Day Five – The fall and fall of ‘Cave horse’

I have to be tucked up nice and early tonight as I have a half term date with destiny at the riding school in the morning. Early in the morning. Given how long it took to get my sea legs this morning I am going to need to wake early to take medication! Apart from, like yesterday, the getting out of bed issue today was pretty good, took kids (and Chicken the cat) to the park and then did a last moment light work job. I really can’t ask for this to be going any better so far, to the point that I am considering taking the next reduction step early (a flexibility that is built into the programme as you can’t know how it is going to go until you do it) to get the worst of the step down done before I have a longer job starting at the end of the month. Still in consideration stage on that but the fact it is a consideration at all is a little bit mind blowing really!

Given the time I have to write tonight you are spared a Chronic Pain lesson but instead get a dose of half term with the kids… and cat.

I will just let the picture do the talking when it comes to Chicken the cat, the kids and our trip to the park.

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Pictured: What has my life come to?

One our walk was done we settled in at home for the children to expand their minds… on Minecraft. I can’t even make it past part one of the beginers tutorial with this game before I am lost and at a point that I just can’t fathom. The kids, Boy in particular seems to have at least found a way to fake it in a convincing enough way so he has some fun. The Boy when he is Man wants to be a farmer, the most famous farmer in the land. He also is pony mad. He found a minecraft horse and after riding it around a bit it fell down a hole. The boy then spent the rest of his computer time trying to save what became christened as ‘Cave horse’ but Cave horse wasn’t having any of the rescue attempts and refused to climb out of the hole so Boy planted some grass and moved in a couple of sheep to expand his cave farm. The sheep got out and then, before our eyes Cave horse died. There was much upset yet the true horseman that is the Boy never blamed his stupid can’t even climb out of a hole by the steps made for it lovingly horse. Meanwhile the Girl, using mobile Minecraft (on my phone, why am I holding out on her getting her own until the summer again?) had been attempting her own, above ground farm but she refused to kill any of the animals, except when they went in her house, then they had to die and die good.

The whole set of conversations that happened around Cave horse, the boys attempts at cave farming, and the Girls picky bloodlust made me both question my life choices and if in fact, rather than lowering my opioid dose, it had been going steadily up and I am now just living in one long Oxycontin fog.

Emergency exit

Oh dear.

How quickly resolves crumble in January.

Unfortunately although my life has had a run of fun and games in the back half of this last week and I would love to write about I can not due to that pesky rule of mine. One day I will be able to and it will blow your mind. One day.

As an alternative and as I have neglected my writing duty I shall give you this.

Let us go back through the mist, 3 years ago this coming week

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Pictured: The mists of time… probably

It was as normal a day as I am ever likely to achieve. The children had gone back to school and pre-school the week before after the Christmas break. I was feeling free as I headed to the riding school to have some horse time before going to my final appointment with my exacerbated councillor who had unfortunately for me sussed out my mastery of avoidance.

After a normal mornings work I hopped onto a horse called Whisper who my brain insisted was called Flicker and would not see reason on the matter. I was trotting around, like you do, completely absorbed in the argument I was having with the Flicker/Whisper beast about the merits of rear wheel drive over front wheel drive when he suddenly morphed into a bunny rabbit crab beast and leapt violently upwards and sideways.

The world went into slow motion and I had time to contemplate that I could either try and hang on for dear life but probably fall off anyway in an even more embarrassing manor or I could just go with the flow and fall off without bothering to do the hanging upside down under the horses neck like a pig on a spit. I went for the second option and that proved to be a rather costly mistake.

Time dutifully returned to standard speed as I hit the ground, on my feet, given in youth I had experienced a similar unplanned exit with cat landing and managed to loose half the bone in my right ankle for the trouble my helpful brain instinctively protected this vulnerability by allowing all of my weight and motion to go through my left leg. Second costly mistake brain.

As all of us unhinged enough to think climbing onto an flight animals back know the first thing you do after an unfortunate parting of directions is jump up, dust yourself off and demand to get back up. I did that but unfortunately went down again the moment I tried to take a step. Still convinced it was just a flesh wound I attempted to rub the tingling that was running up both my legs away and tried again, no dice, couldn’t even get up this time. Dam.

I was still in denial when my good friend (who is so not the manager or head instructor) suggested we remove my boot. It took the two of us some time and a great deal of pulling and wriggling to remove my boot from foot and when it finally came off I knew I was in trouble when I had to catch my foot. I seemed to remember that traditionally the foot is supposed to be connected to the leg in someway and shouldn’t behave like a broken baguette in a bag.

