Guest blog from club member Debbie
After 4 months of lockdown I can’t tell you how excited I was to venture out with my unicorn to Cholsey Farm for the Naphill Riding Club trail ride/pony party last Sunday.
The weather gods had obviously been primed by Janet (our Trail Ride Chief) and the sun was shining as I set off for Cholsey at a leisurely 9.40 on a Sunday morning.
A brief drive through some leafy lanes later I arrived at the farm and followed the track down to the parking area in the field. As always I was greeted by the various helpers who had organised the parking to be COVID safe and keep the view across the valley for the happy campers in their caravans at the top of the field. They literally think of everything!
With everything that has happened this year it was great to feel a little bit “normal” (or at least as close as I will get!) as I tacked the Cookie Monster up and got ready to head to the start.
Just hearing the friendly hellos and chit chat was a welcome relief after such weird months shut away.
Riding with my very good friend Jane and her gorgeous boy Loughie is always filled with fun, so as we set off after a bit of banter and giggles with Tiddy and Janet at the start, I had high expectations of what was to come.
A bit of breeze, a few clouds, stunning views, happy horses and great company, it just doesn’t get any better than the first long stretch downhill. If forward marching was an Olympic sport Loughie would be a gold medallist and normally Cookie struggles to keep up but she put her best hoof forward and soon we were following the set aside along the bottom by the wood.
On spotting some horses in the distance both Cookie and Loughie got a bit jiggy with it as we wound our way around the edge of the wood…or maybe it was the row of very inviting logs that they were eyeing up.
After we passed the ponies coming in the opposite direction Cooks decided that she had in fact seen horses and people before and they weren’t really that exciting after all. I am sure she also started to wish she had saved her energy as we negotiated the first upward hill.
Big smiles for Alan who was waiting patiently with his camera at the top of the slope and onwards and round into the wood after another friendly chat with Rosie the marshall and some walkers.
Janet’s efforts to signpost the route through the woods were much appreciated and we were able to relax and take in the peaceful surroundings with just my waffling on about nothing in particular to disturb the birds and wildlife.
Mary met us at the road to make sure it was ok to cross and then we were on the bridleway that winds its way down the hill onto the Wormsley Estate. Having grown up and ridden round this area for some 45 years I had never been down this particular bridleway before so that was another tick on my bucket list!
As we reached the bottom and came out on the estate road we were met by a small fleet of very sexy red, black and white Alfa Romeos, clearly part of an event. As fab as they
sound and look I still prefer my single horse power Ferrari who by now had settled into more of a beach donkey mode and we wandered along the estate road until turning off down a little track.
The reason for the slow plod down the hill by Cookie became apparent as she stopped for a comfort break at the first opportunity as her feet touched grass…bless her it must be so hard to walk when you would rather be crossing your legs 😄.
With renewed enthusiasm from a now much more forward thinking and moving Cookie we set off up the bridleway back towards Ibstone Common. As we came out on to the common the sun was feeling really warm and I am sure Cookie and Loughie were pleased to be back on level ground.
Across the back of the common we found Alan again waiting to take more photos. I so admire his apparent never ending enthusiasm in all weathers to be dropped off on bridleways so he can provide lasting memories for all of us lucky NRC members (and some completely random passing horse-riders too so rumour has it).
Cookie took this opportunity for a violent shake which nearly saw me fly off like a fairy and I was laughing my head off which Alan captured perfectly!
Val and her amazing picnic were waiting to see us safely across the road back to the farm. Sadly as there wasn’t any passing traffic we didn’t have an excuse to hover or distract her so we could check out the contents of the hamper, so we crossed the road and wandered back down to the lorry park to be greeted once again by Janet and her wonderful helpers.
It was almost a perfect day…one of Jenny’s delicious cakes and and cup of tea would have just finished the ride off in time honoured fashion, but COVID safety is putting a pause on cakes for now. Other than that it was exactly what we all needed after some seriously dark times this year…friends, fun, sun and unicorns.
Thanks Janet and all for your organisation in running the event and of course to Alan for his
excellent photos which are always lovely as a reminder of a fab day out when you are home later with your feet up and a cup of tea. Thanks also of course to Jane and Loughie for being brilliant riding buddies and without wanting to sound like an Oscar speech I am forever thankful for my Cookie Monster.
So looking forward to the next ride…!