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Showing posts from 2011

Happy Christmas 2011

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Happy Christmas!

Christmas

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For years I've adopted a distinctly Scrooge-ish attitude to elaborate displays of outdoor Christmas lights, but this year it's different. This year they seem to have taken on a sort of brave defiance. If we're all going to hell in a handcart, why not do it with lots of twinkly lights? Haven't actually gone as far as putting any out myself. We lurk behind great swathes of unclipped shrubbery and trees, the sort of thing that any new person moving in would lay waste to within seconds. Any lights we put up would be completely invisible. The house itself is dour and louring, and splashing it with Christmas lights would be a bit like swathing a black clad Victorian matron with tinsel. Or worse.
We don't have a tree yet either. Well, we do, but it's stowed away in the barn, waiting for end of term when daughter and I (and her boyfriend this year) will decorate the tree. This will not take us long, the size of the tree reflecting the falling fortunes of the House of Ba…

War Horse - the Exhibition

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The mark of a good exhibition is learning things, and being made to think about things you had previously not considered.  I freely admit military history is not something I spend a lot of time over. Sharpe and all Bernard Cornwell's fighting creations I love, but the minutiae of military manoeuvring generally leaves me cold. In that all of it impacts on living creatures; human and animal, it shouldn't, but it does.

The War Horse exhibition is right up my street, being about the effects of war on skin and bone; equine skin and bone.  A fair chunk of the exhibition is taken up with Michael Morpurgoand War Horse, the book, play and movie. That section of the exhibition is worth it if only to see the original of Victor Ambrus' illustration for the first edition of war horse.  The original cover wasn't helped by the overall cover design. The illustration on its own, framed (and now owned by Michael Morpurgo) is stunning.

The rest of the exhibition is well done. I had expec…

100 Poem Challenge

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I love the poems you can see on London tube trains, which you can read as you strap hang mindlessly, tuning out humanity. Poems you don't know are like little nuggets which you might, or might not, have time to have got to the bottom of before you get off the train. After a brief, florid and unsuccessful excursion into poetry when I was 17, I settled to loving what other people do, and I do love Jen Campbell's poems. Recently she completed a 100 poem challenge, in which she wrote 100 poems in a weekend, and raised over £3,000 for EEC Syndrome.  Jen wrote each of the poems on a postcard, and here's mine:



and what I like to think of as my poem; particularly as when writing I like to drift off with the dogs along the hedgerows, telling myself I'm crafting, and not prevaricating.

Jen has collected all the poems together and published them. You can read more of the poems here.



Updated to say that one of Jen's poems will indeed be in a tube train near you (well, if you tra…

Fancy dress

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Wow. Just wow. Thanks very much to Sue Howes for this:


10% off all stock until 31st December

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As it says, really - click here!  And here's some new stock:





Riding equipment

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This advertisement, and variations of it, appeared regularly in Riding magazine in the 1940s and 1950s.  I had a quick check through this week's Horse and Hound to see if anything similar appeared, but either the modern man has no such need, or we have gone all coy.


Gardening on the edge has gone completely bung

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As has this blog. If you are a regular reader, I am very sorry I haven't been about. All my writing efforts have been directed at my pony book book, which I really, really need to find a title for. The only things I can think of are the really corny, taking a swipe sort like Galloping Hooves - The Pony Book Obsession, or things like It's Awfully Bad Luck on Diana, which my editor tells me means nothing to most people. Well, I say, most people who are going to buy this book will know that poem. Did they not read their Pony Club Annual, for goodness' sake? But I expect she is right, as she certainly has been so far as she has dissuaded me from my besetting sin, which is assuming what I know, everyone else does too. And my second besetting writing sin, which is digressing. Which I am doing now.

So, hauling myself back to the point, which is gardening, or actually not gardening. Slugs.

Slugs are one of those things that continue regardless of what you do in the garden, which i…

New stock

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I'm doing an offer until 20th November - 10% off all new stock.  Here's a couple of examples:

A lovely copy of the GGB edition of one of Monica Edwards' best, once again hard to find - £70, and below a very good early Puffin ponies plus adventure story, £4.00.


11.11.11

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Gardening on the edge: lamb's lettuce

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It is with a huge phew that I write this post, waving to the other gardeners on the edge out there. I had visions when I wrote the post of some dismissive comments about my efforts - though actually, I suppose if you were any good, you would move swiftly on and ignore, and that suits me fine.

I've been thinking a lot about my gardening efforts since my first post, and I do have a few principles. Earlier today I went and photographed my vegetable patch so I could show you what I do, and my first thought was that I should trim the flowers off my rocket plants, but then I thought, heck, if it weren't for the photos I just wouldn't, so I left them. Who am I trying to kid? This is my patch:



There is an awful lot of green, but that is because a lot of it is weed. It's not that large (I have to confess that I have a couple of other patches but they are even worse and I am going to have to work up to showing the full horror on screen).


At first, I thought I'd mention the g…

Reviews: Sheena Wilkinson, Mary Finn and Emily Edwards

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Emily Edwards - The Trouble with Being a Horse
Single Stride Publishing
Around £4.00 on Amazon
Emily Edwards' website

I tend to shy away from reviewing self-published books, after a particularly bad experience with one, and so when the author of this one got in touch with me my first reaction was to think thanks, but no. However, the author sent me a link to her first chapter, and I read it and was intrigued. Yes, I said. Please do send me a copy.  So, a week or so later the book, arrived, fresh from Canada.



