On Getting Old, Collecting Things and Riding Horses

There is just so much to say!

Have you ever felt the level of excitement and trepidation and panic that comes when something potentially wonderful is within reach? You know, that feeling of “oh my god wouldn’t that be just the best thing but I can’t let myself get too excited or believe it might happen because if it doesn’t I’ll be disappointed…” Yeah, sure you do. We’ve all been there. And it means you desperately want to tell people things, but you don’t feel like it would help because then if it doesn’t work out you end up with questions asking how things went which just remind you that you’re disappointed or missing something. That. Just that. If things do work out, I’ll enlighten you. If they don’t, I probably won’t bother. For now, I have other things to say.

I have had a birthday. Hooray? I don’t know. I am now twenty five years into my life. I suppose, if you look at it objectively, I’ve done a fair bit, been through a lot and survived to tell the tale in a series of disjointed rambling blog posts. Ah well. I suppose I’ve done well to get to this point without killing anyone/inciting anyone to kill me. High five!?

Anyway, my point is that my birthday was not something I was particularly excited about this year. I just wasn’t feeling the joy. Twenty Five. Big whoop. I get more excited about other people’s birthdays these days. But then I received a shedload of messages and gestures from friends and family which warmed my heart and made me glad I decided to have a birthday after all.

My lovely Jenni took my for a super yummy lunch the day before. We nommed it good and almost couldn’t move afterwards. I couldn’t finish my pizza, and only just managed to fit the lemon tart in. Three cups of tea, an elderflower presse and two glasses of water later, I was also desperate for the loo! But couldn’t move because of my food baby. Aah dilemmas of the best kind. It was gorgeous to see her after several months and catch up again. We chatted about the now, the then and the could be. It was just fab to sit and giggle with her, causing a few heads to turn with our mild explosions of laughter. Yes. We were those people.

The actual day of my birthday was a fairly quiet affair. I was greeted by a small pile of thoughtful gifts and cards from my family, with an unexpected parcel from my lovely Simon. I did begin to detect a theme though. Let’s see if you can get it…

My birthday cards:

My beautiful mug from Ben (the gold bits? Real 22 carat gold. It’s not dishwasher safe…):

A glass paperweight from Grandma and Grandad – the design is carved into the back:

A new Pandora bracelet (my leather one was getting stretched and slipping over my hand) from my parents, and a shiny new charm from Angus (and the dogs) :

Got it yet? Yeah, nearly everything was either giraffes, ponies or unicorns. Happy days. I also got things I can potentially turn into giraffes, unicorns and ponies such as a gift card to buy clothes with (anyone else thinking giraffe print pants?), an amazon gift voucher…the possibilities are endless there, and a bit of money also from my grandparents which I’ve already spent. On… a giraffe. No joke.

For Christmas 2014, I spent my first ever Christmas away from my family. I was in Ireland. I visited the famalam just before Christmas though and had been send back with a suitcase full of presents. One of my gifts from my parents was a beautiful ceramic figurine of a giraffe.  Mum told me it was made by a Hungarian designer called Szeiler. I’d never heard of him and had never seen his designs before, but fell totally in love with this little giraffe. Since then, going along with my parents to flea fairs and antiques market, I haven’t seen anything as lovely by him. Until my birthday!

My parents and brother and I headed to the Three Counties Showground on the morning of my birthday to have a mooch around at a big antiques and flea market. I had a small bit of money in my pocket, but knew I wasn’t going to buy something for the sake of buying it. Mum and I were keeping our eyes open for Szeiler pieces though, but with no luck. So when we reconnected with Dad and Ben after losing them for a while, I found myself being steered towards a stall with two grinning vendors waiting to greet me. Confused, I looked at what they had and stopped dead.

