It’s all about ….

It’s all about the right horse, I was told by those who know best. And those who know best are, of course, those who ride all the time.
So why would I doubt them?
After all, they are regular riders who know horses well and are, I was told, the people one should ask for advice when embarking on a riding adventure.
Except, precisely Because they are riding fit and do so all the time, perhaps they are Not the people to ask?
What do I know? I set off to the gym confidently believing if I did the exercises (squats, sit ups etc) as prescribed, for a few months, I would be fine, as it all depended on having the right horse ๐Ÿ˜ณ
So there I was, with dire warnings from many friends about the madness of this adventure; the pain I was going to feel in unmentionable parts of my body, the risk I was taking, still ringing in my ears. My stomach slightly knotted as my brain tried to convince my body that those that Know, say I’ll be fine, it’s all about the right horse.
So I waited for Howard from African Horse Co to arrive at our meeting place, Farm 215. at the designated time of 10am having overlooked of course that the riding world runs to its own clock – dictated by where the horses wandered off to graze; how the old car felt that morning (riding in my limited – very limited experience seems synonymous with old cars – the cost of the one mode of transport dictating the cost of the other ๐Ÿ˜œ), which saddle was where etc.
And then suddenly, after hanging around for an hour or so, there I was being handed ‘my horse’ – Luke
Far from sitting down and gently talking me through the week’s plan with words of encouragement ( the picture I had created in my head ๐Ÿ˜‚) with a question/answer type session. Breyten advised; “Howard said hi”, and “up you get!” Which of course I couldn’t do without a step ladder ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚
Luke was a large animal – the largest of the three horses – and I was the smallest, or perhaps shortest is more accurate, rider. Somehow that didn’t seem quite fair ๐Ÿ˜ฉ.
Since there was no ladder, I needed a leg up; and that was the case every time I wanted to mount him, for the entire week! Alas? I never did get to master the art of lifting one leg as high as my shoulder, putting it into the stirrup while balancing on the other and then swinging myself into the saddle, all on one elegant motion ๐Ÿ˜‚
Nonetheless before I knew it I was on the back of a large horse and off down the road to, well I wasn’t quite sure where.
Reminding myself I needn’t worry – it’s all about the right horse.
And of course it is. All about the right horse.
And the legs, and the thighs, and the back and even the feet (6 hours in stirrups and you find parts of your foot you didn’t know existed ๐Ÿ˜ณ)
But it is about the horse. And Luke was the kindest, most gentle soul and within half an hour I knew he would not surprise me, well not much anyway. After all he did bolt when the bus greeted him, and we shot into the bushes when the bushbuck shot out of the bushes, but as bolts go, they were gentle ones, even for me, a beginner.
His back was broad and comfortable. His walk was steady if a bit slow. I asked him to trot and he did, not reluctantly nor in mad haste. It felt like he was indulging me: you want to trot, okay we can trot. Oh, you prefer a canter, no problem, I don’t mind cantering.

When we were galloping and I could hear Sparky galloping up behind me, I prepared for Luke to increase his pace. He didn’t, he stayed reliably steady. A ‘man’ beating to his own drum.
He never embarrassed me by moving when I was trying to mount or dismount him, something I was most grateful for ๐Ÿ˜ƒ He waited kindly, nuzzled me when I stood close, shared my sandwiches and even, dare I say it looked pleased to see me each morning.
And at the end of 5 glorious days of riding I agreed that it’s all about the right horse.
Perhaps Howard was right when he said. “If you had to chose a husband, you would want one like Luke. ย  Reliable, stable, predictable, trustworthy, safe”
Did hear a small voice somewhere whisper “and boring”.

I could not be sure.

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.ย 

There’s more to The Bush


There’s more to The Bush than the bush.

There’s more to The Bush than the big five, or even the little five, or the birds, or the snakes.

The Bush is about the smell, the sound,the Feel.  

In this instance, the wind, the rain. 

 First fierce and dominating so that speech is pointless as words are carried away with the hustle of the storm. Water cascading down, flooding every corner of the land and disappearing quickly into ground parched and thirsty to drink.

And then, spent, the heavens seem to rest and the rain falls gently, so gently my clothes don’t get wet yet I can see the drops still falling on the water hole. 

On this day, most holy day of Good Friday it seems appropriate that the sky is black and angry and the storm rages down on us.

And it seems also appropriate that as I turn to look to my right, I see the light through the clouds, not yet shining, but with the look of a promise of what is to come; sun and renewed growth. 

 And the rainbow to remind me, on this holy day, most holy day of Good Friday;  not of our covenant with Him, but His with us.

 โ€œWhen I bring clouds over the earth, and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and every living creatureโ€”every mortal beingโ€”so that the waters will never again become a flood to destroy every mortal being.” (Gen 9)

There is more to The Bush than the bush 

Fairest Cape ….

