I found, amongst my University stuff, all the letters I received in my first year while living in halls. This particular letter from my mother really amused me. She gets so excited in the telling of the tale she starts calling my father by his Christian name. The letter is 7 pages long with 11 lines on the final page written by father. So, I share just an extract.
It was great waking on Sunday morning to the view. We were up early and left Seymour sleeping to go over and help Malcolm take Angel and Islington back to the farm Angel came from, at Tiverton. First we had to go to and fetch Katherine’s horse box from a farm near Bradworthy. It was padlocked so we had the embarrassment of disturbing the farmer at 8.30 on a Sunday! He was delightful about it though.
Back to the Vicarage and the high jinx all round as first we had to identify the two from the others. Very difficult to read faded ear tags on strong jumpy Dexters in the darkness of the shed. Anyway, Benz was having nothing of this and burst through the corrugated wall and out into the field. Finally, we managed to let Mercedes out to join him. Then got Angel on a rope and got her out and into the stable bit, with a bucket of food. I had her well under control while Ivan and Malcolm tried to catch Islington and put a head collar on her, to get her out. What a drama! Between their enclosure door and the little gate into the stable bit she broke loose from Ivan (we thought she had broken his finger too) but now she was with the other two in the field!
To cut a long story short, we managed to get her in with her Mum. But still no collar. Finally, we trapped her behind the dung cart, which she tried to climb over! All this time, I was building up a suitable relationship with Angel and the food bucket.
The next stage was to walk, then, down to the yard. I led Angel and I don’t recall any problems. I may have slipped and been pulled a bit. But nothing to what was going on behind me. Malcolm had the rope, Ivan the tail. She bolted through the little wooden fence (if you can call it that). Ivan, slipping and having to let the tail go. Malcolm, desperately holding onto the rope, was almost split in two by the wooden bars. So once again she was loose. This time, in the garden!
We eventually managed to veer her into the yard but it wasn’t easy. We then got her into Barchester’s stable and Malcolm went in to put a second head collar on. She managed to break through into Blackies’ section and got desperately tangled up in the lawn mower. I doubt it will ever work again.
The box was parked down by Brian’s entrance, because Malcolm wasn’t prepared to back it up the drive. We left Ivan holding Islington and we walked Angel down and put her in the box with less difficulty than imagined, thus releasing another rope.
The next stage now seems like s nightmare more than anything. She is a very strong beast and at one point she shot from the little green tractor to the shed, where the trap is, dragging Ivan along rodeo style with both Malcolm and I yelling “Let go! Let go!”. But poor Ivan, having let go once, was not going to let Malcolm down again. It was like watching him slip down Rupaka with Seymour on his back, all over again. It happened in slow motion. He had some jolly nasty grazes on his elbow and leg but worst of all a filthy black eye. We then (all rather exhausted at this stage, as you can imagine) tied a rope round one back leg and with Ivan on her left with the rope around her neck and me on her right with the head collar and Malcolm lifting the back leg every time she tried to break away. We slipped and slithered out of the yard, past the cars and down the drive. Poor love was exhausted too and just fell over several times. We took our rests while she did. Malcolm also managed to back the horse box into the gateway, blocking the roads with the car. The next problem was to open the back and get her in without Angel getting out! We eventually got Brian over with another rope so he got in the box and held Angel to one end. But she kept finishing the food and Malcolm fetched more. Getting Islington up wasn’t easy and she lay down again on the tail gate which we eventually just lifted up so she slid in but that meant both Malcolm and Brian had to climb out over the shut tail gate!
At some stage, Mrs Cleverly from the Haytown pottery drove up and instead of turning and going off another way, insisted Malcolm moved the car out of the way. People can be funny.
We finally left at 10.30, the time we were expected at Tiverton. Anyway, we were there at 11.30! Opened up the box to let them out and two very meek animals hesitantly stepped out in their own time! None of us really said “Goodbye” as they wandered out of a gate into an open field. Perhaps there was a bit of “good riddance” under our breath. We all stank and were glad of a loo and hand basin in the farmhouse.
We congregated in the kitchen for a cup of coffee and a bit of paper exchanging. Mrs Whatever-Her-Name-Is went out to fetch glasses and when she came back seemed surprised the dishwasher going great guns. Why? Because muggins here had rested her weary backside against it and pressed all three buttons!
And so it went on making lovely reading.
Yup! That’s me with the thing from an armchair on my head (I can’t remember what they’re called) and Mama with a shirt on back to front. Now I know about such things, I see the breeching straps are wrong. No wonder Mark is holding Blackie very firmly. Blackie and the trap did not have a good relationship. I would love to know where that trap is, today.