It really is true! Texas does do things bigger! Not everything, but for sure some things. I just returned from my first, probably not my last, trip to Texas, before I did I thought I was about to visit the state of braggers, but, having been there, I think Texas actually does have something to brag about. The reason for my trip was horse related, so most of my experience in the longhorn state, was biased towards the western way of life. My first trip to a tack shop, or should I say tack superstore, simply took my breath away. I have never, ever seen so many saddles in one place, at least not without people sitting on them. Row up on row of saddles of all shapes and sizes met me as I walked through the door at Cavenders. Once I got over the shock of seeing so many, I found there was another room with the same amount just through a small door. Not only are there acres of saddles, but they are stacked one on top of the other, so for sure tack is one thing that Texas does big! Steaks are the other, I am borderline vegetarian, so I didn’t actually order one myself, but from the size of the steaks that arrived on my friends plates, I think I really do have to give the award for the biggest steaks to Texas as well as the saddle award. Interstate junctions is another award I would like to hand over. For a moment as we drove into Fort Worth, I wondered if we had ended up on a theme park ride by mistake! Lane upon lane of traffic, weaving around, over and under, curving through the sky beats spaghetti junction in Birmingham England hands down. One thing however, I was not prepared for was finding the biggest heart, I think that award, although not to be given to all Texans, has to go to a small ranch we stopped at on our way into town, I seriously don’t think I have ever been greeted, with such warmth, or given food and drink from people I have never met before as I stepped down from our truck. Not only did these good people feed us dinner, they were there at the crack of dawn with coffee and breakfast to send us on our way, not for money, just out of the kindness of their hearts. I am sure there are many many more things that are bigger in Texas, which is why I need to go back to check out what they are.
I’m not sure but I have all the symptoms, achy bones, an invisible elephant sitting on my chest and a rubber band around my larynx. Also as soon as I stand up my sympathy flies out to high wire walkers, keeping one’s balance is not easy. I refuse point-blank, however, to accept any type of antibiotic. Funny thing is, when I am lying down my brain seems to work fine, but as soon as I try to stand up all I can think about is lying down.
I have actually been quite productive over the last couple of days of proneness! My fingers do not seem to have been affected by the malady from which I am suffering. Hence, with my Mac propped up on a pillow I have been able to work on things I never have time to do, I tidied my filing system, got rid of all my “friends” I have never heard of on Facebook, changed my screen saver and I have probably been inadvertently slimming as well. It’s a busy life being sick, I can’t wait until I am back up on the high wire, not searching for my bed.
I’m not exactly sure if this is really how it works, but here I am in the UK and it is absolutely freezing, the sky is grey, its windy and to top it all it’s threatening to snow, at the moment it’s sheeting, which is only a step away from the white stuff, which I am sure is about to start soon.
I arrived here a little overweight, partly due to overeating at Christmas and not loosing it, but mainly due to stuffing my face during the week before my flight, going totally crazy on the day of the flight and eating everything I could get my hands on. Unfortunately one way of showing love in our family is to make sure that the object of your affection is well fed, so since arriving here three days ago I have been eating heartily, not only three full meals a day, but also coffee breaks, accompanied by cake, tea breaks accompanied toast, chocolate bunnies and huge slices of birthday cake late at night just before we go to sleep, which means I have absolutely no chance of digesting it at all, so, I sleep on it, then in the morning it’s still there, only now it’s consolidated itself into a huge lump of fat, which has attached itself to my waist. So there it sits, my jeans try their best to meet in order for me to do them up, but they fail, my only saving grace is the stretchy pair of jeans I threw into my suitcase at the last moment, not attractive, but they reach around my waist at least. It’s not that I don’t love all the food, I do, and there lies the problem, I have no willpower, not do I want any, I, curly wurlies, curry, pate and toast, fish and chips, bourbon biscuits and pork pies, no matter the order they arrive in, they all get gobbled up almost before they escape from their bags.
I have been hoping that I will feel warmer by consuming more food, but to date I have no proof, I am beginning to think that the only way I will feel warmer by eating is to consume enough food to place a six-inch layer of fat around my bones. This I hasten to add is not going to happen. As from tomorrow, I am trying a new ploy, a totally different tack, I am going to try shopping at stores that are a long way from each other and running from one to the other, however, I think the only way I am going to lose the weight I have so far accumulated on this short trip, is to run from vegetable shop to vegetable shop, praying that they do not have any toffee apples for sale.
