Well this weekend was spent like many others knee deep in mud with excitable flatulant horses. I was somewhere known as the Quantock hills. It is a place in England where the people are known to talk with additional RRRRRRRRRR’s in everything they say. When they answer yes they often say ARRRRh, a bit like a pirate. I think the word referee would be a good illustration. RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRReferrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrree.
Anyway deep in a forest area a horse event was taking place where the riders draw their own map and navigate the forest. An orienteering with horse adventure if you like. And I luckily was able to photograph most of them before they got lost. And you may think that I am joking but numerous disappeared into the forestry green yonder. Admittedly I met a man who lived there and he did say that when he walked his dogs around here he spent a great deal of time being lost. So thank God I didn’t venture too far, especially with my track record. So each entrant had to draw their map, I think one couple forgot which way up they were suppossed to be. So, not being able to tell the competitiors they were going in the wrong direction, I continued taking the pre-lost picture as best I could.
Later that afternoon I was asked to photograph an event that was suppossed to take place at one o’clock but was delayed because the competitors were lost. So to make the best of the time, the other photographer (Carol) and myself had a buttercup photographing competition. Yes that is what you do while you wait for a horse to appear. So since buttercups are bright yellow I thought I would create the anti-thesis of buttercup and photographed in black and white…. I never like to be the same…. Always original…
After a couple of hours of buttercup embued photographic frenzie, we learned that the entries for the competition had declined from 60 down to 14. There were talks of alien abduction, actually that talk came from me, but there was still talk. Then a number of questions arose: if a horse was abducted would an alien know how to ride it? If the horse was abducted would they take the saddle and all the gear? If you were an alien why would you abduct a horse? Where in a space ship would you ride the horse? So many questions that will never be fully answered, that is unless I meet an alien. Although if you meet an alien I doubt that would be the first thing on your mind. I think more likely would be what do you eat and please don’t let it be humans. Also what happens if the space ship runs out of fuel? Do you have an alien AA? Still I did learn there were people who would be abducted by aliens in a second.
The competition commenced but some of the horses were not complying. When it came to jumping a few tried to throw their riders. When it came to crossing a brook the image of a woman standing behind a horse and pushing with her shoulder made it apparent that you could lead a horse to a brook but you could not make it cross . I tell you it was so funny. She tried everything, pushing pulling, leading, waving food at it. The horse was having none of it. When she walked away and had completely given up the horse snuck across the brook and acted as though nothing had happened. It was brilliant.
Later that evening I invited Steve Spraggon (another photographer) to the hog roast. I met Steve through flickr and red bubble. Since he lived in the area I thought he might like to join the Carol and myself for an interesting evening. That way he would experience the reality and know the stories were true. Steve miraculously found the field in the middle of nowhere and was lucky enough to be persuaded to go on a chocolate mission to a near by village. It was apparent in the first few minutes of meeting carol and myself that he had wondered into extreme eccentricity and that he had just met two women who laughed hysterically at their own jokes…. Poor guy.
After a slighlty slurred conversation about one of my books: Goyle, about Gargoyles. I informed Steve that Gargoyles eat walls and poop pebbles. I am convinced that Steve thought I was completely fruit loop. I also told him the Goblin story, you can find that on one of the other Journal entries or in writing. And yes that was it, he realised there was no escape!
Anyway after the chocolate mission Steve was enlisted in helping me put up my tent. Now most people would put the tent on the flat. Seems obvious. But the way I saw it: horses could jump fences and go for a rampage during the night. Also when I was in Namibia I always camped on a slope close to rocks just in case the desert elephants wanted to play twister using tents. So my logic seemed perfectly okay to me. Although since then I have been informed that the word logic was nowhere near the mark. Never mind. So I pitched the tent under trees, up a bit of a hill and where there weren’t too many ditches. Also in terms of thinking: if I was a horse and I was going to escape from a field where would I run? I would run down hill because up hill would be too much of an effort. So do you see the logic now? I know I am convincing you.