Three pieces of Szeiler, all different to mine but all connected. The guy at the stall explained to me that Szeiler created six different giraffe designs, three small and three large. On his stall he had two large ones and a small one different to mine. Choosing was hard…

In the end I went for the pattern that echoed the one I had, in the larger design. They are quite the pair. I was torn though, as he had the small one in reverse colours and a large one in a natural giraffe pattern. Having found out that they go to every antiques fair and actively seek out the Szeiler giraffes to sell, I will be saving some pennies and hunting them out next time!

Moving on from birthdays…

The following day I began my first shift on a local dressage yard where I’ve managed to get some part time hours. Starting at 7am (ooooooooh my god, I know) I mucked out stables, changed waters, filled hay troughs, washed out feed buckets, chucked up the muck heap, turned horses in and out and in again, put some on the walker, and got nudged and nibbled and dribbled on by some beautiful and sweet natured dressage horses, for five hours. It was pretty tough going given that I’ve not done any serious yard work in a month or so, but I was pleased to be working again. It was also nice to regain a bit of my confidence and enjoy working with the horses again. I did another shift the following morning, of six hours because I also bathed a horse and had extra stables to muck out, and while most of the work is pretty basic yard work it does feel good to be doing something again. It also helps that the girl I work for is absolutely lovely, the horses are really pleasant and there’s the chance I will be able to ride one of them whenever I want, as he rarely gets worked by his owner.

Tuesday evening saw me in another riding lesson, with Mistress Kelly ‘directing’. I say that, she essentially growled her way through 45 minutes. At times I wasn’t sure whether it was aimed at me or the horse, but then I figured it was probably both of us. I rode Dakota for the second time, and got on with much more confidence this time. Which paid off, because he was beautiful. Kelly worked us hard from the word ‘go’, barely giving me time to plonk my bum in the saddle before telling me to ride him forward, trot on and make him round. Bulldozed and slightly in shock, Dakota and I followed her instructions to the letter, arguing with each other occasionally but mostly realising that we were more likely to survive the lesson if we worked together and helped each other through. And, ultimately, it was fantastic. I felt really confident and in control, I rode him with a determination and level of direction I didn’t know I possessed. I was totally shattered within fifteen minutes, but I kept going and somehow managed to get him working better and better as the lesson progressed. Although we were both exhausted, we managed to get the most beautiful bit of trot work right towards the end. The transition was a dream, and the trot itself was just perfection. Kelly seemed really pleased with the both of us, telling me that she wished she’d been videoing so that I could see what I’d achieved. I myself was totally delighted by her reaction and by the feeling I had of “I can ride…I actually can.”

I also had a rather good lesson with Bryn, the enormous Shire, on Saturday last. Niz and I had a semi-private lesson, managing not to crash into each other or cause any of the mayhem we had initially anticipated. In fact, even though Bryn takes up half the arena just with one foot, we worked around each other well and had a really good lesson. I think Niz had to fight more with Foxy than I did with Bryn, however, as the big man decided to show off and give me some lovely walk pirouette steps as well as riding a diamond beautifully. He was also stretching long and low, working into the contact and giving me some gorgeous paces. Fox, on the other hand, was taking Niz for everything she had and being a bit of a prat. Mostly with his head. His legs and body looked beautiful at one particular moment, giving the impression of the perfect dressage trot. From the neck up, however, he is a total mess, lolling his tongue out and throwing his nose in the air and flattening his ears and rolling his eyes. What a moron!

I wish I could tell you about the exciting and potentially wonderful thing, I really do. But I don’t want to because then I’ll get my hopes up even more than they already are and if things don’t work out for the best, I’ll just end up crumbling to the floor like a house with ignored subsidence.

To finish this rather lengthy instalment, I shall leave you with a couple of pictures from the book my lovely Simon sent me for my birthday, “Hot guys and baby animals”. They are not actually a pair, but they’re my two favourites.

My favourite picture:

Mmhmm….

And my favourite caption (from a different picture) :

Although actually there are so many captions that tickled me. It’s an amusing, entertaining and educational book all in one. I mostly like it for the baby animals..

Run along now dears.
That’s right, off you go.

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