Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Flying free

She hinted she didn't want to ride.

P gets stressed at the thought of homework building up, forms that need to be signed and bags that need packing for the next school day - which is a sad state to be in when you are 9 years old. I knew as soon as I saw her, as she wearily left the classroom, that she was unhappy; there were 50 multiplication sums and 10 spelling sentences to do for the next day. P can't think, or process, or have fun, until the pesky school work is completed.

I persuaded her to trot around for 10 minutes on Spot who enjoys a little jolly. She rides well, little P, but I can see she doesn't always enjoy it. After a cajoled canter, I built a teeny, weeny, tiny jump.

Go on I said. You can do it. And she did! Quite spectacularly. Twice in fact.


She grinned, I praised her and hugged the pony for being so honest.

"How was that?" I asked

She thought for a moment and considered her answer.

"When you go over the jump it was like there was a big hammer, hammering down my homework into the jump!"

Wow I replied. How does that make you feel?

"Like an angel lived inside me" she said, flooring me with her reply.

My 9 year old daughter had just explained how horses made me feel. No matter how life is turning out, how blue my day has been or desperately unhappy I felt; when I am near horses, it's like an angel lives inside me and nothing else matters.

To the horse who put the angel inside me:

Rest in Peace Mr Fletcher, thank you for teaching me, for allowing me to feel, for your free spirit and wild ways. I will never, ever forget you. Run free you crazy ginger beastie and I'll see you on the other side for a mad gallop.


Fletch, who rekindled my love of horses, put to sleep this week

Friday, 24 November 2017

The next phase

I loved the milky babies, days out with toddlers to play farms and forests. I loved the relative freedom  of them starting school and being able to discover horses again for myself. I loved them growing up and developing strong characters and dislikes. Of them still believing in Father Christmas and needing to sleep in our bed if a nightmare arrived. I think I loved it all, but the memory is a marvellous thing and filters out the mundane and the boring. The photos taken are of happy times and milestones, like the first solid food and wobbly ride of a bike, they fool us into remembering a content and peaceful time. I really loved being a mum to little children. I'm just not sure I'm doing a good job of the next bit.

A is nearly 12, developing into a young woman at great speed. Her character from toddler-dom is still there, a kind and empathetic child, a loather of pain, a messy eater with a wide infectious smile for all. She tries hard at school, loves her pony with passion and has many friends.

And now she has a phone. And Instagram. And I don't like it, I don't like it at all.

It's not the amount of time spent staring at the screen, we are all guilty of that I'm afraid, but the influences and messages which pollute her child-like brain.

Maybe I am feeling a loss of control. The beginning of letting go, the start of her finding her own path with it's steep drops and craggy rocks on the way.

I try and help her with her friendship issues, I encourage her to talk about her worries, we discuss what to ignore and what to confront and we spend time together in silence - just brushing the horses or mucking out the stables. I want her to fit in and stand out as different. I want her to be strong but caring. I would like her to work hard at school but not to the detriment of her pleasures. I would like her to have a special friend but be kind to the whole class.

And of course I hope, hope so much, that she is happy.


Mallorca or Sussex, being a Mama is one of the hardest jobs of them all. 

Friday, 10 November 2017

Winter

Winter happens overnight here in Mallorca.

Half term was a blissful week of sunny days, riding in tee shirts, sunglasses over lunch, snoozes on the balcony with faces to the warmth and ice creams watching the super yachts moor for the winter; after a season of indulgent luxury.



We had the obligatory end-of-summer-BBQ. Just as the last sausage was consumed and the last glass of chilled white wine was quaffed, at exactly the same time as last year, the weather turned cold and the skies turned black. Winter had arrived - and boy, do you notice it here in Mallorca.

The houses are just not built for the cold, with their stone floors and no insulation. It doesn't help that our boiler has broken, the logs are too damp and the electricity company is threatening to cut us off for not paying our bill - we are trying to pay obviously but it just isn't that simple here in Spain. The ceiling has a hole in it, the rain drips slowly onto our duvet, the horses are wearing their rugs and the kids wrap up in puffy jackets and tights on the way to school.

But do you know what?

It might be chilly, with a shivery breeze - but there is always the sun. Weak and watery as it is right now, it never fails to make November simply delightful.


Cold but sunny evenings after school

Thursday, 2 November 2017

es-Pot

It could have gone so horribly wrong. I had never bought a horse before, let alone a pony for my precious kids. But arriving in Mallorca over a year ago, I was impatient. We rented a house in the middle of the island with accidental stables and an arena to ride in. I say accidental, and I know you don't believe me - but it wasn't in the house description I promise you.

After a very stressful move from the UK, all our dreams and belongings in one lorry load, I wondered how long it was deemed acceptable before I went pony shopping.

In two weeks I had found him.



He was called Spot. Es-Pot, as the Spanish say. There is not one spot on his body, but I'm sure there would have been when he was young.

He stood, fatter than most, tied to a hitching rail looking bored and resigned. The sellers steered us to the more energetic looking ponies - ones with a heftier price tag as well.