Once the tent was pitched there were a few comments amongst the horse fraternity. Who’s camping on the hill? Er me? So there were a few amused looks and a couple of ex-service men who said. ‘I did that once, never again.’ Well that was it, stubborness kicked in. I would camp there no matter what! Then one of the lady riders kindly offered for me to stay in the comfort of a nice warm cottage. Most people would have jumped at the chance; however i still had work to do, a buttercup photography competition to have judged and had to save Steve who was being bullied by salivating dogs. So imagine you have a choice of sleep in a cosy cottage or sleep in angular tent construction. My question is: what enables the most adventure? So of course I politely declined their kind offer and returned to the photo van where Steve was being licked to death by two dogs whose breath smelt like tripe. He seemed okay with it all. In fact I was astounded by how calm Steve was considering he had worn nice shoes and had been forced to trample through mud. He was very chilled out: I put that down to shock.
So for the buttercup judging. Bearing in mind that Steve had not met either Carol, who owns the company, or myself before. We felt it fair to force him to jude the buttercup photography competition. Of course it was highly competitive and could turn nasty. I had images of WWF wrestling, but I did keep that to myself. I didn’t think it was fair to put your boss in a double nelson in the middle of a field.
For someone now in the throng of two competive female photographers Steve was potentially at risk. He took his role seriously, showed dedication and was very fair in the judging, albeit completely wrong in his choice. I lost, but came highly commended. I think the black and white photograph of a buttercup defied the idea of buttercups! Anyway I was not sore, but I was going to be…
After the hog roast and my vegetarian version:quiche. Yes I know that a quiche rotating on a stick over a fire does not conjure the same romantic imagery. That is why I said Hog roast, you can imagine fires, men beating their chests, women dressed as wenches weilding jugs of beer saying arrrr and Robin hood turning up. Try that same image with a quiche on a stick! Yes I know it doesn’t sound so great… But it was nice. Anyway after saying goodbye to Steve, whose eyes were slightly glazed and he may well have developed a twitch, it was time for bed. On the hill I arranged my sleeping bag and blankets. The slope, I would guess, was about 20 degrees. So I worked out my plan. Sleep on my back with my legs out pressing against the canopy. I could dig in with my heels and stop myself sliding. Well I laid down and got myself comfortable and it worked quite well. Then a horse let out a loud ney and made me jump. So I rolled onto my side. This is where it got difficult. I slid to the wall of the tent. I then scrambled back up and re-arranged my sleeping back and slept on my back. I don’t know whether anyone else ever has it that when they are camping their hearing goes into over-drive. Well I laid silently and all I could hear was grass being ripped up and chewed- all night. Had the horse got out of the pen? I undid the zip of my tent expecting to meet a horse face to face. No. There was no horse, it was down the hill. Hmmm? I went back in and fell asleep until two o’clock in the morning where another horse did a rather loud bottom sound. I thought the phantom rasperberry blower was in the field. He was not. Horses pass wind a lot, you thought cows were bad… This one sounded like it was playing a bugle through its bottom. So I woke up and not only had I slipped but I had rotated. It had rained and my face had made contact with the side of the tent. I had managed to unintentionally wash my face. Ironically I had been dreaming about waterfalls. So back to laying on my back until five in the morning when there was a rain storm. I wondered about the comfort of a pretty the cottage and considered I may well have made a mistake. Although the thought of the morning conversation about the virtues of erecting a tent on a hill made me feel I had made the right choice.
The last three hours of sleep were the best. I wedged my bottom in a pot hole, it stopped me sliding and I made it through to eight oclock where yet another horse made a loud neighing sound. That was it, I was awake. So I took a stroll down to an area where they are making some very tasty fried egg sandwhiches. Also there was home made Victoria sponge. It was lovely. I did notice there was were a number of smiles in my direction, numerous people asked if I had slept well. Now for me the word ‘well’ is not definite. It is like nice. So since well had no specific parameters, I went for well in comparitive to an insomniac. So my answer was yes, surprisingly well considering. All through the day numerous people came up to me. ‘Ah you’re the girl who slept in the angular tent pitch. ‘Yes I am.’ ‘The girl who slept on the hill, giggle.’ Yep all of the above… But with such mini-adventures you learn the following.
So in terms of pitching tents: do not pitch on a hill, even if you think that freaked out horses or elephants may well crush you. If you do make that decision- make sure you do it where no-one can see if and make jokes about it. Always deny the fact to the masses that you have been a completely stubborn idiot. Always justify why such an idiotic attempt has been made and convince them you are completely right! And finally invest in a camper van and do not park it on a hill!
Moral of the story, when pitching a tent do not imagine angry horses playing twister on your tent!
If you want to see the shots have a look here: www.Jayphotos.co.uk
Another mini adventure in mud to get your chuckle muscles moving!