Saturday, 11 February 2017
Thursday, 5 January 2017
Yattendon and I at our first Dressage show. A lot still had to be learnt!
A couple of days ago we had a visit from some "horsy friends" that we hadn't seen for some time and, as usual, the conversation moved over to horses and opened a flood-gate of memories for me.
When we moved to our smallholding in 1975, my life-long dream of owning a horse was realised, and when I acquired my first horse, a Chestnut mare, Starlight, it started a love affair with these wonderful creatures which lasted many years. As teenager, when I was besotted with them, and would spend hours drawing them. The head, the hooves, the nostrils, the tail, the legs, the eyes, and in different stances - running, standing, rearing, jumping.
Soon we were heavily involved with horses, we each had our own - myself, my daughter and my husband. Show jumping, dressage and endurance. We even acquired a vintage Phaeton horse carriage and trained two of our horses to pull it, often going out for short trips on Sunday mornings. In the photo above, on one such outing, Jericho, the Grey, decided that he'd had enough and refused to budge. However, a little bit of encouragement and leading soon got him back into the swing of things!
A few years ago, I went through a stage of sketching and painting horses again, and as I was sketching, I could feel Yattendon's silky mane, the softness around his nostrils and the bristle on his chin when I used to cup his face in my hands, the look in his eye as he queried my command and the comfortable hollow of his back. Oh, what beautiful days those were, saddling up and flying through the fields with your trusted friend! He was my second horse, a fiery C-grade Chestnut jumper, with white socks and a white blaze on his forehead, who taught me about trust, friendship and companionship.
There is nothing more satisfying than a warm nuzzle and a grunt from a contented horse. Spending quiet time with my horse, perhaps a brush-down with a soft brush and tending to his tail and mane, was what I found most relaxing during my horsy years.
I was often asked why I liked horses so much. Look into one's eyes. There you will see generations of horses who have served the humans for thousands of years faithfully for nothing in return. Beaten horses, starved hoses, horses who no longer possess a spirit. They deserve to be loved and respected as much as humanly possible. Let them run free again. Let them no longer be a faithful beasts, but embrace them as you would a dear friend, for that is what they are.
Yattendon with Little Mare and her foal
One day, while visiting a brick yard that had some horses for sale, we saw a small black mare, who immediately came up to us for a nuzzle and I was totally shocked at her condition. Skinny and with a staring coat, I decided I just couldn't leave her there and we immediately bought her from the owner.
A couple of months later, we woke up one morning to Little Mare's neighing at our back door, only to discover that she had foaled during the night. We didn't even know she was pregnant! It was the most gorgeous little black stallion and he soon crept deep into our hearts.
We used to spend hours watching the foal frolicking about on uncertain legs, picking itself up after each ungainly fall and gaining strength and confidence with each leap and bound. They actually are very playful and will spend hours chasing butterflies or fleeing imaginary enemies, often heading straight for mother, seeking shelter at her strong and comforting shoulder, shivering in anticipation of the impending danger. Foals will always hold a special fascination for people - beautiful, gangly, oh so cocky! and frolicking on uncertain legs - they represent the next generation of horses who have served us humans for thousands of years faithfully for nothing in return. They deserve to be loved and respected as much as humanly possible.
Here a few more of my horse sketches:
'Trotting up a storm' - one of the most comfortable positions while riding a horse is trotting
A Tribute to the Horse
Every year, at the end of the 'Horse of the Year' Show in England, the arena lights darken and a solitary horse enters. A hush falls over the crowd as a single spotlight illuminates the magnificent Horse. Over the loudspeakers the following is heard:
Where, in this wide world,
Can man find nobility without pride,
Friendship without envy,
Or beauty without vanity?
Here, where grace is laced with muscle,
And strength by gentleness confined.
He serves without servility.
He has fought without enmity.
There is nothing so powerful,
Nothing less violent.
There is nothing so quick,
Nothing more patient.
England's past has been borne on his back,
All our history is his industry.
We are his heirs,
He our inheritance.
I haven't been on the back of a horse for many years now and I now have the urge to just once more feel a saddle beneath me, the swaying motion of a relaxed walk through the veld on horse-back, even the wind flowing past me in a fast canter. Maybe one day...
Sunday, 11 September 2016
When we lived on our previous smallholding in Tarlton (Gauteng, South Africa), in 1992 I decided to start a business complementing my husband's tractor business i.e. selling tractor spares. We built a 10m x 6m (60sq.m.) pitch-roof building with an office and reception area, using the rest of the space for shelving and all the stock.
In 1996, we bought our current smallholding (just 1.6km from the old one) and rented the house out for a while, staying on our old property. In 1998 I decided to move my business up to the new property as it was on the main road between Krugersdorp and Magaliesburg, with major traffic flow en route to Rustenburg and Botswana. A bit of a bummer for me - I now had to travel 1.6km to work every day, a short drive through the countryside, spotting lots of guinea fowl and other wildlife on my way to work!
The cottage showing the Lounge bay window facing the main house and entrance to the right
Custom-built kitchen in genuine Oregon pine
Stove hob and oven
A Vintage enamel kitchen sink and granite surround
Hand-made baskets served as vegetable trays and shelving across windows provide extra storage
Hand-painted wine glasses on a shelf in the kitchen
Vegetable baskets and spice drawers
Custom-built pantry cupboard
A vintage organ top and 1890 Stinkwood desk served as a study opposite the kitchen
Dining room with custom built 8-seater Oregon pine table and a 1930's Bell, Web & Bell sideboard
Vintage Armoire in the main bedroom
The bathroom was fitted with a ball and claw bath, chain operated cistern and Victorian-style plumbing
Bathroom basin set in an Oregon storage cupboard with a vintage kitchen dresser top serving as medicine cupboard
Armoire in the bathroom storing towels and other bathroom supplies
Bay window in the lounge - I had to scour my house for extra furniture to use here!
1890 William Orpwood tall case in the lounge
Another corner of the lounge
After a few months, the garden I started around the cottage started to settle in.
Front entrance to the main house.
In 2004 we sold this property and moved up to our current property, starting renovations on the old 2-bedroom 1950's farm house, adding a whole new wing consisting of lounge, dining room, study, double garage, main bedroom with en-suite bathroom with folding doors opening into a court-yard garden.
Monday, 5 September 2016
After selling the 3-bedroomed house in Beverley Hills, Ballito, we purchased a two-bedroomed unit with an amazing sea view in Santorini, situated on the cliff with direct beach access to Thompson's Bay Beach.
Front of the unit facing the sea
Front of the unit
Main bathroom en-suite
View from patio
View from patio
View from Main bedroom
View from Main bedroom
We sold this unit in 2008 - I am not sad because it is over, I am smiling because it happened!