Monday, October 28, 2013


Strange when something as simple as a pile of horse covers causes major drama. I mounted up today ready to practise my new skills once again, but Zanny had other things on her mind. She spotted the covers and decided that they must be a horrible, terrifying monster. She spun around and shot back into the stable yard snorting vigorously. We came to a halt and I realised I had sensibly clutched two big handfuls of mane and was securely in place still. I guess she does occasionally need to remind me that she is a thoroughbred, even though she doesn't behave like one most of the time. 

Anyway, she was NOT walking past the monster on the way out so I had to take her out the other way. On the way back I figured that she would be highly motivated to get to the stable yard, so we tackled the monster again. After a bit of discussion, coaxing, snorting and sideways dancing, we made it past. I was very pleased with myself for not bailing. I was safely in the saddle. Well done to me!
Possible artist's rendition of Zanny's monster courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Lucky Girl!

This week has been full of lovely things coming my way. Every day we had fun at school with our wonderfully funny and (now) well behaved bunch of teenagers. Yesterday we went to a concert featuring the Christchurch Concert Band. It was especially put on for our school, so the rather restless audience was not a problem. One of my students was chosen to conduct, and I was so proud of him. He was such a showman! 

Today I had my first lesson with this amazing rider:
 This is my friend Emily Cammock, who is honestly so far out of my riding league I never thought she'd teach someone at my level. But she was quite happy to give me some time, and I got so much out of our lesson, even if it was just simple stuff to Em. Emily is a top level eventer, who has ridden internationally, including at the Badminton Horse Trials. She corrected my leg position and advised me on bum position and hip angle. Now I have to practise and practise until the new position becomes natural. It was just a slight adjustment, but makes a huge difference long term. My hands are good and steady, and I think my first canter was a big surprise because it was so good! The other way was less successful because Zanny and I both have a weak side. I stayed on, but was a bit unbalanced and so was Zanny.  She gave me some great tips for success, and she seemed really happy with how Zanny and I work together. I do have to work on being more bossy with her. Hard when she is so sweet, but I know she does little things that are a bit naughty.

So I was delighted with my efforts in the saddle today. It was horribly windy. I'm still getting bits out of my eyes, and my hair is gritty. Zanny was a bit spooky, but Em said I obviously trust her, and she trusts me, so we are working really well together. It didn't help when Macca the dog caught a big baby rabbit in the trees by the arena and ate it like a big monster in the long grass. Zanny and I both thought that was pretty horrible.

Hopefully I'll get out for another ride tomorrow to practise my new position.

I was very surprised earlier in the week when a good friend from school gave me a bag of goodies. I was so excited that one of my students was cackling at me for being such an over-excited idiot. But who wouldn't be? Look- floral chintz china!
 Which matches the other pieces I have of this pattern, seen at left below, with the perfect thistle trio that was also in the bag.
 And look at this yummy pansy design trio. I adore it!!!!
 It looks at home with some other pieces of similar colour tones.

I also got a parcel from my darling sister. It contained a selection of fantastic goodies, including this cardie, which has been upcycled with trims and beads. Fabulous!
 She also got me this fabulous Sephora makeup palette. I love makeup and have already delved into this. There is a particularly wonderful dark green which I am in love with. Lots of experiments to come. Not sure when the bright pink eyeshadow will have an outing, but who knows? Fun to play with.
 The wind has definitely been disagreeable in the garden too. My poor yellow iris!
 A spider caught more than it bargained for too.
 The blossom tree is shedding everywhere.
My tulips have flopped over too.
 The roses are coping so far.
 Buds everywhere!!

 Wee treasures too.
 Even the vegetables put on a show in the sunlight.

I'm feeling very fortunate this weekend. Especially since it is a three day break. Yay for Labour Weekend!

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I never thought it would happen. I went on school camp for the first time ever last week. We went to Living Springs, which is over in Governors Bay, high up on the hills. The view from up there is heavenly. Unfortunately my camera was taken up with taking photos of my students in action, and they never feature here. We all had a fantastic time, with lots of laughs, practise being independent, some challenging walks and activities, plus some wonderful animals to meet. It was great. 

I teach teenagers with intellectual disabilities, and it amazes me what some of my students are not able to do when they are perfectly capable physically. Having things done for them is one of the biggest impediments to independence our students face. It doesn't matter if the butter isn't perfectly spread, or if your top is inside out sometimes, as long as you have a go yourself. We learn basic life skills by practising over and over, improving our physical abilities as we go. 

