Category Archives: Equine

Saxelby News!

I’ve decided it’s about time that I started blogging again, having been “meaning to” for far too long! Since last time I blogged my life has moved on in many ways, although it is probably just as hectic. The kids are older: –  Rosie (16), Clyde (15), Daisy (13), Violet (9) and Troll (7)…all right, she’s really called Marigold – but  she still answers to “Troll” – that’s one thing that hasn’t changed!

They now spend less time watching Peppa Pig from the inside of cardboard boxes while covertly smearing themselves with Sudocrem or coating the carpets in a two-inch-deep layer of Littlest Petshop paraphernalia. In fact, they have actually become quite exceptional in the art of entertaining themselves. Their interests have moved on and they now spend their time trampolining, cheerleading, dancing, running, cycling, fishing, (in Clyde’s case), playing in the river, looking for bird nests, making dens, pony riding, guitar playing (Rosie), singing and playing with makeup (not in Clyde’s case obviously – although the girls do sometimes try to apply some when he is asleep).

Other less welcome activities from a parents’ perspective include arguing over the tv remote; watching Hollyoaks and other horrifically mundane tv shows, including strange cartoons where the characters all seem to be from some weird cat-bird-rabbit-like species and partaking in shooting mean and unexpected video “Boomerangs” of one another using their mobile phones or tablets and then threatening to upload the result to social media.

I have been purposely scaling down my horse breeding business (I’m now down to seven horses, of which two are the kids’ ponies). Seven probably sounds like loads to most people but I once had 25.

I never really ever intended to have as many as 25 but when you are breeding horses they can quickly multiply! Having so many was great for my mucking out muscles and core strength but not for my haylage bill, spare time or husband’s sanity.

My horses are soon to become just a hobby business – once I have backed, schooled and sold the youngsters that I still have. If the children continue to show enthusiasm (and stop answering me back when I am giving them lessons) then we will keep two or three. They make good lawnmowers anyway.

Our new business venture is called “Saxelby News” and my role in it will running the digital side of Jon’s public relations and journalism business. He’ll still be doing the traditional press releases and newspaper stuff – I will be providing content marketing, social media marketing, social media assistance and digital communications packages to businesses. I am initially concentrating on business-types that I already have a large digital following from (I have 17,000 online followers who are a mixture of triathletes, cyclists, swimmers, runners and horse lovers – although I do also seem to collect quite a few crazy Scottish gin-loving ladies too…mentioning no names, obviously 😉 ).

I have already taken on a couple of cycling-based clients and will be working with my totally mad Amercian friend, Kem,  publicising her very funny new life-help and nutritional-themed book and documentary, Eat Meat and Be Happy!

(Can’t wait Kem – playing on Instagram, Facetiming and drinking coffee is far more fun than mucking out 25 horses a day!)

I’ll keep this one shortish as it was mainly a test to see if I could remember the log in details to this account (winner!).  I am still very much obsessed with triathlon and running (I’ve somehow qualified again for the Zofingen long distance duathlon World championships later this year). My future blog posts will be a mixture of family, sport, cycling, triathlon, running, swimming, training, digital marketing and horses…with a bit of hen balancing, dogs in barrows and escapee tortoises thrown in!).

I am running a 36 mile Ultra run called The Longhorn on Sunday, so I predict my next blog entry will be on Monday or Tuesday when I cannot get off the sofa and do not have the lure of running or cycling to distract me!

Please share this on Facebook and your other social media sites with any sporty, triathletely, horsey friends that you have..or with anyone you think might find my future posts entertaining – thank you, Lucy

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Filed under Breeding, children, cyclists, digital marketing, dressage, Equine, Family, fitness, Horses, kids, large families, marketing, news, nutrition, Running, running a business, social media, social media marketing, Sport, ultra running, Uncategorized

Lucy’s Observations of the Day

I am a born optimist and always like to make the best out of a bad situation. With so many children, horses and sporting interests, something invariably goes wrong in my week. Rather than dwell on it, I try to just get on with things and report it to Facebook in the form of a status update beginning with the words “Lucy’s Observation of the day…”. Today’s blog entry includes some of the most popular/idiotic Saxely Observations that have occurred in the last 18 months, I hope you like them (and that reading them may help you avoid similar errors!).

