Friday, 24 June 2011

Days 46 - 49

Day 46, 20th June

Emma, the owner of the place we were at, had said we could stay as long as we wanted, so I took her up on it as the forecast was not at all good – though it turned out to be a really nice morning and half the afternoon was also sunny. The ponies had the morning out and came in in the afternoon when it first started to rain. I got a shower and Emma was so kind as to wash my clothes. Thank you!

Day 47, 21st June
We set off again in the morning with me in freshly washed clothes that were still warm from the tumble dryer – nice!

It was a nice day, the weather held out well and we got to Annan in the evening having done the most miles in a day until then – 29 of them. I had started to look out for stables several miles earlier, but either found nothing where I wanted to ask or, at one place, there was nobody in. Then, as we continued along the road, a car pulled in and a lady in horse gear asked what we were doing, so I asked her whether she knew of a place to stay and was referred to a friend of hers in Annan. He was even so helpful as to drive out towards us and escorted us all the way through the town by car so that we would find the place. In the meantime, the girl we had first met, offered me to come to her house and sleep in a real bed, which I – and Maggie – gladly accepted.

Day 48, 22nd June
Having stayed at a different place, we were a little later in the morning, but it did not really matter. While I was getting the ponies ready, the owner of the place I stayed at asked whether he should phone the local newspaper and they sent a reporter out to interview me just before we set off. It was just a few questions and some photos, so I am interested to see the paper when it comes out.

We headed for north of Carlisle and went through Gretna again. The morning started off a lot better than expected with beautiful sunshine and hardly a cloud in the sky. Then it rained while I had got the horses ready, but cleared up again and stayed nice for a couple of hours, only to then pour down just before we got to Gretna. I had not even believed it would be that much and only put on my raincape instead of using the full compliment of trousers, jacket and cape and the raincoat on Maggie as well. And it just got worse and worse. Finally, in the town, I found a tree that promised to at least keep a tiny bit of the rain off so I put on all the other rain clothes without ever removing the cape – not easy, but possible.

Just as we were then going to turn off and go to the same place as on the way to Scotland on the other side of the motorway – and wait under the bridge first for the rain to stop – we were stopped by a lady who had a stable nearby. She told us how to get there and we were only too happy arrive and find the horses got a field, stables if they wanted, a feed in the morning, a place to dry the stuff and a meal, a shower and the cravan to sleep in at night – it was lovely. I could even have used the sauna, but that just seemed like too much luxury. :o)
Day 49, 23rd June

With the rain still falling on the caravan after my normal get up time, I stayed lying in bed snoozing for a while longer and contemplated whether to take my host up on her offer of another day. But finally the sun came out and I decided that if I were going to be such a wimp every time it rained, we would never get home again.
We left at about 11 and went back to our route, which was to take us across the motorway, along a little bit of Hadrian's Wall – like Offa's Dyke, where is it?? - round Carlisle airport, where my brother works in the tower and he could watch us going 2/3 of the way round the airport.
It was not easy to find a place to stay in the evening and a couple of times the problem seems to have been the Royal Highland Show. I asked at one stable, but the lady was only equipped for Shetland ponies and had 6 stallions in the fields. She sent me to another stable, but there was nobody in and nobody at the farm we passed afterwards either. I asked another lady, but she had her stables full of sheep and the fields were under water. Then I asked some other people, but their horses were also in the stables and the fields resembled ponds... but they called another lady, who had her fields higher up and we could spend the night at her place with the ponies on the field and Maggie and myself sleeping in the dry.

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