Thursday, July 31, 2008

The show must go on

Today I witnessed a very sad event. A beautiful Bay mare dropped dead after having a heart attack in the middle of a show. In a showing class, the rider is expected to show all the aspects of a horse, including a gallop. The horses all do this one by one and then line up afterwards. This mare galloped for about 20 meters and then went to line up with the others. Soon afterwards, it started looking a bit wobbly, the rider knew something was wrong and jumped off straight away. The horse kept neighing and neighing, obviously screaming for help and then collapsed. By this point everyone was looking at her, she was kicking in the air and her breathing was incredibly laboured. The vet came rushing over and they put a big white screen around her but failed to cover her completely because I saw them dragging her limp body into a trailer. 

At this stage I was bawling, I've never seen a horse die before, especially so dramatically. The rider was devastated and left the ring in the horse float. Everyone around me was shocked but as soon as she'd been taken away, the show kept going on as if nothing had happened! I couldn't believe it, here I was crying over this horse I didn't even know and no one even flinched! I can't believe how the horse society acts. The poor horse was obviously not fit enough for the gallop aspect or had not been warmed up enough. The whole way home The Mum was saying 'Poor rider, can you imagine bringing a horse to a show and then leaving without it? He could have been really hurt if he didn't get off in time!' Poor rider? What about the bloody horse who was obviously so scared that it was crying for help and everyone just sat there staring at it. I know there's not much you can do for a horse in this situation but a little bit of respect at least, I can't believe they went on with the show! Anyway, maybe I just needed a cry, maybe it was just too dramatic watching a horse die in agony, but I cried a lot today and seemed to be the only only one. Time for some chocolate.

Photo just before the event. This is Monarch, the horse we were showing in the foreground, the mare in the left background was the one who died. Poor sod.

Monday, July 28, 2008

To all those who are requesting more photos, I am currently uploading my entire trip onto Flickr (please see Rinks on the right hand side). See, I am becoming so involved in the online community - took me a while! PS, I have a fair few photos so make yourself a cup of tea before you begin.


Miner Clarence to the rescue!

Place your bets

I'm living with a bunch of fools. Today The Mum took her beautiful 14hh Conomara out on a ride in 28 degree heat with a neck rug on so he sweats more. She did this because he's put on weight and he needs to sweat it out. Now, one with any iota of common sense would realise that a horse who is kept in a box 24/7, fed on hard grain and working horse mix and ridden once a week or less, would probably put on a fair bit of weight. Maybe instead of making the poor thing sweat to death, cut down on his food or RIDE HIM once in a while!!!

It seems I'm the only one with any horse knowledge around here, despite the fact that they won't let me ride because they're not sure of my skills. She hasn't even attempted to see me ride and for crying out loud her kids don't even know when they're on the wrong leg! Horse riding isn't rocket science but apparently they don't trust my abilities around them, they wouldn't even let me wash one of the ponies today, it was rearing and putting its head up because they kept hosing it in the face - if they had given me a chance I could have told them that all they needed to do was stop the gushing sound by using a jug or a sponge and wash from behind instead of in front where the horse can't see the hose. Its appalling what these poor animals go through because this family think that having nice joddies and new rugs make them horse smart.

On top of all this the kids are treating me like their personal slave. Today Miss Madame told me I was here to do stuff for her and that the only reason The Mum is letting me stay is to help her with the chores. She then proceeded to tell me to do all her afternoon jobs for her while she went inside and ate. I tried shouting at her, appealing to The Mum, saying I'm happy to help, but not do everything for them, but still I ended up doing everything while the kids sit on their spoilt arses and watch me. 

I was so close to telling her I want to leave today. I went up to my room, took a few breaths, then went back down. But I don't know how much more of this I can take!

Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets. Will Clare stay and put herself through this agony in the name of free food or go back to London...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I need to scream!

So its apparent that this blog has become one of my outlets for whinging. I had an hour long convo with Baino the other day, most of it spent complaining and venting, but she and this blog are my only methods so you'll have to bare with me until I have something positive to write about!!!

So I went out to dinner with the makeshift family tonight. What a nightmare!!! Mum and Grandpa used to take us to this lovely little restaurant near our house called Arthurs. Even as small children, we were always expected to behave perfectly, eat with the best manners and there was even a 'table prize' for the person who had the cleanest table cloth at the end of the dinner. It was a great bonding session and even though we were young and distracted by shiny things a lot, the most we ever did was fall asleep. 