If you really want to irritate your husband,  I have found that picking up a dead mole to show to the kids and then forgetting about it and leaving it on your mother-in-law’s kitchen window-sill for ten days works wonders….”Lucy, why is there a rotten dead mole on mum’s window ledge? This is just the sort of thing that annoys me about you”

1) If you under-cook sugar mice, they don’t set and form an alien gloop that is impossible to remove from anything. (2) If you over-cook sugar mice they taste worse than poo. (3) If you cook sugar mice to perfection, you get immediately hassled by at least six people to test one. (4) Basset hounds like burnt sugar mice. (5) Feeding burnt sugar mice to basset hounds equals a nasty crumbly residue on the carpet and a dog with a sticky nose.

Mucking out a 10-day-old foal, who has yet to go out into the field due to the wet weather, is comparable to being in a charity shop changing room with a stunt rider on a Kawasaki with a nitrous kit.

Howling basset hounds following you around the school when you are cantering do nothing to improve the concentration levels of a young horse.

It is wise, when letting the dog finish off food directly from a dinner plate, to remember to pick up the plate prior to your husband coming in and seeing it.

Two year old girls and bright red Clinique lipsticks can never exist harmoniously together in the same house.

Loft insulation is one of the worst things on earth.

Elderly people’s incontinence pads do not stay securely in place when used as stand-in nappies for toddlers, even with half a roll of your husband’s electrical tape.

You know that your three-year-old child is a genetic upgrade on her father when she learns to turn on the child-lock on the washing machine after you have loaded it so that “Daddy won’t walk past and turn it off before it is clean”.  (Jon has form for seeing the light on, thinking it has finished, wanting to save electricity and turning it off mid-cycle. I have form for complaining about him doing this).

Law school does not improve common sense. One of my friends (with a law degree) came round today in a panic over her laptop which was “broken”.  After a 12- second assessment I was able to diagnose that it had the NUMBER LOCK on…

If you steal a pair of your husband’s light-coloured smart socks and then wear them with leaky wellies whilst emptying barrows on to a muckheap in the middle of a muddy field, it is probably wise to take the socks off and hide them before he comes in.

You know when your children are approaching teenagerdom, when you overhear them “Blasting” each other with the Harry Potter-style spells: “Fat-i-fy” and “Gay-i-fy”.

Although the “pushing and running as hard as you can” method is a highly effective way of getting a loaded wheelbarrow through deep mud, it vastly increases the probability of a welly coming off in a speed-mud-vacuum.

If you are loading a reluctant horse and are out of horse food, Morrison’s own-brand crunchy nut corn flakes make a suitable substitute.

Next time I remove a two-year-old filly’s ripped rug in the morning and think to myself “I’ll put another one on later” and if “later” actually translates into “when it is pitch black, cold, muddy and I am dressed in lycra with jelly legs after a 50-mile bike ride because I was too damn lazy to do it earlier” then I should remember next time that this is a false economy and it takes six times  longer in the dark and is at least ten times as unpleasant.

Troll (3) is not shy. I have just watched her fetch her red singing potty, park it in the middle of the living room, drop her tights and sit on it. This was in front of her friends and mine at her birthday party and let’s just says she made full use of the potty…

Rugging up a herd of breeding mares and youngstock has definite parallels to competing in a triathlon. This morning I have spent ages sorting out equipment of various shapes and sizes, carried heaped piles of equipment to various locations, got soaked to the skin,  had to take on and off several pieces of equipment as quickly as possible and run four times around a large field whilst gasping for breath. I think I prefer triathlon…

Maximum heart rate tests hurt… a lot.

