Monday, January 31, 2011

Snow, snow & -30 again

Not much news here. We got a bunch more snow over the weekend and the temperature has dropped down to -30 again. *sigh* Luckily this time it's not supposed to stay around for as long. By Wednesday we should be back in the +'s again during the day. It's so nice that the days are getting longer, it sure makes winter feel a bit more bearable!

So I suppose since I don't have anything horse or sidesaddle related to chat about, I'll continue on with my England/Scotland trip.

Our third day in England we went to Windsor. We took a train from London's Paddington station (We tried to find the statue of Paddington Bear but couldn't find it) to Windsor. I loved Windsor. It was easy to picture the town during medieval times. We stayed at a B&B and I would definitely do that if we go again. It was much more restful than the hostels.

The crooked tea house.

We toured the castle after dropping our bags at our B&B.

The gardens were magnificent.

Can't you just imagine a carriage pulling up here?

Unfortunately we couldn't take photos inside the castle but it was amazing. (And the Queen was in residence at the time!) The artwork, fancy furniture, armour etc was just amazing to see. My favorite was Queen Mary's dollhouse. It's HUGE and as ornately furnished as the real castle itself. Huge meaning it takes up an entire room in the castle and weighs over a ton I believe. It is AMAZING.
Here's a webpage with some photos of it.

And a quick stop in the gift shop to paruse the wares and buy a few post cards. Meg dedided she needed a photo with the fancy pillow.

After touring the castle we had a proper english "tea" at the oldest tea house in Windsor, The Drury House. We had tea, egg salad & cucumber sandwiches, scones with clotted cream (YUM YUM YUM, I LOVE CLOTTED CREAM!) and jam and cake. Delicious! If only we'd known what our afternoon had in store for us, we probably would have eaten a heavier lunch!

We picked up a map of "windsor & surrounding area" and decided to take a walk to "Frogmore House". On the map it appeared that it wasn't that far away (famous. last. words.). So we started at the castle and started to walk the royal mile.

Do you see that speck waaaaaaaaay off in the distance at the end of the road? That's a statue of King George III.

Lesson of the day #1: Always bring LOTS of water with you. Lesson #2: Maps in England seem to never be to scale. Lesson #3: The royal mile is MUCH MUCH longer than an actual mile (or so it seemed). Lesson #4: Your feet will hurt even if you have good shoes on.

The royal mile takes you through Windsor Great Park. Remember how I said that I thought the ride in Hyde Park was a bit of a waste of money? You can also ride through Windsor Great park which is gorgeous and HUGE, I really wish I would have gone for a ride here vs. London. Ah well, next time!

And remember that speck of a statue a few photos ago? Well here's what it looks like up close.

And here's the view looking back at the castle. It was a looong walk.

By this point my feet hurt A LOT and I was ready to go back but OH NO! We were going to keep walking and try to find Frogmore House. Which we did eventually find but unfortunately we were trying to access it from the wrong way, so we couldn't get in. Did we turn around? Oh no! We kept on a walkin!

The path lead to a more forested area and a really pretty lake and a bridge. (and another monument to someone but I was too pooped to take a picture of it).

A little bit after this picture we took a break and were considering turning back. A family riding their bicycles came by and told us there was a polo game down the road a little bit further. (Little bit further = several more MILES) By now my feet were numb but I thought hmmm "horse stuff eh?" well what's a little bit further. So we walked some more.

On our way to the polo grounds we came across a Cross Country jumping course. Some of the jumps were MASSIVE!!! (eek!)

Finally we arrived at the polo grounds..... Just in time to watch everyone walk off the field! We'd missed it. What a shame. On a positive note, I did find a souvenir polo ball in the bushes to take home!

We were really hoping there would be a bus or some form of transportation back to town but we were out of luck. However, we did find a "snack wagon" that had beer & cider which made the walk back a lot more bearable!

I almost forgot to mention the herds of red deer in the park. There has to be thousands of deer that roam the park.

Windsor is definitely on my list of places to go back to!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Repeat after me....

Welcome to "Sidesaddle Addicts Not-So-Anonymous", please repeat after me, "My name is _________ and I have a problem..... A sidesaddle problem...."

Welcome to our support group. Here we understand the "problem" and are here to help.

If you aren't sure if you belong here or not, please answer the following questions and if you answer yes to most of them, I'm sorry to say but you too are afflicted with this habit forming problem.

1. You think of sidesaddles or sidesaddle riding daily, if not more often.

2. You own more than one sidesaddle.

3. Your additional sidesaddles may not even be rideable or fit you/your horse but they were "neat" and you couldn't resist.

4. You love going to used tack shops and will dig for "treasures" that only you know their purpose.

5. You search Ebay, Kijiji, Craigslist, tack for sale websites etc etc regularly for new sidesaddle listings.

6. Somehow you can justify "just one more".

7. You have more sidesaddle accessories (habits, boots, gloves, veils, whips, canes, sandwich case, stirrups etc etc) than Barbie could ever dream of.

8. You have purchased a sewing machine in the hopes that you can teach yourself to sew in order to create new fancy outfits.

9. Many of your sidesaddle friends are people that you have never met in person but have had great influence over your sidesaddle career.

10. You eye up friend's horses and think "Hmmm... I bet he'd look nice sidesaddle".

11. You have gotten most of your friends to try riding sidesaddle.

12. You have gotten your boyfriend of husband to try riding sidesaddle (gold star for this one!)

13. You are magnetically attracted to everything & anything sidesaddle and will be able to somehow justify it's purchase.

