The list always has more than 10 things needing doing and I can generally manage 5 ......... The Blog has suffered but: We have worked on the promo video; have made a bit of progress on accommodation; went up to London for a reception at the Town Hall of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (photo and more inf soon); spent for ever in various outdoor shops and on the internet to find tough, light weight, waterproof jacket, over trouser and boots in sizes and colours that were OK; plus very lightweight sleeping bag and other bits and pieces. Bank balance will be lighter weight when card bill is paid! And done some riding.
I just received a statement from the Family Holiday Association with the donation details for the past three months. Thanks to several ‘offline’ donations the total raised has gone past £15,000. Thankyou everyone, thats fantastic!
Only £235,000 to go ............... we’ll get there.
Yesterday: cut across the end of the Common and down a track to the main road. Then along the road in sunshine with plenty of traffic, mostly slowing down and giving us lots of space but some showing how little idea they have of the speed with which a horse can go sideways ...... Strider was steady but going with no energy. Coming into Winchcombe the narrow street had cars parked as usual and lots of traffic both ways having to give way, get onto the pavement etc. Strider was good as gold! Stood in queues, stood to the side to let the bus and other traffic overtake us, stood and waited for ages while the bus was at the stop in the square. A GOOD BOY. Going home up the back lane and via Langley we got more energy and we got very steady behaviour past 100 yards of trench digging, red plastic fencing, huge reel of yellow plastic pipe etc. It looked like a Sheila Reed spook busting special. Home in a bit under two hours.
Today forecast showers but warm. I decide not to wear a waterproof as I would rather be a bit wet than too hot ............ Up to the Common into a stiff breeze and heavy shower for a mile or so. And he just trotted steadily on. Not liking it but just getting on with going. I was thoroughly wet. Down past Wontley with its normal quota of horse flies. Through the wood and out onto deserted lanes. We met one car. 90 minutes after leaving the yard we stopped in the lee of a wood for a graze and a snack for me, then turned for home with a short walk before I remounted. Back the way we had come. As we got back up towards the Common the wind turned stronger and colder and the rain changed from "wet" to "lashing in". I went from damp to soaked in minutes and my left boot filled with water. Strider just trotted on. Not too happy but making no fuss. We crossed the top and came down a bit and had a canter, then steadily on home sort of looking for how to keep out of it if possible. Back over the top and into the wind but soon down to the gate and shelter. We came into the yard sodden! More than 2.5 hours. He got on with munching hay. I went home to hang up everything to dry and have a hot bath. Very happy for such a good ride and good Boy.
One exciting byproduct of the Ride is picking up news of other rides and riders. I have mentioned Katrina Littlechild and Cognac going John O'Groats to Lands End to raise money for the British Heart Foundation, BHF. They are about to reach the southern end of the Pennine Bridleway and start on down the Sabrina Way. I am looking forward to meeting them in a couple of weeks time.
Thanks to Katrina I have learned of Nora Kragabakk who is riding from the New Forest to Newcastle upon Tyne (arriving there this Thursday) on Juniblest. And thanks to Basha O'Reilly of the Long Riders Guild I have been contacted by Nirwan Arsuka (there is an English section on his site) who is preparing for a ride right across Indonesia - a SERIOUSLY long distance.
Long distance riding is mostly rather below the news media's radar. I hope I can take the Ride Round England right up into their full view!
A wonderful jump in the donation total to over £14,600 thanks to the generosity of the Worshipful Company of Grocers. This London Livery Company dates back to 9 May 1345 when 22 members of the Ancient Guild of Pepperers founded a fraternity which, in 1376, became The Company of Grocers of London. I am a member of the Company and had applied to their charitable matched funding scheme. I am extremely grateful for the generous response.
When the total gets to £15,000 it will be 6% of the £250,000 target so, while its a long way to go, it is really on the move!
Friday 27 July: Alarm clock 3.40 am. At the yard 4.30 am. Haynet in to soak. Tack loaded plus water, shovel, buckets etc. Strider groomed. Jacquie arrived 5.00. Travel boots and tail guard on and Strider loaded. Out of the yard by 5.15 am. Easy run past Oxford and onto M40. Then 25 minutes as 3 lanes go down to one past site of overnight roadworks. A camera in the back shows a completely calm Strider. Light traffic into London. "Games Lanes" appear but with such light traffic no problem. Turn down to Shepherd's Bush in the least traffic I think I have ever seen there. Up Kensington High Street and a loop around to Hornton Street and the Town Hall of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea; arrival 8.15 am. Family Holiday Association's John MacDonald, Joe Hipgrave and Emma are there. Strider wants a wander around in the big forecourt area. RBKC staff produce mugs of tea - thankyou!
