For those who don’t ‘have the bug’ this blog may be a bore. I know most of my friends think I am a little crazy and there is no doubt that my father would have something to say about the absurdity of a 60+ woman starting to ride horses when it hasn’t been part of her life up to now.
But then of course, one of the marks of a madman (or woman) is that they march to their own drum and don’t ‘toe the line’. So here I am, riding, more or less efficiently and thoroughly enjoying every moment.
It was AMAZING – so to my non riding friends who think I am crazy, I apologise, but blog I must and to my crazy friends, well you will get the madness 🙂 🙂 🙂
16 of us met up in Mansfield for dinner the evening before our Big Ride. 5 of us ‘were single’ and knew no one prior to that dinner, the others were couples/friends. Again riding brought together people from all corners of our country, our neighbours (New Zealand) and across the Pacific, from the USA. By the end of day 1, we were one big happy family gathered around a huge fire, sharing stories, drinks, laughter, memories, food and the marvel of our surrounds.
For 6 days we traversed the High Country as it is generally known. From Mount Stirling, Craig’s Hut, Lovicks Hut, Mt Mandala, miles and miles and miles.
This country is stunning, the gum trees like ghosts with so many stories to tell, curled and misshapen from heavy snow, miles and miles of rolling hills as far as the eye can see where almost no man has been, reminding me of British Columbia, steep edges with the Howqua river below. The Low Country with forests, koalas, birds, insects, flowers and so many river crossings we lost count.
There is no doubt that It’s all about …. the horse and once again I won the jackpot with Audrey. Yup, as in Hepburn, although she was neither slim, nor elegant but very large and quite heavy. But a lady nonetheless with an appetite that defies description – she tried to eat at every opportunity and for a day or so it was a battle of wills between her and I as to who was going to get their way. We compromised a great deal!!!!
But these horses are remarkable, faithful, strong, willing and so so kind. All of us were constantly grateful for their stamina and sure-footedness as we climbed up and down the MOST awesome hills (some would say mountains!) – and while it is difficult to take photographs and ride at the same time, we do have some and I will let them ‘do the talking’.
We wandered through the terrain used for the film “The Man from Snowy River” based on a poem by Banjo Patterson and relived a moment or two.
With a kiss at the ‘kissing tree’ as we called it, where Craig and Jessie from the movie are believed to have ‘spent time together’.
This kiss marked 44 years of marriage – a celebration worth most definitely a kiss!
And as each day took us up to the top of the world, or down to a beautiful valley, we drew closer through our shared experience and gratitude to the Hidden Trails crew who worked tirelessly to make this one of the most remarkable weeks of our lives.
Whether it was the amazing food, or the incredible work involved in caring for our horses, feeding, shoeing, washing, saddling, unsaddling, corralling, the transferring of our camps, the attention when one of us didn’t feel well, and most importantly, keeping our drinks colds!!!!! It was a trip of a lifetime.
And of course for every up, there is a down – debates constantly about which is more challenging!!!!!
Having been well cared for; fed. watered and doctored.
There were days of glorious views, river crossings, trees so tall I felt I was in a cathedral of some kind, birds calling, skies so blue and fresh, faint sounds of riders behind or front, the glorious silence of riding companionably, along with your thoughts, the creaking of the saddle and sound of their feet on the ground somehow at one with the earth. Old huts, with stories to each, a koala in a tree. Hidden trails indeed.
and in case you have not had enough : some more images and even a stunning video thanks to Rachel Meek of our epic climb to Mt Magdala!!!
And thanks to all my now friends, from this amazing adventure for your wonderful photographs.
This is an amazing city, that on an ordinary Friday I can stroll down Southbank for a quiet coffee and ‘me’ time, then attend a morning concert (Different Perspective)
and immediately thereafter go to the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria), recognised as a world class gallery filled with stunning works. To say nothing about the wonderful water wall which is an attraction in itself
On this occasion Jackie and I went to browse the Triennial exhibition.
Which was an adventure into a fantasy land that had us lost and amused and bemused for several hours
until the lure of a late lunch (very late) was too strong to resist.
So we ambled down to the river and sat and munched and marvelled at our
Crazy, Bizarre, Appealing, Enchanting:
Yayoi Kusama – not sure why, but we had fun
Dutch are collective, We Make Carpets
was AMAZING, pool noodles, washing sponges, felt strips
Random, crazy, quirky,
Hahan (I think) Javanese
We loved this giant carpet,
with mirrored ceiling
and people enjoying ‘the countryside’
Alexandra Kehayoglou (Argentina based)
Someone buys them,
Works of art in their own way
Guo Pei (Chinese Born)
Intriguing – Ron Mueck
And one of the best parts:
Everywhere people engaged, absorbed, participating.
I had decided a long time ago that I would never pay to hear/see any of Wagner’s works. I apologise to the aficionados who ‘get him’; I mean no offence. But 15 hours for one work; too long; too loud; too many high notes; too much for me.
So it was with some chagrin and surprise that I found myself at a concert on a Friday morning (yes I have joined the ranks of the ‘seniors’), having bought a ticket to hear my beloved Beethoven, only to discover that before him, I would be listening to Wagner.
