Tuesday, 19 January 2021

 A miserable day today, made slightly worse as I'm not able to visit Dad at the moment as he still hasn't had the vaccine and with the new Covid variant I don't want to risk it.  He was supposed to have had it last Friday. However, the batch of vaccines arrived at his local doctors on Thursday and they forgot to put it in the fridge so the whole batch was ruined..... I guess it was very honest of them to admit to this mistake but you would have thought with something as important as this they would have checked and double checked.  It makes you wonder how often this has happened in other surgeries.

The other sad news is that my lovely Uncle Ross was taken to hospital this morning with Covid - The doctor has been monitoring him at home but he took a turn for the worse and was rushed in to go on oxygen. He is such a larger than life character, always full of fun and even with the fairly recent death of his beloved wife, Margaret, he is such a joyful character. It is awful to think that he is on his own as he wasn't allowed to have any of his family with him. He was really fit as he played a lot of top level golf so hopefully that will help him pull through.

Ross and Margaret - Such a glamorous couple

Ross with Margaret shortly before she died

During this misery it is lovely to have the horses to play around with even though the weather isn't great. Lucy and Ella came in on Sunday to give Archie and Flo a little jump over the hurdles. Flo was a keen as mustard but jumped like a stag and Archie is getting better all the time. He finds everything so easy that after he has jumped the same hurdle a couple of times he gets bored and starts looking around and not concentrating. He needs to start jumping the big fences sooner rather than later. 

I'm thinking of running Top Garry in the Dick Saunders novice chase at Leicester on Feb 18th. He may as well have a run and then if pointing starts again at the end of March he will be ready to go back to pointing. Fingers crossed that pointing does start again this season as under rules doesn't really light my fire and I certainly wouldn't want to run the maidens over the regulation fences until they have had more experience. 

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Today would have been my Mum's 91st Birthday. Sadly she passed away six years ago after fighting a very bad stroke which left her virtually unable to communicate or use her right arm for 29 years. She spent this time determinedly learning to speak, read and write again which was a huge achievement as she was only given a 5% chance of surviving the stroke. 

On my regular visits to see Dad we have been going through old photo albums and it has brought back to me how lucky we are to live in the times we do, even though things appear grim (in more ways than one) at the moment. 

Mum had a really tough life and her Mother (Nanny) even more so. She was born into a long standing farming family and was one of five.  She was the only girl and the only one to survive into adulthood. Her three younger brothers all died of various childhood illnesses (meningitis being the main cause I believe) and her older brother died when he was sixteen in a combine harvester accident which Mum had the horror of witnessing. Mum never really spoke much about the deaths of her brothers and I had always thought that the younger ones were sickly and had died at birth. I got quite a shock when I saw photos of them in the album as three of them looked really happy and healthy. I assume one died as a baby.  It brought it all home how tragic their deaths were, particularly for a farming family to lose all their sons. I do remember staying at the farm and finding five locks of children's hair which Nanny had obviously kept. 

The story doesn't get any happier I'm afraid - Six months after the eldest boy died Mum's Dad died of a heart attack at the young age of 53  - Some said he died of a broken heart, and then her uncle (her Dad's brother) who was helping on the farm shot himself and Mum found him. He had taken himself away to the bottom of the field and she was sent to find him as it was tea time.  Nanny eventually married again to the next door bachelor farmer but never got over the death of her family. She was also less than impressed when Mum decide to marry an Irish Baptist minister rather than all the available young farmers in the area and refused to give Dad permission to marry Mum.  They married eventually and she softened up a bit towards him but was understandably never really happy about it. Sadly she never lived long enough to know about my passion for farming. 

Mum was always very stoic about everything and never ever complained even after her dreadful stroke. She always had a smile on her face and whenever I think things are bad I think about her and what she went through.  I have the utmost respect and admiration for her. 

Mum's brothers

Mum with her older brother

Mum with her Dad

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Field Exhibition and Peppa

 Whilst Ella was trying to do some circle work Peppa took an insane liking to Flo and squeezed under the fence to say hello to her making 'quacking' sounds, which she does when she is really excited. She then kept on following her around the menage and just wouldn't leave her alone. In the end I had to entice her away with some household scraps and shut her up in her stable. Every year she suddenly gets a crush on a different horse and 'stalks' them. It was Murphy last year and Popaway the year before. She completely ignores Percy, so she obviously doesn't realise she is a pig and prefers equine company!

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

 Lucy and Ella came in on Sunday and we were able to pop the horses over the fences in the menage. Sarah and Ella came in yesterday and they went up the gallops. They are flying at the moment which is slightly frustrating as there is nowhere for them to go. I have been toying with the idea of reactivating my licence but an reluctant to do so as I want to introduce the youngsters gently to racing by pointing them, and don't want to drop them in at the deep end. However, Garry could run under rules but I will wait and see what the hunter chase situation is before making a decision. 