Tonight's dinner began with Miss Madame shouting 'service' when the waiter wasn't at our table in 30 seconds. This was followed by a few minutes of good behavior until the meal arrived. This was met with 'I want pepper', 'I want a drink' etc. Miss Madame announced that her 'meal was disgusting and mummy shouldn't have to pay for it' and Spoilt Brat sat at the table putting toothpicks in his drink and spitting it through the gap in his teeth. Spoilt Brat then went on a sugar rush and when told to shut up, got up and started walking down the street. The Mum followed him, trying to catch him, shouting idol threats of taking them home, putting them in the car etc, however the kids just ignored her and went on about their naughty ways. Miss Madame sat in her chair whinging at the top of her voice so that everyone could hear about how her dinner tasted like shit and she was never coming there again.

The people on the table next to us were looking at us in disgust and I've never felt so embarrassed. I felt like going over to them and telling them that I wasn't with them, I'm not part of their family and in fact am planning on leaving them and never seeing them again in 2 weeks. 

But, being the good little a pair that I am I just sat there, ate quietly and politely and ignored the entire situation. Now I know what people who channel their anger internally feel like. About to pull my hair out or implode. Breathe. Deep breaths. Mum - thank you for bringing us up so well!!! I never thought table etiquette would come in handy but apparently it makes me look like a god damned angel next to these little bastards!!!

Get by with a little help from my friends

Ok, so I've been writing a fair bit about my family, understandably because they're a pretty damn good family, but I often fail to express how much I appreciate my friends. First of all, there are two types of friends. There are those that hug and kiss you when they see you, tell everyone how good friends you are with them, buy you nice presents for your birthday and send you lovely messages on special occasions. These friends (although they are still friends) I have found are usually also only there for you when its convenient for them. They fail to contact you for over 6 months when you leave the country and basically don't give a shit about you, you're just one more name in their phone and one extra person on the 'people to call to go out with' list. 

Then there is another type of friend. The ones that aren't particularly over-the-top with their affections, very rarely tell you they love you, aren't particularly touchy feely or affectionate, don't exchange gifts on birthdays unless its a really special one and don't go around displaying their friendship with you to others. However, these friends will email you on a weekly basis while you're away. They scream with happiness when you call them. They're there for you not only in the times when you need them, but the times you don't. They know you like the back of their hand and you can completely and utterly let go of yourself when you're around them, snort when you laugh, tell them all the things you wouldn't tell your mother (actually in that case its not much at all!), tell them when that shirt looks stupid or they have something in their teeth. You can eat like a pig around them because they're doing the same thing. Its not an effort to have fun around them, you can spend an entire Sunday watching Gilmore Girls and not say a word to each other but still have an awesome time. You know for a fact they'll be the first to your BBQ because they don't need to be 'fashionably late' and want to help chop the onions. 

Sometimes it takes you a while to realise which friends fit into each category. It may take an event to show you the truth, traveling with them, not seeing them for a while, a breakup or a sad time in your life. But when you do realise who your true friends are, you know they'll always be that. They'll be there not because they need a friend, but because they genuinely love you exactly the way you are. They are rare, some people never find them, I'm glad that I have.

My besties, Esteves and Schmecky. We are seen here enjoying one of many things we have in common - a love of cake!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Day In The Life....

For those who want to know what I'm up to in that so unpleasantly named Dorking, here is a detailed chronology of events in the average day of Clarence. Although I have to grit my teeth a fair bit in this average day, the benefits outweigh the cons of this country life and so here goes a day in the life

Between 5:30am - 8am: Wake up to the sound of Lara grooming herself on my bed, cows mooing outside my window and horses neighing out the other. Quite lovely really, you'd think so much noise would be annoying but there are no cars, no traffic, no sirens and thankfully no bloody cockatoos!

8am - 9am: Get dressed and go to the chicken pen to let the chickies out of their night cages. The foxy loxys around here are crafty and like the taste of fresh chook. You have to watch out for the geese cos they hiss at you and bite, lil buggars!

Go and muck out the horses. This involves 8 stables. Feed them grain, chalf and hay, top up their water and give them all a good cuddle!

Harry Houdini, gorgeous stallion always trying to get out of his stable to harass the ladies!

Divine having a little nap, she's so gorgeous and my favourite
Bertie Boo is a little buggar sometimes but he's a softy underneath

9am - 10am: Prepare breaky for the kids. This really involves getting everything out of the cupboards and fridge, apparently they can't get all this themselves, I'm not sure who taught these kids motor functions but despite being healthy kids they struggle with even the smallest tasks, a result of lack of discipline. 

