Featured

Horses, stars and me

img_6263

img_6231

It is a long time since I rode a horse, and even then it could be debated whether I rode the horse, or the horse carried me around.   I have done a few trails, in Lesotho, when the weather changed everything and the Mountain Club had to rescue us πŸ™‚   a trail in a private game reserve in the Low veld where one rider fell and broke her arm; one short (very short) trail round this sphinx and pyramids in Cairo, on Arab stallions (so they so much smaller than I anticipated – thankfully) which was thrilling, frightening and left me black and blue for several long painful days 😦

These were some forty years ago –

which as I said, makes it a long time since I rode a horse πŸ™‚

It is also a long time since I wanted to ride a horse!!!

One of the benefits of getting to the age of maturity (others use the word old) is that the short term memory fails one; so I cannot remember whether I decided faint hearted (see blog: ‘me, faint hearted?Me – Faint Hearted?) was a term I applied to myself, or in fact one I did not use to describe myself.

Which is probably just as well, because I had a glorious day today; even if I find myself ready for bed before the sun is!!!!

You see I received a very generous birthday present a year or so ago – a gift voucher for a horse trail ride with Hepburn Lagoon Trails.   This sat in a drawer waiting for me until, it would appear the stars aligned, and I received through the ether – sometimes I have no idea how things ‘find me’ – an email about a horse trail in Mongolia.    Now wouldn’t you, too, be tempted?   Well, one thing led to another and I found myself driving across Melbourne, roadworks notwithstanding, to finally arrive at a little bit of paradise.img_6356-copy

img_6283img_6222

Keiran is just the kindest, may I say sweetest person – patient, encouraging, friendly, confident and clearly competent with great horses.   With, minimal formality (ready paperwork) we were helmeted, booted and allocated ponies.   Some instructions and we were off.

img_6220

img_6256

I will not pretend, I was apprehensive,  and wondered again why I hadn’t put ‘novice’ down on the form instead of beginner – the alternatives; intermediate or advanced were easy to decide on.    Keiran had us all trotting after a few minutes; reminding me that I should not double bounce on the saddle (did he really believe that banging my nether regions around like that was by choice πŸ˜‚πŸ˜œ)  and it didn’t take long for me to find a more comfortable rhythm.

It is almost impossible to describe the feeling of riding through bush, the breeze through the grass, the light playing patterns with the trees, the sound of the horses, the views offered by the extra height of being on horseback.   I love walking, but this is different; this huge animal and me; for those few hours joined, trotting, cantering, walking, just ‘being’ – there is conversation between ourselves, and there is silence as we absorb a silence – that of the bush.   The bell birds, kookaburra, wedge tailed eagles being swooped by magpies, rosellas.   Fields of oats, cattle looking at us, horses calling from far off paddocks.

img_6325

img_6351

img_6335

img_6301

img_6314

img_6318

img_6320

img_6271

img_6227

img_6322

img_6240

img_6232

And then it was over; and we had to ‘get down’ and feel our legs again. !

img_6257
Always a post mortem; sharing, eating, drinking – ‘all’s well with the world’ kinda feeling

I shall let you know in the  morning how these old bones feel, but for tonight, I shall sleep well with memories of a glorious day –  Mongolia still calls, but reality may leave a stronger calling card tomorrow.

img_6286

img_6283

words words

β€œWords, words, words, I’m so sick of words!”

Well at least Eliza Doolittle was.

Me, I would be better saying,

β€œwords, words, words, I’m so stuck for words!”

Which for anyone who knows me, must surely be a first.

I LOVE words.

I love working out their origins, the way they look on paper; their shapes and rhythms.     And I love the way they can have multiple meanings, depending on context, dependant on the company, the glint in an eye, the emphasis on a syllable, the quickness of response, the back and forth.

Words can bind or divide with such ease and speed they become almost the most powerful tool available to us mere mortals.

But I digress –

words, they confuse, confound and cause all sorts of meanderings.

Like our meander into Glenorchy Back Country, South Island, New Zealand.

And for those who don’t know where New Zealand is, the bottom of the planet, almost in the Pacific Ocean.  I think God created the world from the top and as he moved down, his artistry became more and more breathtaking; his masterpiece complete at Glenorchy.

new-zealand-map-big
Don’t click on the blue map – nothing will happen. Just an overview of where ‘we are’
rees-dart-track
This is the area we rode in πŸ™‚

And that’s the point – this trip was SO amazing,

So breathtakingly beautiful.

So filled with laughter and energy and love and caring and support that

WORDS FAIL ME!!!!!

IMG_3048.JPG

No really, they do.

From our first meeting for a drink, which ended up including a dinner, we knew we were in a special place, where like minded people understood the words spoken, the words unspoken, the meanings behind them.  People who immediately saw the laughter in an eye, or the nervous hesitation in the curve of a mouth.

Barossa Blessings

Exactly the idea….

