offered to do the rather intricate paperwork of registration, having, in the course of business, registered cars for clients in the past.
Two years down the line and rules have been relaxed so we can now tow a trailer on our UK driving licences in France, and lo and behold, neighbour wants to sell the trailer we helped them buy. However, here is the twist: they are advertising it at double the price ………… I leave it to your imagination how vexed we feel.
BUT, my good friend Patrick, who now rides so rarely since he bagged a juicy promotion, has let me borrow his trailer whilst he is on holiday in August. So, in his aptly named “Cheval Liberté” trailer, Pom and I hope to hit the open road very soon.
Don’t want to tempt fate, but maybe our luck is on the turn?……………..