Wind-up torches in “dens” sound like a good method of toddler amusement but require at least 20 minutes of mummy’s best den-building and torch-finding time. In reality they keep toddlers entertained for approximately 45 seconds.

The opposite of burning tea is called “turning on the oven then forgetting to put the food in”.  This is probably more annoying than burning it.

Taking hound-child pictures of the day to upload to Facebook is all good fun but makes your morning harder, delays mucking out and generally adds to the child-hound-horse chaos in your home, especially when, as a consequence, your eight-year-old misses her school bus and you end up having to drive her to school in your mucking out clothes.

Small children can ski black runs without panicking if they are told that they are “dark blue”.

Things that two year olds who are just getting the hang of sentences should refrain from saying to their mothers when they require carrying:- “Up, up, up – stupid”.

The next time I give my husband the simple task of “turning on the vegetables on the hob whilst I’m outside haying the horses”, I will be sure to leave printed instructions explaining how to “turn the oven on at the wall”.

When getting your husband and big sister to spend ten minutes trying their hardest to fasten you into your Woof-wear metal “cage” body protector, it is probably advisable to make sufficient prior checks to ensure that it is not on backwards. If you do not do this and they suceed in their task you will be 1) very uncomfortable 2) subjected to serious derision.

Littlest Petshop figures bloody hurt when you stand on them in bare feet.

Trifle the cat does not like granny’s turkey gravy even when the dog has stolen her food for the last 24 hours and she is starving.

Slugs are very difficult to remove from tissue paper and slug-slime is very difficult to remove from fingers that have been attempting to remove slugs from tissue paper.

There is a positive correlation between the number of cups of coffee and kisses given to husband and the amount of loaded barrows of horse-poo husband empties onto the (distant) muckheap.

Once dried, Stella Artois makes a very substitute for hair gel.

Nasty Asti gets progressively less nasty after each glass and, providing the first glass is consumed after several none-Asti alcoholic drinks, is almost drinkable.

Using the fail-barrow because you are too lazy to go and find the good barrow is a false economy when mucking out nine stables. Failure to act on this obvious truth is likely to result in a minimum of six accidental mid-yard poo-tips.

It takes an average of seven large bounces to propel one prone toddler from one side of the trampoline to the other whilst you are on all fours in your pyjamas with a four-year-old riding on your back. Doing this at 2pm scores about eight out of ten on the embarrassment scale when  you look up to see the postman watching you with a signature-required parcel in his hand.

There is a positive correlation between the amount of hoof trimmings consumed by a basset hound and the amount of methane expelled into the living room that evening.

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Filed under Basset hounds, Breeding, children, comedy, disorder, dogs, Equine, Family, family, fitness, Foals, funny, grumpy husbands, health, Horses, humour, kids, large families, married life, mother in laws, Running, self-help, Sport, Tips, toddlers, Triathlon

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tips of the Day

For the last 18 months, I have been regularly posting “Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tips of the Day” on Facebook. These are usually based around some day- to-day drama involving children, horses, Basset hounds or exercise, or a combination of these things.  For those of you who would like to get a flavour of the chaos and disorder that is the Saxelby household, I have made a collection of the most “liked” tips for you all to read…

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day: When your 11-year-old son asks: “Mummy, how long will it take to warm up my cup of tea in the microwave?” and you reply “turn it to 40” – make sure you specify that you mean SECONDS. Failure to do this could lead to 40 MINUTE CUP OF TEA ARMAGEDDON.

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day:- If, after a night out you have mysteriously acquired a plastic hen-night penis-shaped drinking straw, do not leave on the living room table when you crash out. If you do, then you risk coming in from mucking out to find your five-year-old daughter using it to drink Ribena under the watchful eye of your 84-year-old mother-in-law.

