So tempted was I to scratch these on the back of the loo door yesterday, as I sat on my coat on the floor of a cubicle in the ladies loos at Victoria Station in London during the final leg of my mammoth 1500m journey. My migraine had taken hold of my brain, force-feeding it blob by blob through a mincing machine and the max-strength Nurofen as effective as a chocolate teapot.
When I felt the nausea fade enough to negotiate the underground for my onward journey to East Anglia, my right eye watered constantly because of the heavy metal rave going on just behind it. Same spot, every time.
I chose not to sit next to strangers on the 14:30 and instead opted for a floor seat next to the toilets feeling like some hungover teenage reveller with my Vilamoura wrist band still attached. I suspect only show-jumpers or Portuguese people would know what it meant – everyone else might assume I’d attended some random winter festival in the dark dregs of London’s underground nightlife!
The tiredness I experienced during those final two days cannot almost be described in words. When I drove my 4.5 hour stints I was concentrating on keeping the 7.5 tonne lorry in the correct lane, maintaining eye contact with the back of Joao Charlesworth’s lorry ahead – convoy driving is an art in itself. I never forgot I had precious cargo onboard and each time we overtook, squeezing past slower tankers with the wind buffeting our lorry and dealing with slip streams, I hung on to that steering wheel like my life depended on it. We negotiated around 85,000 tolls in France and filling up at different style diesel pumps every four hours all took focus and energy.
Can I swear a moment? I bloody loved every minute of it 💃🏼
Here’s a taco reading; I’d never seen one before! Maybe now I could apply to be on Ice Road Truckers 🤣 (no you can’t, you’re too old. They only have old men interspersed with young sexy 20 something females.)
I tell you … these 9 horses are the real stars of this trip, accepting in quiet fashion whatever each day threw at them. They place their trust in the human team around them and whether they were stood on those lorries for twelve hours solid, or asked to jump round colours poles in pouring rain back at the showground, they just gave and gave. How humbling is that?
There we were, us humans, running around logging and snapping away for our social media updates, carrying our goals and expectations, excitements and anxieties… and there they were, simply happy to be fed, watered, ridden, jumped, loaded, unloaded, put into strange stables – one night Spain and another in France, and out they clopped each morning, happy happy happy.
Will ‘watered’ them every two hours and noted that task on a register … a legal requirement on the continent when travelling horses. This involved him filling a bucket half full and offering it up to their muzzles and sometimes they take a slurp and sometimes they choose not to. You know what they say – you can lead a horse to water… !!
I learnt most of their names over the week and my favourite was Mr Black. He loved a few minutes tickles now and then. Horses can be very affectionate and this character was so endearing
Here I am saying goodbye to Mr Black yesterday in Kent. I love the wrinkles on his lips. We arrived back at base off the ferry in Dover about 7pm … and luckily the yard was only 30 minute drive up the M20 (can I just say at this point that British road surfaces are appalling compared to those in Spain and France? M20 is covered in potholes. Now I sit mind those tolls so much in France as at least they use the money on their road infrastructure!
Thanks to my iPhone’s photographic qualities I was able to bring back some wonderful memories from this trip; one of my favourite moments was driving over the river Seine as it passes through a town called Rouen, far north of Paris.
Wednesday was the toughest day as we arrived at Calais after a 10-hr drive … to have to wait two hours before loading onto ferry, and then an hour and a half crossing. Check this out though – livestock lorries are allowed to have their ramps down on the ferry to allow airflow through for animal welfare.
And there’s my Mr Black enjoying a change of scene 🤗
The onset of the migraine was probably due to the ‘stress’ of finishing the journey. Even when I wasn’t behind the wheel, I was helping keep an eye on whether the lorry in front was turning off but couldn’t clearly be seen because someone had managed to get inbetween us. Stress on our bodies can come not just from the obvious anxieties and worries or rows with family… I think the lack of good quality sleep over the week, plus excitement and anticipation of the jumping, the concentration during the roadtrip itself, then the relief to pull back into the yard in Kent sort of caught up with me.
When my train pulled into my station and I knew my husband would be standing on the platform to greet me, emotion overwhelmed me. It was all I could do to walk the final few strides towards his smile. I placed the bags down either side of me and stood there and fell into his arms and sobbed. Anyone on the train idly watching before it moved on to its next destination may have wondered if we were long-lost lovers because we held each other for a very long time. I had genuinely been happy to be coming home, and the monk would be proud again I think.
Thank you for coming with me on this adventure – I’ve loved sharing it with you. Sorry I had no energy to post these last couple of days but I know you’ll forgive me.
(Ortensia and Joseph Beech; I’ve not forgotten our book. I will get it on amazon today and read it ASAP 😘)