15 May, 2006

feline anxiety again

Yes, Lord Peter Wimsey has slipped into recidivism over the weekend and is showing signs of a decline into nervous agitation once more. He has anger issues with his siblings, apparently, and everyone has come under fire, even the normally impervious Hermione. So it's back to the vet late this afternoon, after pickup. Avery can come along and hold his hand. Perhaps it's time to drop the cosy aromatherapy and move into something really effective, like scotch.

And I have an extra husband at home today. He was meant to be in India, but for reasons lost in the mists of officialdom, his visa never came through, so he's perched disconsolately on the sofa, looking oddly out of place on a Monday, muttering under his breath and feeling terribly disappointed. Then I came into my study and here is a sad little article sitting in the printer, all about Bangalore. Poor guy. But Avery was thrilled to have him here this morning to come with us to school. She was swinging her new tennis racket and looking menacingly at the sky, daring it to rain and spoil her first lesson at school. Last Monday it didn't so much rain as look as if it COULD all day, so whoever was in charge cancelled the lesson and boy was she unpopular for the rest of the week. We have to hope for better things today.

My agenda today is singularly dull: I must put all your names on our change of address card envelopes, not that you're panting to mail something to me in this day of electronic communication, but you never know. Then I have scads of photos to put in my album to bring it up to date after Avery's birthday party in November. I do this purely for John's mother, who loves nothing more than sitting on the floor of the living room and leafing through album after album, looking earnestly at pictures she's seen a thousand times, not to mention that she took most of them! But this time it will be more fun, because we've taken them all and it will all be new. His parents are due to arrive in 10 days or so for a long-awaited visit, which will be a special treat. Fun to show them around our lives. But in the meantime, these tasks make for rather a limping sort of administrative day, punctuated only by laundry, whooppee!

But to finish about the horse show. The names of the horses are like music: Cortaflex Amber du Montoix, Sodexco Van Essen, Saffier, Van Der Brand Kleek, Roal Von Raphael. We actually recognized lots of horses and riders from the Sheffield Show, and I can imagine you'd easily develop allegiances if you went to a series of events. And the shopping opportunities were unbelievable: on either side of several long grassy avenues were white canvas tents filled with STUFF. It was very like the Hamptons Classic in that way. Had we been in the market we could have bought Avery an entire hunt habit, complete with silk-lined jacket with velvet piping. There were saddle shops from France, bridle companies from Italy, every kind of horsey clothing (I mean for people), jewelry, carrying case, boot, you name it, that you could possibly want. And the hats! You could go to Ascot straight from the show. My favorite item however is the "shipping fuzzy." I want to have a pony and a trailer just so I can buy some shipping fuzzies, which are squishy sheepskin-like pads you attach to the pony's bridle so that her face does not get scratched during the journey in the box to the show. And the people! There were special shiny badges that denoted one as "Groom," "Rider," "Press," and most coveted probably, "Owner." Some borderline smackable people just oozing luxury with too much jewelry and spoiled children. Lots of tweed and velvet and high shiny boots. And tiny, tiny little girls in regulation yellow jodhpurs and stubby plaits showing under their velvet helmets, ending in little red ribbon bows. Apparently all ribbons must be red and subdued, unlike the variety and size of the bows at American shows. Very sweet.

The best event was last, the Young Rider Accumulator Show Jumping. I remembered it from the British Open in Sheffield, the event where each jump is worth progressively more than the last and at the end there is a ridiculously high jump that can garner the rider 20 points if she's successful, and get 20 points taken away if she's not. The drama! There's nothing more exciting than a rider who gets all the way through all ten jumps without knocking anything over (and it's against the clock, which makes it even more nail-biting), and then the announcer wonders over the loudspeaker, "Will Gemma take the risk? Is the Joker going to make or break this course?" and then we all hang in breathless silence to see if she goes for the high one, and... a perfect score! Once again, nearly all girls, and then one wonders where they all go in the transition from Young to Mature rider. A mystery to me. And where are all the men training? There aren't any at Avery's barn in Wimbledon! I mean there are men, but no boys. Someone must explain it to me someday.

Just at the end of the Accumulator, a light rain began to fall and in the sky above the arena was an enormous rainbow! A fitting end to a really exciting day. I sped off to the food tent with pockets full of money and came away with a sublimely mature cheddar cheese wedge, a little jar of amazing tiny balls of Saint Marwenne goat's cheese suspended in spicy sunflower oil, from the Neet Foods people at Trelay Farm, Marhamchurch, Bude, Cornwall. I love addresses like that. The brochure for the Cornish farm reveals, "During the Crusade the Duke of Cornwall was kidnapped and duly held for ransom by the Saracens. The Saracens ransom demands were met by the people of Cornwall who paid for his release with 15 circular Gold Bezant coins. To this day the Cross of Cornwall depicts 15 circular Gold Bezant coins for this transaction. For our Saint Marwenne circular balls of cream cheese, we demand nothing in return except your pleasure and appreciation of their distinctive taste."

Well, that and two pounds fifty pence per jar, but who's being picky now.

Also I picked up a big round sourdough bread from Daylesford Organic, and some beautiful Scottish smoked salmon from The Organic Smokehouse, Clunbury Hall, Clunbury, Craven Arms, Shropshire. Now why can't we have addresses like that in America? I'm sure it makes the food taste better. The Smokehouse people, Michael and Debbie Leviseur, were lovely, asking how the jumping was going, had the Queen looked to be having a good day out? "She were here yesterday, which was a treat," the lady said as she wrapped my salmon. "Surrounded by security she were, and the reporters! You couldn't shake a stick at them, they were so thick around her." And the man piped up, "'Twere a great pleasure to see her, wasn't it Debbie? You feel as if you know her, don't you, from all them pictures you see in the magazines. And there is she is, as perfect as can be. Now Prince Philip, he were here later that afternoon. Just in a tweed cap as I might be myself, all alone. No one noticed him a bit."

I wheedled a closed farmstand into parting with a bunch of perfect tomatoes on the vine, and then they didn't let me pay for them! The sweet owner, one C.J. Sheldrake of Beaumont Farm, Priest Hill, Old Windsor, Berkshire, averred, "No, it's a pleasure, and a proper end to the day. You enjoy, now." We trudged rather wearily past the wisteria-covered walls surrounding the castle grounds, and caught the train to Waterloo, then the bus to Marble Arch where we collapsed with our picnic dinner and an early bed.

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