“All by myself…don’t wanna be, all by myself…ANYMOOOOORE”
Bring in the violinists, the tissues and the comforting words guys, I was all alone at work today. Sob.
Actually, I quite enjoyed it. Being the substantially anti-social person I am, working solo was rather nice. I saw Eileen for a bit as she came to ride Star, but other than that I was muddling about on my own. And I achieved more in those four hours of solitude than I expected.
I mucked out the three stables that had been used last night, ready for the next guys. I then chucked up a further four stables and ended up dragging barrows of wet bedding out of those. Two barrows full of wet straw from one bed seemed a bit ridiculous to be honest, and it stank so much I thought my nose was going to drop off in protest. Before I got started on the stables, I caught in a couple of the ponies for tonight, and started getting the other two that were in last night ready to go out. That’s when Eileen arrived, so I didn’t chuck the other two out until she’d finished riding and popped Star back out as otherwise she’d have had to try and walk him through a field with two naughty ponies in it! Oh, and I poo-picked the fields as well, checking horses and rugs at the same time. I then filled haynets for tonight and soaked them, washed out the feed bowls from the morning, re-organised the feeds ready for tomorrow and headed into the tack room. In there, I cleaned up two bridles left over from yesterday, wiped down all the girths and put away the rugs from the horses that were out last night. The horses in tonight got coolers on, double water buckets and a haynet each before I left. On my way I drove up to the other field to check on the other two boys and stopped to get them half a carrot each and check for shoes and rugs etc.
Productive. And I enjoyed having the time to myself. Myself and the ponies, of course. Because they chatted away to me throughout the day. Apart from Maisey who decided to try and kick her door down. Until I kicked it back at her. We had a little discussion over appropriate noise levels on the yard, at the end of which she managed to contain her excitement at seeing the haynets and just whicker at me instead.
Which brings me back to yesterday. Which was my birthday. For most of the day I didn’t actually do an awful lot. My body clock woke me up early, as per, but I managed to get back to sleep for a bit. I was crazy tired actually, and very reluctant to get up despite it being my birthday.
My dad plonked a pile of presents on me while I was still in my pyjamas with a cup of tea, so I had a rather chilled out and slow opening session. I got some very thoughtful gifts;
My brother sent me a beautifully made journal with marker pens for when I go to Ireland. His thinking is that while I record a lot of stuff in my blog, which he and my family and friends enjoy reading, he thought I might like to have a physical record of my adventures. Which was very sweet and thoughtful indeed. Oh, and it’s bright green, to match the Irish countryside. Or so I blend in with the leprechauns.
My other brother got me a gorgeously cute tortoise paperweight. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Really? That’s a bit strange. Why is she so happy about that?” Well you see…I kinda have a thing about paperweights. I’ve never actually owned one, but I’ve always loved them. I honestly don’t know why. I think it’s something to do with the shape, weight and feel of them. They’re satisfying to pick up and look at, and I love the way the light gets altered as it goes through them. I genuinely just have this weird love of paperweights. Ben remembered trips to antique shops with me where I’ve stood cooing over them, so he went and found me a really cute one. It’s made out of the old fashioned coca cola bottles so it has this lovely greeny tinge to it. Up-cycling at it’s cutest. I can’t quite decide which way up I like it best though.
My aunt and her family sent me a horsey wash bag which genuinely delighted me. It was the first thing I opened and I ended up sat there for ages going “Ooh look, that one’s pretty. Oh and look at that one. Oooooh nice horsey!” at all the pictures. My parents got a bit bored. But it did reinforce my point from the day before; that you can get literally anything with horses on it. God bless the internet!
My other aunt sent me a lovely stock pin. It’s very simple and pretty, and now I want to go straight out and buy a whole load of show gear so I can dress up smart. I wouldn’t dare actually compete; I’d be way too terrified. But I could just ride Foxy and look dashing.
My dad’s parents sent me a really cool polo shirt which we think is from Hungary. They went on a cruise around Europe and stopped off at various places, one of which where they saw the Lazar carriage driving team. Which is the logo on my shirt. They also sent a dvd about the place and a generous cheque.