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day: If you want to test your reflexes, go into a small stable and throw a large rug over the back of a mare but misjudge your throw so that it lands on top of the foal behind her. This technique will also test your fast twitch mucle fibres and your swearing reflex.

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day: When you are bringing in pure-bred Trakehner two-year-old boys from playing in the sand school, do not under any circumstances think to yourself “it’ll be quicker if I just sling a rope round one of their necks and the other one will follow” (even if this is what you have done without problems for the last three days) because, when the loose horse decides not to follow his friend, buggers off and does 35 laps of your mother-in-law’s front garden, his friend will pull away from you and follow …and you will wish you had just put a head collar on to the little b*******s in the first place.

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Christmas Tip of the Day: Next time your husband tries to persuade you to “nip out” for a “quick” eight- mile bike ride before Christmas dinner, say “NO DARLING” because: (a) when you are blasting back home as fast as you can to get back in time to put the turkey in the oven – with 8 people waiting at home and (b) your front tyre explodes with a loud bang TWO MILES from home and (c) you have to run home pushing your bike in bike shoes with SPD cleats on the bottom… you will be wishing that that had been your reply..

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day: If you decide to enter a “Santa Run” and you, your friend and two of your children are dressed in head to toe Santa costumes with beards, it is advisable to take a house key with you, especially when your husband AND mother-in law are out for the day @AnotherEpicSaxelbylFail

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day:- If you are in Tesco car park on a cold day, parked next to a hot-boy and the windows will not clear on your car, do not (a) Use a pair of your mother-in-law’s scrunched up granny pants (that for some reason were in your car!) to clean the window (b) Go outside to open the boot and in doing so relax your grip on the scrunched up pants – thus revealing them to said hot-boy @yeah, I looked cool

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day:- When your four-year-old is starting big school and you decide to be extra-organised and get to the school playground 20 minutes early (because you are always late) it is advisable to check first that you HAVE THE RIGHT DAY. @AnotherSaxelbyEpicFail

Lucy’s Handy Housewife tip of the day: When entering a gruelling 11k adventure race and completely relying on your friend,Vicky Clarke to give you a leg up over the EIGHT- FOOT WALL at the end of the race, it is much recommended that you and your friend put down the same start time!

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day: If you put your car and horsebox keys down on a hay bale in your hay barn, it is helpful if you don’t (a) forget to pick them up again and (b) have a hay and straw delivery later in the day…

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day:- When faced with the question “Mummy i am bored, what can i do?” from your eight-year-old daughter, I strongly recommend suggesting writing something in fake tan on the child’s forearm. Daisy Saxelby’s fake-tan-arm is still several hours away from “developing” and I haven’t heard a peep out of her since doing it!

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day: When one of your friends drinks too much Blue Curacao-rum concoction and passes out on your sofa, filling her bum-crack in with play dough is not only highly entertaining but is also a fabulous opportunity to unleash your artistic and creative flair.

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day: If your husband is well-known in all circles for forgetting and losing things then do not (a) Allow him to be responsible for locking the house when you go out in separate vehicles when you drop off the horse box for its MOT or (b) let him keep the keys rather than give them to you. Failure to comply with ((a) and b) could lead to scenario (c), which is husband leaving house keys in the horse lorry at the MOT centre in LINCOLN…which is NOT where we live.

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day: Feeding your hound left-over sushi directly on to the kitchen floor because you can’t be bothered to fetch her dog bowl or walk an additional 5.5 feet to the kitchen bin is a false economy as, when said hound chews it up, coats it in basset-slober and then spits it out everywhere, you will wish you hadn’t been so lazy.