Make sure the kids are dressed and ready for whatever the day brings. Usually making Clare do everything for them. 

10am - 12noon: These hours are either spent riding the horses, doing odd jobs such as harrowing the fields, burning old hay, cleaning the house, sorting out all the junk in the shed or taking the kids on a bike ride which is usually spent trying to convince Little Madame that she can in fact ride up the hill and that she cannot expect me to carry two bikes home because she's too lazy to do it herself. Little Madame and Spoilt Brat usually spend these hours trying to kill each other, either with or without weapons and try as I might to break it up I always fail miserably.

12 noon: I prepare lunch for everyone, pack away and clean afterwards. Again, I don't understand why no one can at least help me with this task!!!

The 'menage' or schooling arena which I have to keep tidy and change the jumping course each week

Here's the house with Sam, Jimmy and Smartie out the front

1pm - 3pm: This time is usually spent at a horse show. The kids ride in classes of jumping and showing while I run all the errands: tacking, untacking, fetching coffee, feeding and watering the horses, entering competitions, holding chips, fetching whips, dressing the kids in their showing stuff, bandaging and unbandaging horses, washing horses, barely have time to take a breath!

4pm - 6pm: Muck out horses again, feed and water. There's always time to cuddle my babies though!!

6am - 8pm: Feed all 5 dogs, collect the chicken's eggs and put them away, clean the poo off the eggs and put them in containers out the front of the property to sell.

8pm - 9pm: Prepare dinner, tidy up and wash up afterwards. Watch East Enders (my favourite part of the day!)

10pm: Take the dogs for a walk in the woods so they don't wee overnight. 

10:30pm: Have a shower, clean all the accumulated poo off myself and relax for a minute in the one place where I don't have people nagging me!

11pm: Get the kids ready for bed, unpack the dishwasher, go to bed about half an hour later and fall asleep within 30 seconds cos I'm so friggin tired.

Believe it or not, this is me in a state of complete relaxation after sending the kids to get an icecream and left to my own devices!

They made me go for the British

Cheering for a clear round in the show jumping

Booing the Germans when they win. Good sports we are!

The last couple of days have been less stressful as we've been going to the Royal International Horse Show. It gave me a chance to go off on my own and look at all the nice horsies so here are a few photos from that

So there you go. Its a full on life but it keeps me occupied. I can't say I'll be sad to leave in two weeks though!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

God I've got a great fam!

I sit in bed writing this blog, not because I feel I owe the blog-readers of the world some stories, but more so because the family I’m staying with won’t let me go to bed. Its not a written or verbal law by which I am bound, more of an invisible one, whereby when I try to get under the covers a nosey little head comes peeping into the room asking me questions about how old I am, or wanting to get something from the room I’ve taken over for a month. Even The Mum last night came into my room at 11pm when I was apparently asleep to tell me that she was watching Crocodile Dundee and how good it was.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I haven’t spent a cent since I’ve been working on this farm, I’ve had free food, free entry into some pretty amazing horse shows and a few rides here and there but I have a feeling I’m really doing more than my fair share of the work.

I don’t get a day off, I work from 8am until the kids go to bed which is rather late, even by a 23yr old’s standards. I do all the work I’m happy to do, but I also do a hell of a lot extra. I’m expected to do EVERYTHING for the kids. I have to hold their chip cartons at the shows because they can’t be bothered holding it themselves. I have to put their plates in the dishwasher after every meal because they’re too lazy to do it themselves. I have to cook a different meal for each member of the family because they’re all so picky. I don’t get to sit down for more than 5 minutes because someone wants a cup of tea, or someone needs me to walk to dog, or someone needs me to look after their kids for 5 minutes which turns out to be an hour of unpaid babysitting, including nappy changes! Ahhr!! And worst of all, no one in the entire family has replied ‘yes’ when I’ve asked for a bit of help, even when its quite apparent that I’m struggling with a wheelbarrow or a bale of hay, or an armful of dirty laundry.

Granted, I am no domestic goddess. I shy from most household duties and I’ve been told I’m very bad at them, so this is probably good practice. But its just getting on my nerves at how people are taking advantage of me because I’m too polite to complain. I was even promised babysitting work before I came, however, it appears that people are now just dropping their kids around for me to look after on top of the kids that live here without so much as a thank you.