You would not have guessed it from the advertisements
So, several firsts for me today:
Real live Wagner performance
Payed for that Wagner performance
Seated alongside the orchestra instead of in front.
And after an amusing introduction by Sir Andrew Davis outlining the opera (which takes some doing!!!) we sort of understood that we would be hearing part of Gotterdammerung: Act 1 – Dawn Music and Siegried’s Rhine Journey – see even the names are long and ‘loud’ and
So it began.
And I was totally mesmerised
By the pattern
By the flow
By the enormity
By the complexity
By the sound of Wagner.
and all too soon it ended.
Admittedly there were no voices, only the large orchestra and I was so close I could read the music of the harpists below me – so it was visually fascinating too.
Just maybe, I will give Wagner another ‘go’ one day.
In the meantime I shall continue to delight in the familiar accessible glorious majestic tones of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto which was the finale.
And NEVER disappoints.
Yes, that’s what I said, saddles. They go onto the backs of horses.
Ever thought about them? Well of course not, nor had I until last week.
Like chicken breasts from the supermarket, saddles, just ‘were’. How many of us think about the size of the chickens that offer us these juicy large breasts – when I did, I baulked at the thought that they may be the size of dogs!!!!!
So why would we think about a saddle? No reason of course since we don’t eat them, and most people don’t go near them in day to day life.
Except I am not not on of the ‘most people’ having decided well into my 60’s that I shall learn to ride. Which means sitting in most instances on (in?) a saddle. Still I gave it (the saddle, not the horse) little thought – it just Was.
Some saddles rubbed me in uncomfortable places, some buckles chaffed and left reminders long after the ride was over, but mostly they just came with the territory.
Until I changed my territory and went on a fabulous trail to the High Country (blog to follow: HiddenTrails,Globetrotting.com.au) where I met a Saddle Maker. Not just ‘a saddle maker’ but Peter Horobin and his daughter Marlee who make saddles which are sent all over the world; these are ‘bespoke’ saddles – think Kate Middleton Duchess of Cambridge and her bespoke dresses and you get the idea.
Peter was amazing, teaching us about the muscles and bones around the shoulder of the horse, how saddles impinge or don’t on their movement, how poor mounting (climbing into the saddle for my non riding friends the wrong way) can bend the tree.
Yup, its okay I also didn’t know what he was talking about and heard the voice of a rather dumb naive blonde (that would be me) ask what on earth he meant. Turns out a tree isn’t what we were seeing all around us, but rather part of the saddle, a foundational part in fact.
And of course there was a next step – a visit to his shop/workshop/sanctuary/creative studio which I did today after my third only riding lesson put on the Mornington Peninsula.
And what a wonderland of energy, passion, skill and hospitality. The saddles – there are SO many different types, every one hand made, so many colours, so many uses, so many textures, it was like entering Aladdin’s cave, an abundance of smell, touch, leather, style and confidence.
I wished I had a horse so I could indulge myself with a saddle.
Instead I got to polish the saddle being shipped to Western Australia to Carla – a special new friend, with whom we rode in the High Country.
Envious I am of those that ordered saddles – they are getting works of art
Polishing Carla’s Saddle
And I had NO idea that a saddle could be such a special, wonderful creation – I thought only quilts fell into that category – another lesson learnt.
The oldest desert in the world, so the scientists say, more than 500 million years old in fact. The Namib (open space) is just that – so open it forces your heart to expand and your soul to lift and time to stand still. So at times as we sat and absorbed the expanse, the silence, the colour, the feel, the vastness it felt as though time too, had stopped.
Was this where time began?
Or is these where time has ended?
These rather ordinary videos will give you an idea of the scale of the place
and this is what happens when you don’t time the tide correctly !!!!!
photos courtesy of the Powrie girls and Erika de Jäger
…in the south west corner of Africa. Namibia gained independence only in 1990 South Africans have always felt a close affinity to what was previously called South West Africa with many of our young men spending time in the military in this part of the world.
For much of my youth large parts of the country were ‘out of bounds’ because of the fighting ‘up north’ as we used to say.
Happily now, we are free to explore – and that is precisely what we did recently.
Well actually we only explored a little of the country – 10 days is not enough to do it justice. Almost the size of South Africa, with a population of 2.5mill (S African has approx 60mill) it is a deliciously sparsely populated so that it is possible to ‘escape the madding crowd’ and absorb the light and air unhindered.
We began in Walvis Bay, with time spent on the water sharing our boat with friends
The light and mood in the bay is extraordinary – enjoy
The Salt Pans are also amazing – this salt pan currently supplies South Africa with 90% of it’s salt; concentrated salt from seawater with the aid of evaporation. This salt pan also forms part of Southern Africa’s single most important coastal wetland for migratory birds.
and when we thought we had seen such beauty nothing could compare, we visited Sandwich Harbour…… which deserves it’s own page.
(photos courtesy of the ‘Powrie girls’ and Erika De Jager)
Nothing I have ever done prepared me for Globetrotting and Jesters Flat…….