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day:- If you have been prematurely disturbed from your sleep by six noisy children at an unholy hour on a Saturday morning, I can suggest that watching the said children carefully assemble a Scooby-Doo-Haunted-House-Mouse-trap-esque-game on the living room carpet and then calling the dog over for a cuddle, knowing that hounds prefer an “as the crow flies” route, is a satisfying revenge tactic…

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day:- If you are not in the mood for a vigorous cross-country cardio-vascular workout involving a large drainage dyke, a 30-year-old precarious-looking bridge, 50 metres of tangled electric fencing, a horny pony and some brambles, it is wise not to (a) choose your two-year-old Garuda K colt to be on lawn-mower duty and (b) think to yourself: “It’ll be ok, he has an acre of over-grown lawn to entertain himself with, he will never bother to squeeze down the tight passage at the side of the sand school” because, when your hypothesis is found to be wholly incorrect and he (1) squeezes down said passageway to get to some fillies (2) legs it along the edge of the drainage dyke to escape from you (3) attempts to jump over the dyke into another field but fails and lands in the dyke (4) scrambles out into an ungrazed field and does 45 laps of honour before (5) crashes through electric fencing to have a quick dance on the ancient bridge (6) side-steps alongside the dyke until he has no other option but to turn round or become trapped in brambles…you will wish that you had either chosen your lawn-mower more wisely or sweet-talked your lovely husband into mowing it instead…

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day: If you want to a) Save time b) Polish your saddle c) Recreate the feeling of first learning to do sitting trot d) Get the sensation of sliding around on ice whilst sitting on a baking tray and e) Look like a complete moron, then f) Go out for a run wearing a pair of skin tight, nylon, shiny, more-mile running pants and then g) Change your running shoes for Hunters but be too damn lazy to go through two extra rooms to find a pair of jodphurs. Trust me this is not only a bad “look” (that would certainly put wind in the “that woman is mad” clan’s sails) it is also a highly un-workable combo and I cannot truthfully say that the young horse I was riding benefitted one iota from the so-called “schooling” it received.

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day: If your husband is constantly finding new reasons to moan about your hound, it is advisable not to put horse after-birth on the muckheap in a field that is accessible to the hound or, when the after-birth is found spread out all over your mother-in-law’s lawn, your husband’s whinging may increase…

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day: If you have zillions of grubby kids with zillions of grubby patterned socks that are all odd or so dirty that they are impossible to get clean, then follow my example. Empty all of the contents of your children’s sock drawers into the bin. Do not look at what you are emptying (as you will start to feel sympathy for some of the socks and try to save them and give them a second chance). Be brutal. Bin ALL the socks and go to Tesco and spend £20 on new dark coloured ones, all in roughly the same colour. @completely fed up with trying to pair up patterned socks when their twin has clearly been eaten years ago by the washing machine.

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day: If you are experiencing difficulty operating the “tip” lever of your dumper truck because it is particularly heavy when full of stone, you can get round this problem by standing on the lever instead of using your hand. Do not, however, get complacent after successfully doing this nine or ten times and start to think that you are the DUMPER TRUCK MASTER because you are NOT. Approximately 10% of all foot-tips result in the shock-waves of the tip knocking your foot off the tip-lever onto the gear-stick and turning your dumper truck into a BULLDOZER

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day: When your pre-school child comes out with something less than polite like: “Mummy, I can “f**t out of my bits!”, then it is recommended that the grown-up does not show even the slightest flicker of amusement. Showing amusement will result in the disgusting phrase becoming the default greeting for your child to everybody they meet for several days…

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day: If you are training for triathlon, then follow my example and go lane swimming in Ollerton on a Monday night at 7pm. Admittedly, you will find that you have got the wrong time for lane swimming but, if you whinge enough, they’ll put a rope out and let you swim anyway. The best part of this carefully planned training technique, though, is that the rest of the pool is filled with ladies the size of small submarines doing aqua-aerobics to a Beach Boys soundtrack. Every time they plunge to the left, your usually calm indoor pool turns into a turbulent open water/tsunami simulator…

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day: When “Operation remove pregnant mares from the stallion’s field” goes extremely smoothly, do not start to feel over-confident and let yourself relax because “Operation introduce a new-companion to the stallion” might not go as smoothly and “Operation husband needs to build a new fence” could be required!

