Sunday, 29 July 2012

Newhaven to London. Part Two

On Wednesday 18th Peng, Rowena and I set off to follow a wooded section of the North Downs way  ....
...across the River Mole and via a subway under the M25 to Walton-on-the-Hill, where we were to be hosted at Anthea Chambers' very friendly and well run riding centre http://www.wildwoodsriding.co.uk/.   We were given a fantastic welcome by Anthea and her sprightly 83 year old mother Justine Cowley Wise, who kindly presented me with a copy of  'In Those Days' - a fascinating account of her early life growing up in India. Anthea treated five of us (riders Peng, Rowena and me, and support team Michael and Jeremy) to a splendid meal out, and Peng and Rowena were able to hone their riding skills on Trojan, the mechanical horse at the centre ...
Rowena was mischievously encouraged by Anthea to try riding under the trees on the screen, at which she was a bit more successful than the rather circuitous dressage test she then attempted - no Gold medals here I fear!
 Posing with Anthea for a photographer from the local rag....
 
Replete with a full English breakfast the next morning, we continued on our way along the North Downs. Checking the route on Banstead Heath ........


...and by a monument on the North Downs Way near Reigate with the Low Weald behind


A midday coffee stop in a car park near Gatton Park provided Peng with a surprise reunion, as who should turn up but Val Price-West, who joined the ride for a leg in Xinjiang - they had not seen each other since May 2010 nearly two years ago, when we said goodbye to Peng in Kuytun ! ....


After a long day's ride we eventually arrived tired and hungry at Westerham, where I had arranged to stay with Terry Tahir of the Farchynys stud, a fellow Welsh pony breeder.  What a relief to have a hot shower, a slap up meal and a comfortable bed!
It was a shorter ride the next day, Friday July 20th, through country lanes to Chelsfield Equestrian Centre http://www.chelsfieldequestriancentre.co.uk/      Jan Bumire sent riders out to escort us in, and we had a another unbelievably warm welcome.  I suddenly realised that we now actually had a view of London from the stables, and it brought home to me how close I was to finally achieving my goal after four years of riding!
So near and yet so far ...the view from Chelsfield and the Shard is clearly visible .....


  The icing on the cake here was actually just that - this amazing iced cake which had been made especially for me to celebrate the ride.......

... much to good to eat, though it was not long before we were tempted!
Our penultimate day of riding on Saturday brought us to Mount Mascal Stables in Bexley http://www.mountmascalstables.com/  which was to be our base for the final ride in to Greenwich.

The first job on the agenda was to give Zorbee a thorough wash and brush up in preparation for the arrival ceremony the following day.   While he was travelling and living out for much of the time, I did not like to wash him and remove the natural oils which act as a protection against the weather.  But now the bucket and sponge came out with a vengeance and the scruffy dirty nag was transformed into a gleaming white steed with silky mane and tail!  Being a dark bay, Bolashak does not show the dirt and only needed a thorough brush to tidy him up.

Harry had a stable while Zorbee (with New Zealand rug to keep him clean overnight) and Bolashak settled down happily in the small paddock I preferred for them, complete with visiting suburban foxes.
The 'team' were kindly accomodated in staff lodgings.

I would like to extend my grateful thanks to all those who hosted us on the way to London.  We thoroughly appreciated all the overwhelming kindness and warm hospitality we received en route, and for me it was a wonderful way to round off the ride and fully enjoy the final stage after what has at times been a very rigorous and challenging venture.   Many many thanks!!!

 

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