Have you ever been on a punt? Probably not, most people have not, but don’t feel left out, punting is only for the very few souls, who, having found sitting in a rowboat a bit of a bore, found themselves something more challenging in a punt! You need balance and a desire to travel across water using only a long pole and brute strength. Do not be deceived, by the seemingly graceful movement the punter used to move his craft across the water. To the unassuming onlooker, the punter’s movement across the water is well planned and seemingly effortless. It’s not true!! How do I know this? I have been a passenger in a punt, not by choice, when I first stepped aboard, I was convinced that oars were hidden underneath the seat, when my chauffeur stood up, I though the vessel was going to capsize, the thought also crossed my mind, that he was going to dive in and leave me, just as the rope which tied us to the bank was released. Not so, I was on a punt, no oars, no diving, just a long-boat with its only form of propulsion a long pole. We left the bank quickly, one swift push with the pole and we were out into the flowing current and I might add, not a slow current, the Avon can run quite quickly at times. As we set off I realized the pole had a life of its own, refusing to let go of the bottom of the river, clinging to the various forms of plants that grow underwater. My punter also had very little balance, I sat squarely in the middle of the vessel, holding tightly to the sides, willing it not to tip over. Within minutes we were out of sight of the landing stage, the pole had only been in the water twice, but we were making great speed without its help. The cool casual punter’s face took on a look of alarm, the pole became a force to be reckoned with, my punter was turning bright red with sweat pouring from his forehead. As we headed for the bank, I clearly remember thinking, that grabbing the nearest branch pulling ourselves to shore was not what punting was supposed to be like, but that it was a good idea and it worked. At the last moment my punter used the pole well, jamming it into the roots of the branch then leaping for the shore before the punt took off, if I had not thrown him the rope I would have been off afloat and at the mercy of the river. So, when you watch those elegant punts gliding silently along the river, spare a thought for the punter, he is probably using every muscle in his body trying to look cool.
I have been putting this off for, hmm, probably a few years now, every time I think about visiting my family, I seem to find better things to do, excuses, diversions, vitally important to the health of the world things. Then as the time comes, when I should have been leaving, I frantically scan newspapers, listen to news coverage that I usually totally ignore and find myself watching the sky. As normal, everything just goes on, all those people who booked the seat on the numerous flights that I should have been on, are all ok, living their lives, seeing the world and their families. Whilst I sit and fume that I did not have the guts to get on the plane. I have acutely stopped a few of them taking off in my time, accusing unsuspecting bystanders of being terrorists, or watching the engineers out of the airport window, knowing deep in my heart that they left a spanner in the works. I did once get help, a hypnotist taught me how to relax and by a series of tapping various acupuncture points all over my head and neck, humming and rolling my eyes from side to side, it did actually work, for a while. The therapist is long gone as is the little piece of paper I wrote the tapping instructions on, so now, I am back to pills, they work, but I feel bad the next day. So, if you’re flying on the 6th and you happen to see a blonde lady frantically tapping the top of her head whilst humming a meaningless song, please, just look the other way, or if you have to look at me, then smile, if you frown I will think you have a gun and we could both end up missing our flights. I would be happy, but you probably would not.
So I told someone I was really busy the other day, they said they were too. So what is busy, is it when you have a job to go to which you leave at 5pm, the go home and cook for the family, or is it when you have a pile of ironing as high as the laundry room ceiling, that everyone else seems to be able to walk right past as if it was none existent! Or maybe it’s a combination of all of the above.
Well next time you think you are busy, take a moment and think about my busy. What I have done today, walked the dogs, ridden two horses, mucked out and fed seven horses, walked the dogs, had a shower, painted the remaining five kitchen cupboards, (I have another eight left to go), gone to work, shopped on the way for adaptors and computer stuff, followed up lead, etc, (which is the easy bit in the middle of the day), got home painted the cupboards again, did the washing, ran out the laundry, walked the dogs, painted more cupboards, picked up a horse trailer, fed the horses, brushed five of them put them into the trailer and now I am going out to relax and ride….
It’s December 12th 2012, only thirteen more days, then I get to eat the biggest meal of the year. This year for the first time in a long time, I am going back to the UK, so Christmas Day is going to be huge. What has become in recent years a meal to just get though, then forget about, is about to become the mega stuffing of the last decade.
