FYI for Americans: the standard way of making gravy here is to mix some crystals out of a tub with hot water. This produces a transparent glop that doesn't seem to me in anyway related to actual "gravy," which I think should normally be made with milk. My gravy is apparently quite bizarre to some English people.
Today was the long awaited equine excursion with silkyraven. I got ready for it in my own special way, by stressing out most of the night, worrying that I would oversleep and miss the train that would get me there on time (rail replacement buses had turned the entire trip to Tadworth into a bit of a nightmare - only one train _per hour_, getting me there either 40 minutes early or 20 minutes late). Oddly, in addition to dreaming that my cell phone had multiple previously hidden controls that turned it into a 1) video game controller 2) fuzzy blue pillow, I also dreamed that I went for a ride in a Rolls Royce heli-taxi - as well as dreaming about werenerd, who's apparently in my thoughts right now.
All this meant I was fairly strung out by the time I got to the train station at 11 AM ... all this to be somewhere by 2 PM that wasn't even as far as Gatwich Airport! Ahhh .... the joys of public transportation on Sundays. At any rate, silkyraven and I did finally meet up in Tadworth and walked to the stables. Our ride was really fun - I was on Forrest, who was a 17 hand red gelding (Irish Draft horse?) prone to ambling and trying to steal leaves off of bushes, but with a trot that was practically a parade march in its stateliness. I realized that my time on horses now seemed long, long ago as the ride lead suggested a canter ... hey now! Fast forward motion and nothing to hold on to ... but a horse ... with my legs! Everything seemed to be going a bit wrong for me as the horse's center of gravity seemed about 10 degrees off of where the center of the saddle was aiming - and I felt like I was having to ride a bit sideways, which I was really uncomfortable doing. (I tried a mid-ride adjustment by standing in my left stirrup, but this didn't seem to cut it.) It also felt kind of like this big rangy guy had a little bit of extra kick in the hind quarters, a sort of jostle I wasn't expecting, like when his back legs were in the air, he was giving his tail an extra good swat to try to get some pesky flies off and maybe tossing a booty shake on top of it.
I felt like quite the unskilled moron that I couldn't ride this canter correctly and easily, and wasn't surprised at the end of the ride when our guide (apparently the top teacher at the stable - glad I didn't get mouthy when he told me to hold my reins in much more tightly) said I needed to take some lessons before I went out for a hack again. I mean, shit, I didn't feel like I was doing well, there's no way that could have been invisible. And it was sad, you know, cantering is a blast, but I was relieved he didn't ask us to do it any more than he did. I hope silkyraven wasn't bored, but since the countryside was gorgeous (riding down a tree-covered lane? next to rolling hills covered with wheat? or a grass covered track put down for race horses to train on? Awesome!) I think my inadequacies might perhaps not have made this an altogether bad outing. And we did sure get the great weather - just a little bit overcast, and warm enough for t-shirts to be appropriate.
So I think I kinda sucked on the riding front today. And you know what? I want to go back and take lessons. I think riding is awesome and I want to be good at it, good enough for my eventual ride on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela (inspired by reading Therapy by David Lodge, believe it or not), which I'll get to do if I keep living here since we're so flush for vacation time. Lessons are pricey, but, you know, if I get four of them babies under my belt, I'll be so much better than I am right now that I'm sure me and Forrest would be having a good time on my next ride. And you know what? Even if it was just that the saddle was sitting sideways, at least I would be able to tell - and fix it.
Note: total transportation time - left at 11 AM, got to Tadworth (on the rail replacement bus, bah!) at about 1:05, walk to stable took 20 minutes. Done riding around 3:15, had to wait for the 4:20 bus (only one an hour, bah!), then had to wait for the 5:18 train (bah again! and cold!) and finally got home around 6 PM. GAH! Fortunately if there's actually a train running this is much less of a hassle.
Rightie - I have some work to do for the convention in Leicester now, and then me and my boy are going to laze around and watch some more David Attenborough videos (courtesy of spikeylady).