Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A day out

At least (and at last) I've got something to write about for a change. It all started the other week when we had that couple or three days of summer weather in March - the sort of days that we are generally lucky to get in August. Normally in March (and even April) we can expect a bit of filthy weather, as often as not including a couple of inches of snow. Come to think of it, there is still time.

So, to get back to the facts of the matter according to the world of Frank... It all started at the end of March when I had to go to the local hospital to see the Surgical Department about my umbilical hernia - nice, just what we needed to know. I'm having an operation on it next month and I've got to be there at 7.30 in the morning - "Please bring a three-quarter length dressing gown and slippers". I can't see that going down very well with the prison authority here - this place doesn't begin to function until about eight o'clock! They will probably have to lay on a special taxi or something.

Anyhoo, I came back just in time for a drop of soup for my lunch and then got changed into my normal rags and booked out again to go for a wander along the dyke that protects all of us incarceratees from the ravages of The Wash. As a matter of fact, a few of them around here could do with a wash. Off I set like a marching marionette along the dyke, arms swinging and singing at the top of my voice... "We're all going on a summer holiday" and being frowned at by sheep who clearly thought that I should be arrested for disturbing the peace.

It's a long walk along that dyke - you stand on me, Kiddo. I walked a mile or so in the blazing sun until I reached a sort of little hide where twitchers can lurk and peep on the poor birdlife. Then I turned and walked the other way having decided to go as far as Freiston. That was a mistake, it really was. By the time I got there I had emptied my water bottle and was utterly cream-crackered. That sun sapped me dry, not to mention the burning of the skin and head. I looked like a parboiled chicken with a bad case of nappy rash of the head.

By the time I got back to the jail I must have walked well over five miles and no self-respecting sanatorium would have taken me.

Was that the end of it? Not at all.

The next morning I was up at the crack of dawn and at nine was collected at the gate by Pat and her daughter, who answers to the name of Sarah.

I sat in the rear of the car and it was ever so pleasant to listen to two women have a conversation. Well, I'm sick of the sight and sound of men to be honest.

There followed a journey which seemed to consist of long winding roads that apparently went nowhere much, and Sarah didn't seem to be at all sure which side of the road to drive on.

I mentioned it!

She said, "The road is there, it seems a shame not to use it" - or words to that effect. Then she almost squished a kestrel that was leisurely dining on a bit of road-kill.

We finally reached Pat's home - an isolated sort of place, crawling with various animals like horses, dogs, cats, rabbits, ducks, chickens and even a cockatiel. I loved it. Sarah lives next door with her own menagerie of horses, cats and dogs. I met Pat's other daughter, who is called Tracey, and, of course, Buddy! Buddy is big, hairy and idle with a mind of his own but gentle and quite placid as far as currying and being saddled is concerned. Did I mention that Buddy is a 16.2 hand cross between a shire (probably) and a food disposal unit?

Well, it didn't take long before he had been brushed down, fitted with an English gents riding saddle and I was using a crate to climb up into the saddle with my sunburn (photos included).

In the afternoon we changed saddles for a western saddle - much more comfortable for me because I have used them before, far more than any other. I'd expected sore back, sore knees, sore thighs and a sore bum - but not a bit. Everything went well - not an ache in sight afterwards. Mind, Buddy tried to have me off a couple of times, once actually kneeling down to get at the grass! However, I soon showed him who the boss was - I let him do as he pleased. Well, let's face it, he's bigger than me.

I could say a great deal about my day horseriding, but I won't - this spot isn't long enough. Howsomever, I WILL say a couple of things about the best day I've had in twenty-six years. It was magic to walk into a proper house again. It was magic to speak to and hear female voices in their habitat (in charge) and to play with dogs, cats and horses. A lovely family - what else can I say?

I'm going again next week but this time I will put decent clothing on and change into my riding rags when I get there. I'm going to take a couple of quid too because we are going for a meal, and maybe an ice cream or two. (I'll never get Buddy into the car - I may have to ride him behind.) I shall wear a suit so as not to disgrace the day - I'll do the disgracing after I get there and get dressed as Clint Eastwood in one of his spaghetti westerns. I've got the hat and saddle for it - and there is no need for the cracks about the good, the bad and the ugly. Heard them all before.

The Voice In The Wilderness

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