Secret with Ella

Archie with Lucy

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Happy New Year to you all!  A very different one now as most of the UK is now in tier four which is almost a complete lock down. We had a quiet but very pleasant one with a very nice bottle of Champagne. Doug cooked our New Year's supper (three courses!!) and took great delight in making the booziest sherry trifle ever, and watching me going cross eyed whilst eating it.  Needless to say I felt somewhat shabby the next day.

Reveley Park has been forced to cancel as it is now in Tier Four and cannot host a race meeting. Very frustrating as the horses are fit but there is nowhere for them to go. Larkhill is still going ahead but I have seen too many good horses break there and just don't trust the chalky ground as there is so little topsoil. A lot of horses run there and get away with it but it would be just my luck not to. I'm not prepared to take the risk. 

Ella's new mare, Field Exhibition (Flo for short) is going really nicely. She is very keen but has begun to trust Ella and drop her head into her work. She absolutely loves jumping and is a real pocket rocket going over the jumps in the menage. They will have a lot of fun together once there is a point to point for her to go to. 

However, I've really enjoyed the Christmas break. It is surprising how much of a difference it makes to our stress levels not having HS2 working on our doorstep and also knowing that we won't be getting any nasty, bullying emails from them whilst their offices are closed.  We will be back to the battle lines on Monday no doubt...

Sunday, 27 December 2020

 Happy Christmas everyone! I hope you all coped with the unusual conditions and are able to see the light at the end of the tunnel...

We had a lovely Christmas despite the last minute Covid changes. Poor Sophie was unable to see her parents and I didn't see Dad. To begin with we did the stables where the pigs and chickens got extra special treats and the horses got Christmas carrots. We then went round to see Josh and Emma for a 'socially distanced' unwrapping of presents in their car park... Emma has asthma so she has to be very careful and I have only seen them all once since the lock down.  They looked really well and were delighted with their pressies. 

Archie, Hector, India and Allegra with Josh and Emma

We then went to Joseph and Sophie's where we had a lovely hug from Henry and Jessica (sod the rules) Sophie had prepared the most delicious lunch. It was a real treat for me not to be hosting it this time after 30 odd years (apart from twice) and it felt very strange not having the normal stress associated with Christmas day. Sophie was highly organised and made it all look very easy. It was lovely to see one of our puppies again (Bruno) who has really made himself at home and is very much loved by them all.  After the very yummy lunch we went for a Christmas walk around the farm. Joseph has planted hundreds of trees and miles of hedges and it was wonderful to see a once somewhat sterile mainly arable farm look so much more conducive to wildlife

Back from our walk after lunch with Jessica and Henry, Sophie, Bruno and Joseph

The Covid situation has got worse and we are now in Tier three. We have an OX postcode but we are under South Northants council. Oxfordshire has gone to Tier four and we are obviously quite close to the border as when we lie in bed and look at our NHS App on our phones Doug is tier three on his side of the bed and I am in Tier four on my side, with a big warning to STAY AT HOME - A good excuse for a quiet night as clearly the border must not be crossed - Also Doug can go and do the weekly shopping now!

We were hoping to run Top Garry at Chaddesley on Monday as he is popping out of his skin but sadly that has been cancelled due to water logging. If it's not one thing it's another... Our next target is Reveley Park on the 10th January assuming we haven't been locked down again by then...

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Sadly there was no racing for Top Garry today as it was cancelled due to Charing being in Tier 4 and the new rules came in to place first thing this morning. It's a small price to pay to try and control the virus which has now mutated into a far more virulent form. 

It gave me time to catch up on things to do with Christmas. Doug dug (Dug dug!) up a Christmas tree I planted at least eight years ago which has now been put in a pot and will hopefully survive coming indoors. It will then come with us to our new home and be replanted  It is at least seven foot tall and the tiny little sapling was given out free with a Christmas tree I bought from Harlestone Garden Centre all those years ago. I remember it well as I was feeling a bit down as buying Christmas trees always used to be a lovely traditional thing I did with the children and it seemed sad going on my own. We always used to walk around Harlestone Firs afterwards with the dogs. When I planted the sapling on my return it somehow cheered me up and was a source of joy watching it grow. Now here it is giving me more hope of better Christmas's to come and wondering where we will end up.....

We have a new horse in the yard - Ella our novice rider has been looking for a horse to take her round and with the help of Billy Aprahamian and Marcus Coley we picked up a lovely mare called Field Exhibition. She is an absolute cracker and has already settled in really well. She was rated 137 and ran in the Welsh National which must have bottomed her as her form dropped away sharply after that. She needs her teeth and back done but once she has had a full MOT she will be a great spin for Ella as she still retains all her enthusiasm. 

Field Exhibition (Flo) First night at Blackgrounds