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Saturday, 30 January 2010

A Wonderful Day.

I took my Golden Retriever, Sophie, beating on my friends Michael and Peter's shoot today on their farm. I had been beating once before on another, bigger shoot and I hated it so much I walked the 10 miles home. They were a drunken, disorganised rabble and treated their dogs and mine with impersonal disdain.

This shoot was completely different. My friends take a pride in everything they do and it was harmonious and companionable. Everyone was given a job to do and my friend Michael is a leader to marvel at. He is the sweetest person I have ever met and he commands affection and respect from everyone because he notices everything, tries his heart out to make things run smoothly and efficiently, and make sure that everyone enjoys themselves and feels wanted and appreciated.

They were all true animal lovers and all took the time to admire Sophie, and treated their own dogs and everyone else's with kindness and respect. They were a lovely group of people and I felt privileged to be allowed to join them.

It was a beautiful day and I had a wonderful time and loved every moment of it. I am definitely going to go again next season and try to train Sophie into a proper gundog.

I made new friends, spent time with old friends, had sloe gin and sausage rolls, Sophie and I were both given a delicious lunch of venison casserole and apple pie, and got to walk through some beautiful countryside in the best company imaginable.

Life doesn't get much better than that!















Friday, 22 January 2010

King Arthur

I now have a plan.

Are you all as fascinated as I am with King Arthur and the legends of the knights of the round table?

Guinevere and Sir Lancelot, Sir Galahad and Sir Gawain, Sir Percival, Sir Bedivere, Sir Bors and Sir Kay, and not forgetting Merlin, of course.

Would you like to read about us getting our horses fit and ready, then going to Ettrick and training ourselves and our horses up in the required skills of the Dark Ages?

Then would you like to read about us starting from the Eildon Hills (just 25 miles from Ettrick) where King Arthur and his men are said to lie sleeping, waiting until the country needs them to return, and setting forth to ride around the twelve or thirteen sites of his battles in the Scottish borders, the seventh battlefield being Ettrick Forest?

All from our base in a log cabin in Ettrick.

Would you like to come and cheer us on or even join us?

It will, of course, be in aid of cancer relief which touches the lives of everyone sooner or later.

If my King Arthur turns out to be a once but not a future king and leaves his lovely horse Conqueror standing idly by, watching us over his gate, then we will have to manage as best we can without King Arthur. It will be tough but we will do it.

Thank you very much.

Helen xxxx

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Bringing all the Threads Together.

I have a huge and ambitious new plan. I have learned a lot about a lot of new and exciting things lately and I need to find a reason for all of it - a plan, an adventure, motivation to get my horses going again and to repay some of the many people who have helped me, and give my friends and horses some fun and a project for us all to work on together.

My plan is to organise a Medieval themed weekend in Scotland. To take my Dales Ponies up there to ride an ancient drover's way or two and to have a horseback Falconry lesson, an archery lesson and a carriage driving lesson while we are there.

And, of course, take loads of photos for all of you.

I'm hoping that my friend will join us with his Clydesdale so that I can tie it all in with someone near here who is doing amazing work teaching people how to keep the skills of working with heavy horses alive, with his own Clydesdales and in his spare time, and all for no financial reward - just because he cares passionately about the cause.

Well, I do too, and about preserving rare breeds and ancient, timeless arts such as Falconry, archery and driving horses.

Would any of you be prepared to give me some help and advice, please? I'd like to somehow try to raise funds for the Rare Breeds Survival Trust plus some publicity for the man with the working Clydesdales, the Falconry Centre, Archery Centre, and the driving centre that uses rescue ponies and disadvantaged local children to do amazing displays.

I would also like to throw astronomy into the mix somehow, if possible, and tie in as many of these recurring threads from the last few months as possible - horses, owls, dogs, Alpacas, vaulting and Jive Pony, The Devil's Horsemen and Medieval Banquets, the stars, Scotland, etc, etc.

I'm not sure if I believe that everything happens for a reason or that finding a reason means that I can make the most of every opportunity that comes my way but, either way, I really would like to make something happen with all of this and involve the big team of friends I've made to do some good for good causes and good people.