A day of rambling out and about in Cape Town. Sundays are busy days on the glorious Cape Town roads so that driving alone, as I was, it was difficult to stop and take photos that do this magnificent city justice. You will just have to visit and see for yourself – this is just a ‘toe in the water’ so to speak


Never noticed this before ๐Ÿ˜ณ


Steenberg winery where my lovely cousin’s equally lovely daughter recently married is the first farm (1682) developed in the Cape.   So beautiful.  



Day 4: An easy walk ๐Ÿ˜œ??

Today we went for a ride of a different sort.   

 
A white contraption; I would like to say it was a car, except that it lacked most of what we today consider normal in a car, namely windows that open and close when we chose; similarly with the four doors, a boot that has a handle to open it with and side mirrors that one can see in.   

But I complain not : it had four wheels instead of legs, a steering wheel instead of a bridle and an engine that was filled by a kindly petrol attendant and not by us carrying bales of hay!!!! 

(And I later learned 400 000 km on the clock – hey who’s complaining ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿš‘๐Ÿš—)
Oh did I mention that unlike Luke who could be persuaded to reverse (admittedly it took some real persuasion) on the odd occasion, our white contraption could under no circumstances be persuaded to reverse๐Ÿ˜ณ
Leaving Luke, Patches and Sparky in the care of others we, or at least I dragged my weary body into that contraption ๐Ÿ˜‚


We drove to Danger Point just in time to see the fog rolling in. We chatted to the lighthouse manager, and read the story again of the Birkenhead which I vaguely remembered from schรธol.   

A British military ship, one of first iron hulled ships, arriving in eastern cape for 1852 Xhosa wars ran aground here. It was a perfectly calm night when it struck an uncharted rock miles off shore.   In 20 minutes the ship sank. All women and children were saved, all soldiers and sailors were lost.  It is unknown how many horses died, 5 made it to shore. 

193 survivors, 432 soldiers and sailors drowned. 

There are 46 lighthouses round the South African coast, every one with a different signal. Danger Point’s signal is three flashes, 40 second pauses, three flashes. This continues from sunset to sundown every day. Still today in the age of technology !

Our lighthouse man also told us that last year they saw 60 pairs of whales compared to the year before when they saw 200. “Ek weet nie, dis hierie (sic) climate storie”

(I don’t know it’s this climate story)

Our contraption then took us to Gansbaai where we parked at the beginning of what was listed as an easy beach walk to De Kelder.  

Parked is perhaps an over optimistic description of what we did, keeping in mind we had to be able to drive off again without using reverse.

We left her boldly pointing forwards, windows open, all our riding gear and ‘stuff’ inside challenging the world to come to her and help themselves ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

What to do- we could not put our lives on hold because our car was unlockable. So we left, trusting that our riding gear which now almost had a life of its own, so full of sweat, salt and dirt as it was would lose appeal to any passer by and they would miss the rest of the luggage hidden under a blanket๐Ÿ˜Š

Or better still not even give her a second glance as she looked as though nothing of value to anyone could exist in such a rusted contraption!!!
Benchmarks, life is all about knowing the benchmarks (see my blog – the Ik ๐Ÿ˜‚) so when we read

I quote : 

Start: Gansbaai harbour 

Finish: Klipgat caves, De Kelders 

Duration: 7 km, around 4 hours 

Fitness: easy, children can do this trail 

Unquote 

I was confident.   In my head an easy seven km beach walk suits a plump person in sandals. Well I am old and perhaps not slim but not as plump as I was thinking of when I mentioned a plump person and I certainly was not wearing sandals.

Rather I was wearing very sensible walking shoes.


We did not find this an easy walk ๐Ÿ˜ณ. It was a walk, following green painted signs, rocks, bricks, up and down a narrow path until we finally arrived at our target destination, de Kelders. 

 We sat on the deck watching the fog come in and blanket the coastline.   


Wisdom prevailed and we walked back to Gansbaai along the main road. 

 I know, I know, not very romantic. But I have had enough adventures for one week and as good a story (perhaps even a romantic one) disappearing into the sea cause we missed the green markers in the fog, may have been, we decided to disappoint ๐Ÿ˜œ


A very late lunch in Gansbaai made up for the trudge back.


And of course our white steed was still waiting, as intact as she had been when we left her. Ready to take us back to our Klein Paradijs (little paradise) for the night 

A drive past Pearly Beach in the cloudy evening was rewarded by watching a family fishing together – a past time as old as time itself 


And a visit to the shop local shop where I could have bought anything my heart desired, from food, clothes, furniture, books, and if I had wondered into the back rooms, perhaps even a husband ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

I settled for an Easter egg for Julia 


Ps trivia question : 

1. Why Gansbaai ( as opposed to some other baai)?

2. Why is baleen whale called southern right whale?
PPS trivia answer;

1. Resident Egyptian geese found there when settlers first arrived – cannot find out what happened to them ๐Ÿ˜ข

2. Was called the right whale by early whalers because it was slow enough for them to catch with their boats: couldn’t dive deeply: light enough to float once killed and had high yields of oil and baleen.

