Friday 25 June 2010

Departure draws nigh

2 a.m. and still a mountain of paperwork to sort before I can leave. Everything I need, or might need, is piled up waiting for a final sort through. I'd need another pack pony just for the maps if I took all those I need for the whole of Britain, so I need to parcel them up to send on ahead. Yes of course it should have happened days ago but I haven't exactly been twiddling my thumbs.

My elder sister Julia has sent me a lovely card with a picture of Zen Dog floating in a boat. It says "He knows not where he's going, for the ocean will decide, it's not the destination .... it's the glory of the ride". Here's hoping that it will be a truly glorious ride. And that there's time to catch up on some sleep once I hit the trail!
Dicing with death?
My mother has given me a serious talking to. Apparently I am dicing with death and "asking for trouble" even contemplating riding through Britain alone. I point out that I won't be alone, I'll be travelling with two ponies, but they don't seem to count to her, even if by my reckoning they are as good if not better company than many humans. And unlike teenagers, they don't answer back.

I know I've been trying to convince people that my ride is all about making a journey through time, as well as through Britain, but I hadn't expected anyone to take me quite so literally. However it seems they, or at least my mother, must have done because otherwise why would she be so convinced that I am at serious risk of rape and pillage as I trundle along with my ponies? Apart from anything else, Micky's turn of speed and Magic pulling faces are enough to fend anyone off.

It's perhaps just as well that my mum is seemingly oblivious to the far more real risks of my falling off a pony, something which Micky felt obliged to remind me of by unceremoniously dumping me when he dived sideways and then slammed on the brakes at a flat out canter. Thankfully I was so rattling full of painkillers from a particularly brutal session at the dentist several days earlier that I didn't even notice I'd landed in a large clump of nettles. And it did make me stop and think about what would happen if I fell off and was knocked unconscious.

So Chris has had a dog tag engraved for me to go round my neck, with my name and address on one side and his mobile number on the other, so at least someone finding me comatose would know who I was or who to ring. Appropriately it has a horseshoe saying "Good Luck" around the edge. Why any dog would want a good luck horseshoe around its neck beats me, but anything which brings me good fortune is very welcome. The ponies each have a dog tag to go on their headcollars too, should we get parted. And having addressed the serious stuff, we can concentrate on the far more interesting aspects instead.

Bit by bit I'm knocking off the list of things which have to be done before I can leave: shearing the sheep, submitting the VAT return, sorting out enough animal feed for the weeks I'm away and weaning the bottle fed lambs. The trouble is that each thing wiped off the list is replaced by 10 more, but I'm getting there.