Monday, July 25, 2011

In the swing of things

Over the last two days I’ve actually started to feel like a resident of England rather than just a dazed and confused outsider. Having kicked the jet-lag my days are beginning to fall into a routine that starts with Crunchy Nut Cornflakes in the morning and ends later than it should with a glass of some horrendous spirit dug from deep in the bowels of the Griffith’s liquor cabinet.

For those who don’t know, Crunchy Nut Cornflakes is the universally accepted breakfast of champions and having made its mark in Australia it is now taking the world by storm. No one has asked him yet but I’m sure Cadel Evan’s Tour de France victory was fuelled by this delicious combination of corn, peanuts and sugar. It’s perhaps to its detriment that the sugar content of the Crunchy Nut has been increased in its British form, although it is still a long way from short of the American version that I was eating earlier this year that carries a dental health warning and actually hurts your teeth when you eat it.

With breakfast out of the way there’s horse riding to be done. The weather over the last two days has been surprisingly pleasant, with balmy temperatures mixed with splashes of sunshine. For an Australian it’s almost t-shirt weather, although I’m pretty sure that down by the seaside there are swarms of fluorescent locals getting their kit off and basking in the few rays of sunshine that make it to earth in this part of the world. No doubt many of them spend their time in the sun praying that the effects of global warming will occur sooner rather than later.

Burto's stable block with Tiger at far left

A slightly fuzzy view from the paddocks

Hacking out on the lanes around Symphony Farm has been one of life’s great equestrian experiences. The farm land is truly magnificent and you get the feeling that the horses enjoy the outlook as much as you do. Sunday drivers are an issue on weekends but at least you can hear their vintage sports cars a mile away and can scurry into a hedge to avoid impalement on the front of a 1963 Jaguar – it’s the fast moving tradesmen on weekdays that are the real danger.

There’s quite a steep road that runs up a hill through the centre of a village a mile or so down the road so we spend some time trotting up that as fitness for the horses. It’s fantastic exercise and far more interesting than poking around an arena. Whether the locals enjoy us clattering past within metres of their houses is another question but we always ensure that we smile nicely and try to avoid letting the horses crap anywhere near their front doors. The thing about village design in England is that many of the old houses are built almost onto the road, to the point that it would be possible to lose your head to a passing truck if you poked it out the bedroom window at an inopportune time.

Tiger - at home in the UK

I’ve been giving Burto a hand with a few of his horses and I also rode one for Sam and Lucy today, but for any owners of their horses I can guarantee that I put in a big effort so your money is still being well spent. It’s excellent to be able to ride a few more in the day because Crunchy Nut contains a lot of sugar and poor Tiger can’t be expected to shoulder the burden of working that off alone.

Sam and Lucy have been incredibly accommodating and so far they win the prize for the most lovely couple in England, narrowly squeezing out Burto and Newsprint to a mantle previously held only by Kate and Wills and Posh and Becks. They run a great operation here at Symphony Farm and it’s a pleasure and a thrill to be based with them.

Life is good.

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