Lucy’s Handy Housewife Tip of the Day: If you do not want to have a humiliating conversation with your credit card’s fraud protection team, do not make risqué purchases from multiple European websites for your (previously) unsuspecting husband’s birthday present, then follow this up by attempting to buy £3000-worth of horse semen from France, using the same credit card on the same day. This not only has a low success rate but is also embarrassing to explain. If you are indeed stupid enough to do this, then trying to authorize the initially refused semen payment at breakfast time is a very bad idea. Explaining the above to fraud protection is one thing but explaining to eavesdropping children over their Cheerios, is completely another…

If you have made it to the bottom of this page and have a smile on your face, please take the time to sign up for email notifications to this blog – by clicking the “follow” button at the top of the page – thanks, Lucy 🙂

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January 23, 2013 · 1:39 pm

“Are you on drugs?”

I know that I’m lucky that I don’t have to work a nine-to-five job or commute for two hours every day, or bus children around to a childminder’s house before 7am.

As both Jon and I work from home (or, in my case, work from the yard that is at the bottom of my garden) then we can and do spend a good deal of our time drinking coffee, having internet social networking breaks or, in my case “nipping out for a run”.

For the past couple of years before signing up to this blog account, I have been venting my frustrations, selling my foals and sharing general Saxelby chaos using Facebook, Twitter and web forums, with plenty of responses, interaction and feedback from people, many of whom I have never met. Probably the most frequently seen replies to some of my posts are “How do you cope?”, “Are you on drugs?” or “You should be on drugs!”.

For those who aren’t well acquainted with my Facebook page, here are some examples of the kind of status update I’m talking about:

This month’s stats:- During September I have fallen off my bike twice, fallen down the stairs once, been bitten by one horse, broken two plates, raced in one triathlon and one half marathon, hosted one child’s swimming party, drank roughly 180 cups of coffee, collected various children from running, rugby, bowls, netball and sleep-overs, burnt at least three dinners to a crisp, made two batches of biscuits, carried a three year old on my shoulders up “Steep Hill” in Lincoln, locked my husband out of the house once, drank virtually NO alcohol (amazing), sneaked the hound onto my bed once, shopped in Morrisons, Tesco and the Co-op at least three times each, re-wired an ancient wire fuse, delivered one horse to its new home. But the best and most memorable achievement of the month is I HAVE CHANGED NO NAPPIES. This is the first time I have been entirely nappy free for 12 years!

Here’s another one from October: 

This fortnight’s stats:- I have mucked out 84 stables, hosted two children’s birthday parties, ran in a 5k race and a 12k obstacle race, had one flat tyre on my mountain bike, burnt two meals, broken one outdoor tap, dug one massive hole to enable mending of outside tap, bought seven things from eBay, been rude to one extremely persistent and annoying cold-calling loft insulation representative, read three books, one triathlon magazine, one dressage magazine, spent 10 minutes trying to work out what was wrong with the volume on my iPod – when I’d forgotten to put the earphones in, made Halloween bats and witches, swam 170 lengths, cycled 68 miles, drank two glasses of wine, approx. 70 cups of coffee and 14 cups of green tea.

A last one from July:

This fortnight’s stats: – In the last 14 days I have mucked out 48 stables, put up two tents and taken them down again, filled up one giant swimming pool, killed two large patches of grass (!) had two extra children over for sleep-overs in the tent, sent three of my children off on sleepovers for 4 days, had two foals born, chased one escapee yearling, Saxy youngsters have had two x 1st premiums at the BEF Futurity, ran 29 miles, biked seven miles, got hopelessly drunk once and marginally drunk twice, been to one charity fundraising party, eaten one Chinese, two packets of hay fever tablets, one packet of ibuprofen, read 1.5 novels, one running magazine, purchased a new pair of trail-running shoes and tested them around a 16 acre cow field, smashed one wine glass and two mugs, made roughly 20 cups of coffee for builders, changed approximately 14 nappies and emptied 2 potties down the toilet (progress), walked into a loaded-with-dead-flies fly-paper three times…

So you can see that, despite being self-employed and wasting far too much time on the internet, I do manage to fit in some activities that don’t involve children or horses and probably manage just as many disasters along the way!

