Thursday, 21 July 2011
About two hours from out destination, we were met by our host for the night together with a couple of friends. Barrie did the kind taxi service by car, Coral came along to have a ride on Artax and Andy – that´s the one who you might have noticed riding in a photo from about week three – came along for the walk and a bit of ride himself. It was really nice to walk in company again after about seven weeks without! I still clearly prefer no company to bad company, but to walk along and be able to have a conversation on the way is really nice.
The next day was just relaxing. I slept in a while longer in my nice cosy luxury bed and hung around reading, chatting, on the computer and meeting Andy´s friends. It was nice and really interesting. I´ve met and learnt so much about travellers on the way and have so much respect for their lifestyle. It´s such a pity that society in general seems to have got it so totally wrong and misunderstands these people just because they decide to not fulfil what is deemed “normal”.
The night in the lorry was very comfortable. I invited Maggie up onto the bed, but she clearly preferred a more important position and went into the passenger seat which is the side of the car she normally lies on when I leave her alone in my car.
I decided to not correct them there and then, so we set off in the late morning and had a nice walk down to Craven Arms. There were a lot more horse places and less crops, though we did come past some very sadistic people´s strawberry fields where they were cruel enough to grow acres and acres of strawberries, but didn´t have a stand where they might have sold me some of them. Torture, true torture!
Dazzy decided to venture out between the cows to get some grass while the others had to hang around to have their saddles off, but soon decided to return to his big protectors when about half of the cows took off after him.
We had a lovely evening once again and I could have a real clean in the bath and slept well, though quite late.
We set off at ten o'clock and on a different route than we had used for the way north. Before we had gone a longer way up the Welsh/English border and then turned off towards the Peak District in Melverly. It was alright, but I hadn't liked the amount of traffic on the roads and it hadn't been possible to completely avoid large roads, which we normally manage. Also, there was a place I was quite eager to miss as it was quite wild for a rather long time and the field the ponies had been on was on a very steep hill. I had put the tent up on a little piece of the neighbour's lawn, the only flat place in the area and had had to lift all the luggage over the barbed wire fence and get the boys ready on the steep hill... noooooo. And, they had actually all had a bit of a stomach problem for a good part of the next day... So, we went directly south-west from Sambrook, which took us a few miles south of Shrewsbury instead of north and west of it.
We came past a horse place, asked and were allowed to stay. The ponies got a lovely little field, the gear went in a stable, I got the living part of the horse lorry to stay in with Maggie and was able to use the shower. The people actually had to go out very shortly after our arrival, but were so nice and trusting that they left me on my own in and around their house to use the shower in their absence. Really kind of them and the clean-up was very much appreciated after a few days without the benefit of hot running water. Thank you!
We got ready, I plugged the laptop in to charge in the meantime and then went to say goodbye. There was a change overnight, though I had heard nothing of it. The evening before there had been just one bull in one of the stables; In the morning at just after six o'clock, there were suddenly seven new ones and the car was still parked in the yard with the trailer. And I thought I was an early riser!
It turned out, however, that the police had called in at one in the morning because said seven bulls had got out of their field and were in somebody's garden. While the owners rushed to collect them, the police had kindly taken control of the situation and put their “Do not cross this line” tape around the scene. I imagine the bulls can read as they stayed behind it. So why is it that some people are called “stupid cow” if they are actually clever enough to read and follow police instructions? Hmmmm, don't know.
They enjoyed their old field again that had just been growing since our last visit almost eight weeks before and they filled their tummies as full as they possibly could. Dazzy actually looks almost like a normal fat Shetland pony in the mornings (besides the few ribs shimmering through the fur on his big tummy. But by the evening he has normally returned to his normal self after not eating much during the day.
Saturday, 9 July 2011
Friday, 8 July 2011
On the whole it was a good day with little showers lasting anything between a few seconds and five minutes, but never anything really wetting.
We went throught he centre of Stone again, which the ponies of course didn't mind and managed to stop off at a little shop to get a couple of things we needed. Maggie got a denta stick, which will hopefully do her teeth some good and make her breath a little fresher and the ponies could enjoy some grass next to the shop.
For the first time since one bad experience on my last long ride, I had left 10 of the 12 boots on the ponies' hooves over night and was of course constantly slightly nervous about it. The paddock they had spent the night in was very small, though it had loads of grass, so I had felt safe that they would have no reason to make any sudden movements, let alone be able to race around and the boots would be fine... and they were! Lovely! That saved quite a lot of time in the morning.
