zaterdag 9 mei 2009

D is for Daffodils… and tulips of course

The Keukenhof is a Mecca for tourists to Holland in the springtime, but many Dutch natives and residents never go. I took the opportunity to visit with some friends on a beautiful spring day and it was sooo worth the trip!

vrijdag 8 mei 2009

C is for Cake, Candyfloss and confetti

An English wedding.

Organising a traditional wedding is truly an art form, and I was thrilled to be invited to my cousins wedding in Staffordshire in March. Guests travelled from all over the world to attend, and every detail of the day was planned perfectly.
The service in the church was beautiful:

The reception was held in an elegant stately home built as only the Victorians knew how:

The cake was baked and decorated lovingly by the grooms sister Kath:

The bridesmaids were adorable in candyfloss dresses:

Relatives got the chance to meet again after twenty years:

And we forgot to throw the confetti!

Thanks Tracy and Jamie for an unforgettable weekend!

zaterdag 2 mei 2009


Its been two weeks now, and having a horse is almost a full time occupation it seems! Jolanda is getting to know Ulo, and we are working with her every day. Its a pleasure looking after her, and she is quite used to us now, and pleased to see us when we arrive!
Working with her is not really a problem, but as I said before, we had no tack before she arrived, so the last two weeks have been spent gathering "stuff" and recognising the mistakes we have made!
first the bridle:
We dashed out to Midden Beemster to get a bridle and bit on the first morning, and brought it back to fit on the horse. We realised immediately the Cob size bridle was to small, but the bit was good (ever tried to fit a bit in a horses mouth without it being attached to the bridle? Ulo thought we were mad!) I dashed back to the shop, and swapped the bridle over, so that we could saddle her up and Jolanda could have her first ride on her.
Then the Martingale:
I went back here on Tuesday as we really needed a martingale. That made a big difference to riding her on the bit.
Next the saddle:
We made do with a borrowed saddle as I took the advise of everyone and started trawling the internet for a second hand Kieffer general purpose saddle, because "they fit every horse".
By wednesday I had found a couple, and put bids in, and one bid was accepted. Friday night John and I took a trip out through the blooming bulbfields of noord Holland to pick it up. It seemed fine, I tested the tree, which was strong and straight. Included with the saddle were two martingales, and a saddle blanket. But there were no stirrups, and the girth was only 115cm, and we knew we needed 130cm.
Then the girth:
I found a kieffer girth on the internet too, so bid for that, and went to pick that up, (again though the bulbfields) then next morning.
Saturday afternoon we fitted the saddle, to be told that it would need refilling (although it would do for now) and the girth was designed for a dressage saddle, and was still too short. Amazingly the girth we had got with the saddle did fit, so that was sorted.
finally the stirrups:
We were working with borrowed stirrups now, but everything else was ours, hurrah! Monday we went shopping with another mother who was showing us how to get to the closest tack shop. It was in a block of flats in Amsterdam Noord and gave me the feeling we were entering a drugs den as we rang on the doorbell for admittance and followed the signs upstairs. We were shown one pair of stirrups and one sort of stirrup leather, but I felt too intimidated to ask to see anything else, so just paid the money and left.
as extra:
Last night we went back out to Midden Beemster, to get the pretty saddle blanket Jolanda had seen on our first trip, and a pair of leg protectors.
I think we are done shopping for a while, thank goodness, as we have everything we need and more.
We now have to get rid of two martingales which we don't need and a Keiffer girth that does not fit. I need to get the courage to take the first halter we bought back to the shop (a different shop) to complain, as it broke in the trailer, and the horse escaped!
I take comfort from knowing I am not the only one who makes these mistakes, one mother was sold a full lunging girth set when she only needed a lunging rope and whip, and another mother bought a summer turning out rug which should have been 185cm, did not see the shop had sent her the wrong size, and after unpacking it found it was 215cm!