Dreamy. The subject for this weeks WordPress photo challenge. It seems pretty apt right now. As my project builds momentum, my dream can often appear to be morphing into a nightmare. When I met up with William (Reddaway, Ride Round England) briefly over a drink in the pub on my way up North recently, he asked me if I was just going to report the ‘good bits’? I vowed there and then that I would tell it like it is, warts and all. And, up until then, things have been going along swimmingly. I am still very pleased with Tommy and there is much in his favour. He’s good at gates, pretty good with lorries, tractors, buses, cyclists and even motorbikes. (Living in a field next to a working quarry helps). On the whole, he is well mannered (tho’ he has never liked having his hind feet picked up for some reason), he listens to me and tries his best to do whatever I ask of him. But he’s a horse all the same, and horses, as we all know can be unpredictable creatures. The more tangible this venture becomes and the reality of it all begins to dawn, I confess to having moments of deep anxiety. Just trying to imagine and prepare for all the different eventualities that are possible on the trail can send me into a spasm of hot flushes. Concerns that are amplified when darkness falls.
Night time has become a very crowded place lately. As I lie awake longing for oblivion, my head is buzzing with the day’s activities and niggling questions that need to be mulled over before I can succumb to sleep. Such as yesterday’s first ride down to Mounts Bay and onto the beach in front of St. Michael’s Mount. Well that was the plan. The journey involved riding past an industrial-sized farm with rows of heavy goods vehicles, their curtains and buckles jangling as they flapped in the breeze, mountains of stacked pallets and noisy machinery that threatened to leap out at us; dodging the fast moving traffic to cross the A30; circumnavigating a busy roundabout; crossing over a railway bridge with trains going underneath, and into a packed car park with a cafe full of late-season beach-goers; double-decker coaches; deep-throated motorbikes; barking dogs.
To add to all the noise and commotion, the stiff sea breeze and pounding swell had brought out a colourful array of wind and kite surfers, in their body-hugging black wetsuits and their large billowing sails flapping around, high above the sea wall. This sort of sensory overload was all a bit too much for Tommy. His eyes by now out on stalks, super alert, the effect of all this ‘busyness’ either sending him into a spin on his toes or making him stop dead in his tracks while he assesses whether it is safe to proceed or not. Which he did, most obligingly, bless him, but by the time we reached the beach car park, I had decided enough was enough. Turning around, a very relieved Tommy and I headed back for home, deciding to ‘do’ the beach another day when the sea is flat, the visitors gone, the tide is out, and preferably with other equine company. Funny thing is, I took Tammie for a walk along the same stretch of beach later that afternoon and the place was utterly deserted.
Other thoughts that have been encroaching on my precious sleep-time are things like, can I really do this on my own? This particular question prompted by my first fall from Tommy out on the moor the other day. Whilst I was utterly engrossed in enjoying the view, he suddenly decides to shy away from the way marker, a simple wooden pole about 3 feet high sticking up out of the vegetation. As he swerves one way, I exit the door – in glorious slow motion – the other, happily landing on a springy piece of heath. Thankfully, no harm done, we gather ourselves together and go on our way, none the worst for wear. But it left me thinking, on my own and having no back-up inevitably leaves me vulnerable at times. Of course, I would love to be doing this with a partner and indeed, I am hoping some people who have already expressed a wish to join me in sections along the trail will do so, but this just happens to be the way it is and there is not much I can do about it. So the answer to this question is ‘yes’, I have to do it on my own. I suppose it is part of the challenge of the pilgrimage. (mental note to self: on the trail, must contact that night’s host to say we are on our way and roughly what time to expect us before sending out a search party + carry essential back-up battery charger for smart phone) What other essentials must I take, what can I afford to leave behind? Which packs and panniers to use? Is Tommy’s saddle the right fit? Will my joints survive the rigours? Should I give Tommy a winter clip? Will he ever stop fidgeting when I ask him to stand still?
Will I find enough accommodation for Tommy (and me) along the way, and good farriers? Pack horse or no pack horse? That is another question with a whole set of different contingencies. Will Georgie’s baby arrive safely before I head off…………oh sleep, blessed sleep, perchance to dream.
For other dreamy posts, here.