As a keen runner I have learnt that, when a session starts to get tough and the voice in my head tells me to “slow down”, it helps loads if I start counting and focussing on only the next 10 strides at a time.

I got this idea from a running magazine and have found it really useful. I have since developed my own version, which is singing the alphabet song (inside my head may I add, I don’t need to encourage people to think I am deranged) and have used this technique so often that I’m now getting quite good at matching distances to the letters. For example, if I’m running along and spot something that is certain distance away, I often think “oh, that tree is a P” or “that cow is a J, second-time round”. This works because, while I am singing the alphabet song, my mind cannot also be shouting at me telling me to walk.

I also apply a similar method to other areas of my life by breaking tasks up into mini “playlists” lists in my head and only focusing and thinking about one list at a time. For example, if I had get the kids to school then muck out eight stables and then ride a horse before lunch, go to the supermarket, collect children from the bus-stop followed by a meal for seven to cook and then evening stables – the whole day starts to look and sound a bit daunting.

I get around this by absolutely and resolutely refusing to think about any playlist other than the one I’m currently working on. To start worrying about getting to a doctor’s appointment on time when I am mid-mucking out would stress me out, so I have learnt to not do this.

I also apply this method to triathlon competitions, which involve moving from swimming to cycling and cycling to running with timed transitions in between. When I am racing, I only think of swimming whilst I’m swimming, cycling whilst I’m cycling and running whilst I’m running.

A lot of practice at home is necessary to ensure I know what level of effort it is possible for me to maintain in each discipline without causing a decrease in performance in another discipline but, come race day, I only think about one thing at a time and this helps me put in my best effort and prevents the voice in my head from screaming “Stop – too much!!!!!”.

Anyway, that’s what works for me. I am interested to hear other people’s mental strategies.

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Filed under comedy, Equine, Family, funny, humour, large families, Running, Sport, Uncategorized

Squeezing

Squeezing is something I do a lot of.

Toothpaste squeezing (for little girls), squeezing thighs and bum into lycra (for me), squeezing legs into tights and feet into wellies (toddlers again), squeezing in time to go for a run or a bike ride or a swim or just squeezing in half an hour to do something for myself that doesn’t involve horses or children.

The more I come to think about it, the more my life seems to be one big squeeze. Just take the first hour or so of the day…

Tomorrow morning, I will wake up squeezed firmly between Violet (5) and Troll (3) who will  have climbed into our bed during the night. I know this because they have done it every night since they were ejected from our bed (I say ejected but it was a very half-hearted ejection in Marigold’s case and Violet’s “ejection”  consisted of making her lie down in a cot at the end of our bed for about 12 minutes one night three years ago until her pitiful  crying and bereft expression won her her place back in the “family” bed. She is a very sensitive soul but can be very determined when she wants and she has steadfastly and resolutely resisted all attempts to persuade her even to consider the notion that her nocturnal place in the world might be somewhere other than squeezed in between mummy and daddy).

I should say now that Jon will probably also be squeezed in there somewhere but he long since retreated to the other end of the bed. Yes, we often sleep top to toe in our house, a bit like the family in the Willie Wonka film. Jon occasionally mutters darkly about the sleeping arrangements and sometimes growls noisily and grumpily in the middle of the night when one of the girls “checks he is there” with their sharp toe nails but he does not seem to mind too much providing I make sure that Annie Hound does not also join our little club.