"That one!" I pointed at Spot.

Ohhh, he don't jump so good.

Well I definitely want that one then. My kids wobbled round on this pure white pony and he looked after them, a week later he was in our home.


He has been worth every euro since, every-flipping centimos. This pony makes every day worth waking up for, he is the most honest, genuine, kind, loving, patient, fun and food-loving horse I have ever known.

He has taught teenagers to ride, adults to smile, a 3 year old to hang on and grown men to laugh. He is my daughters first real love.

You are with us forever Spot. And you know it.


With his girlfriend, and boss, Kira


The Grinch


The most loved pony in Mallorca


Oh, and he can jump!


Monday, 16 October 2017

Home

The aeroplane veered right and started it's descent. My heart took a leap and I smiled as I looked down on Cala San Vicente, remembering a sweltering beach day without sun cream. Behind me I could make out the dragon's tail-like tip of Cap de Formentor, the terrifying bends and curves in the road were visible which made me cling to my seat with the memory - a New Years Day picnic with dolphins. We flew over Puerto Pollensa where boats lined up in neat rows and the turquoise waters glistened on what had obviously been a fabulous October day. I could see Alcudia and Playa de Muro, we flew past Inca were we had lived for a whole year, the Tramuntana mountains stood proudly and foreboding - and I could just make out where our new house must be. Palma beckoned and as we landed, without a bump, I truly felt I had come home.

While it was lovely to visit the UK, with strong hugs for friends and animals, it felt nicer to return.

We had no idea whether it would work out 18 months ago, but took the brave leap anyway. I can honestly say it is the best thing we have ever done - for me, for him, the children and even the fattie catties. And although I guess I will always be English, my heart and soul belongs in Mallorca.


Visiting Fletch in the UK

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

El Ratoncita Perez

We wait outside the dentist, a little too early to walk through the doors, mulling over the braces that were about to be put on A's teeth. She's growing fast my lovely A, with puberty up and running, secondary school under way, wandering around shopping centres with her friends - and now some metal train tracks on her sticky-outy teeth.

"Lot's of people in my class say the Tooth Fairy doesn't exist and that the parents give you the money!" says P, the savvy child and over two years A's junior.

"Tell me the truth Mummy, is there such a thing as the Tooth Fairy?" demanded P.

I don't like telling lies to my kids, the whole Father Christmas thing has never lain that comfortable with me, but I want them to work it out for themselves without the magic being destroyed.

"What do you think?" I turned it back on them, to mull over the improbable facts.

"Well she must be real," replied A "she wrote me all those little notes!"

It's true, I wrote little notes thanking the children for their teeth, in fairy handwriting, telling them that their pearly whites would be used to make miniature tea-sets and the like.

We made our way into the surgery where the dentist measured and took gummy moulds of A's teeth. A wobbly tooth needed to come out so the dentist presented A with the option to yank it out now - or she could wiggle and wobble it out herself at home. The latter option was obviously preferable. The dentist presented her with a tiny pink mouse shaped box, for her tooth to be placed in when it fell.



Why the mouse we asked?

And the dentist proceeded to tell us all about El Ratoncita Perez, the little mouse who collects children's teeth and shines them into pearls - and for that privilege he leaves a gift where the tooth once lay. Which kinda blows the Tooth Fairy out the window.

Both children looked perplexed. They remembered teeth falling out in Spain and the Tooth Fairy HAD been.

"I know! It's because we are English, the Tooth Fairy still comes to us but now we have bought a house here and we are residents of Spain, maybe Ratoncita Perez will come instead. I must write him a note in Spanish!" A says excitedly as she starts to encourage the tooth to fall out.

Poppy looked at me incredulously.

"Really Mum, I'm confused - who TAKES our teeth?"

I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

My family and other animals

I awake, aware of a ginger cat staring at me, willing me to open my eyes. As soon as I do, I am pestered to feed the first hungry mouth of the day. The fattie catties enjoy their routine and branded cat food, still sticking up their pompous noses at the 'foreign muck'. The kids pour cornflakes in a bowl and munch on magdelenas but forget to hydrate themselves and he enjoys a coffee if I'm making one.


Oy, feed me

We roll down the mountain in new school uniforms and holding chopped carrots, ready to feed the horses, who wait patiently for the sound of my car to arrive. Breakfast is wolfed by Spot and lingered over by Kira. The stray cats and kittens skirt my feet gingerly, asking for food but careful never to get too close. Three kittens, one mother and a cat-with-no-tail are fed and watered, relieved that they found such a nice place to be wild in. They lick their paws gratefully, I like to believe, and wonder off for a snooze.



She's wild, tiny and full of worms or kittens again


Spot - the hungriest pony in the world

I drop the kids in their school and shove a pastry in my mouth before heading half way up the mountain to two horses, two ponies and one tiny lamb. All with rumbly tummies. Feeds are fed, haynets stuffed and a bottle of milk made.

And as I watch with wonder as the little lamb gulps down his milk, shoving his pink nose hard at the teat willing more milk to flow - I can't think of a finer way to start my day.


Nurturing