Yesterday saw the first day of advent and for me it was an ascent into the attic to retrieve the advent calendars for the children to full with treats (which sort of goes against the fasting) and each year we do this I pass boxes stored in the attic with past photographs(yes, remember those heady days of taking photographs, then taking the film to the chemist, waiting a week to pick them up to find about one or two decent photo's amongst all of them). Each year I stop and extract them and take a trip down memory lane and this year I thought it might be nice to share the memories of dogs past in my life along with a little snippet of my life.
When I left school at sixteen, through friends I know I went to Surrey to work with horses for three years, working in one yard for six months breaking yearlings for the flat and they also had show horses and point-to pointers but with my size and nature it was the yearlings that I was most involved with and employed to work with, I then went and worked two and a half years for a friend of theirs in a dealing and livery yard. This was dealing with top class competition horse and riding them in front of clients. I feel in love with drag hunting and jumping hedges going out with the Mid Surrey draghounds qualifying point-to-pointers for livery clients they had. I also have a claim to fame of being giving a dressing down by sports presenter Claire Balding's Dad Ian Balding whilst hunting with the Sandhurst and Military Draghounds or it might of been the Berks and Bucks draghounds, as my memory does not serve me so well, it was over around 28 years ago. I got told off because one of our livery clients was hunting a horse they had bought for the first time and I was on a point-to-pointer qualifying it for the livery client (for a horse to race in amatuer jump racing called point-to pointing it is supoosed to hunt a number of times to qualify before it can run). Now Fred was struggling with his new mount and it was getting over excited leaping about, so ont the last line of scent I swapped with him and kept out the back with the horse that was starting to calm a little under me, well as we approached the end of the line we had to go down a steep bank popping over a log in the process, I popped over the long and found Ian Baldings wife on a horse albutt at a stand still in front of me, nowhere to go and with not the best brakes on Jack we ended up head butting her horse up the bottom shunting him a few feet faster than he had intended travelling. I appologise most unreservedly knowing who she was and asking her if all was okay and we seemed to part on good company but I watched her approach her husband as we had all stopped up at the end of the line and noticed her knodding twards me and then next Ian Balding was approaching me looking like a bulldog chewing a wasp, on horse back and infront of every one at the meet dressed me down and I had to sit straight faced taking his abuse, as the owner of the horse and others at the meet where sniggering behind him and the sniggering was not at me. The funny thing is he said, "All the lines we have done you have been on that horse out of control." I only got on the horse on the last line and with the best will in the world, Fred who had been riding him, when he was leaping about was 6 ft 4 in and weighed around 16 stone and I am only 5 ft 4in and weigh just over half Fred's weight, so it would be hard to mistake me for Fred. Lol.
The photo's tonight though are from when I returned from Surrey and worked for the National Trust driving the carriage at Arlington court and the two years I ran the carriage rides it made a profit for the first time. The photo's I must confess though where taken by Elsie Roff who worked as a steward in the Carriage Museum and lived on the estate as her husband was a woodsman on the estate. Photography was her hobby.
Having lived away for three years with German Sheperds at the places I worked, so Cavalier free for three years it was nice to come back to find Mum with a Cavalier pup called Penny and when we got another Penny she was then recalled as Penny 1 with the later Penny as Penny 2.
I also lived at the Carriage museum for the two years whilst working there in a flat above it and my Mum came and lived there with me to, so me and Penny became good friends and Penny developed a love for riding on the top box of the wagonette between me driving and Carolyn who was my assitant.
People liked seeing her and as 24 years ago the Cavalier was not so big in the USA , we would get asked what breed she was quite often by American tourists who loved the royal connection in the name Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
It was a nice job and it fitted in with me milking each end of the day and out of season during the winter with the Estate closed I could then work ride for local point-to point trainers.
Though working I enjoyed by time working at Arlington it is the only time I have come across sexism in my working life and from a woman and I have mostly worked with men. One day whilst waiting for passengers boarding at the carriage muesum I heard, "Oh, you !" I looked over to where the "Oh, you!" came from realising that it had been projected at me and the woman was at pace approaching the carriage and then looked up at me sitting in the driving sit (box) of the wagonette repeating her, "Oh, you !" and I could see she was about sixty and that she looked irritated, so I replied, "Yes" and she then told me "Its wrong a woman doing what you are doing, it don't look right, woman did not do it back in the day and you should not be doing it now, its a mans job." Now what I did next is quite funny as I appologised for causing her any offence and then calmly whilst biting the side of my tongue said, "If you have a problem with a woman driving the carriage, if you go down to the house and ask for the esate manager, talk with him and you can make an official complaint to the National trust." This seemed to pacify her and she just replied, " I just wanted you to know I don't think its right," and she then scuttled off towards I presume her husband who looked slightly dumb struck. I then turned around to the people on the carriage to appologise and was meet with a univeral praise for my handling of the situation and disbelief that a person would behave in such a manner because I was woman driving a carriage. I know this would not be a surprise in some countries but in the UK I was taken aback that it would cause offence to anyone even 24 years ago when it happened.
Penny 1 was a lovely girl and although we tried to breed her she never produced pups, she did get Mitrial Valve DEgenrationg at around 4 years old but made it to 10 years old and really was only effected in her last few months.
I hope you enjoy this little trip that turned out a bit longer than first planned and I have got a few more to go on in the future, as found some cute photo's of Smidge with his Great Gran, Granny and litter siblings. I have been a little indulgent with a few photo's of just Hercules and Cobbler the two Shire cross boys who did the real work. One photo is with a sign on the back of the carriage that states its my 21st Birthday which the crew in the carriage museum thought funny and I only twigged something was up when people I did not know kept saying, "Happy 21st Birthday !" I thought either I have a lot of stalkers or somethings going on here.
The one photo of just me with the two boys pulling the wagonette is a snap from the day the National Trust where filming for an advert for the property hence the full stock riding boots, breeches and full length coat. Never got used to wearing the bowler hat, not the best look I feel. If you went to Arlington Court back some 24 years ago and took a carriage ride, we might of meet. Enjoy !
“The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you,but he will make a fool of himself, too.”
― Samuel Butler
Me (Jane) with Puddin' and Teagol, waiting patiently to flush a patch of kale, December 2019
Hello, I am Jane!