Tuesday, 28 July 2015

An Angel in Disguise

Friday May 29th to Sunday 31st
Ellen turned out to be an angel in disguise, and I ended up staying at the Thistledown Equestrian Centre for three days. It was a huge relief to have a temporary base from which to sort out arrangements as well rest and wash my clothes etc. Ellen's neighbour was vet Bill, and he came over to give Lady her Coggins test on Friday - the results always take a couple of days and would be sent on to Sarnia to await my arrival. I was able to use the computer to plan out a new route to Sarnia, and sorted out somewhere to stay on the other side of the border in Port Huron.
After riding lessons on Saturday Ellen and husband Barry took me on a drive around nearby Stratford, which like the original version has swans swimming on the Avon river and presents Shakespeare plays in the theatre.  And we bought a scrumptious ice-cream cake for Sarah's birthday.   Here are the family demolishing it in the evening...
From left to right: Ellen, Sarah's husband Mario, birthday girl Sarah, son Aidan, Barry.
On Sunday Barry and Ellen very generously drove me back to Newmarket to fetch my spare baggage.
Interestingly Ellen knew Barbara Kingscote who rode across Canada in 1949 (I have mentioned her before). She became and married a vet, and as a young couple Barry and Ellen worked for her for a few months, helping on the farm and looking after her two young daughters.
Unusually for an older woman, Ellen was previously an engineer. She has considerable riding experience both in Canada and abroad, and is a qualified BHSAI (British Horse Society Advanced Instructor). At the centre she focuses on centred riding programmes and has a calm, encouraging approach to teaching.  Contrary to recent rumour, the centre has not closed down, and is much recommended.
The family were great company and I was sorry to leave. But leave I must, and I set off again on Monday June 1st, not the only one to be dragging my feet.

 Just down the road I came across a tragic reminder of the dangers of motorbikes - a young local lad had been killed in a collision with a car at these crossroads only days before.
 Coming down to the Thames to the north of St Mary's I was directed to a farmhouse with several horses in the field outside. Mary-Lou Birtwhistle-Bennett welcomed me into her lovely old house before taking daughter Alta to dance class, while son Wesley prepared a stall for Lady.  Husband Dwight Bennett was due back from delivering a horse, but phoned to say he had broken down, and Wesley went off to rescue him, so it was not until some time later that everyone was home safe...
Right to left - Wesley, Alta, Mary-Lou, Dwight.
Fortuitously for me son Evan was away on a camp, so I was invited to use his bedroom!  I slept through my alarm in the morning and was only woken by the cat scratching at the window.

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