Monday, October 27, 2008

I miss...

Triple J - no other radio station satisfies me on a 24hr scale.

The smell of grass just before a big thunderstorm, its 30 degrees and I'm sitting on the varandah with Mum, Adam and a collection of Dunns

My doggie. I think I started missing her before anything else! Pathetic really!

The ability to make a cup of tea whenever I want

My own bedroom. My own space to chill and where everything is MINE, not shared or open to others....MINE!

A decent hot shower (although ours is not exactly strong, its hot!)

An icy cold Carlton Draught - nowhere but Australia has beer so cold its almost frozen

Champagne - its impossible to get sparkling wine for under $10 anywhere else in the world!

The ability to run when I want and feel safe.

My Mum. I miss her like a limb and I can't wait to give her a massive hug at the airport!

My bro. I miss his silly noises and ability to make me laugh with the most obscure jokes that only a few people seem to get.

People who know me. I'm sick of pretending to like people in order to socialise, I want my own peeps, the friends I've been with for years who I don't have to small talk with, can swear, belch and get ridiculously pissed in front of without them caring.

Family dinners. I miss getting sloshed with the family and eating as much as I possibly can in one sitting. Oz Shnozz - best game in the world!

Soccer. I miss training on Wednesday nights, miss having a kick with my mates down at Roxbourough Park, miss putting on my shin pads for a game.

The RSL - the social meeting place where you're guarenteed to run into people you know.

My clothes. They'll all feel new again by the time I get home.

Heat. I've been to some hot places but none with that excellent close humidity and 35 degrees. I miss going to bed in a wet sarong because its so stinking hot!

My car. I haven't driven in 10 months. I hope I can still drive!!!

Movie nights with Jem. We have an ability to get wasted whilst watching copious amounts of Will Ferrel movies and turning up very hungover to work the next day!

Girly nights (Em would kill me for calling it that!) with my girlz (hehe) eating many a snack

Chocolate Lave Pudding. Oh yeah!

The Fiddler. My local. Coolest place ever - always a good night!

Friday arvo drinkies (does this list involve a lot of alcohol?) when Alicia or Jem or just me and Mum will have champagne and nibbly bits watching the sun go down.

The ranch. I miss my house, the space, the garden, the people, the animals.

Mum's cooking - cheesy veggie bake, beef carpaccio, the awesome salads, tuna mornay, leek and potato soup and the large array of sauces that are presented beautifully for us each night!!!

I can't wait!!! 5 weeks baby!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A few pic from the yard

The stables
Riding in the bush, looks like Australia - good for the homesickness

One of the youngen's, likes to bite a lot
A view of the yard on my way to work

I got headbutted by a 12hh pony - it really hurt!!!

The piste or arena

Me at the yard

The little fuckers who bit me and kicked Michelle

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vida en la hipico

This is an update on my new life as a professional groom and riding student… (sounds impressive huh?) So I live in a 3 bedroom flat about 200m from the yard by myself. It’s quite an impressive place, view of the mountains, fully equipped (with everything except a kettle…grr) but its quite lonely. I keep the TV on to keep me company (all 4 channels in Spanish). Luckily I’m so busy I never really spend much time here. I spend 8am until 8 – 10pm at the yard. My day consists of (you guessed it) a lot of moving large quantities of poo around, riding, drinking coffee, siesta-ing, eating and playing with a gremlin-esque dog called Winnie the Pooh. I’m still getting to know all the horses, I’ve only been here for 4 days, but there’s a great variety of personalities in the yard. Don’t ask me to use all their names cos they’re all in Galego and no native English speaker can pronounce their names without their tongue falling out.

There are a number of young horses (most of which are friggin huge!) who like to bite things (fingers and lead ropes) and are very frolicky and fun. I love young horses because, compared to our two gerries, they are always so excited to see you, greeting you with delighted whinnies and nodding up and down. They a handful when they’re tied up but they always look so beautiful, rearing and pawing the ground, despite the fact that they’re being very naughty. There are 3 foals and a couple of preggaz brood mares, foals are lovely to play with and you have to watch your hair but they’re always up for a playful fight. There’s Ben, the English thoroughbred who’s just been trucked in (looks like Black Beauty, absolutamente bonito!) but has breathing problems and needs to be fed, bathed and cleaned like a newborn.

So after I finish mucking out and putting out and bringing in and checking the fences and sweeping the yard, I get to ride. Today we went on the most beautiful trail ride I’ve ever been on, through little villages in the mountains and with views over the whole valley (I’ll try and get some photos next time). They call a trail ride a ‘ruta’ hehe! Then after that I got on a gun of a horse called Tecal (a steel grey arab/Spanish cross) and had an hour’s jumping lesson. Now there’s something you should now about riding – its not just sitting on a horse. Apparently that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years! No no, riding PROPERLY is all about ‘contact with the inside leg and outside rein’, ‘keeping hands down during transition and switching leg contact’, ‘putting the horse at a jump perfectly straight, fast enough to gain momentum and slow enough to maintain control’ and some of this comes at me in Spanish!!!

