Posted by Tania Kindersley.
I have given myself the greatest treat that any lover of racing could dream of: five days at the Royal Meeting.
And yet my heart lurches and fails in my chest.
It does not matter what delight awaits me in the south, I always fall prey to tugging melancholy when I have to leave home. There is the magical thinking that says I shall not come back (dead in a ditch; kidnapped by bandits) and then what shall happen to all the books? Who shall tell the dog? Who will have to sort out the cupboard of doom?
I have, in my grouchy middle-age, turned into a homebug. If you told me I could never leave Scotland again, I should be delighted. The thought of packing and travelling and departing makes me tired and sad. (Of course, once I am on the train, and in the dirty old city, I shall be joyous and delighted; it’s just the night before. It’s the entire concept of leaving.)
Now, there is one more person I have to say goodbye to. The mare seemed to sense my dread this evening; she threw her head about and made furious faces and cow-kicked at imaginary flies. Eventually I got her to settle and she dozed off on my chest and I stroked the velvet part of her muzzle and thought: the next time I have to go away I’m putting her in a horsebox and taking her with. (This is how deranged with love I have become.)
As I left, she put her face over the gate and pricked her ears and whinnied at me. It’s bad enough having the Pigeon doing the Disney face. Now I’ve got Red and her dying fall whinny.
By tomorrow, I shall be settled on the 9.52 with my Racing Post, determined to work out who shall win the Coventry (I have a feeling for a colt called Sir Prancealot) and dreaming of Frankel. I am going to see the two greatest horses in the entire world, according to official ratings: Frankel and Black Caviar. For a racing person, this is like having lunch with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, or taking tea with the astronomer royal, or being given an hour alone in a room with the Mona Lisa. It’s the tops, in other words. It’s a Bendel bonnet, a Shakespeare sonnet; it’s Mickey Mouse.
But just now, I look out at the green trees in the misty dreich of a Scottish evening and think: what will happen to the hill?
Pictures today are entirely self-indulgent. When I am missing home, I may log on to my tiny portable computer and see this:
This is what she looks like when she does her circus act:
Which, it has to be said, does not impress the Pigeon much:
A few of tonight’s garden:
And the dear old hill:
My heart may be cracking at the thought of leaving my girls, but they are going to be looked after like queens by the Mother, the Stepfather, the Horse Talker, the Younger Niece, the World Traveller, the Sister, the Young Gentleman, and everyone else on the compound. For Red in particular I have left strict instructions about how she likes her carrots (neatly chopped) and an anatomy of her moods (antic and various and unbelievably, incredibly funny and sweet).
So off I trundle, leaving, it seems, my heart and most of my sanity behind. I did not know that when I hit forty-five I should go animal crackers, but there we are. I suppose it’s better than buying a Lamborghini.