A little bit of rain, sweet rain in the morning kept us comfortably inside having a long and tasty breakfast between packing the luggage and getting the horses ready. I am sure they were very happy about their extra time on the field with the sheep eating grass and regularly enjoying the sheep's vitamin/mineral bucket. I must check the ingredients of horse licks compared to cattle and sheep licks, but wouldn't mind betting they are close to identical, but at an amazing price difference.
Does anybody here know more?
Oh dear, so there is me up bright and early to get ready for another nice double day; the boxes are packed, I get out the scale – wow, only 15.5 kg, great! Don't know how I did it, but great! It took some sorting back and forth to have both boxes exactly the same – strange, as they always had the same stuff in each side, so weighing them was only a formality most days – but 15.5kg was still a great thing.
Then I looked around, and what should be next to me? Yes! The tent! Still standing! Grrrrr! So we got back to the usual 17kg after all. Do other people do things like that?
We set off at 9.30 on a beautiful day again, took a short cut up the hill, then spent a while on the official Pennine Bridleway, took another shorter route and avoided going straight past the house we had stayed at last time and finally got onto the High Peak trail, an old railway line that has been converted into a cycle/bridle/walking path. Here the ponies decided to raise the speed and spent the last coule of miles annoyingly trying to go faster than a normal walking speed. What disappointment when I took them past the field they had been on last time to go down and ask whether and where we could stay at the farm.
The field we had been on last time was not usable this time as there were four caravans on it, but the ponies could stay with the sheep right by the farm and I put my tent up on a little bit of beautifully flat lawn where it would have been perfect for cooking without any danger of the stove falling over inside the tent... if I had indeed had to cook.
They had made hay that week and the bales were ready to be stacked the day we stayed there, so it was nice to be at least a bit of use – but much less than I would have liked with the bales weighing about 25-30kg each (wow!). Thankfully there were so many able people around that they managed fine with an invalid when it came to the second and third trailers full.
And what did the weather do? Yes, nothing! The rain that was the reason they had got the hay in in a hurry and had been my excuse for taking the day off actually hardly came and then not until quite late in the evening... why anybody ever trusts the weather forecast, I really don't know!
They were happy to be back, I found a more or less flat spot for the tent, the owner of the field's little pony was happy to have Dino back as a neighbour as they had taken a great liking to each other the last time they had met and I was invited in for a tasty dinner of baked potatoe with butter, grated cheese and beams – yum!
I was quite surprised at just how quickly the day went by and we arrived at our hosts' house at about six o'clock, happy to be at our place of rest and with the ponies happy to get some good grass on a field they knew and loved. We had a nice quiet evening and went to bed early in order to be fit for another double day in the morning.
We went past a chippy in Haworth and I couldn't help asking what sort of fat they made their chips in – ugh, beef dripping! How can anybody want to eat them? Or what has animal fat got to do with cooking vegetables? I think I ate some non veggie chips by accident a while ago and they were really not nice at all. I couldn't finish the small portion... and that clearly means there was something not right; I usually finish a very big portion without any trouble. But I felt sick after those doubtful ones. In any case, the lady at the shop said there was a place in Oxenhope where they used vegetable fat, so we did a little detour to go there, found the place, checked the smell, got suspicious and, of course, they also used stupid beef dripping – yuck!
When we got to the place where we had intended to stay, it looked a little strange and I knew the people would have only got back from their holiday that day, if indeed they were there at all, so we decided to continue, taking a slightly shorter route in the process. We were in luck; on the way north, there had been nobody in at the first place where we had wanted to stay, but this time it was full of life and we were made very welcome at once. The ponies got a field, the luggage could go inside a stable and Maggie and I stayed inside the stable that night instead of putting up the tent. Yes, I remember my vow to never ever sleep anywhere outside without the tent around me again, but it was a clean and possibly recently washed out stable, so it seemed harmless and we had a good night in it with the horse rugs on the ground underneath my airbed and Dino's saddle pad for Maggie. Luckily I didn't see the friendly spider next to the bed till the morning when I had already packed up most of the stuff.
Not having had a day off since a day into Scotland, we decided it was time and Carole was so kind as to offer us to stay longer if we wanted. I was a little undecided in the morning as the forecast was still good for the week and weekend, but not so good as of the new week and I really wanted to get through the Pennines before the rain set in, which would surely hit the hills hardest, probably especially the ones I planned to cross. But the miles since the last break decided me and we made up our minds to stay.
I got a shower in the morning and then all of my clothes were even washed. The jeans remain ridiculously loose now, or rather more so than before, but I feel more comfortable and Artax and I have less to carry around, so that is a definite plus.
I spent the majority of the day reading and just relaxing while Maggie could also rest her paws when she wasn't caught up playing catch with Beth, the playful resident Labrador.