Speaking of physical abilities, I've been practising keeping my shoulders back and sitting upright while I've been riding. It really helps enormously, and I even managed some cantering without too much bouncing, which I'm sure Zanny appreciated. Zanny's dear friend Tara is off babysitting another horse, so she is feeling rather lonely. She even sneaked away from Emily when she was left to graze on a long patch of grass and was found consorting with the lads. 

Take a look at the new design from Cath Kidston. It is called Wild Ponies and comes in four items. 

I think I like this bag best:

 I'm very fond of this birdie print too, which comes in fabric by the metre as well as bags and clothing items.
Joules have got some cute items too. I love Mr Fox on this jumper. 

 You can't go wrong with a hare pattern either.
These horsey print rubber boots would be handy in the garden and on the farm too.

 I adore fox print items too. No hunters allowed!
The weather has been stunning over the past week. It is supposed to rain again during the week, and the garden will be happy about that. We're eating salad greens from the garden, and I am using broccoli and silver beet whenever I can. My chives have rust on them, which makes me feel very grumpy, but on the scale of things is a very minor issue. The first "big" rose is out and it is  Gertrude Jekyll. What a glorious fragrance! I tied up some of the Christmas lilies today. The weeds in the front garden are rampant, but the back garden is getting sorted and under control. 

Well, I'm pleased that camp is over, but it was a big success and achievement for us all. I guess I should be doing some serious thinking about Christmas. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Horsey Day

Apologies to anyone who doesn't have any interest at all in horses. I was grooming today at the One Day Event at McLean's Island. It was a fairly quiet day because two of the horses were borrowed by other riders, and we only had three competing for our little team, plus dear pony Spot, who had a great day with his young rider. He's older than she is, and is showing her the ropes. 

Here's naughty Al smiling and looking like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. He kept trying to pull up the matting on the truck ramp and bit my leg when I stopped paying attention to him when someone pointed something interesting out to me. 
 And this fellow looks exhausted after discovering a delicious snack out on the cross country course early in the morning. There will be fewer bunnies roaming the fields over summer now. I can't bear to think about it.
I got to watch a bit of the action today. Sometimes we are just too busy. I don't really do anything very thrilling, but everyone helps. My jobs are to:

  • Pick up poo. 
  • Provide lots of drinks to the horses throughout the day. 
  • Help with putting tack on the horses and removing it. 
  • Keep the feed bags full.
  • Wash horses at the wash bay after the cross country.
  • Brush anyone that needs it.
  • Remove plaits after the dressage. 
  • Video Em in action if she needs a record.
  • Run little missions to carry things from place to place as required. 
  • Provide calming scratches and strokes if horses are upset or if they just look like they need a cuddle (or if I do). 
It is a busy day with lots of walking around, generally at speeds faster than I like to go normally. Other people walk so fast! 

So it was a happy day, with quite a few laughs, bright sun shining and warm temperatures. 

School starts again tomorrow. 

Friday, October 11, 2013


Thank goodness it was fine today because I was MAD about being a wimp yesterday, so I headed out to the farm to redeem myself. Sorry, had to use an old photo of Zanny because I was focused on one thing - riding - today.

 It was a much more suitable situation for riding today as no one was around, all was calm and quiet, and snuggled up in my crash vest, I felt warm enough. We trotted in all directions in the arena and I had a little success controlling her speed. Then we practised cantering and managed whole big circles today, which we've never done before. Zanny was so good, and did everything I asked of her. We're coming along nicely together.

Ps. Mouse, Miss Dog and I planted cosmos, candytuft, radish and coriander seeds today. I watered the trays in the glasshouse and suddenly I could see the sweetpea shoots emerging.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Zanny and the Wimp

"Grrr!" says Mr Mouse, "It is so boring being stuck inside when it rains." So he attacks one of the dining chairs again. 
 "Mummy, isn't it about time you painted these chairs?" Sigh. One day. There are far more interesting things to do.
 "Maybe if I bite and scratch it, the old varnish will come off and save you a job." Thanks Mouse.
 Yes Mousie, you are very cute!
 We had another wet day yesterday, but today there was a brief break in the weather, so the sun appeared for a while. I did some jobs (including an urgent mission to buy tea- I never thought I'd miss a cup of tea so much), then headed out to the farm to see Mrs Zanny.

Well, there was a lot of action out at the farm today. There were riding lessons in the arena, and Tara was in season yet again. She was prancing around flamboyantly, and had managed to break the front clips on her cover with all of the silly activity. When I mounted up, Tara was racing around calling, generally causing a scene. In addition to that there was a big gentleman practising his jumping skills, and his thundering hooves added to the drama in the air.