The common theme with all the books I'm reviewing today is that the authors have managed to find a new angle on the pony story. The Trouble with Being a Horse is Emily Edwards' first novel, and it is the story of Olivia,  forbidden to ride. After a fall from her favourite horse at the local riding stables, she loses consciousness, and when she wakes up, finds that she has turned into a horse: a chestnut mare. When a child (and occasionally, I admit it, even now) I often …

Gardening on the edge

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I haven't done a gardening post for ages, mainly because I haven't done any gardening. That is not to say my world has been entirely garden-free. I do like watching gardening programmes, and I do like the gardening articles in the weekend press.  They show an ordered and productive world which I wish was mine. All those lovely neat rows of vegetables, and pruned and cared for herbaceous borders.

When we first moved here 12 years ago, I had masses of time. I worked three days a week for what then was a pretty fair sum of money, and the other two days were mine to do as my daughter and I wished. She was young and eager then, so we did a lot together, and we did a lot of gardening. The pride and joy of my life was my vegetable garden, carved out of what used to be a dog yard.  It was just like all those ones you see on television programmes. When I put my fork in to dig out my potatoes, it was a profoundly satisfying time: masses of them. Just masses.

Life is no longer as it was …

Janet Rising on What Not to Wear

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Welcome to Janet Rising, editor of PONY magazine, with a guest post.


What do you wear when you ride? Sounds a silly question, perhaps. Upon writing this it became clear that planning my riding attire has, throughout my life, occupied far too much of my time.

When I first started to ride at the tender age of nine I was desperate to wear the right clothes. Problem? I couldn’t afford any. I can remember the excitement of buying a riding hat – black velvet, elastic chin strap, probably got change from thirty bob – from a sports shop, and I know I didn’t sleep for excitement the night before. We’re talking the time when jodhpurs were slimming down from the Bedford cord, elephant-ear design, and riding slacks were all the go. Jacatex adverts were poured over and outfits planned. No matter that the jackets – a fraction of what you would pay elsewhere for the same quality – were too short to be elegant and dropped vertically from under the sleeves, disguising any imagined waist you might have. …

Show jumping nostalgia

Stroller, Raimondo d'Inzeo, Vibart...

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The ideal Christmas gift

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always providing you're not buying a book, of course.

I am weak

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A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by someone who wanted to sell me their old Riding magazines. Any email like that is always two edged: hurrah, because there are still plenty I lack, particularly from the 1950s, and wince, because of recent months, what with writing the book and all, I haven't been very good in keeping on top of what I've bought. There were piles of elderly equestrian magazines all over the place in my office. 
So, I screwed my courage to the sticking place, and sorted.



I now know what I've got, and what I haven't. There are duplicates, which in one way is good, as now when people ask me if I have any for sale I can say yes. As long as they don't want the duplicates I want, that is. I've had a pile of magazines from the 1930s sitting in a thoughtful pile since the sort out. They are duplicates, because I have bound copies of all the 1930s editions. The thing with bound copies though, is that they don't have the front covers. And I like th…

War Horse - Fact and Fiction

The National Army Museum has an exhibition opening on 22nd October (and running until August 2012): War Horse, Fact and Fiction. It takes Michael Morpurgo's War Horse as a hook on which to hang the rest of the exhibition, which is illustrated with artefacts from the Museum's collection, "encouraging visitors to think about the millions of War Horses who have supported the British Army across time".

Entry is free.

If you've read the book, you'll know that it opens with a description of a picture hanging in a village hall, which shows Joey, as painted by the man who rode him into war.  Although Iddesleigh, the village, exists, as does the village hall, the picture up until now has been a complete fiction. Equine artist Ali Bannister has now made fiction fact. Michael Morpurgo has commissioned her to do two portraits, and one will hang in the village hall.  There's an example of the picture on The Timessite - sadly it's behind a paywall.  If I can find a…

Miscarriage - why is treatment sometimes so bad?

When things go wrong, my first instinct is to come out fighting, generally in a loud and ranty way which I have had to learn to tone down over the years. A soft answer turneth away wrath, or at any rate is often more likely to get you what you want. That sort of thing.

So why didn't I protest after my first miscarriage; when the care I received was variable, and certainly in the case of my GP, incredibly insensitive? Who decided it "not relevant" for me to be told the sex of my baby (which, after a baby is born whole at 16 weeks is completely obvious), nor "relevant" for me to be told the results of the post mortem. Why, when basically told to go away and shut up, did I do precisely that? When told by friends and relations to complain, shrivel up and say no?

Because I quite simply couldn't, is the answer. I was wracked by guilt and grief. During my stay in hospital, I'd made several (unsuccessful) attempts to find out about the baby I'd had. When I …

Horses wear leg warmers

Look! Here! This is a yarn bomb - here is the deed in progress. (And any time Dilly Tante wants to yarn bomb my  hen house, she is welcome). Through the graveyard, over the electric fence. No problem.

Fancy dress. Sort of. With dogs.

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Here is my dog, styled as a dog. A spoiled dog, who is allowed on the sofa, but a dog.



Here is a dog which is well, not.

Morning walk

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