Monday, 25 January 2010

All Around My Hat

To allay the curiousity of several people who have queried the exotic oriental headgear I appear to be wearing while riding through China - it is actually a very nifty Pommie/Oz combination of my Charles Owen Pro II riding helmet with a Cutana helmet brim.

The Charles Owen helmet(made in Wales!) has been quite literally a life saver. I am convinced my fall in May 2009 could have been fatal without it, when you consider the severe body damage that I incurred, and that I also fell on my head. But all I suffered headwise was a very slight tender patch. Apart from being to the highest safety specifications, its distinctive gold crown is heat reflective, a boon in the hot summer months. I also found it comfortable as it is well padded, and I particularly like the soft leather chin strap.

The Cutana brim really is a 'wizard of Oz', fitting snugly on the helmet, and proving highly effective against sun burn and sun glare. My cousin Rowena who accompanied me on the first three weeks of the ride in October 2008, did not have a brim to her hat and suffered from sunburn even then. The brim also protected my face from rain - as I wear glasses, this was quite an important factor for me. It attaches with velcro tabs, so is easily detachable, and the company can also supply a hat band to cover the tabs. I could not manage without this product, and highly recommend it.

While I am on the subject, I will have a little preach about a personal hobby horse of mine. My accident really brought home to me the importance of wearing a good quality riding hat at all times when riding - although Zorbee is a livewire, accidents are possible with even the quietest of horses.

When I have quizzed people who rashly forego wearing a riding helmet on horseback, it is almost without exception a case of personal vanity and a " but I look silly in one" argument. This is in spite of the fact that they will look far sillier in hospital with brain damage after falling from their horse.

Take it straight from the horse's mouth (!) I undoubtedly escaped serious if not fatal injury by wearing my riding helmet on the day of my accident. If you are horseriding, don't be an idiot - make sure you wear a good crash helmet.

If you are looking for a good quality helmet, you can't go far wrong with a Charles Owen. They may not be the cheapest on the market, but their manufacturing safety standards are second to none. You pay for what you get, and when one's life is at stake, safety should come before price.

And on a lighter note, here is a rendering of 'Where did you get that hat' by the Cutana Helmet Company!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Journey Map Information

On my last post I have embedded a Google map showing in more detail locations on the route of our journey from Guyuan, where we relaunched the ride on August 6th 2009, to Jiayuguan at the end of the Great Wall, which we reached on 22nd October 2009. Most of the points are exact locations, except where the map clarity is poor, or I was unable to positively identify the spot. It is more accurate than the Thuraya location map as I have adjusted those GPS points which were not exactly placed.

By using the zoom facility on the satellite map, in many instances it is possible to clearly see the places we stayed or visited. The point descriptions also give added information and act as a brief diary of our journey.

To view the map in larger full screen version, don't forget to click on relevant point below the map.

JOURNEY MAP from Guyuan to Jiayuguan

View Great Wall Aug - Oct 09 in a larger map

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!

Or for those of you who do not understand Welsh, Happy New Year!
Here is a New Year's photo of one of my Welsh mares Cwrtycadno Colomen in the snow in France, where she has gone on loan while I am abroad.

I am afraid that betwen Christmas celebrations and the SNOW, I have been a little remiss about keeping the blog up to date, so my New Year's resolution must be not to let it happen again.
The photo below shows the view from my bedroom window, which has changed from incessant rain. The mares and the stallion are showing their true native instincts by rooting around for grass. As the ATV has broken down and the water trough is frozen, we have been wheelbarrowing hay and lugging buckets of water out to them twice a day. The rest of the ponies are by the river with two big bales of hay in front of them.

I have at last been sorting out the video footage from the ride - mostly taken from horseback on my little waterproof and droppable Panasonic SDR-SW10. If you are interested, I am in the process of putting clips up on Youtube. Look under my username megan cwrtycadno. Here is a link to one of us riding along a canal across the Huang He floodplain, followed by swallows.

I now discover I can upload videos directly onto my blog! The one above was taken on the 1st September, when we rode through the countryside to stay at the Brother Win racing stables. The little herd consists of fat tailed sheep and a kind of goat used for producing cashmere.