Yesterday, it poured relentlessly after weeks of uncharacteristic continuous sunshine, so it was a question of picking the least bad time to ride. There wasn’t one and I ended up getting soaked right down to my hand-made New Zealand riding knickers (appropriately named Fanny Adams) and Talisman looked like a drowned rat! He has been back in work for a week and we headed up to the ridge, trotting about half the way followed by two short pieces of canter work in the big field at the top (which has finally been cut) – three minutes each with three minutes walk in between, the start of the build-up to our third and final 2* of the season at the start of Sept. A snorkel would have been handy!
Talisman was on fire and threw in a few unscheduled sprints and some bucks, just for fun. I wasn’t amused as my boots were sliding against the saddle from the rain by this time and I had zero grip! We might have to compete in conditions like this, so I don’t let a bit of water put us off; after all, it’s no different to standing under a shower fully clothed, not that I do that very often – well never, naturally! When he’s not lit up, he is super-chilled and uber laid back, resting his chin on the window sill while being groomed and chillaxing with friend Bryngwyn, who participates in the grooming process by cleaning Talisman’s nose – yuck!
Meanwhile, the troublesome field topper was fixed, then broke again and was re-fixed, enabling me to cut most of my 10 acres. Not the best job as there was too much grass left lying on the ground but at least I could move the horses onto new pasture. ‘Strimming queen’, Clare, tackled the field margins to keep the grass away from the electric fence which then had to be picked up and burned, as it was too thick to rot down. You’ve heard it before and I say it again, ‘a woman’s work is never done’ – pick a thought, it’s extra fitness training, not work!
Clare also planted the stash of new plants in the garden which is starting to take shape though it is an ongoing project – more shrubs, a fence and a patio – in this lifetime, I hope and I have finally finished painting the wheel I found on the premises, which turned out to be a much bigger job than anticipated due to the unevenness of the wood and a million and one edges. The next poor unsuspecting visitor (might even be the postman) will help me move it out onto the yard, to add a splash of colour. More colour is coming soon, as the corrugated iron cladding on the ancient barn needs re-painting and I have decided to live dangerously and choose something more aesthetically pleasing than classic (boring) dark green!
Amongst the never-ending list of jobs, the horses, my training and the winding up of Horse Hero, I took a couple of hours out recently to visit Powis Castle. I had heard about the spectacular grounds and, while I am no tourist, it resonated so I thought I would check it out as maybe there was something I needed to know for my place. I am a firm believer that if something resonates act on it, as I have found instinct to be the best sat-nav in life!
It was a beautiful day and I wasn’t disappointed by the castle or the setting. It’s on a hill and the gardens are terraced. The borders were immaculate, full of colour and not a weed in sight. But what struck me in particular were the large number of unexpected nooks and crannies with somewhere to sit and admire the beauty; a tiny courtyard up a set of steps, or a seat under an archway, or a secluded garden away from the public view. So it dawned on me that I need two or three sitting places around my land and yard to entice me to spend a few minutes admiring the sky, the sunset, the birds and nature all around……basically being still for a moment as opposed to always ‘doing’ and trying to admire it all on the hoof, so to speak.
The most exciting event of the last few weeks though, thrilling even (yes, I should get out more, or find a man – no more ‘mating’ sites, blind dates or chance encounters only) has been the start of the ‘kitchen project’. My focus and funds have, thus far, been on making the outside a safe and usable place for competition horses. I’ve been here two and a half years and, while I am no longer a decorating virgin, I have only painted the worst offending rooms, changed a few light fittings here and there and removed some vile carpets.
The kitchen and bathroom (bar the new biomass stove) are circa ‘the arc’ (at least 1960, a good year in other regards as it was my year of birth) and are in serious need of updating. I have always made my homes as beautiful as possible, as they have been my sanctuary away from the mad world outside (especially business life). This time though, I have had to be patient and acknowledge that I love the place, whether or not I ever have the funds to update it. It has my name on it and ‘we are one’!
The last major renovation project I did was 20 years ago, it took two years of continuous painstaking work which was hell to live with, but it was a dream come true. It was my first place with land. I put in equestrian facilities, planted a garden and the house was eventually stunning. However, I still had a business in London and was working away part of the week and found myself a slave to my dream. Reluctantly, I decided it was time to move and have another dream which has taken until now to realise, as it’s been part of a life-shift. Personally, I have metamorphosed and want different things from this renovation. It’s an ancient property and trickier than the previous one (which was part ancient and part new barn conversion). So I am looking for a more practical aesthetic. Perhaps I had the first place too soon? Timing is everything but in any event, that experience set me up to know how to make the second attempt an enduring one.
So I have been immersed in a big research phase with lots of creative thinking (prompted by a limited budget) and have decided on wooden work tops, a china sink, shiny new tiles, velux windows, clever lighting, a ceiling mirror above the Rayburn, glass shelves, repainting cupboards and definitely more plug sockets (the house predated electricity and has very few sockets anywhere). Of course, I have ideas for the rest of the place now and I also want to be off-grid for electricity in the dim and distant future. Once the creative juices are flowing, it doesn’t take long to create a tidal wave of ideas! I just have to materialise more funds now. I don’t know how yet but I live my life with the intention of abundance and I know they will come!
Pics: Talisman in uber-chilled mode and Bryngwyn licking him clean, hard at work collecting strimmed grass, being a tourist, painted wheel, a section of the renovated property 20 years ago, flowers in the garden.