14. You check the mail daily to see if said items have arrived yet.

15. You purchase items that are not really useful, don't fit you/your horse but are sidesaddle related to it's "ok" because it adds to your collection.

This list is just the tip of the iceberg (list in the comments if you like!) but if you can identify with your fellow sidesaddlaholics, Welcome! We can get through this together.......

Orrr perhaps we'll just help each other justify the need to own more sidesaddles, accessories, outfits and enjoy a place to chatter endlessly about sidesaddle riding and help each other out!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Still more London!

Can you believe we were only in London for 2 days?? We sure managed to see and do a lot.

We spent a fair bit of time on "The Tube" which is a really efficient way of getting around London. Note to self though, if it's hot out, it will be EVEN hotter in the Tube.

After the Tower of London we stopped for lunch and then went to the Sir Winston Churchill's "Britain at War Experience". It was REALLY neat. It showed what life was like in England during the war, there was lots of photos and items dating from the 40's. They also had a bunch of exhibits set up showing what it would have looked like after a building was hit by a bomb. They had some fascinating things in the gift shop like cookbooks with recipes to make use of what was available, relplicas of posters and lots of other neat things. I'd recommend visiting the Britain at War experience, it's really neat and so different.
I personally liked the part about the Women's Land Army.

After that we went to St. Paul's Cathedral and WOW. Amazing.

Again, this was another place we weren't allowed to take photos, I did buy post cards though! Perhaps I should scan some. It's amazingly beautiful and HUGE inside. I can't imagine the work it would have taken to build. We did climb the many, many stairs up to the "Whispering Gallery" (the big dome part) but that was about as far as I could go. I'm a little afraid of heights! The Whispering Gallery is neat because if you sit all the way across from someone and whisper something at the wall, they'll be able to hear what you said. It's acoustically designed to do that. The crypt in the basement is something else too, lots of statues and VERY old people.
More of the outside of St. Paul's.

And after that we walked along the River Thames......

This is an Egyptian Obelisk called Cleopatra's Needle. It was made in Egypt for the Pharaoh Thotmes III in 1460 BC, making it almost 3,500 years old. It is known as Cleopatra's Needle as it was brought to London from Alexandria, the royal city of Cleopatra. It was brought over in 1879 to celebrate the British victory over Napoleon 63 years earlier.

On either side of the obelisk is a Sphinx. It's hard to see in this photo but you can see damage done to them during the bombing of WWII.

We passed another war memorial too. There are lots of them and they're all fascinating.

And this neat building on the waterfront. I believe it's the National Aquarium?

Everywhere you walk, you'll find something fascinating, especially if you enjoy statues, history, architechture and carvings.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tower of London

I really enjoyed our tour of the Tower of London. I think we likely could have spent all day there. I was amazed at how huge & well protected the castle was, all right in the middle of the city next to the river Thames.

There was a whole town inside the walls of the fortress.

Oh and there's "Meg" and the Tower Bridge.

One of the bedrooms. I'm pretty sure someone famous was imprisoned here but I can't remember who.

There was actors outside and I do believe she was about to lose her head....

There was an amazing collection of armour, guns, artillery and of course the famous royal jewels (which we couldn't take photos of once again)

Can you imagine how much all of this must weigh?

And this amazing saddle. Isn't it just fascinating? (I never miss the neat horse related stuff!)

This is the top of the portcullis to the "water gate" where they'd bring prisoners in from the river.

It wouldn't be a visit to the Tower of London without seeing the chopping block.

This little chapel was really interesting too. The names of everyone executed out in the courtyard were listed.

Beautiful stained glass window in the chapel. I never got tired of looking at the stained glass windows we saw throughout the trip.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Animals in War Memorial

This is something I forgot to mention when talking about Hyde Park. In the park there is a big memorial to all of the animals that have been involved in wars throughout the centuries. As an animal lover this memorial really touched me. There are so many war memorials but this one is really unique.

This is an excerpt from the website about the Animals in War Memorial "On the lower level, two heavily laden bronze mules struggle through an arena, enclosed by the dominant wall symbolising the war experience. The mules approach a flight of steps that leads through the wall. Beyond the wall, on the upper level, a bronze horse and dog stand facing north into the gardens, bearing witness to the loss of their comrades and representing hope for the future."

And there are two inscriptions, the first one reads:

"This monument is dedicated to all the animals that served and died alongside British and Allied forces in wars and campaigns throughout time."

I think the second inscription has the most impact:

"They had no choice".

In looking for a few more photos of the monument, I came across some other really interesting photos of animals at war that I thought I would share. Some are cute and heartwarming.

And some are heartwrenching...

Did you know that there was entire encampments set up as veterinary hospitals during WWI?

This is a wonderful article, with many photos of animals involved in The Great War.

Here is an interesting article I found titled "Forgotten Heroes, A Million Horses Sent to Fight in the Great War, 62000 came back."
I recall my boyfriends grandfather telling us one day about how his grandfather had told him that during the war, the government had sent officers to their ranch to requisition horses for use in the war. Thousands of horses were shipped over by boat every week.

The sad thing was that after the war was done, many of the surviving horses were sold to belgian butchers as they thought they weren't good for anything else afterwards. How very sad.

This is a great photo slideshow from the Denver Post showing various animals at war,

I find it so interesting to see how many different kinds of animals were involved in wars around the world. Not just dogs & horses.

I'm also amazed at how many wonderful articles I've found in the process of writing this blog entry. If you are interested, simply do a "Google" search for "Horses in War".

One last photo and a poem to end off this post. It shows how much soldiers cared for the animals that were involved in the war.