Thursday, 13 December 2012

In which I face facts; or, every day can’t be Doris Day

They say that your horse is a reflection of you. This is not completely true, but it is quite true. My mare at the moment mostly appears wonderfully calm and happy. She moves slowly and gracefully over the ice field, her head low, her step quiet and careful. She does not get het up at feeding time. She is gentle with Autumn the Filly and Myfanwy the Pony.

Today, I took her for a walk round the paddock and she was immaculate. Taking your horse for a walk sounds completely nuts, but it’s one of the things I love doing. It reminds her that I am her Dear Leader, makes her mind my stride, keeps us in harmony. It’s the dottiest, simplest thing, but she enjoys it, and it makes me smile.

All the same, she has a very faint anxiety line over her eyes.

I’ve noticed this for a few days and I did not want to think about it. At first, I believed that this was because I could not bear my dear girl to have any cloud on her horizon. In fact, she is a horse, and a sensitive one, it is stupid to think that into her life no rain shall fall. She is also the lead mare, so she has responsibilities to mind.

I think I did not want to think about it because it is a reflection of my own state of mind.

I’m pretty good, on the surface. I go to breakfast with The Mother and Stepfather and make jokes and talk politics and racing. I do my work. I bond with Stanley the Lurcher. I miss my old dog, but that’s to be expected. I’m getting used to it. I enjoy things; I follow the racing, and smile when my bets come in. (Another very pleasing Twiston-Davies special this afternoon.) I do the blog and take pictures and feel grateful for the beauty of this place.

But at the same time, there is a tight, humming tension in me. It’s not just that I am up against a hard deadline. I’m not sure quite what it is. I’m always rushing everywhere, feeling distrait and behind. I’m lashing myself to do more, write better, get organised. The critical voices are shouting loudly in my ears.

Perhaps this is just life. Perhaps I feel it because I am a little battered by the sadness of the Pigeon. You can’t just ignore the loss of such a companion. Perhaps it is just the time of year.

I always know something is wrong when I get stupidly upset by absurd things. After all that mad writing yesterday, I went to look at my numbers. I never do this, because I write the blog for love, not fame, and as long as one Dear Reader is made happy that is enough for me. I don’t want one of those huge public blogs; the pressure of that would undo the point of the whole thing. It is an amateur enterprise, in the true sense of the word, and that is what gives it its sweetness.

But yesterday I was suddenly furious, as I looked at the mostly flat line of the graph, bumping along the bottom. Is that the best you can do? yelled the critical voices. What pathetic, paltry numbers those are, they crowed. It took me 24 long hours to talk myself down off the ceiling.

I think it is because I have suffered a pretty major setback. I’m pretending it’s all fine, because I’m so bloody brilliant at dealing with failure, but I think its spectre is haunting me, and I have to look the damn thing in the face and deal with it. Oh, it’s so dull. Sometimes I long to brush things under the carpet and make believe that they never happened. This is not, it turns out, an effective technique. I must be brave, and see the whites of its eyes.

Thinking of all this, I took the evening feed very slowly today. Instead of hurrying and worrying, I mooched about with the horses, and spent a long time just being with my mare, letting the glorious scent of her into my nostrils, feeling the soft teddy bear fur on her neck, gentling her and chatting to her. I stopped fretting about the ice and the weather forecast and the fact that our work is interrupted because of the elements. I just let it all be.

She went drowsy and still, and the small lines over her eyes smoothed out, and she made little sighing noises which almost broke my heart.

There it is, I thought. How many damn times do I have to say it? Every day can’t be Doris Day. I am not impervious to the slings and arrows, nor was meant to be. And that is my very, very small Thought for the Day.


Today’s pictures are not awfully good, but I show them to you in my new spirit of imperfection:

The gloaming:

13 Dec 1

13 Dec 2

13 Dec 3

13 Dec 5

13 Dec 8

13 Dec 9

Myfanwy doing comedy face:

13 Dec 10

Red, mooching:

13 Dec 12

Stanley, waiting politely to be taken for a walk:

13 Dec 10-001

Blurry blue hill:

13 Dec 20

PS. I had a nice time on Pinterest today. I’m still not quite sure entirely what the point of it is, but it turns out there are lots of nice horse people on there, so I found lovely pictures of Nijinsky and Northern Dancer, Red’s illustrious grandsire and great-grandsire, so you can imagine how happy I was. My page is here, should you be interested:


  1. Tania, I read your blog every day, often twice. I look at the beauty of your pictures for a long time but I don't always comment as I not witty or wise and don't want to appear stalkerish. But I expect there are a lot of us here just reading and enjoying. So thank you.

  2. I hear you on the blog stats thing - like the bathroom scales, it's best not to go there so that a measly number doesn't ruin the rest of your day.

    Just love Stanley Lurcher's higher left ear!

  3. I agree exactly with Sunnydevon.

    Also, I have read a number of writers - one of whom I seem to recall was india Knight - saying that they never read reviews of their books on Amazon etc as that way madness lies. I would not hesitate to add looking at Google Analytics to this.


  4. Numbers schmumbers. Don't let them prove your worth. Piers Morgan is watched by millions of people and is a terrible human being. Numbers mean nothing. xx

  5. You are a fabulous writer and have the best dog with an amazing pointy ear. That photo made me smile so much today.

  6. I agree that if you write a small blog and let yourself start thinking about numbers of comments you can make yourself depressed. You have to remind yourself that you write for your enjoyment.

  7. I was DELIGHTED when I 'tuned' in yesterday to discover 5 new posts! I rarely comment for reasons already mentioned by Sunnydevon but I almost did yesterday and I wish I had now!! I doubt Doris Day has Doris Day days everyday (try saying that 3 times!) :D

  8. Tania, your blog is my first port of call when I log on every day and I feel ridiculously bereft when there is no post. I love to hear of your doings, musings and insights. So forget the quantity and remember the quality you are giving.

  9. I agree with the above - it's quality, not quantity - your blog is always interesting and lively and one of the first I turn to. There's such competition now from Facebook and tweets so the attention to blogs, which can be much more intelligent and complex, may be less. Maybe Red looks a bit anxious because of the cold weather. I know I do!

  10. And as you know dear writer. Your blog is read out loud to great antcipation every morning over breakfast in a very modern household in Hackney. What more could you want? It really is quality not quantity that matters today in these mass market times and you are a beacon of excellence and much loved by your dear readers

  11. Please don't be gloomy - especially about stats! Therein madness lies! Mine have dropped too and I notice that I linger at my number of followers - some leave, some join - but it never materially changes. I figure - I am not everyone's cup of tea and that's OK. Whenever I write a post like this people comment and say 'don't be so hard on yourself' and I see that they are right. Nevertheless I repeatedly get in the groove of self-beating. So I shall say it: don't be hard on yourself. You've had a rough ride loosing the Pidge; don't underestimate its effect. Lou x

  12. I didn't even know what was a blog till i found yours recently. Now i'm hooked on it. Too awestruck to comment till i saw yours about numbers and i faffed about sufficiently to discover how to add one. You and your 4 leggeds are wonderful. Probably your 2 leggeds are too.

  13. I hope I don't sound like a stalker but I love checking in with your blog every morning and you seem to have such a lovely, loyal bunch of Dear Readers, so please don't bother with the numbers. Pfffft to the numbers!

    Stanley's ears are killing me. x

  14. Oh, the goodness and wisdom of the Dear Readers. Always have slight angst after I have a little wail. My general default is that of stiffening upper lip, sinews etc. And yet there you all are, staunchly kind and supportive. And, of course, QUITE RIGHT. You act as the most excellent corrective to gloomy thoughts and I thank you for it.

    And especially to those who are shy to comment, or are commenting for the first time, please, please always be bold and write something. Hearing from this little community really does brighten my day.

  15. Ditto, to all the other comments (apart from reading aloud in Hackney!). Most of the blogs I follow are foodie, however I also need to feed my soul, your blog offers insight and contemplation daily.
    I love Stanley, what a clever dog sitting so well. I've followed you on Pinterest, and if you go to my boards, you'll find one called dogs, lots of beautiful creatures there. Jude x

  16. Just added you on pinterest, I'm addicted to it and love that I can dip in when I have a few spare moments.
    I loved your 12/12/12 posts.

  17. Tania, I think sometimes the crazed madness of the season starts tying in too... Everyone is rushing rushing rushing, there are adverts, adverts, ADVERTS! There are must-dos, must-dos, must-dos...

    and it feeds into itself. And then living alone has its own factor as well...

    anyway, I love your blog, love your red carpet, and am going to go check you out on Pinterest now. :)

  18. It's those critical voices, I think. That's what it is for me when I get like that, anyway. And this too shall pass, is about all I can offer. Also, for what it's worth, I check your blog Every Single Day. So go figure.

  19. there have been times when i can honestly say i envy your life, then i get over myself and enjoy the glimpses of life that you so kindly offer. you are all about the quality, which is why i keep coming back. and yes, i hear you about the personal disappointments - they positively chafe at the delicate lining of one's self-regard. am in that zone myself and take comfort from your insights. i'm not superwoman (more like intermittant woman i suspect!) and that's ok...she wrote wistfully. on we bloody well bash! x

  20. You write one of my favourite blogs. There is a distinctive voice, a willingness to engage with the readers and a sense of being in really good company. And I include the beautiful animals in the good company.

    Sorry you have had so many knocks and blows recently - be gentle with yourself.


  21. Just a note to thank you for your blog and the wonderful way you write about the love for your horses and dogs (past and present). As an absolute inhabitant of dog island, with my beautiful whippet curled up by the fire as I write, I love how you explore the relationships we have and how they grow, test us and improve us. I read your blog every day and often find inspiration there. Stanley has stolen my heart.


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