My first lesson I almost came off because I was leaning forward too far over the jump and I think Tecal can sense I’m not a jumper and freaks out at the last minute! I’m only going over 80cm – 1m jumps and I’m struggling! I’m using muscles I’ve never used before and I’m absolutely buggered after half an hour of riding. I think everyone things I’m a massive amateur but even after 3 lessons I’ve learned so much! And not only about riding, I’ve witnessed a ‘pregnancy check’ (basically a man sticking his hands up a horse’s shoofter), an attempted foal weaning, learnt how to tie multitudes of safety knots, alternative horsemanship like bit-less bridles and countless (possibly useless) information on the performance on different breeds and the best way to approach them. Imagine what I’ll learn after 6 weeks!!! It is hard work, I have blisters on my riding fingers and they’re getting infected and sore, I have bruises from the wheelbarrow and I am homesick, but this is such an amazing experience and I really think I will be glad I did this. I feel a sense of accomplishment doing this, like I’m not just touring the touristy cities and seeing things everyone else sees, I’m tailoring the holiday to me and what I like. Michelle my trainer is taking me to a fiesta in town tonight which should be interesting (especially working the next day!), so I somehow think this intended diet will have to wait until I get home. But I’m hoping I still feel so optimistic after a few more weeks!!!s

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bathelona baby

What an eventful city. So far, after being in Barcelona for 5 days, we’ve witnessed an attempted suicide by an obviously drug-fucked woman with a broken bottle, a guy who’d been stabbed and was bleeding all over the pavement (both in the middle of the main street), a Barcelona game at Camp Nou, one of the most amazing football stadiums in the world (see its not all blood and violence Mum!), a large array of awesome street busking which puts Circular Quay to shame, a cooking class in which we were taught how to make tapas, sangria and paella and numerous ciders and kebab consumption in the city pubs and bars. So everyone keeps going on about how dangerous Barcelona is, but touch wood we haven’t had any troubles yet. We’re pretty alert about our belongings but I haven’t seen anyone who looks completely dodgy yet. There were thieves lurking around while we were doing our cooking class apparently but I think they aim for the stupid white-socked tourists who carry all their money around with them in bumbags and cameras slung around their necks! We’ve seen a lot of crazy shit here but strangely I don’t feel like I’m personally in any danger, even at a crowded football match or in the underground stations.

Unfortunately I can’t upload photos onto blogger for some reason but I’ll try and put them up in the next hostel. I’m so glad we decided to stay in Barcelona longer than first intended, although it’s not the most attractive city we’ve been to, its certainly eventful! We’ve met heaps of people here, Americans, Germans, more Aussies and a few locals as well which has provided us with much entertainment (more-so because of the wonderful way they lisp when they talk!!!)

So it turns out they don’t actually speak Spanish here. Well they do, but the main language is completely different, it sounds more Portuguese to me, and it also turns out that nowhere that I’m going on this trip has Spanish as their main language! I’ve been conversing as much as I can in Spanish but I don’t think I’m going to pick up a great deal here. But at least I can get around with basic words and numbers.

The great thing about Spain is that everyone does everything about 4 hours later than the times I’m used to. No one rises before midday and everything is open until about 10pm so you can start the day a lot later and not feel like you have to get up early in the morning! It’s a bit hard for Bec who is an automatic 8am riser, but I’m adapting quite nicely!!! We’re going to a film festival in Sitges tonight ( at a beach a little south of here that’s supposed to be really cool so that should be fun. We’re meeting up with our friend Braddles on Wednesday which will be fantastico because I haven’t seen him in 8 months and its always good to see a person from home that you can catch up with. So that’s a brief account of recent events.

Hasta luego amigos, stay tuned for photos!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Random thoughts of the day

Just a few random words tonight. We've managed to find a hostel in Barcelona with really good internet (the Spanish know how to do it!) and I've also swapped a few movies with the owner of the hostel who has a crazy powerful and spanking new mac in his office so I'm quite happy that all my affairs are up to date! We've been shopping like crazy today, no matter how hard we try we just can't keep away from Zara! I don't know why they don't have it in Australia, it would go off! We're going to the beach tomorrow and then learning how to cook (and hopefully pronounce...) paella! So in two weeks time I will have to say goodbye to Bec which will be really sad and embark on the last part of my journey at an equestrian centre which I'm a little apprehensive about. I know its not going to be anything like what I experienced in Dorking, but I'm still worried I'm going to get the homesickness I seem to get when I'm in the same place for too long on my own (without people I know of course...). I'm very excited that I'll finally learn how to jump properly (on a horse, not on my own, although I am fairly retarded in the jumping side of things) not that I can really use it for anything, but I guess its like riding a bike...

The other thing I'd like to randomly mention is the difficulty I seem to be having in picking up Spanish again (gaudium de lingua you may appreciate this). In south america, it was not an effort to pick up the language, it just happened because you had to learn to speak the basics or you didn't eat (or you ate something you just pointed at which usually turned out to be bread with cheese...). It was a smooth process and at the end of a couple of months you find yourself ordering almost anything in another language and you're a little bit chuffed! I know Barcelona is a touristy city but so many times I've been asking people questions in Spanish and they reply in English! Bec's finding people automatically speaking Spanish to her because she has the latin looking complexion, but me with my "english rose" skin - why will no one speak Spanish to me? Its as if they see me coming - a gringo wanting to learn a few words while I'm here for a couple of months, and they just don't even bother obliging me from the start! I'm hoping it gets a little more cultural in the smaller cities but at this rate I'll learn nothing at all!

Oh well, even if I did pick up more Spanish, I'd come home and forget it all anyway. I know its a defeatist attitude but the dream of being multi lingual without the accompanying effort is fading away everyday.... Come on latino man of my dreams who will subsequently teach me the language and produce bilingual children with me!! Now where's that cute hostel owner with his fancy puter.........bye!