I was still reeling out ideas of how I could hop to the car or maybe hitch a ride in a wheelbarrow while friend phoned for an ambulance. The pain hadn’t really hit me at that point so my biggest concern was that my councillor was never going to believe my excuse and just think I was displaying an exacerbation in my avoidance behaviour. I remember phoning a friend and asking her to call the surgery to let them know I wouldn’t be there and asking her to make sure she left the councillor a message to say it really wasn’t on purpose and I had actually acted on what we had been talking about. Honest. I don’t know if that message was actually ever left or got through as I never saw the councillor again. Not that I was avoiding her or anything…

Anyway. After a short wait a shiny and as it turned out, brand new ambulance on it’s first ever run arrived at the stables and pulled round through all the mud to where I sat in the dent in which I had landed. I liked the ambulance crew as they brought me gas and air and that stuff rocks, they where less keen due to all the mud and muck I brought to the shiny new ambulance.

After leaving the riding school a farce naturally ensued that involved them first driving my 5 miles west to the minor injuries unit in Witney as for some reason they thought that even if something was broken it was all where it should be. On arrival at the unit I waited with my old friend entornox close at hand for a medical professional to come out and see if they would have me. When somebody arrived (far too high to remember a job title at this point) they took one look and said no chance.

We then had to drive the 10 odd miles back east to the Accident and Emergency unit over in Oxford passing the riding school on the way with benny hill music playing in my head I was thankful that I was just about high enough to not swear with great abandon or be able to string enough words together coherently to give an accurate insight into my opinion about every single bump in the road and the outrageous pain it brought. I tried with limited successes not to resent the fact I had now traveled over half of them once already needlessly. Even in a fairly rural location like this you don’t really expect to be in the back of an ambulance for over an hour even if it is a brand new one on it’s inaugural patient journey.

It was mid afternoon when I finally arrived at the big hospital with it’s hard drugs and x-ray machines. A few hours later I had been x-rayed and had the news

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Pictured: Is it meant to look like that?

Not only had I managed to break my ‘good’ leg I had gone for the maximum impact of breaking it in three places. I was plaster casted from thigh to toe (twice as they got it wrong the first time) and removed after midnight to the ward to await surgery the following day.

I left hospital a week later with a large amount of metal work, little memory of the week that had passed due to all the lovely, lovely, drugs and in a wheelchair as due to all my pre existing physical silliness using crutches was considered suicidal.

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Pictured: Cankle

Recovery was long, slow, painful and only mitigated by the fact I could not only scare children but medical professionals when my dressing where changed.

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And about that recovery bit, three years down the line and I am as recovered as I am ever going to be. I can do almost everything I could do before but less well and with more pain. Combined with my pre exiting condition it has been a tiny bit disastrous and hastened progression but considering there was a time when they thought I would lose the leg and I was completely okay with that due to the pain, I am not really in a position to complain.

If I want to be a bit soppy and fluffy I can say how I don’t know how I would have got through it if it hadn’t been for my great friends, fab Mum and wonderful village who all came together to make sure I had everything I needed to get back on my feet again (literally and figuratively).

One pair of friends summed the whole thing up beautifully with a lovely picture they sent me (and is still up in my living room today) as they couldn’t travel to see me.

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Pictured: Yes. just yes.

Pony day

Day 5

Oh boy. It has been a long day.

The bulk of work I do for the riding school is just nice simple muck moving, feeding and general care of the horses when the school is not open to clients. That suits me.

I am also there on Saturday mornings as that is when the girl and boy have their lessons. I am mainly there as simply a parent and while I do work with clients on lesson change overs, take details and fill forms with new clients and occasionally lead a hack I confine myself on the whole to supporting the boy in his lesson given he requires a little more support due to his needs (he is doing amazingly well, better than we had ever dare hope and I am being kicked out of the lesson more and more!) and working with a youngster (of the pony variety). So, to cut that long story short, I am not accustomed to dealing with small child clients over a sustained period.

Today I had the pleasure of a group of 5 children aged from 5 to 10 years old. Worse yet, two of them where mine. My dear friend who is, in reality, the head instructor and manager (although she would swear at you and say ‘am not! NOOOO!!!’ if you said so in her hearing) had organised the Christmas pony day and party with a lovely range of activities both on and off horseback. The only problem was that the timings where tighter than your trousers on boxing day and we where dealing with animals and children. We where behind before we started largely caused by the paradox of many of the children being dropped off early. Still, I tried to get into the spirit of the thing.

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Pictured: Festive.

