Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy new year

Ah, this is great.  2013 seems to have started very well as we had a proper spring-like day today: very mild with the sun shining in a clear blue sky all day.  So that was grand.  And it's forecast to last for a while, even if, admittedly and understandably, not quite as splendidly as today.  We had nice conditions on Sunday (ie 30th December) too which was nice, even if things weren't quite so good yesterday, when we had more of the leaden skies and intermittent rain to which we have become accustomed.

So Sunday was lovely, with lovely conditions when I rode Alcalde as the sun was rising (as seen over Panto's head alongside me in the previous paragraph) and then as it was up later on when I was out on Frankie.  It was a proper blinding sun as it was getting up, as it was today.  You can see that from this paragraph's photograph in which we're looking up through Alcalde's ears towards the top of Long Hill, approached eastwards: there are three horses in view right ahead of us - Jeremy Noseda's string, ridden by Harry Eustace, Dave Bradley and Wayne Tanner - but you'll do well if you can pick them out, even if they are only about 15 yards away.

Today was similarly splendid, only even more so.  Alcalde and Ollie were my two mounts today on what was the final day of the relatively easy Christmas/New Year week before we re-apply our noses to the grindstone tomorrow for another 51 weeks.  Alcalde was great as I rode him as my hack, going up to the Links with Joe Akehurst on Frankie.  I put boots on Alcalde just in case Frankie needed some company jumping the hurdles, but I try to avoid schooling nowadays and so was doubly delighted to see Frankie jumping so well, as that meant that I didn't need to leave the ground.

So I could just stand and watch (as seen in one of Emma's photographs in the previous paragraph) which suited both Alcalde and me very well!  Alcalde enjoyed that, but I think that Frankie enjoyed the lot even more.  He's such a good jumper and it was a pleasure to watch him go about his business, particularly as he was so clearly loving every second of it.  He hasn't run for nearly a year but is almost ready to resume, and is entered for a novices' hurdle at Plumpton on Sunday.

In fact, with my fearing that Frankie - who can jump extremely well but who hadn't done any jumping for several months and who is still a baby in his head and who can therefore pretend to be frightened of things which don't really scare him at all - might need a lead couldn't have been more wrong.  Frankie, typically well ridden by Joe, jumped really well (as you can see in Emma's photograph at the end of this chapter) and, having not needed a lead himself, ended up providing a lead for someone else: our neighbour Charlie McBride happened to have brought Harry Buckle up there for Paul Moloney (on his way to Fakenham) to school, and Frankie's presence was good news from their point of view bcause Harry Buckle is less experienced, and it was helpful to him to have a mate to give him a lead.

Anyway, that's been a good start to the year.  I enjoy the Christmas/New Year week as we do take things relatively easy, and having this long-awaited lovely weather (seen later in the morning from Ollie's back, as Martin Smith's three horses, with Batgirl at the rear, walk back down beside the Moulton Road) was the icing on the cake.  Long may it last.  As regards the start of the year, though, we were struggling to see the positives at the outset, having been woken up by a half-hour fusillade of fireworks all around us between midnight and 12.30.

This was extremely annoying for us and terrifying for the greyhounds (but through which Gus, predictably, continued to snore).  Even that, though, I'm taking as a positive: the recession must be over if these people have so much money to throw away on fireworks.  It's fair to assume that they weren't being sent up from the more prosperous houses in the neighbourhood, so instead of saying, 'Bloody bogans', I'll react with the observation, 'Prosperity - money to burn'!

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