Beautiful Perth. My final few hours before returning to ‘the real world’
Enough time to marvel at what had happened over the past week at Jester’s Flat
Enough time to marvel at what happened when seven women, unknown to one another arrived in a place unknown to any of them, and challenged themselves to a completely new experience.
And what happened was that I found, in that a week a glimpse His creation in all its glory.
Birds of remarkable colour and sounds more varied and sweeter than any music created by man.
Grasses, flowers, trees of every shape and hue – so many variations of blue, baby blue, dusky blue, egg shell blue, blue blue light blue; as many pinks as there are adjectives; every variation of white imaginable and then the yellows, oranges, purples, mauves, reds and every shade of green. Some tiny delicate plants last but a few hours and are as small as a finger nail, some stand bold and strong for hundreds of years, each a miracle of design and detail. Only with His palette on His canvas, can these colours work so beautifully and not jar the eye.
I found a sky that brooded over us, kept us jacketed but honoured us all the same by not wetting us.
A sun that teased us, warming us intermittently and unexpectedly filtering through the forest or lighting up the fields and fields of yellow daisies, until finally it exposed itself totally to reveal a sky of such blue blue our eyes were opened to a world of promise; shining new growth on the trees, shimmering in the light, red clover stark and strong alongside the vines which ran so straight and neat beside us.
Kangaroos by the score looking at us as we looked at them, scampering away, with their young sometimes peeping at us from a snug pouch and at other times hopping alongside their mothers. Was there ever a stranger creature?
Cows always curious running up to stare at us, eyes luminous and vacant at the same time.
Sheep taking no notice of us at all.
All though, taking notice of the season, and dropping young as Spring arrives with That promise of new life.
Everywhere we looked
these strange creatures
reminded us of
an amazingly created world
And of course I found the horses. The reason we were all here.
These four legged creatures; as strong as an ox and as gentle as a baby, as wild as it’s possible to be and then again as submissive, as yielding as gentle as imaginable.
There is nothing in the world quite like sitting astride a horse which weighs hundreds of kilos, and working with it to move, stop, walk, trot, canter, turn on a dime all with subtle body movements and a tiny metal piece in its mouth. Having said that, they can be capricious and unpredictable, kicking and pulling for no reason and then again be kind and loving and snuggle you for no reason too (or perhaps it can smell that Apple 😜)
And all the while seven women share their stories, their dreams, their fears. They offer encouragement, a helping hand, a laugh, a glass of wine, a smile. They stretch themselves doing things never done before (like trying to play polocrosse 😂😂😂)
They bond through a common love of horses and all that they experienced Through that love, in that place.
And for one week His plan for creation shone; people and nature worked together in perfect harmony. Each leaving with a sense of being part of ‘what’s possible’ ; linked forever through Globetrotting.com.au and Jesters Flat – a very special time
I have recently become a ‘footie tragic’. It all began with watching my friends (quite a few of them it as it happens) who over the years have donned their yellow and black and madly cheered and cursed their beloved Richmond Tigers. I did not ‘get it’ thinking them slightly odd ; and then this year I did (get it)
And for the moment, I too am caught up in the excitement that is Melbourne in Grand Final Week. Even to wearing a scarf. You bet it is yellow and black. And I mean Wearing it, all day, every day, to Park Run (I was not alone) to the shops, (I was not alone), to the grand parade, walking Coco; watching TV. And everywhere complete strangers become friends as the yellow and black unites us.
Founded in 1885 Richmond is a very ‘old’ club with its own railway station (well almost) The club has not won a premiership since 1980 – which in football terms is a very long time. Every time I read up on Richmond there is a different reason put forward for the remarkable passion the Richmond followers have for their team; from the age of the club to the club song (which is very catchy); to the colours to this to that 😂 so it would appear, no one is quite sure why. But there it is, Richmond fans are loyal and fanatical.
Whatever the reason, when the state declares a public holiday and Richmond is now in the finals, one just HAs to go to the grand parade in the city. Apparently 150 000 other supporters also HAD to go.
We travelled in by train – together with families of all shapes and sizes, single tragic supporters, couples, – the train was packed; standing room only. And so the fun began.
Melbourne put on its best face, the sun shone, but not too strongly, the wind blew, but not too briskly, the crowd moved, but not too quickly and we just smiled and allowed the throng to take us with it. A stop for a coffee gave us time to watch the world go by and then on to the parade.
We could see nothing of The March – we just weren’t tall enough with the crowd so deep. It didn’t matter.
The people, families, couples, singles, everyone willing their team to win, everyone soaking up the weather, the city, the energy, the glorious atmosphere that is Melbourne.
Our stomachs were calling us to fuel them, and we looked for a table – there were hundreds, all taken. Resourceful Jackie found us a corner and amongst scores of yellow and black clad diners, we shared a lovey paella, talked about everything football and non football; and wandered home, weary but so grateful to be in Melbourne at Grand Final time.
Home made supporters – so special
All that remains is to survive the actual match, families meeting in so many different places and ways. Some 120 000 lucky enough to be at the MCG, some at home, in hotels, in pubs, the city is Pumping with energy as we wait for our team to….. well that’s the question – win or lose? Time will tell.