I have considered talking to The Mum about it and requesting at least a couple of days off, but I have a very strong feeling it will be met with a ‘Well if that’s the case, you should go back to London’. They’ve ‘fired’ a girl already (despite the fact that they weren’t even paying her) for ‘not fitting in’ (meaning she demanded respect and reasonable hours!) So I stay here with free food, lots of animals to keep me company, lots of work that will hopefully help me lose weight and make the 2 and a half weeks I have until Amsterdam with my friends go by even quicker, or I return to London to stay with a bunch of coke-snorting, aggressive lunatics that will charge me for staying there and make me buy my own food?

I guess you just gotta put up with a bit of hard yakka sometimes. But at least I have these beauties to keep me stress free!

Lara my bed companion. She's as close to a snuggle partner I'll get in Dorking.

Bertie my pony's look alike. He loves a good cuddle, basically a giant teddy bear with a fringe

One of the Grand Prix winners in the show jumping. Bewtiful boy.

Winner of the Pure bred Arabian class. My fav horse of the day!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

NY - Now

Please excuse the annoying 3rd person talk in this blog, as it was written by both of us and its a little bit all over the place!

NY was everything you would expect it to be. Romantic, busy, fast - paced and relatively cheap We went crazy on the general cheapness and quality of the produce, needless to say we both added to our dress collection which is coming along quite nicely, Jem by far out - buying Clare, she even has some dresses she hasn't worn yet! We did all the usual touristy stuff;

 went to a Yankees game and basically had no idea what was going on, in fact didn’t even know the game had finished! Baseball obviously isn't our bag, although Jem certainly looked the part. 
From there headed up to Boston and felt really smart for a day in Harvard!! And visited a witch museum in Salem, that was strange but lunch was unreal at this cute little pub (is it bad that most of our favourite things are shopping and food?).

Next we crossed the border into Canada starting at Montreal, where it honestly felt like we were in French. They spoke, ate, dressed, walked like the French, and although it was a gorgeous little town, it became a it tiresome not having any english anywhere.  
The rain was well and truly set in though so we decided to cut Montreal short and  hopped on a bus to Toronto to see Frase and Jules.  Had the best time with them, its great to see people you know after traveling for a few months.  Frase made Jem try her first Guinness (in prep for when she went to Ireland) and she ran water for his AFL game, which ended in a fight and some crude words being exchanged, but all in all a pleasant day! Jules took us out in her home town Waterloo, where Jem managed to spill kebab sauce all down her white dress and Clare, chocolate sauce down her white top, but lucky Mrs Carrere was on hand!  Frase would have liked to join us but wasn’t feeling well…soft!  The next day we had a fathers day BBQ and met Jules family, and that night had the BEST movie marathon consisting of…Dazed and Confused, The Wedding Singer, Flashdance, Dirty Dancing, and Notting Hill, it was right up Frase’s alley.  Had so much fun with them, drank and ate way too much but it was always good times!
Flew into London and found out that the guys we stayed with (Chuck and Aidan) are living with a guy that plays AFL with someone we went on tour with in South America!  Small world! We surprised him and his wife by showing up at a footy party at the good old Walkabout on Sunday afternoon. It was so much fun seeing Donsy and Matt again!  The team did a full monty, at which of course we were front and centre with camera ready!  Funniest thing was one of the guys was doing the worm across the stage naked, he must have been off chops cause his little man was flying all over the place and smacking on the ground, surely it would have hurt!  Anyways we've now done our obligatory visit to the Walky and felt like we were back home, don’t think we met a single pom.  All aussies.   The night before was also quite the bender: we went out to a place on Oxford St and were trying to catch the last tube home so we left and walked to the station to find we’d just missed it. We then (not half heartedly) returned to dance some more, figuring either way we had to get a cab.  Clare had had one two many pints and walked up to someone she’d been speaking to earlier and said ‘oh you followed us here’! She didn’t even realize we were at the same club!  She thought we’d left to go to a new one and didn’t recognize it when we got back.  I must say Clare one of your best! 

After this weekend, Jem flew to Ireland and spent a few days on her own in Galway, beautiful city.  Its funny traveling on your own, she went into this heaps cute old pub and ordered some irish stew and a Guinness for dinner and all the locals straight away want to talk to you and know your story, the Irish are her favourite people so far. 

Clare also went her separate way to stay with Cuz Jimmy and has now scored a job working with gorgeous little Welsh Mountain ponies in the country.

So his brings to an end the story of Clare and Jem's Excellent Adventures as they part ways on their own adventures. But stay tuned as we may both use this blog to update you on our continued journeys.

Over and out.