So I start my day by un-squeezing myself as quietly as possible from the bed in the hope of squeezing in five minutes to myself and avoiding making husband more grumpy by waking him up. I then go  into the kitchen and squeeze around 6 items into 5 packed lunch boxes. This sometimes involves emptying out the previous day’s partially eaten lunches and squeezing them into an over-flowing bin. I do this knowing with absolute certainty that Jon will moan about the bin-cram at some point during the day but, at this point in my pre-bus stop -pre-mucking out schedule, I choose to ignore the thought and squeeze away.

Squeezing things into bags is usually next on the list, swimming kits into swimming bags, PE kits into PE bags, letters that i should have signed and returned two weeks ago, into book bags. Next it is breakfast time, OK not much squeezing here, except when we’ve nearly used up all the bread and i have to squeeze the crusts between both palms to make them thin enough to squeeze into the toaster (they still usually burn and set the fire alarm off though, so this squeezing is probably a waste of energy and the complete squeezing-squeezing-burning-binning process almost certainly has a “carbon footprint” the size of Alaska. I’m explaining this on the off chance that carbon footprints are on your high-concerns list, they are not on my list… in fact i’m not sure that i have or have ever had a high-concerns list.

When i open the outside door, which leads to the “shoe and coat” cupboard, Annie-hound (who sleeps in this room) always attempts a quick and sneaky run-and-squeeze through gap in the door to go and say good morning to the tribe, rather than go out in the cold for her wee.

Squeezing Violet and Troll into their tights, squeezing out toothpaste, squeezing Clyde’s massive school bag out of the tiny living room window when he has forgotten it and is late for the bus.

However, I am not the only one doing the squeezing.  Troll loves to use the opportunity afforded by the close contact required to help her get dressed to sneak a quick but firm squeeze of my boobs. She has always had a thing about my boobs – other children have dummies or blankets – for Troll, only my boobs are good enough. She knows they are off limits (mostly) and that she is too big to touch them now but this doesn’t deter her – it just ensures she has an especially naughty grin on her face as she makes a grab for them.

When Rose and Clyde have left for their bus, it’s time to squeeze Violet and Troll into their coats. Daisy does hers herself but would happily let me do it for her too if I would. Troll does not strictly need to come on the bus-stop walk as Jon is at home (squeezing in an extra hour of sleep, may i add!) but, usually, she insists (having woken up the moment I get out of bed).

After all four children are safely on their way to school, I take Troll to Granny’s house (which is quicker than it sounds, as Granny lives next door!). Eight out of ten times we will get to Granny’s door and Troll will plead and beg to stay with me for a bit longer, in the form of: “Me help hay horses tiny bit?” and so, she will come to “help” me for 10 minutes.

I’m sure you are thinking that we spoil her and she gets her own way all the time (and you’d be right) but, although she is hopelessly unhelpful at horsing right now (and just having her on the yard means I need eyes in the back of my head and to repeat the phrase “don’t go near the black horse’s stable” endlessly),  my excuse is that i am subtly imprinting her for teenage mucking out duties…

Haying or rather haylaging, which is our forage of choice in the winter, takes about 20 minutes and Troll usually gets cold hands after 5 minutes because she likes to dip them in the yard water trough. I often have to squeeze out her gloves before hanging them on Granny’s radiator, when I drop her off.

When troll “insists” on something, it is usually much easier to go along with it – unless she is trying to eat something poisonous or wants to show her bum to someone over the age of 75, life is too short for the resulting argument (I must admit to having failed on this last example in the past but that’s another story)…

The squeezing in my life is not all bad though.  Our beautiful basset hound Annie loves to be squeezed and cuddled and she is probably the most squeezed dog in all of history. She enjoys fuss so much that she groans out loud when she is stroked. I also spend a good deal of my time sitting on the sofa with a pile of children laying on and around me, all wanting squeezes (or in their very own words “huggles”). Sometimes after eleven pm –  when everyone under the age of thirteen is asleep, I like to squeeze up with Jon on the sofa (although nine out of ten times I have fallen asleep before the first advert break, if we are watching a film).  These squeezes are the best kind.

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