I and the other poor souls designated group leaders managed to get our charges through to the picnic party lunch with only minor mishaps and nobody under 18 was crying so we have to call that a win. The boy was over the moon with his first ever rosette awarded for coming 3rd in musical ponies and the girl was happy she had placed higher than her brother. It was soon time to swing back into the fray for the fancy dress competition, something I just hadn’t been able to face thinking about so the boy wasn’t entering (thankfully his panic at ‘being’ anybody but himself was helpful on this occasion) and the girl was entering as a very last moment ‘fairy on the top of the tree’ costume consisting on a neon pink tutu over her jodhpurs, some tinsel round her hat and a scrap of tinsel on her whip as a ‘wand’. The teenagers on the yard really go all out for this annual tradition and this year it was won by the pony who’s Father Christmas get up even included real flashing lights on his rug. I would love to bring you pictures of the wonderful sight of all this but you will have to cope with the tree fairy that was the girl as I didn’t manage to snap any other pictures because I am a bit rubbish when it comes to remembering I have a camera and then there was the fact every time I turned my back my group of kids all went in different directions. I think they planned it.

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Pictured: Massive effort.

I was taken off guard at the end of the day when my ‘so not the manager or head instructor honest’ friend managed to bar my escape route and then talk about all I do for the school to all pupils and parents. She said some very nice things that a wholly undeserved and made me go very pink. While it is nice to have hard work recognised and it was lovely to hear a friendship you value is reciprocated I really hate being the centre of attention. Still, I am extremely touched my the thought even though much of what I do at the school is for purely selfish reasons!

I am now going to go and sleep. I should be finishing wrapping gifts, tidying my home and the plethora of other jobs that still need doing but in time honoured tradition, I am just too wiped. It wouldn’t be Christmas Eve is Mum wasn’t running around loosing her mind all day and was then up until the small hours wrapping gifts that will be unwrapped in seconds mere hours (if you are lucky) later. It is all part of the magic that is Christmas.

Ho Bloomin’ Ho.

Pony Nuts

It felt like a twisted game show this morning.

‘You have 18 horses that need to see the farrier. Some need trims, some need 2 shoes, some need 4, we aren’t going to tell you which ones are which and they are all covered in mud. You have 2 hours to complete the task while also feeding and mucking 20 horses, you must work at least 1 and you must do all this while trying to avoid the mad evangelist owner and being called away from your task every five minutes to sort out somebody else’s errors… GO!’

But that is horses, that in particular is riding schools. Every riding school must be owned by somebody who hatters step away from politely. It is quite reasonable when you think about what is involved in owning a riding school, you have to have fallen on your head too many times to even consider working with horses so owning a riding school breeds its own kind of crackers. This one is interesting though, it is the first (and hopefully only) time I have ever had to explain to customers about the check box you need to tick if you don’t wish your child to have lessons in ‘Evangelical horsemanship’. It was before my time there but apparently the tick box came about after a parent arrived early for pony day pick up and found their offspring locked in the owners house being preached to about how God would best like them to ride a horse.

I have without doubt fallen on my head too many times, I have also landed on my feet too many times, well at least two more times than is healthy given I now have a bad leg (half of my talus bone in the ankle was removed as the ‘pieces were too small to pin’) and a worse leg (broken in three places and held together with more Meccano then was in my first set). Yet still I have chosen to work with horses and can be heard saying it is the best job in the world while sober.

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Pictured: Best job in the world…

All horse people are crazy people, you have to be. No sane person would spend all their hard earned money for the right to stand in freezing rain with mud up to the arm pits picking up poo and call it a hobby. Just getting on the back of an animal that could kill you by accident is mad enough when you think about it but then you take into account that time on the back of the animal is tiny compared with the slog of looking after the animal and if you are not horsey folk you can’t fathom why on earth anybody does it. This time of year even the horsey folk can’t understand why they do it most of the time and then you get the likes of me, I don’t even ride at the moment (what with the landing on my feet habit still going strong), yes it’s my ‘job’ but there are far warmer things I could be doing and there is absolutely no money in horses (the horses eat it all) so that leads us back to the ‘horse people are barking (should it really be neighing?)’ observation.

It is usually around now I will say something like ‘to get back to the point’ but I am not sure there ever was much of a discernible point, much like horses really.

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Pictured: The reason horse folk do it

I am working on a fiction project that will hopefully be something along the lines of ‘Mum meets apocalypse’ diaries. I have a huge soft spot for dystopian apocalyptic/post apocalyptic fiction and wanted to try and do a little bit more without straying too far from my comfort zone. It isn’t going to be something I can write in a few hours mind, not if it’s going to be any good and have an arc anyway so I suppose this post is mainly filler! We will have the normal school holiday diary coming up very soon as well. My life is a little complicated to say the least just at the moment with me still trying to find my feet and adjust to life as a single Mum and in turn some topics I have placed for my own and children’s protection as ‘out of bounds’ unfortunately the last few days have been very heavy on the ‘out of bounds’ topics, more normal service will hopefully resume shortly.

