Opera singer, actress, TV presenter and local girl Shan Cothi - but better known in this neck of the woods as the sister of top notch local farrier Eirian Morgan - has sent a few words of encouragement to spur me on. She has also been riding for charity - in her case a 300 mile ride from from North to South Wales on her handsome Welsh cob Caio. The aim? To raise money for pancreatic cancer following the tragic death of husband Justin from the disease. See http://www.amserjustintime.org/ I had wished to be part of the supporting horde when she swept through home village Ffarmers, but unfortunately I was already in China gearing up for the first leg of my own ride! She is planning to link up with the BHS to raise money for the charity through a BHS ride in the Brecon Beacons in the not too distant future - if you live in South Wales and have a horse, watch out for it and join in!
Things are still progressing on the ride front. Following a meeting with the CEA, a government bigwig from the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries has agreed to help the ride. This sort of thing should make every difference with bureaucracy down the line.
On Monday there is a press conference in Beijing at which I am spookily expected to be present via Skype. This promises to be very interesting, but not in a way I would relish - I suspect the least of my worries is getting up at some ungodly hour of the morning to sit at my computer.
Thank goodness I will have the redoubtable David McNeill to interpret my thoughts - hopefully with a bit of poetic licence.
Another bit of good news is that I am being sponsored a Pro II riding helmet made by Charles Owen. My riding hat has defintely seen better days and I had concerns whether it was up to current safety standards. Charles Owen are not only based in Wales, which is as good a reason as any to wear their hats, but also have an unrivalled reputation for manufacturing high safety spec riding gear. The Pro II is a low profile, well ventilated hat which should prove ideal.