I felt blessed when Jen & Jeremy of

Australian Horse Adventures

gave up their one free weekend in their Barossa season

and invited me to come and ride with them.

I was doubly blessed to be able to invite four friends.

Each special on their own remarkable way……

Actually,

I rewind…..

I was blessed four times over;

Since to have even one special friend is a blessing;

So to be able to invite

four friends; each so special in their own way;

makes me blessed fourfold.

Friends and Horses = Heaven on earth.

For three days we rode through stunning countryside;

Breath-taking views
whichever way we looked

For three days we rode amazing horses.

whichever angle…..
one chose……..
… they were stunning…..
Although some angles were better……
… than others

We had amazing weather;

clear skies;

no wind,

and one short sharp shower.

Just strong enough to make our horses drop their heads

and canter flat out into and through the rain.

To find a rainbow at the other end.

Absolutely exhilarating.

Every meal was a blessing –

Hot home made soup and bread appeared as if by magic in the middle of ‘nowhere’

Lunch at wineries
celebrations at

Stunning wines and gourmet sandwiches with warm fires.

Tweedie Gully Winery

Country market breakfast.

Degustation dinner and wines.

Langmeil winery
Our FABULOUS hostess, Pauline
a moment captured….

Flowers and pancakes for breakfast on Mother’s day.

This short Barossa breakaway,

after such a tumultuous year

of lock downs in Melbourne,

was an amazingly generous gesture by

Jen & Jeremy

One that will sustain the five of us,

Moment captured

through this never ending see saw that is Melbourne.

One that will stay in my memory forever

as a reminder

to count my blessings.

Thank you both from the bottom of my heart.

And because the Barossa break away Was such a blessing,

I add photographs for those who care to browse.

Thanks to this lovely crew and especially Jen for all these memories.

The matriarch Ruby

Thank you ALL, for being in my life xo

Wonnangatta.

Hidden Valley. Hidden Trails.

Wonnangatta

In the middle of ‘nowhere’

Have you not done the Wonnangatta ride?…

You will love the Wonnangatta ride.

You must do the Wonnangatta ride.

Statements and questions that have been put to me more times than I can count.

And the answer, always was “No, I haven’t”

And so,

despite Lock Down,

(or perhaps because of it, since this ride is always booked a year in advance)

I ‘signed up’ so to speak.

Signing up in this case meant :

a) borrowing money from the kids

b) packing for an 8 day trail

c) rearranging work

d) getting to the start of the ride

All with less than 24 hour’s notice as lock down was only lifted the afternoon prior to the ride.

Such is life in the world of Covid.

But that is nothing compared with the organisational skills shown by

Laura and Christian Hayes

http://www.hidden trail horse adventures

throughout these crazy times.

For this long and fairly inaccessible ride,

they went ahead the week before to prepare.

To drop off feed for the horses.

To clear tracks.

To check campsites.

The list is long.

Not a mean feat when you see where we ride.

An 8 day ride is an interesting experience.

It is long enough for personalties to shine,

some offering a bright light,

some providing the shadows.

Interesting….
individuals…..
who all made it work…

It is long enough to challenge bodies, both ours and our amazing horses.

Challenging….
…whichever way you look at it

It is long enough to cover a large area and see amazing views.

Hell’s window.
Along Mt Magdala
Loo with a view. Mt Howitt

It is long enough to experience mountain weather in many forms.

Misty mornings
Never dampened a smile….
and made for great ……
…..photos.
Regardless of what weather we were given.
Fields of flowers on Mt Howitt
Not quite smelling roses, but close enough…..
Or as in this case, not close enough. Look where They are…..

It is long enough to make good friends.

all kinds of friends….

Nothing like a fire, clear sky and hot food to calm the soul……
And create a sense of quiet……
….or not, as the mood takes us.
home made, delicious all of it…
There was always something to smile about……
…. whether only They could see it……
… or we all could!
There were moments of remarkable…..
… serenity….
……that held one captive
or made one smile with joy
Times of quiet contemplation……
and earnest reading…
Times of relaxation….
Times of roaming….
Times of climbing……
up and down…
Moments to cherish
moments to show of the resident hairdresser‘s work
Times of seeing clearly
Times of seeing dimly….
whether we wanted to, or not
There was light and space…..
Colour and blossom
And ghostly shapes
There were rivers to cross and people to meet
There were roads to follow…
Moments to capture…
Or was that horses to capture…..
Ah no, it was light !
There was time to graze….
and time to gaze
and time ponder the beauty of nature….
Moments of quiet with no…..

……man in sight.
moments made of sheer joy.

AND THEN….

as quickly as I had packed to join the ride,

so I had to pack to leave the ride.

The trip of a lifetime.

A trip never to be forgotten.

A trip I hope to repeat,

as I ask YOU now,

“Have you not done the Wonnangatta ride?…
You will love the Wonnangatta ride.
You must do the Wonnangatta ride.”

Photos are not all mine,  this was a ‘group’ affair – thank you everyone