And...we are back.
The holiday was very heaven. Stanley the Dog went on a ferry for the first time (immaculate), saw the sea for the first time (slightly baffled levels of excitement), made human and canine friends (extremely friendly and polite), and generally had more fun than he could shake a stick at. And that is a lot of fun.
I read a whole book, sniffed the salty air, felt the wild island wind on my face, caught up with old friends, and walked on Hebridean beaches as white and gleaming as those of the Caribbean.
And now it is back to work. I wrote 1278 words of book, ran up to HorseBack and did my daily tasks for them, and rode the mare. Not only rode. JUMPED. We did a JUMP.
I woke furious this morning, because my break was over and I was grumpy and grouchy and even contemplated extending my holiday into a week’s staycation (horrible but rather effective word). It is the last Ashes test coming up, after all, and the great York festival of racing, one of my favourite meetings of the year. I would say bugger everything and just do nothing for a further seven days. But I could not justify it. I may, if I am very, very good and efficient, allow myself the odd afternoon off to watch the lovely horses, but the word count must be up first. So I began the thankless task of pummelling my recalcitrant brain into action.
Sod it, I thought, as I clambered crossly onto Red. I was so cross that I could not be bothered with what we are supposed to be working on, which is my correct position and her stretching out her neck in extended walk. (This is all part of a programme to recalibrate her old working muscles from racing and polo. They are tight and short and bunched, and I want to get them long and lean and low.) Let’s just zoom about, I thought, recklessly, even though I had not been on her for a week and she is, after all, a thoroughbred whom I appear to be riding about in the long grass in nothing more than a rope halter.
She seemed delighted with this programme. Despite my hurling caution to the winds, she gave me the most lovely collected canter. It had an ebbing, rolling aspect, so it was like being on a ship at sea going over a mild swell. She could have caught my mood and buggered off. I always wonder why she doesn’t. She has been bred and trained for speed, after all. I am still rusty as buggery, and my puny muscles would not be enough to stop half a ton of determined horse. And yet, there she is, with all her high blood and great breeding, rolling around the set aside with kindness and politesse and ease.
And over the jump we went and I whooped out into the clean Scottish morning, startling the swifts. Even Myfanwy the Pony raised her head to watch.
We have done a little jump before, but that was a slender fallen silver birch, which was about four inches high. This was an actual jump jump. Admittedly, not much more than fifteen inches high, but still. I’ve been teaching her to do it on the ground, and sometimes she leaps and sometimes she just stops, stares at it, looks at me as if saying ‘You want me to do what?’ and then steps over the thing, one foot at a time, with duchessy disdain.
So I was taking a slight risk. It could have gone horribly wrong. She is ten years old and she raced on the flat. Jumping is really quite odd and alien to her. But over we flew, and I dream now of dragging every fallen tree on the entire compound into cunning positions and making a little cross country course for her. She is so clever and good.
So, as always, Red the mare came to the rescue, surprised and delighted me, blew the grumbly glooms away, gave me her daily existential gift. And that was how I sat down at my desk and wrote 1278 words.
Some quick holiday pictures for you: