Saturday, November 7, 2009

Peek in the Past – Horses, Cricket, and Harvesting Mice

I now have a steady date. Nope. Not that kind of date :-) I mean I’m now scheduled to appear on this blog the first Saturday of each month, so please put me on your to-read list if you enjoy these British peeks into the past.

Since the last dark posting (click HERE) about cellars and Highwayman Higgins, I thought I’d get brighter today and dip into sunnier memories, when horses, cricket, and harvesting filled my days.

After much begging, my parents eventually allowed me to take riding lessons on a real horse (click HERE for fake horse), and since my bicycle rides down country lanes often went past riding stables in the nearby village of Plumley, I knew exactly where to go.

To my mind, not much beats the pleasing lines of a fine horse. Those were halcyon days. It was all good. The smell of horse skin as I groomed my ride. The supple feel of pungent leather tackle. Even stomping through muck to clean out stables had its own satisfying and wholesome odor.

Real horses were much better than I imagined. Until the day I fell off when my horse stalled at a jump and I broke my coccyx bone. Even then, once mended, returning to riding was a must. My favorite things to draw at that age were horse heads with those long eyelashes and flared nostrils. I progressed to whole horses, but never could quite capture the majesty of the animal.

Dreaming up horse stories was something that kept me sane when my father took us to boring cricket matches on Saturday afternoons. The Knutsford Cricket Club had a country setting back then, surrounded by trees and fields.

There was a rough, hilly area covered in tall grass near the car park that was perfect for playing cops and robbers. And for lying hidden from the crowds, watching the sky, imagining I was far away. Mum and Dad sat in deckchairs, staring at the game, clapping now and again when anything

happened, which wasn’t very often. I can still hear the distant, dull thwack of leather ball on wooden bat, followed by faint shouts of "Howzat?" (“How is that?” – i.e. is the batsman still in or was he bowled or caught out?).

There was a sweet scent of grass attached to those long ago cricket days. I don’t know whether it came from playing in it, or from the velvet-cut pitch, but I do know I still love that smell today and can go back in time the minute someone cuts their grass.

Harvest time in the fields has the same effect. We went on annual holidays to a farm in North Wales (more about that another time), and “helped” the farmer reap his hay, much to my mother’s apprehension. I see the danger now, but didn’t then. The field was small, and we sat on the edge, waiting

for rabbits and mice to escape as the tractor cut closer and closer to midfield. We never did catch them as they scurried out, despite inventing all kinds of traps. The nasty part was when some creatures ran the wrong way, going further into the center until they became trapped and mangled. My heart wept for them. In my stories, they always found ways to escape.

That’s it for this month. Back to moving house. And unpacking boxes. And meeting old and new friends. And making more memories.

Anne Bradshaw
PS - I'm signing at Confetti Books, Spanish Fork, UT, Friday, November 20th, 6:00 PM and love meeting readers.
Famous Family Nights


Rebecca Irvine said...

It's a date I will look forward to. Hope your moving is going well.

Anne Bradshaw said...

That's great, Rebecca. Look forward to meeting you. And yes, thanks, our move is going okay. Lots of lost things are getting found :-)

Anne Bradshaw said...

Okay, so I"m slow today. Sorry, Rebecca. Just realized you meant the monthly Peek in the Past date, not the book signing!! LOL!

r4i card said...

Hi there,
I like to play games on my console and in my pc cricket was one of the favorite game of my..
So this blog will also like me....