Di-Di, the grandmother I stay with while I’m at college, got me a lovely little book with loads of chocolate based recipes in it. I suspect she wants me to make some for her, but these recipes look amazing. I can’t wait to get started! She also gave me a cheque as she wanted to contribute something towards my trip to Ireland, and her cats sent her over with a box of chocolates and bottle of local apple juice. She came over for coffee in the morning and then stayed for lunch too.
My lovely Simon sent me a card and a cute dangly ornament which I first took to be chickens, but later realised are hearts I think. I’m going to stick with chickens though, because the thought makes me smile. I was utterly delighted to receive a parcel from him though. He’s a darling!
My parents gave me several things. They’d already bought me some new riding boots and jodhpurs the other day, but they then handed me a bag of other stuff. A new gilet; a Joules one thankyouplease; a beautiful paperweight (it’s the start of a collection. I’m not going to be a crazy cat lady. I’m going to be a crazy paperweight lady with a room full of them so the light keeps changing and it’s all eerie and awesome), and a book I’ve been quite excited about.
The paperweight has a dandelion seed-head inside. You know, dandelion clocks? A whole one of them. It’s beautiful and depending on the angle you see it from, it looks slightly different every time.
The book is Trudi Canavan’s new one. She’s an author I really enjoy reading and I’ve got all of her other series. This one is the start of a new trilogy, and once my car is at the garage tomorrow I’m going to hole myself up with tea and my book.
My parents are also giving me some money to help out with various things I’ve got going on such as car MOT and service, and going to Ireland. They’re going to inject it straight into my account though, because it’s easy that way.
My mum also made me an awesome card. She’s a very talented lady.
I went into the yard in the afternoon, ready for my hack! I was greeted by Sky (Kelly’s dog) who came running over to the gate when she saw me and then escorted me into the office and sat at my feet looking all cute. Lovely girl. Niz then handed me a bag of doughnuts – joyful day! I decided to save those for after the hack rather than before though! Foxy greeted me with a whicker and a nuzzle and Kelly handed me a card when she came into the office after the lesson she’d been teaching.
We had a brilliant hack! Foxy was beautifully behaved (most of the time) and we wandered along through the countryside in the lovely dry afternoon. Trotting along the headlands, we ducked under low branches and avoided holes at the field edge. We had a canter up one of the hills, and Fox showed me just how clever he is, bringing his head down and giving me a beautiful dressage canter rather than going flat out.
When we got through the woods to the gate at the base of the hill the horses like to run up, Kelly and Star had a small argument in which Star forgot how to move forwards, and Kelly told him to do it anyway. Fox got bored watching Star bucking in front of him and neatly sidestepped them in canter, before realising he was at the front and breaking into a full on gallop. I let him go, because to be honest there wasn’t a lot of point holding him back. Also, I wanted to gallop. So off we went. Zoooooooom. Past the trees, up the top and then we dropped into a lovely light canter along the top of the hill. Falling back to trot, we let the others catch us up as Star had only needed to see Fox’s bum in front of him to realise what direction he was actually supposed to go in. We reached the next gate and I realised my pony was blowing like crazy. He was snorting and huffing and I could feel every breath underneath me. I think he might have forgotten that he’s not as fit as he used to be, what with his substantial grass belly and everything. “Oh shit, *gasp* that was *gasp* a mistake, *gasp* I can’t *gasp* breathe.”
Our final bit of canter was slightly scarier, as Fox decided to freak out at a tree. Okay, so I’d have understood if it was one right next to him that actually tried to eat him or something. But it wasn’t. Said tree was simply standing there, minding it’s own business, about three hundred yards away! So yeah, on the other side of the field. Fox looked at it and went “OH GOD IT’S GONNA EAT ME” and jumped forwards. Unfortunately, Lucky’s bum was in the way, which Lucky was not too impressed by, so he tried a kick. Fox then jumped sideways to avoid the kick, and then realised there was open space in front of him now. All of this was in canter, by the way. He sped up into the open space, and it was then that I clocked the rusty gate and barbed wire fence fast approaching. I suggested that we slow down and Fox thought about it briefly before deciding , no we’ll carry on like this. I continued to request a slower pace, eventually having to hook him round to the left to stop him from charging headlong into the fence, stopping abruptly or spinning out on me. As I hooked him round he came back to trot, and we managed to slot back in with the others again, but it was a bit of a close call. I could hear Kelly calling “Sit up Meg, you’re alright” as we turned sharply. Silly bugger of a horse.