I have been in the USA for a long time, I can’t remember the last time I went home for the holidays (as they are called over here), but it was a long time ago. I am normally slenderish, eat lots of veggies and keep pretty fit for my age. I was actually doing quite well at staying in my skinny jeans, until someone suggested we go home to the UK for the ‘holidays’ (holidays to me means summer, beaches and sand between my toes, but oh well!) So Uk bound we are, but ever since we decided to go, we have done nothing but eat, meal after meal, my husbands father is visiting, so we eat with him every night, then we have to take out our customers, so we eat again, then just to be sociable, we eat some more, my stomach is stretched to it max, almost the size of the time I was last pregnant. I guess the only good thing about it is that I am in training, getting ready for the meal of meals. I know the turkey is going to be huge, the pudding, christmas cake, quality street and tangerines, I could go on, but the list is pretty endless, the goodies that are available at this time of year are always the best in England, I can’t wait……. but first I need to stretch my stomach just a little bit more……
I ride horses, a lot. I have way too many of them, I think if there was such a thing as “horses anonymous” then I would be attending weekly meetings! When my daughter was little, I bought her a pony called Dougal. Convinced that she would follow in my footprints, also that her loving horses as much as me would make it easier for me to spend more time with them. I would saddle up her tiny shetland pony, pop her on its back and set off on long walks with my poor daughter, wearing a helmet a few sizes too big, looking a little mushroom like, jogging along behind me. I was waiting for the day we could ride together up and down country lanes. Alas, it was never to be. She tried hard and was actually getting quite good, when I pushed it all a little too far and entered her into a gymkhana. All was going well until Dougal, who by this time was more than a little fed up of jogging up and down the arena, for what seems to him, to be for no reason at all. Decided he had had enough, put his head between his front feet and unceremoniously threw her off into a small heap. I have to say I was very impressed with the way she just hopped back on board. But the next morning she announced her horse riding days were over, so that was that, I never could get her interested again. However, I cannot say the same for me, I have had my feet squashed more times than I can remember, fallen got back up, spent hour upon hour up to my knees in mud with sick horses, thrown from the back of runaways and spent my fair share of time in a hospital bed and wheelchair! So what did I do as soon as I could walk again, got right back on of course. I am totally hooked, I will ride until I find it impossible to climb up the mounting block, or until I can’t get off, what a way to go, stuck on the back of one of my favorite animals, the horse.
Its that time of year again. Halloween, has just passed, bags full of candy sit temptingly inside any house that has children under the age of 14 in it. Cobwebs and ghosts hang sadly from trees, foam headstones stand in lines marking graves that never existed. Pumpkins, that once had smiling faces, or toothless grins site sadly on doorsteps, starting to rot, their heads now a little lopsided. Snow starts to fall in the far north. Then all of a sudden, there are turkeys and autumn wreaths hanging on doors, large bushels of corn , bales of hay marking the entrance of our homes. Piles of brightly colored gourds siting on kitchen countertops, here and there the odd pumpkin survies, probably due to the cold weather. Before long its Christmas, holly wreaths, christmas trees, lights hung from anything that does not move, (especially on my neighbors house which rivals the fourth of July fireworks), snowmen with carrot noses, little children trying to sleep with one eye open, carols playing in all the grocery stores, santas with beards slightly misfitting, giving children hope that they will get their Christmas wishes and find their yearned for toy at the bottom of the tree on Christmas Day. The snow still falling, making it hard to get out and collect all the decorations from these close together seasons. In the spring the snow melts, pumpkins, bales of hay and christmas decorations appear from their frozen homes, and we smile, memories coming back of Hallowthanksmass past and hopefully the many Hallowthanksmasses to come.
Bonfire Night in England, is one of the things I really miss all those toffee apples, sparklers, parkin and treacle toffee! I can clearly remember standing on a heap of dirt which had been excavated for the soon to be built new housing estate. This was in the field behind my house when I was around 11 years old. Looking down on the huge bonfire my friends and I had spent the last month building, holding my sparkler in my hand, smelling that distinct firework smell, the sky all around filled with rockets. Pinwheels trying their best to complete a circle on their hurriedly erected posts, my father holding his hand over his eyes as he tried to keep the wheels turning. It’s a strange English Tradition, heathens that we are, we burn the figure of a man, the guy, made up of old clothes and stuffed with dry leaves and place him on the top of the fire. Guy Fawkes tried to burn down the Houses of Parliament buy putting gun powder filled kegs in the tunnels beneath the building. But his plot was foiled and he was caught. So for some unexplained reason, all over the UK on the 5th of November every year, there are hundreds and hundreds of bonfires in peoples gardens, fields and huge organized events with fireworks to rival the fourth of July. The autumn weather makes it feel good to stand in front of a huge fire, your back getting cold, your face burning, then turning around to warm your back, back and forth like a sausage browning on the grill. As the fires die down, the foil wrapped potatoes that were thrown into the fire are raked out, filled with butter, these are probably the best potatoes I have ever tasted. Finally when its all over and all that is left is the burning embers its time for bed, full and content hair smelling of smoke, muddy wellingtons and memories that will last a lifetime.