And I'd like to prove that dreams can come true and anything is possible if you try hard enough - that magic and romance are alive and well and out there for the finding.

Please do give me your thoughts and opinions.

Thank you all very much.

Monday, 18 January 2010

A Love Affair with Ettrick.

Last weekend I travelled up to Ettrick in the Scottish borders hoping to find romance - romance was exactly what I found.

The Ettrick Valley is a wild, rugged, beautiful place full of the things lacking from everyday modern life. It provides a breathtakingly vast, majestic, timeless magnificent countryside steeped in mystery, legend and romance.

When I return I want to have a falconry lesson at the local falconry centre, a carriage driving lesson with the 'Chariots of Fire' team made up of rescue horses and local children, and take my horses to ride across the huge open hills along the ancient drover's ways.

I would also like to spend more time in the company of the serene, peaceful, doe-eyed Alpacas and Llamas belonging to my very kind friend, learning more about these enchanting animals from the mountainsides of Peru.

I want to return to spend more time enjoying the charm and friendly welcomes I recieved at the traditional local Scottish pubs with their own tales of ghosts and legends, where I was welcomed with warmth and interest, and enjoy more of their wonderful traditional Scottish food and drink.

For me Etterick was a unique mix of comfort combined with awe, legend, mystery, romance and magic where I stepped back in time. I left a part of my heart there and must go back again.

It will be like going home.









Saturday, 9 January 2010

Spiral Galaxies.

I have been talking to someone by email who I have just found out has a first class Honours degree in Astrophysics. Although I love looking at the moon and the stars I know very little about them so I googled Astrophysics and found this, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NGC_4414_(NASA-med).jpg

Did you ever see anything more beautiful and fascinating?

I have also been reading this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hertzsprung%E2%80%93Russell_diagram

And just LOOK at this, The Crab Nebular, the shattered remnants of a star which exploded as a supernova in 1054AD. It is just SO beautiful and mind-boggling to think about:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Crab_Nebula.jpg

I really must make the time to find out more about astronomy.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Dreams, Heroes and Dragons.

This is my new blog for the new decade and my new life - nearly unrecognisable from my life this time last year but now assuming some sort of normality and familiarity at long last.

Life is good and fulfilling but I still have some dragons left to slay. I have been looking for someone to slay them for me but have finally realised the truth - that I can only slay them for myself. I do have heroes aplenty to help me though, through their friendship and inspiration, and my gratitude to them is endless and timeless.

My two main heroes are my friends, Peter and Michael, without whose care, work, help and constant, dependable friendship I might not be here at all. They were there when I thought life had nothing left to offer me, and they are here still, and I can never, ever repay them for all their kindness.

Then there are all my other friends, old and new - heroes and heroines every one of them, and my animals who have uncomplainingly put up with so much change. Life has changed as much for them as it has for me but they have made far less fuss about it than I have!

The Devil's Horsemen and Jive Pony, especially the lovely Rosie, are also heroes of mine, inspiring me to try new things and aim much higher with my horses. They raise my spirits and my standards every time I see them.

I have recently found a new hero and friend who has shown me that soul mates are still out there to be found. I hope that he will stay a lifelong friend and confidant, and I am so grateful to him for his understanding and compassion, humour, wisdom and inspiration, his wonderful voice and poetic writing, and for my beautiful owl.

My dragons are all in my head but no less real for that - feelings of inadequacy and inability to manage on my own, and what was the almost constant ache that some part of me is missing. They are all receding now, along with the fear and lack of any sense of normality that accompanied such radical, unwanted change.

Ten months on I am now happy and confident for most of the time. I have proven to myself that I am very adaptable and a very fast learner, and in control of myself.

This blog will be about my quest for more heroes to learn from and be inspired by, along with enjoying life and learning from the heroes I already have.

It will, very importantly, also be about developing and following my dreams which all involve my friends and my horses, dogs, cattle and other animals.

Lets make 2010 the year that it all began - that dreams started to become clear and real - for all of us.

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I am a clicker training addict and there is no cure - thank goodness!!!