Before I go away anywhere, I like to make sure my house is in order before I even set off. Only this time, as I shall be away for the best part of four months, this early ‘spring clean’ has turned out to be a bit of a mammoth task and while I have had to devote all my focused attention to the task in hand, Tommy has just had an unexpected week off from the usual routine of exercise and training. Well, it should have been a week, but as things turned out, as a consequence of my magpie nature, it has stretched into two weeks and why it has been a while since I last posted our progress.
The reason for this lull in our ‘routine’ operations? Something which I had hoped to be able to postpone until our return from pilgrimage, circumstances had conspired otherwise to make me take stock now, and not delay. A large shed where I have been storing my few remaining belongings and remnants from my B&B business, has had to be completely emptied. Two, 3.5 ton van loads of furniture and household items have been dispatched to the sale rooms, 7 car-loads of rubbish removed to the municipal tip, and several charity shops around town have become the beneficiaries of bulging black bags filled with old shoes and a mixture of never worn and well-loved garments well past their best.
I have had to be ruthless, fighting the temptation to go back and rummage through the boxes just in case I have missed something vital. Like something I can’t live without which of course is rubbish and has no foundation because I already have everything I need, and having more possessions does not make my life any easier. The reason it ran over the time I had scheduled for it was because my studio became part of the ‘clear-out’ and 2 much-loved plans chests and an old Yōtel stove that have followed me around numerous moves have also been sent to the sale room creating some much-needed space to breathe and to work in once more.
This delightful little gem will be returned to its original artist, William, now a successful London architect.
The process has been both sad and uplifting at the same time. I have lived without this stored stuff for two years and not noticed it missing. In fact, if you had put a match to the shed, I would not have mourned the loss of its contents. But picking through it’s contents again brings back so many memories. These are the objects that have defined my life and tastes, the books that have explored my interests, all intensely personal, yet oddly dispensable. It has been like saying goodbye to old friends that have accompanied me along the way. The treasured trinkets, my children’s notes and hand-made cards. Reading the messages in the Visitor’s Books and trawling through photos and paperwork that have inadvertently become a record of my life. Saying goodbye to pieces of furniture that have been handed down the generations that my children neither want nor need has been particularly poignant.
Only a few treasured items have been saved from the cull: the type-written draft of my mother’s cook book which I typed up for her before computers were even part of our vocabulary; the mirror my father made using an old Jacobean fire surround as a frame and his Naval diaries and a folder marked ‘top secret’, handed on to my nephew for him to decide which historical archive they should be gifted to. I even managed to find space in my kitchen cupboard to squeeze in the collection of blue ‘Bristol’ ware wine glasses that I love. Georgina, who has just given up work to be a full-time mum to one, and soon to be two, daughters, gets my mixer (like the ones they use on ‘Bake Off’ and the heirloom always destined to be passed on to her), along with 6 dining chairs I rescued from a church sale. And Snowy, the Polar Bear teddy, still surprisingly white if a little less fluffy but still huggable, will be returned to his rightful owner, my son, Alex.
Amongst some of the photos, I found this.
It’s a photo of me, aged about 10 or 11, on a trekking holiday in the Highlands. My mother, rather than getting under her feet in a small flat in London, used to send my brother, Tim and I, off to Forest School Camps (anyone remember those?) during the Summer holidays, only this time, I had obviously managed to persuade her to send me pony trekking in Scotland. I remember it so well. You can see the tents in the background and this was my pony for the duration. A sturdy little Highland pony with an uncanny resemblance to Tommy. Of course this was my idea of heaven. Just check out the trendy stripey trousers though. This was the mid sixties after all, and we happened to be living just off the King’s Road at the time.
Fast forward some 50 years to today, and whilst I was out with Tommy heading towards home, we walked into this little Plain an Gwarry ‘bubble’ and got snapped by the crew and tweeted (see below). Golden Tree Productions are researching all the old, hidden ‘playing places’ where plays were once performed in Cornwall. It turns out there is one just across the road from Tommy’s Rabbit-Mound paddock, and today was like we had inadvertently walked into someone else’s play.
So despite the brief (in the scheme of things) interruption, our training has continued. There’s a lot to catch up with. Here are a few things we have been doing. As you will see from the photo below, there is a set of steps to the left of the slipway. Why go up the slip when you can take the stairs?
Also. Trying out different tack arrangements and bag configurations and getting Tommy used to carrying them.
To date he has carried an extra 7 kilos of weight. I am wondering if I can lose that amount of weight in the next couple of months so that he won’t even notice the extra weight. Maybe loosing a stone in that amount of time is a bit of a tall order, but definitely worth a try.
In order to overcome Tommy’s natural suspicion of anything new, getting him used to drinking out of a small ‘water’ carrier which is in fact a portable washing-up bowl which I have filled with some irresistible sugar-beet juice. It worked a treat. No hesitation at all.
And beginning to think about what I need to take with us for 4 months on the road. How will I ever fit it all into a couple of ‘shopping-bag’ sized panniers? More about that conundrum in a later post.
Meanwhile, to counteract any lopsidedness I may be causing to Tommy with my own wonky back (otherwise known as scoliosis, or curvature of the spine), although too late in the day to help me, I have brought in a couple of ‘healers’ to work on keeping Tommy’s back straight and properly aligned in order to avoid any strained muscles. I think it is something I will need to keep a close eye on. Here is Alex Ede, an Equine Sport Massage Therapist, working his gentle magic on Tommy.
This is not a recent thing for me. I became aware of my spinal curvature in my teens but it is not severe and it has never stopped me from doing anything. In fact, I rarely give it any thought and only occasionally experience pain when I put my back under pressure of any sort (such as a long mucking-out session!) I have always been quite ‘sporty’ and even excelled at ballet and gymnastics in my youth. Nowadays I can’t sit in the lotus position any more but feel lucky to be as mobile as I am. And now, because I am only too aware that it may have an adverse effect on Tommy’s own finely tuned balance, I decided to seek help for him in ironing out any potential kinks or strains my own affliction may be causing him along his own spine. I was given a couple of useful names by my horsey contacts. I couldn’t decide which one to choose so in the end, decided to invite both of them (separately of course) to have a look at Tommy as I knew they would each bring their own expertise to bear.
Here is Dr. Emma Staton, a human and equine chiropractor, working her way along Tommy’s spine.
I am grateful to them both, as I am sure Tommy is too.
All this deviation from our routine has meant I have lost a few weeks of planning and I must get back to it in earnest. Still lots of stops to organise. As well as my dear brother’s Memorial Service to arrange…….
And in the soap saga that is Tommy, next week, he gets a visit from the dentist!