Back in the saddle again…

This is a post I have looked forward to writing for a long time! This week, a few days short of a whole year since the last time I sat on my little black pony; I was back in my all-time favourite seat, viewing the world through my all-time favourite pair of fluffy ears! 💙

Back in the saddle again!

I had last ridden on the day we put the clocks forward in March 2017, just before I had found out I was pregnant with our little girl and hung up my riding hat until her arrival. It was a lovely little hack; up bright and early on a sunny Sunday morning and clopping down the daffodil-lined track, just me and my boy. I didn’t know then the significance of it, but – since I generally tend to be snap happy whenever I’m around Charmer! – I have photos to remember it by all the same, and have looked at them often in the past year.

Riding, March 2017

It was always at the back of my mind that in taking such a long time off riding a 21-year-old horse – and one who’d come close to retirement once or twice before – I was definitely running the risk of not getting back to it; and I tried to be realistic about the fact that those lovely memories might well come to be of our last sunny day exploring. I’ve never been a competitive rider, and the working side of horse-owning has never been the main drive for me – as long as I can spend time with my boy I’m happy. But it will always be a bittersweet day when we have our last amble together, whenever that is, and as I edged closer to being able to get back on, with Charmer still up for it too, I’ve been so looking forward to it, and so very glad we’ve made it.

We’re still living in the aftermath of the snow and flooding of a few weeks ago at the farm just now, on a 24 hours in / 24 hours out routine to try to help the fields survive; and I’ve been meaning to try to fit in a little ride one of the mornings Charmer’s been in, just safely in the sand school at a quiet time of the day on the yard. But when I got there the night before last – planning just to put him out and get his stable ready for the next day – there was still some light in the sky, there was no-one around and it seemed the perfect moment; so I put off the mucking out and decided to go for it.

I couldn’t believe how happy I felt slinging the saddle over the stable door once again – and couldn’t believe either that this wasn’t met by pinned-back ears from Charmer, who I was very sure considered himself fully retired! He just looked mildly interested, as if to say, “Oh, this again? Fair enough, it’s been a while,” and stood waiting patiently to be tacked up.

It was an absolutely amazing feeling to settle back into the saddle, after the longest break from it since I started riding as a child. More than that, though, being on my own Charmer’s back – reunited as our adventuring team, patting his fluffy neck and watching him toss his head – was beyond wonderful.

We didn’t do much, just a ramble round the yard and grass school, but it was really lovely. Charmer makes me laugh so much – I had no idea how he’d react after such a long time, and was half-prepared for fireworks, but I did have a feeling he might take it all in his stride; and he certainly did, just setting off at his usual unflappable pace. 💙

Tomorrow brings the arrival of British Summertime once again – and this year, thanks to the winter we’ve weathered, the daffodils are not all in full bloom in just the same way; the change in the season seeming to be a long time coming. Yesterday though, the very first of them were beginning to open at last, a sure sign that spring will find its way here, any day now.. 💛🌾🌼

Have a lovely weekend all.X

The first buds of spring 💚

The last couple of weeks have seen some very extreme weather round these parts, with the “Beast from the East” snowing us in for several days as March began and warranting the first Red weather alert in UK history as our landscape disappeared under a thick blanket of white.

After a couple of days spent entirely indoors, watching the flakes fall and venturing out only to feed the birds and take in a steadying breath of fresh air; a neighbourhood driveway-digging session was required to get the village moving again – and even then only the main roads were passable. I was determined to get along to the farm as soon as it was safe enough, where thankfully those more local had kept hay topped up while the horses too holed up inside – but a gloved and wellie-clad hike was needed to get up to the top of the hill and finally be reunited with my fluffy boy. 💙

It’s always such a hard balance to strike in very bad snow between keeping the horses warm and fed and keeping them moving enough to minimise their colic risk from standing in one place too long – something I always fret about with my normally decidedly outdoor pony. We have not had to contend with weather so extreme since the winter of 2010, and for a couple of days I was only managing to get Charmer out for a brief walk around the yard once or twice a day – tottering carefully to avoid slipping and ice compacting in his shoes – before the thick drifts shifted enough to let him get out to his white field – where he was still in places up to his middle.