After that, we kept things fairly sedate and wandered along the fields taking in the views. We had a mild altercation with another tree (pesky things) as Fox decided that forwards was not a thing, instead we would go only sideways. However, sideways took us away from the others which was cause to panic, but by this point we couldn’t go sideways back to them as there was an apple tree in the way so we had to go forwards which meant very nearly knocking Megan’s head off on the branches. He also had to stop for a poop in the middle of one of the fields, which was another extremely panicky moment as the others were getting further away and he wanted to catch up but he really needed to poop and couldn’t possibly carry on walking at the same time. Bless.
It was a lot of fun though, and I really enjoyed being out with my boy. Okay, he tried to dump me on a barbed wire fence, but he was pretty awesome apart from that. And I blame that wretched tree for it all anyway.
We got back to the yard and washed off the ponies and their girths and boots, before chucking them out in the fields. I took my man, and his friend Victor, off to the field over the road, with Foxy nuzzling my arm for treats the whole way. We then collapsed in the office for a bit, munching on doughnuts with Niz and I thanking Kelly for taking us and Sky questioning why there wasn’t a doughnut for her.
I came home to find a glass of Pimms awaiting me, and a beautiful strawberry and hazelnut meringue layer cake on the table. So pretty!
My dad then put together a plate of tea for each of us, and we slobbed out completely. The meringue cake was delicious, and the Pimms was the most refreshing perfect thing in the whole world! I could’ve done with a glass of that straight after the hack, but walking in the door to it was the next best thing. It’s the first time I’ve tasted Pimms this year, and I remembered just how much I love it. Mmm mmm mmmmmm.
I actually nearly fell asleep on the sofa after eating. My parents and brother were asking me what I wanted to do for my birthday evening, but I couldn’t even string together a sentence so we ended up being oh so very cultured and civilised and watching Britain’s Got Talent, and then a whole myriad of stupid Youtube videos.
I was talking to Mum about how birthdays change as you get older. I think this year was the first year that I didn’t really get excited in the lead-up to it. Even the past couple of years where I’ve been in my twenties and known I’m not going to get anything crazy spectacular, I’ve still had that kind of butterflies in my stomach feeling. But I didn’t get that this year. I guess I’ve been so busy that I haven’t really had time. Also, I arranged my own birthday treat, so the surprise element of that was missing. Last year my family took me to the zoo, and the year before that a couple of my friends took me to a different zoo. There was that whole thing of someone else planning it for me and taking me along and making me feel all important. This year, I knew what I wanted to do but it was something that I couldn’t drag my family along to, and something that I had to organise myself. The fact that Sonya refused to charge me for it was sweet, and made it feel more birthday-y, but I guess it mostly comes down to the fact that I didn’t really do anything I wouldn’t usually do.
And while that’s not very exciting, I’m okay with it. I received loads of lovely messages from friends and family via facebook and text, and the gifts I got were thoughtful and sweet. I was tired to the extreme, but I got to go galloping with my lovely Foxy and I saw some lovely people who mean a lot to me. So if you look at it that way, it was golden.
I think this lack of excitement caught me by surprise. Because it made me realise that I really am growing up. According to my brother I am officially in my mid-twenties, and while sometimes I honestly don’t feel like I can stand on my own two feet, I am aware of the fact that I really am an adult. Twenty Four. I know some people will be like “oh that’s still so young” and yes, I know it is. But there’s still that little girl in my head who can’t believe I’ve made it to this age. Because when I was a little girl, twenty four was like a mythical thing. Being in your twenties didn’t happen to little girls, people were obviously just born older or something.
And yet here I am, twenty four and generally still that little girl, terrified of the whole world and wondering how she’ll ever muddle her way through.
And then I get on a horse.
And I know the answer.