Day 3: A walk with friendsย 

I went for a walk today, to use different muscles after so many hours in the saddle.
Joining me was my delightful young German companion, a volunteer at the stables, the two resident dogs and a ginger cat!!!๐Ÿ˜ป
We set off on a trail marked 

‘Fynbos’ with no idea where it lead nor how long it would be. It took us almost two hours and our remarkable cat walked with us the entire way!!!
The dog’s of course ran back and forth and in and out and up and down exhausting us just watching and we took our weary bodies up through beautiful leucadendron forests – taller by far than we. 
We passed a dam used usually for swimming and kayaking which sadly was empty, another one which delighted the dogs; beehives, protea fields, and grasses with strange scents. 
Everywhere again we saw butterflies – such a good omen in these times.
Different continent, different ‘friends’ the same unity of spirit as we take a walk 



 

No Clothes

There is something very liberating about having no clothes. 

Every morning we put on the same things.  

And when we return from our rides, shower and change, it is into the same tracksuit pants and top every evening .

I intend to get into my pyjamas each night and instead crawl into bed just as I am, tracksuit and all.

My breeches, chaps, socks, (there was a clean pair; still drying in a truck somewhere I’m thinking) helmet and jacket now stand in the corner, almost by themselves, so coated are they in sweat, salt, sand, and above all memories.
Waiting for me to put them on again : safe, smelly, secure and with no choice.
It is very liberating to have no clothes ๐Ÿ˜„

Today I Livedย 

Today was the kind of day for which there are no words.
We set off from Stanford River Lodge, a lovely spot for a repeat visit and rode for almost two hours towards the beach.
A different road today took us along a dirt farm road, past beautifully groomed homes, guest houses and boutique wineries- almost all foreign owned. 

 I thought I had been transported to London when in the distance I saw a bright red, very bright red body, a black, very black, large, very large hat. It was not a palace guard but a cheerful lady waiting for a bus.
That bus came, towards us on this narrow sand road. We pulled up and out of the way as he rumbled past and thanked us by hooting!!!!

Clearly he doesn’t ride๐Ÿ˜‰

Luke was having none this greeting business and bolted into the bush. 

I was not on my phone, I was holding the reins, we both survived and continued in silence.
I don’t believe we said more than 10 words all day. Each of us absorbed in the uniqueness of the day and place. 

 We walked and trotted, feeling our bodies, feeling the heat, listening to the creaks of the saddle and the horse sounds.
The birds and butterflies floated around us, the mountains loomed to our right and we turned off the road into the ‘bosveld’ (bush)
A different type of riding as we picked our way over logs, round bushes between trees

Trying to get to the dunes without asking our animals to climb an Everest of sand!   
We only asked them to climb one half the size- still a challenge for my weary body and doubtless for Luke. And again navigated our way through dune after dune. 

 White hot sand, sinking hooves, air like a hot blanket, we moved forward, up, down,up and there it was.
The roar of the ocean, so loud we could not have spoken to one another even if we had wanted to. 

 The breeze from the sea was like a draught of Guinness after a hard days work. It smelt wonderful, felt wonderful and tasted to our parched throats, wonderful .
And there it was. 

 An hour of perfection.

 A beach, stretching as far as the eye could see. 

 Low tide, gentle waves, mussels scattered all over the beach, gulls hovering, a seal playing in the waves. 

 Two fisherman in 15km of beach.
There are no words to describe the feeling of walking, cantering, galloping, cantering, walking, galloping in the shallows.   

The exhilaration of the vastness, the miracle of oneness with the massive body beneath me, the security of being able to look around at the same time – relishing the speed, the rhythmic sounds of us each galloping at our own pace and in our own worlds.   The waves at our feet, the wind in our faces, the salt on our legs and arms.

Truely today I Lived.

And I am grateful.
My body is tired. 

Who said your bottom would be sore๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚. Mine is fine and even my thighs managed to survive (not known as thunder thighs for nothing ๐Ÿ˜œ).  

No one said the small of my back and my torso and those other parts I didn’t know exist would ache and grow voices of their own.  

(Did I mention we have riden 80km in 3 days ๐Ÿ˜ณ)
A shower (no bath here๐Ÿ˜ข), cup of tea and  a glorious hours walk with two dogs, a cat and my lovely Julia ends a day I feel few are privileged to enjoy.

I am grateful