Ah and so its almost Happy New Year!
Apologies first for the lack of posts over the Christmas period. I know you were all looking forward to hearing about me attempting to jump a Stanks hedge, adorning Bluey in tinsel, and trying and failing to keep up with the drinking escapades of the South Pembrokeshire. Unfortunately Bluey colicked on Christmas Eve, which means that we will not be out in the field again for a few weeks. He is all well now (and kicking) but I honestly thought at one point that he was dead. Cue sleeping in his stable under a rug, like a less pure Mary (sans Joseph).
In lieu of the anticipated festive content I’ve prepared a little round up of 2017. Globally its been a massive s**t show for a whole load of people, and for me its been pretty crazy. While totting up the number of hunt balls I’d attended (EIGHT. EIGHT. HOW???) I had a think about everything that has happened, and decided that 2017 could be filed as one of the good ones. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions (I try to make new, and permanent, better habits as inspiration hits me) but I have got some goals for 2018.
2017 started with me sneering forth from the frontispiece of Country Life, and banished to a single bed in a room occupied by a couple, in a lovely house a group of friends had rented in Devon. While a friend texted me to say that she had caught two old men leering over said image, all I could think about were the rather harsh comments someone had made about my lack of attractiveness the day that magazine was published. My friend’s boyfriend came into the room sometime in the early hours, and put a wooden squirrel in the bed with me. One of the more interesting ways to start the new year…
Anyway, here are some of the events and lessons of 2017…
- I bought a house. Let’s get the big thing out of the way. In August the sale completed on my serf’s cottage, and in late September I moved myself, a taxidermy badger (Bartek), four hunting prints, and a shedload of books to our new abode. Being a homeowner still feels seriously weird, but in a good way.
- Not everyone will approve of your life choices. After years of liking photos of engagement rings, sending cards to new houseshares, and exclaiming in delight over babies, PhD acceptances, and new haircuts, it was kind of sad to see the friends who could not summon themselves to share any happiness about my shiny new mortgage. Oh and the passive aggressive “You must be so lonely living on your own, I could never do it (*posts about boyfriend*)” comments? Girl, it’s a privilege to live in an age where a woman can buy a house off her own salary, and not be left homeless when The Man With The Cash decides his trouser snake would rather dance to a new sheet of music.
- Privilege. Having been at Cirencester for four years, and having a pretty lucky life, I’m well aware of my own privilege, and while constantly checking it is a bit Patronising White Girl, I do do it in my own head. Here its worth mentioning that (a) I couldn’t have bought a house without familial support and (b) until very recently, women couldn’t get a mortgage without sharing it with a man. WITHIN LIVING MEMORY.
- I went to eight hunt balls. No regrets.
- I made new and amazing friends. Its really really hard to remember that this time last year I was not friends with E#1 and Full English. Soooo much can change in a few short months, and this year has been an amazing one for making new friends back in Wales. I spend less and less time wishing that I lived closer to my university friends, because I have these people here.
- I stopped speaking to my best friend from Ciren. Hard though it is, with some people you have to be grateful for the role they played, and realise that they will not be a recurring character in the narrative of your life.
- Bluey and I completed our first hunter trials, blasting around the intermediate pairs at Tivyside with E#1 and Prince. It was probably the first time west of the border in which a girl in pearls and a Horse and Hound cover star have done such a thing. We then got brave and entered the open…. Where I fell off and broke my coccyx bone, and then got back on and completed the course. BOOM.
- Six weeks later I completed Swansea Half Marathon. I’ve been running in a low-key, 5km-few-times-a-week-while-its-light, way for years, but 2017 was the first time I actually entered organised runs. In August I got around Ras Beca, a hideous fell race on the Preselis. I expect I’ll enter both again this year.
- This was the first year since I had an iPhone where I didn’t once download a calorie counting app. I also can’t remember the last time I checked the nutritional information on a packet, swapped a main meal for a starter, or chose a dish because it was lower calorie. It’s not like I’ve grown tits again or anything, and this wasn’t a conscious effort, but it’s a huge improvement from the days of being in thrall to My Fitness Pal.
- I bought a horse box- and Bluey hates it! My father took the partition out yesterday, so I’m hopeful that he will be happier in it soon.
- Bluey hates inter hunt relay. Bluey only likes hunting. I will learn to respect his likes and dislikes as he gets older and even grumpier.
- In September I passed the FACTS examination, which was hard and hideous and utterly nerve wracking because (a) the expense my boss went to to enter me, and (b) I didn’t have the requisite year’s agronomy experience going in to it. In fact I had NO agronomy experience. I am now qualified to give advice on fertilisers, and to write letters of recommendation about NVQs and slurry storage and all sorts of other stuff. Crazy.
- Australia! It seems like a lifetime ago already, but in the autumn I spent three weeks driving around Australia, learning about their dairy industry, and seeing some of the sights! I learnt an awful lot about Australian cows, but the highlights were snorkelling the barrier reef, and spotting a tree kangaroo high in the rainforest canopy. Thousands of miles were driven, hours of sunshine, and I read a suitcase full of books (the joys of travelling alone).
- I tried to be kinder (to strangers and friends alike), and sometimes succeeded.
- I learnt to skim stones.
- A few weeks ago I was taken ice skating. Nobody fell over, no bones were broken, and I rather enjoyed it.
- Tutoring started off as a way to make a little extra money. As the months have gone by I’ve started to like it more and more- there is nothing more satisfying than one of your clients getting in to the course they want to study, or nailing an end of term test, or finally grasping the functions of various organelles.
I’ll probably think of much more interesting things once this is posted, but that’s your lot…
2018 looks to be very busy! There are three hunt balls in the calendar (Tivyside, VWH, and Pembrokeshire) and more yet to be organised. I am now on the hunt committee, and I will be tutoring three evenings a week. Sometime I need to get in the necessary work to pass the PGCert I’ve been enrolled on, and I want to do more writing, and not just the hunting write ups!
Starting as of today I’m aiming to pitch ideas to lots of different publications and websites, in the hope that someone somewhere wants to read what I write. Once its lighter in the mornings I’ll start running again, and I want to make an effort to visit my friends who live away, as well as getting back in the habit of taking Bluey up to the C&WW.
I’m a slave to my diary and to making and sticking to plans, recently I’ve met someone who lives a rather more relaxed and chilled life, and I’m aspiring to be more spontaneous and to not panic at the thought of having a weekend with absolutely nothing planned!
Thank you for all your support through 2017, and for taking my page likes over a thousand! I hope that everyone has a successful and happy 2018, enjoy it x