Thursday, 21 July 2011

Day 66, 10th July

That was interesting. Wales was alright in that respect and the north and Scotland were really good, but everything in between is clearly “You've got your hands full”-country. It doesn't even seem necessary to say anything like “hello” before or after; people just stop their cars, stop anything they are doing, look and say the dreaded words “You've got your hands full, haven't you?” “Well, actually, no. My lot are very well behaved and easier to coordinate together than lots of other horses alone.” I have been dreaming of actually saying that, but it still remains wishful thinking and I just smile and say “Just a bit” instead. What was interesting today, though, was the fact that when the gentleman said it, I actually had both hands completely empty (apart from my cycle gloves that are on full-time) and swinging along to my walk while Artax's reins were lying round the back of my neck - no worries, not in a circle around the whole neck :o) – and we were all totally relaxed and controlled. Hmmm, what must we look like?

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.
It was a little frustrating all day to find that we were in absolute crops country and there were only very few fields, no sheep, no cattle and hardly any horses. The horses we did see were usually on the only field the people had. I had already decided that we would go straight on to the next place in Craven Arms, where we knew we would be very welcome again, even if it meant walking until midnight, but luckily it turned out to be unnecessary.

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!

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