The volume of snow has taken its toll on the farms and land in our area, giving way as it melted to extensive flooding, and our turnout is being restricted and managed at the moment to try to let the fields dry up a little.

We are all hoping for a turn in the tide sooner rather than later; but, in some small ways at least, it’s beginning already, and I’m so very glad to see it. Getting out for walks the last few days I have been so happy to see the very first daffodils beginning to open, crocuses appearing in the garden, and the snowdrops gradually becoming the only white again at the roadside.

It’s only the odd flash of colour here and there, hardly enough to count, but it’s a promise that the vibrant seas of yellow daffodils and cascade of cherry blossom will come again before too long. It’s amazing that those little shoots could have survived under a foot of snow, and it makes the spring flowers on their way all the more special that they’ve managed to weather that.

For our lovely birds, it’s exactly the same. Having watched them struggle to find food and shelter in those days, flocking to the seeds scattered in a desperate attempt to keep them ticking over, it’s wonderful now to wake to their carefree singing, and watch our resident robin hop busily around the garden, fending for himself again.

I’m so very glad to see the first shoots and buds of spring, and looking forward to the new season arriving properly very much. 🌷

Hope you are all having a lovely week. x

World Book Day ~ The Beauty and Joy of Children’s Books

I have blogged before about how much I love books, especially children’s books, and really enjoyed writing about my favourite pony and animal stories from childhood – and confessing (as I absolutely don’t mind doing!) that I still keep and re-read them now. I loved looking at the Anne of Green Gables series too, which I’ve fallen in love with even more as an adult than as a child and count some of (Anne of Green Gables, Anne’s House of Dreams, Rilla of Ingleside ♥️) as my very favourite and most sustaining reads.

I really believe that reading can form such a huge part of growing and developing – and one of the things I’ve always looked forward to about having children of my own is being able to share stories with them.

We’re very lucky in Scotland to have a real focus on the importance of reading from birth onwards and even before. In antenatal classes we were encouraged to get used to reading aloud during pregnancy, Scotland’s Baby Boxes have cloth books and ideas for learning and playing from the Play Talk Read government initiative, and across the country free “Bookbug” classes are available for children from birth to school age in local libraries, run by the Scottish Book Trust, and age- appropriate books are gifted at every stage from a month on through the health visitor scheme, along with a calendar full of ideas for learning and developing.

In our short parenting journey so far we have discovered so many beautiful books for all ages through these recommendations, gifted to us by friends and family, passed down from our own childhoods or found in book shops and libraries; and are loving reading them to our little daughter. As so many of them are so special, I thought I’d love to write about them here, just a few at a time – and World Book Day seems the perfect day to start!

Home by Carson Ellis ~

The simple concept of this treasure of a book is the focus on all the many places different people call home; and it is the intracacy of its beautiful illustrations as much as its few well-chosen words that tell these stories so relatably and capture the imagination.

The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler ~

Couldn’t possibly have failed to include The Highway Rat as it fits so perfectly with the theme of this blog! It was a book I chose to add to our collection as it featured characters so similar to our own pets – the swashbuckling “baddie” the Highway Rat and his obliging horse! Its rhythmic verse, humour and eclectic mix of animal characters make it a book I know will become well-loved in our home, as I’m sure so many other of Julia Donaldson’s will too!

Peepo by Janet & Allan Ahlberg ~

This is a truly timeless book, documenting with such poignancy a day in the life of a baby in the 1940s. One of the things I love most about Peepo is how it somehow mirrors the events of the same even in the modern day – the rhythmic simplicity of playtime, bathtime, bedtime and family values are the same, just with the rich historic backdrop of life in that era.

Little Mole books, written by Jonathan Emmett, illustrated by Vanessa Cabban ~

This is a lovely little series of books featuring Mole and his woodland friends, with a strong focus on relationships and morals woven into simple and engaging tales. From the classic Bringing Down the Moon to the vibrant autumn colours of The Best Gift of All, they are a warm and appealing collection. I actually came across this blog post by the author when writing this, and see we have one, Diamond in the Snow, still to discover!

These are just a few of our very first picture books and would love to write about more so probably will. There are so many we’re just discovering as well as so many classics – Winnie the Pooh, Old Bear, Spot – who could have a chapter all of their own and who I’m just itching to pass on.

A very happy World Book Day all, hope you are all having a good week. X