Another week over

Last Saturday the girl decided to seal the deal on the promised purchase of a new riding hat by throwing herself from her pony, managing to ingest a good amount of the indoor arena surface that on the face of it is wood chip but in reality is wood chip with equal quantities of both horse muck and urine. I wish I was a better Mum and had taken a picture of the sight before taking her to wash her mouth out with water and hope for the best but I had already caused a ripple of judgment from the non horsey parents in the viewing gallery by going to catch the pony before going to peel my firstborn from the floor. There are really only so many pearls that one can clutch at that hour on a Saturday morning.

So new hat shopping we went. I do have to wonder if I should be making an application for the girl to attend The Xavier School For Gifted Youngsters as it seemed a little convenient that her small and odd head shape made the reasonable(ish) priced hats fit badly yet the more expensive hat, the type she had been hankering after, fit perfectly. My bad parent points for the day were already too high for me to buy the cheaper hat and simply place her head in a vice when we got home so the girl left the shop happy while I left contemplating the baked beans I will be eating over the next month.

Monday brought Brownies and being shut in a small room with a group of 10 year olds creating a Christmas dance routine. The less said about this the better to be honest but lets just say that if I have to listen to the first 30 seconds (or any) of The Chipmunks do Jingle Bell Rock again I legally can’t be held responsible for my actions.

The mid part of the week was quiet enough to lull me into a false sense of calm so when today, Friday, arrived along with, it seems, the official start of the school Christmas season (and a barrage of emails advertising ‘Black Friday’ sales, why? Myself and the companies are in the UK, here it is simply Friday!), I was quite unprepared.

First it was the children bickering this morning as the lower school where off to one of the village farms pick the school Christmas tree and traumatise reindeer. This is a school tradition that, much to the girls indignation, started only once she had achieved the dizzying heights of the juniors. She firmly believes that her younger brother should never do anything she isn’t doing or has not done. She was outraged when he had surgery on his testicles aged 2 and only backed down after being reminded that she had surgery the year before. The fact she has no testicles to locate and stitch had, in her opinion, no relevance to the argument.

After school was over it was time for the biannual parental punishment known as the school disco. The whole thing is like the recipe for the 1st, 3rd, 7th, 8th and 9th circle of hell. Take a hundred odd kids aged 4 to 11 tired from a week of school, add in a day of ‘Christmas is coming kids!’ educational activities, mix in all the sugar ever with a pinch of glow stick. Leave to prove in a school hall ensuring to add flashing disco lights, bass heavy speakers and pop songs with mildly inappropriate lyrics. When all your ingredients are reaching frenzy blast out the Macarena followed by Gangnam style, YMCA and Nelly the elephant.


So another week is over, we are now officially in the run up to Christmas. I haven’t looked at the homework books yet but the contents will be added to the boys lines in the play that he doesn’t know yet. He only has two and a half lines but it is starting to feel like they may as well be two and a half Shakespearean sonnets. I will somehow get through the week of being nagged on a loop about when we are going to put up the christmas decorations, the school holidays are fast approaching and for you lucky folk that means you get a post a day holiday diary and for the days when the children are with their Father I shall try to get out a fiction piece, my ambitious side is hoping to link a series of my short ones into something resembling a longer one. I have also today started mapping out a non humorous sci-fi apocalyptic, longer length story in my mind and feeling quite excited about the ideas I am having. That is obviously both a longer term project and a more difficult one, humour is easy to hide behind!

A dog ate my blogging

Yes, yes, I know.

I said I know.

There is really no need to keep harping on about it.

I am sorry about the silence that has thundered from these pages this week. There has been a lot of life. Some of it fun but most of it mundane and boring and unfortunately some of it is heartbreaking.

The fun is always in what the children bring, always fresh, always enjoyable, always strange and baffling.

The mundane and boring a ranging from school meetings about the boy and his troubles (He is doing good, although I do think that if something isn’t directly effecting his academic achievement the school does glass over things somewhat.) to mucking out the house ready for a letting agent visit (random fact, I keep stable yards spotless, hate a job not done, love order and tidiness and would rather die than leave a yard untidy. I keep my home however, more akin to a muck heap, jobs will always wait until the mythical ‘later’ and I just can’t bring myself to care too much about cobwebs.).

The heartbreaking is heartbreaking. I am hundreds of miles from my family but the Appleton folks have always been a great big surrogate family to me, looked out for me, looked after me, they are a special kind of family. In the last two weeks the bottom dropped out the lady I see as my Appleton Mum’s world. Her husband became suddenly ill, then sicker and now he will not see Christmas. From the news in the last three days, if he makes it to next week he is doing well. Their story is not mine to tell and I am doing as much as I can for them (not enough, can never be enough) but finding the funny is a little harder just now and I may need to drop everything some more to take up as much slack as I am able to and this kind of thing can often leave me too tired to write, even when it is all there just begging to fall onto the page so stick with me, I will write when I can. I can’t promise it will be any good though.