Quite soon the Mayor and Deputy Mayor are with us in chains and robes, white gloves and lace ruffles and we pose for lots of photos. Strider is well behaved, with just the odd carrot from a gloved hand to keep him looking the right way. It is a preliminary event for a Reception the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Victoria Borwick, is holding in September in support of the Ride Round England as she is a FHA supporter. The photos all taken we reload Strider and go off for some breakfast. Then its set off home in the lorry and another smooth journey. I will post more photos when I have them. Meanwhile here is one excellent shot!
Too much doing and not enough keeping things uptodate, but here is the interview Kate Justice did with me on BBC Radio Gloucestershire. I thought she did a really good interview and then edited it and added comments etc for the broadcast very well. Hear the story here! The FHA have cut the different sections from Kate's show together to make a continuous piece. Thankyou very much to John MacDonald, Director of the FHA, for doing this.
I hope you enjoy it.
Road and across to Montpellier, down to the Promenade, via the Bus Station to Boots Corner and then via Holy Trinity to Pittville Park, with a walk for me up the park and a graze on clover plants for 10 minutes for him while we collected a small group of admiring mothers and toddlers. Albert Road, back to Prestbury and home up the hill.Sunshine!! as we left the yard at 8.15am for a trip into Cheltenham. Onto the Common and then down the narrow bridleway from behind the Rising Sun. I was armed with secateurs as in addition to the ash twigs etc growing across this narrow path, there are also brambles and roses. Seemingly well settled when we came out onto the main road, a small fit of horror at the remains of a cardboard box on the verge proved Strider can get worried but we walked and trotted (when no cars coming up behind) into Prestbury and on down the Prestbury Road, round the roundabout and onto Wellington Square. Then we took the route we have done before to the Chelt (and a good grassy spot for him to have a pee), crossed it and came up an alley onto St Georges Road and passed the Magistrates Court. We cut through to Malvern
13 miles, 3.5 hours which is not fast going but I am not yet trying to race in town (and I daresay never will be!).
The first on the list of plates to keep spinning.
This task is relatively straightforward, so long as you dont ask an expert and keep making the time day after day and week after week .............. Strider and I need to be able to do between 100 and 140 miles a week, average in the 120 area. And we need to do it with full load, in any weather and on any terrain. That means we need to be comfortably able to do over 40 miles in a day and two or three successive days of 30+ miles each. We need to be able to do that because accommodation will not be at the ideal distance from the next and because if there is a route problem, or some other difficulty comes up, we still need to reach our bed/field.
So, I am aiming steadily to increase our distances and speeds. The ride starts in May 2013 which is plenty of time, BUT I want to get some rides done late summer and early autumn this year which means some level of fitness before that, and then keeping it and building on it through the winter.
My basic programme is to do more riding and more walking as the weeks and months go by. That will give Strider the work too and, as we have plenty of hills to work on, his hindquarters will build the power we need. I am topping that up for me by swimming and some gym work. My Bowen Therapist has given me two bits of advice: 1. Get one of the large balls you can sit on and use it instead of a chair when at a table or desk. That will build up core strength which is the key to all round strenth. 2. Do not use the gym for anything other than core strength work. I reckon the swimming will improve my suppleness as I will do crawl (breathing both sides), backstroke and breaststroke and in a 25m pool the turns are a good bend and stretch. Strider will also get more schooling which will help him to be more compact (he is a big boy who prefers to work stretched out) and improve his suppleness.
In with the getting fit is getting hardened. He needs to be fine with bridle, saddle and saddlebags on all day and day after day. That includes his skin, and flesh, having hardened up where kit hangs and can rub. Strider will also have hi-viz gaiters on all day and they can rub. I need to be hardened up in the same way against things rubbing. Both for the riding and for the items slung on me: map, trumpet etc. Then I need to develop a claw like grip with my right hand so I can play the trumpet with one hand.