I went to my riding lesson feeling a little trepidatious this afternoon. This was because I was a bit concerned that my legs wouldn’t function properly, having walked round the entire county of Suffolk at the weekend.
My brother-in-law, his wife and friends came to visit and they’re all keen walkers. One in particular. Very keen.
So we extended our daily amble along the river to a seven mile round trip with a stop for lunch in the pub.
It was easy flat walking (ahem, this is Suffolk) and bright and beautiful (I got sunburnt. I do whenever the rays poke through the clouds).
One of the party was technically a giant and I took three strides to his one (not hard, I’m only about five feet tall). This meant the pace was just that little bit too fast for my comfort. But I wasn’t going to show myself up by asking them to slow down – oh, no – particularly as they all live in Cambridge and have huge brains. Besides, I’m trying to get fit for this horse riding lark.
I spent most of the afternoon whispering, ‘Ooh! Legs’ to J when no one was looking. (Actually they all got blisters and fell asleep in the tiramisu, so it wasn’t just me).
The next day we decide to go for it all over again with a walk round Aldeburgh. (Packed. Where was everyone last November?)
Well, my legs recovered speedily, which was good because my riding instructor is keen that I use them effectively as aids to move around horses. (Actually, it was hands she wanted me to use this week. And shoulders. And back. But I’m getting there).
Fortunately, a large group of school children had nabbed all the solid, dopey, chunky horses (Fergus and Bertie), leaving me with Duke. Yes, you can tell a lot from a name.Duke was enormous and I got vertigo at first. But he had the advantage of being really sensitive to any aids. Unlike the safe, slow horses, he responds to slight pressure of the leg rather than requiring several ungainly kicks.
The disadvantage – other than his height – was that he was more likely to spook easily and bolt (Fergus just stops). He didn’t, and I felt happy being on a horse that would normally be ridden by an experienced rider because I totally trust Karen, my instructor.
It was like having a go in a Ferrari, before you’ve actually passed your test. You know it’s beyond you, but it’s motivating.
On the way back I stopped off to check out the cattery Pippin will be spending our summer hols in. More horses! Hundreds of cats! Kittens! I would’ve sneaked one of the kittens out in my pocket, if it weren’t for Pips carrying the cat flu virus which he could pass on.
Anyway, today horses and cats are the things I’d add to the Action For Happiness website. I love the concept. It’s crashed now due to too much interest, ironically making people cross and frustrated rather than happy.
I’d also add being outside in the sunshine, matzos with cheese, builder’s tea in the afternoon, finishing my freelance work way before the deadline andhaving a huge supply of library books on the table. J’s away doing exciting radio production work in London, which makes me sad, but there’s the anticipation of his coming home, plus I can watch back to back episodes of Shameless all evening while he’s not here.