SPECIAL SUNDAY VISITORS AT RED MOON SANCTUARY
At it was Sunday, Bill came over as usual at morning teatime. I'd had difficulty rising from bed this morning as it was soooo comfortable and we were having such a riveting discussion on the thread referred to above. We both usually have an extended breakfast in bed on Sundays, but Brett shamelessly enabled me to continue to stay ensconced by going off to give Romeo his breakfast, flashing me an impish smile and going, "Enjoy your reading and writing!"
Lovely, naughty man. It's much easier for me to get up when I know I have to feed Romeo, and noone else is going to do it!
When Bill turned up, I finally extricated myself from the discussion and the nice comfortable bed. It's such a lovely bed and such a great room...
It's my favourite bedroom ever... this is what I see from my typing in bed perspective:
That's the morning sunlight right there, coming in through these windows:
In this example, there were even horses grazing in the lower garden tier. Not infrequently, Romeo comes to remind me that it is breakfast time for him - and he knows exactly where we are:
Anyway, you can see why this is such a hard room to leave, and why it sometimes doubles as my office when I decide to work on the laptop instead of the desktop.
Finally this morning, though, I did make myself presentable and join the land of the living, and had a good chat to Bill while preparing the pears for this lovely little number:
You have to peel them, core them, slice them into eighths, then simmer them in red wine with added cardamom pods and star anise, to give them that lovely red colour. This makes the house smell all amazing while it is cooking. And no sooner had the amazing smell started to spread out from its epicentre than there was a knock on the door. Of course! Hannah and her niece Scarlett! They'd come for a long-talked about visit. Hannah has been buying our honey for years and has met Brett on many occasions, but never me - I just did the emails on honey orders, life, the universe and everything! It was lovely to meet at last!
We started chatting as I was making a tuna pasta salad with capsicum, spring onions, cubes of cheddar, freshly ground pepper, and a yoghurt/mayonnaise dressing. This we had for lunch, and then I made the pastry shell for the tart, followed by the chocolate custard, as the shell was pre-baking.
Meanwhile, Scarlett was entertaining Jess with the dog's favourite balloon game:
We have a balloon tied to the ceiling fan, which the dog loves to bop around with her nose, but she wants other people to bop the balloon as well, backwards and forwards to her. Today, Jess met her match: Scarlett played the game for so long that the dog's tongue was hanging a long way down and she actually got tired - a bit of a miracle for a kelpie!
Once the chocolate tart was out of the oven, I banished it to the freezer for a rapid chill, and then we had a fortunate rain break, so we could take young Scarlett for a horseback ride before afternoon tea.
(It is a little hard to concentrate on this entry as Brett is reading out to me from The Other Bible
, which is all the ancient peripheral/ignored texts that weren't included in the Bible. He's just treating me to the geography and architecture of hell, which apparently has seven divisions, one beneath the other, each of which has seven subdivisions etc; with rivers of fire and hail; and there are crevices in the walls with 7000 poisonous scorpions in each crevice, etc etc etc. And apparently God isn't having a good time, because he keeps telling things to do things and they say No
! Things like water, for example; which then makes God have a fit of violent outrage and throw the whole world into chaos all over again. "The water was recalcitrant, it resisted the order to occupy the lowly spots, and threatened to overflow the earth, until God forced it back into the sea and encircled the sea with sand." You try writing when having your attention split by fascinating stuff like this!)
I retrieved Sunsmart, who walked towards me the moment he saw me, looking eager for diversion, and brushed all the wet sand off his surface-wet coat. Then we saddled him, and I showed Scarlett, who is ten, how to estimate your length of stirrup (about armpit to fingertip for dressage length). This showed us that my stirrup straps were way too long for her, and so I dug out the ones I used when I first started riding as a nine-year-old. Now even that was too long, so I punched some extra holes, and finally we had a workable length for our young equestrienne.
We gave her a bit of a boost to get on Sunsmart's back. I didn't have a bridle on him, just the halter, with a nice soft lead rope looped back like reins from the noseband for our young rider, and another lead rope for me to lead him by. As I explained, this way, she could hold on to the rein/rope if necessary, if she got nervous, without worrying about hurting the horse's mouth by not being soft enough. I explained you could also steer a horse like that, but she wouldn't have to worry about it today because I was leading him for her.
Scarlett has ridden a handful of times, without being led, but the last time, her ride ended with her horse trying to bolt back to the stable. She didn't fall off, but the experience frightened her. So, this was about getting her confidence back, and making it fun again, in a super-safe way, with an experienced horse and a person leading from the ground, and auntie walking on the offside of the horse, as we took a leisurely tour of the farm tracks.
At first, our young rider was tense and had the typical body memory reaction of a child who'd had a scary experience the last time she was on the back of a horse - the reaction which says to the owner of the body, "This was dangerous last time, is this a good idea?" Also, Sunsmart was taller than the other horses she'd ridden, and very powerfully built. I remember what it felt like when I was a kid, to sit on a to me mountainous animal! So we diverted Scarlett's attention by telling her about funny things the horse had done. The moment we got around the back of the house to the sand track, Sunsmart made entertainment for everyone as well - as every time I lead him, whether between two gates when riding, or when leading a novice horseperson around the tracks, he wants to play "the stick game"!
He starts by looking at me and trying to catch my sleeves in his lips. The next part of the ritual is that I find him a stick he can carry, and present it to him. He then gravely accepts the stick and carries it in his teeth, horizontally. Then he looks at me, and I'm supposed to pull on the side of the stick. When I do, we have a little tug-of-war. Scarlett was laughing by now from her perch on the horse, watching all this going on and hearing the explanation of why we were doing it. This really helped blow away that nervousness for her. "Just like a giant puppy! So funny!"
So she rode the giant puppy stick-game off-track racehorse down the sand track with us, really beginning to beam and enjoy the experience. We walked the sand track - swamp track loop, with occasional halts to enjoy scenic views. "I'm not scared anymore, this is fun!" said our young rider, and we two ostlers / footmen beamed at her and each other.
When we got back to the tie rail, I asked, "Do you know how to get off?" and she did a lovely dismount all by herself. She got to feed the horse his bucket feed after the ride, and then all of us dashed in for chocolate tart. Scarlett helped me arrange the pear slices on top of the tart, and the five of us had a merry chocolatey afternoon teatime, chatting about Dr Who and all sorts of things. Bill was talking about horses and the district and asking Scarlett if she would ride again. I said that since she and her aunt had excellent manners and were great company, they were welcome to come visit anytime, and we would repeat the riding.
On their way out today, we took carrots, and visited the rest of the equine herd. Scarlett found herself surrounded by five donkeys, feeding them a carrot each and exclaiming at their long ears and faces etc. She said, "Oh, I've just discovered I love donkeys!" and leapt about. She was a great hit with them too - they love people, and especially young people oozing enthusiasm. She found out where they like to be scratched, and learnt all their names. Chasseur, who's a super-cuddly horse, came up too, and I showed Scarlett what he does when you scratch the underside of his neck - cranes his head high up into the sky, closes his eyes blissfully, wiggles his lips - that made her laugh, and soon she was scratching him just the way he liked it! It was very hard for her to tear herself away from the super-friendly chestnut horse and the five long-ears, and I said, "Before today, you didn't know any of this existed. Now you do - and you can come back anytime!" She gave me a big hug before she got in the car, as did her aunt, and then they drove off playing the Wonky Donkey
song on the car stereo.
A wonderful Sunday for all.