Now, Zanny is partially sighted, so screeching and prancing Tara plus Walter bounding and thundering, is all pretty scary when you can only see it on one side. She did very well, but I was far too wimpy and just plodded around, playing super safe. We did a bit of trotting but I was a bit disappointed with myself for not challenging myself by working on my goals. I've really got to push myself a bit harder to get over the fear barrier. Zanny is a very safe girl, so I should just trust her, and anyway, the ground was mushy in the arena so if I had fallen off I would have been cushioned by the slush. Or I possibly could have disappeared into a puddle of quick sand, crying "Save me Zanny!" and being the super horse she is, she would have done just that.

Next time I will do better.

Mr Mouse and I worked on a new project this afternoon. I bought this panel of fabric ages ago, and finally pieced together a matching backing panel. So we made the quilt sandwich today, and I started machine quilting it while enjoying some particularly graphic murder scenes from Dexter Series 5. I'm not sure that is typical viewing for ladies working on quilts,  but it kept me calm, even when my sewing machine jammed up with a stuck thread.
 I did draw the line at attempted theft of my quilting pins. Very dangerous, Mr Mouse! At least he kept his paws well clear of the sewing machine needle. We've had words about that before.
 I adore this fabric, with butterflies and birdies among the blooms. I've got Dutch iris out in the garden at the moment.
It is going to rain again tomorrow, apparently. I've got plenty to do. I can't believe the holidays are almost over.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


It rained all day today. Mr Frog would be very happy in the puddles. Mr Mouse was not so pleased and had a grumpy face for some of the day. The garden slurped up the raindrops. It is supposed to rain again tomorrow. Hopefully there'll be something inspiring to report.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Happy Days

This year the winner of the Great Rose Race is this wee darling - who is either Cornelia or Felicia. Still a mystery after a look on Google Images. Not the best example of her flowers, but still the winner. There are a few bigger rose buds showing colour too, so I'm very excited. 
 The vege patch is making me exceedingly happy too. The cabbages want to be harvested. They are quite a small one, so I mustn't wait too long or they will explode into flower stalks.
 The broccoli are better than the supermarket ones. Conveniently they are not all forming big, plump heads at the same time.
 Mr Pukeko is keeping guard over the lettuce patch. Look how dry the soil is already:
 I haven't watered the garden because we have a weather forecast that a swamp dweller would be excited by. Days of rain. Here is the view towards the back over my first four raised beds. I have to fill the pots on the fence with pretty flowering plants that are tough as old boots. They dry out badly.
 The blossoms are still coming out around the district, and my ones are no exception. The apple tree has lots of pretty blooms. Miss Dog will be licking her lips in anticipation. She ate far too many of my apples last year.
 The blossom tree in the corner is just bursting into bloom. I love the pink buds that open into white and pink tutus. There is a larger tree of this variety out at the farm and it is simply spectacular at the moment. We're a little later here.
 The whole tree will be dancing soon.
 Only about a week ago the Solomon's seal was just appearing above the soil, and I was being careful not to accidentally break off the emerging shoots while I weeded. Now they are flowering. Incredible. If I'd sat out there watching I probably could have seen them heading skyward, then tilting their elegant heads over.
 The bluebells are coming out too, which is perfect timing now that the grape hyacinths are past their best. The foxglove behind is just stretching skyward and will no doubt suddenly flower, much to my surprise.
I love my garden. There is always something to peer at and to get excited by. There are insects, birds, furry friends following me around, interesting seedlings popping through the soil, welcome and unwelcome invaders and glorious colour.

Because it is going to rain, I had to take advantage of the beautiful day to head out to see Zanny and to work on some skills in the arena. She was in a smiley mood, and getting her ready is becoming easier because she is keeping clean now that the soil is drying out. Today when I mounted up I put my foot in the stirrup and the mounting block (half of a big plastic drum) tipped over and I was left dangling. Poor Zanny is such a good girl that she tolerated a bit of a scramble and clump into the saddle. Glad no one saw that little mishap. Not very elegant. We worked on our trotting because she is a speed fiend at trot and I tend to lean forward, which makes her go even faster, and need to work on controlling my rising at trot, tilting my body back a little to slow her. Hard to do, but we made lots of progress today. No, pulling on the reins is not the answer. She hates it so I need to work on my body doing the controlling, not my hands.

I haven't done a lot of trotting on Zanny because of her pregnancy, and now we need to master this skill together. It sounds a bit silly that I need to develop confidence at trot, but she isn't a beginner's horse, even though she is a very good girl. She requires a very gentle touch and can be speedy. She stumbles a bit, which can be a bit alarming, although this seems to be improving with work. Plus we've had about a year off while she was on maternity leave. I'm absolutely loving being her special friend. I love to spoil her.

This weekend was our friend Barbara's birthday, so I made her a chocolate birthday cake using the Edmond's Cook Book recipe. It turned out well considering baking is not something I do very often. She came around for afternoon tea and we had a wee party with the cake, chocolate eclairs and a birthday present, of course.

So I've had a very happy day. I seem to have solved the problem of the slimy varmints eating my baby seedlings with liberal applications of snail bait. Then I solved the problem of the glasshouse being too hot by leaving the door open and putting netting across (Mr Mouse and Miss Dog proof netting). I watched an episode of Dexter- that programme has more twists than a candy cane! I put on one of my 1950's style dresses once I got home from riding. It felt like summer. And now I'm recording my Sunday night programmes and watching a Harry Potter movie. Even better- no work tomorrow- heaven!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sweet Peas Galore

Today was a sunny day. Well, part of it. I fitted in horses, gardening and crafting. Yay! 

This morning was horse time. Well, after calling Mum for a big chat and mucking around for a considerable length of time. When I got out to the farm I brought Zanny in to the stable yard. Viv took a look at her wee rub marks and declared they were probably from rolling! So I felt worried and it wasn't anything to do with riding her. So I got sorted out with Em's oldest jumping saddle - that thing fits my backside like a glove - I love it. Apparently it is Em's favourite too, so no chance of buying it off her any time soon. 

Zanny was a bit unsettled being away from Tara. I headed out on her and all was well until we turned the corner quite a long way down the road so her ears were pointing more towards home, and I think she could hear Tara calling (I couldn't) and suddenly she was calling back and throwing a bit of a hissy. Scary for a wimp like me. Anyway, I couldn't ride her on so had to turn for home once I had got her to calm down, which wasn't ideal because she got what she wanted. We did walk safely home and I stopped her a few times to show her I was in control. Next time we'll go out with a friend and will wait until Tara is safely away from the farm before we go out on our own again. She'll be off soon, and will be keeping Ben company on a block nearby, then will be heading over to the Coast to meet her new stallion. 

So I wasn't exactly terrified by the upset, but I will be riding her in the arena unless I've got sensible company for a while. It is so high and the thing that scares me most about horses is bolting. Viv said she wouldn't do that, but for some reason, that is always what I think of when we have silly behaviour. It is actually falling off a bolting horse that I am terrified of. I don't have much faith in my ability to cling on in an emergency. And the ground is a very long way away. I wish I was less scared of falling off, but after the last time, I really don't think it is a good idea at all. 

On the way home I popped into Rolleston and purchased some sweet pea seeds. Yes, in my riding gear. 
 I planted around 100 sweet pea seeds of various mixes, and have some more that I purchased from The Crafty Child, who had a wee stall on a trolley (I bought lemons, coriander seeds and swan plant seeds as well).
 Mr Mouse repeatedly snuck into the greenhouse and stomped on my seed trays - he seemed determined to find out what I was hiding from him. Miss Dog knows she doesn't belong in there and was happy to hang out with an ancient bone nearby. I need more racks to stack the seed trays on. I am thankful that I have only planted one tomato plant so far, because the garden beds are covered in seed trays. So far the cucumbers, brassicas, peppers (2), tomatoes (1), lemongrass, pansies, leeks and clove pinks have made me very happy by germinating and pushing their way skyward.
 I love sweet peas. They are glorious cut flowers because the more you pick, the more you get!
 They are so pretty on china too. This is one of my favourite chintz patterns:

My chintz china collection is slowly growing. I'm expecting a delivery sometime this week. Exciting! There are so many divine patterns to discover. I think some were never imported here because I have seen some beauties on E-bay that I have never seen here. It would be lovely to go mad and just buy anything I liked, but I think I'd soon fill the whole house up and then I wouldn't treasure each and every piece. 

On the crafting front, I got back into a bit of scrapbooking today. I was watching Dexter on DVD - sooooo good and full of surprises. I love to watch in my craft room while I potter away. Hopefully there will be some gorgeous photos of the sweet peas I sowed today in all of their glory so that they can have their own scrapbook page.