Yesterday I drove out to Oxford to my friends’ yard to fulfil a lifelong ambition to have a go at side saddle!!! My mount for the afternoon was the super experienced Ted who was an absolute dude.
It was really interesting! You have no seat aids at all as the saddle is just too padded for the horse to be able to feel. It’s quite hard to sit straight, Michelle recommended riding bareback more to develop my own balance. It’s also a very different set of co-ordination challenges, with the whip in the right hand acting as your leg on that side. I’d certainly like to do more of it! I think my sensible next step is to get up to Contessa, who give lessons, and see if they are any good. You can hire a side saddle for a bit to see if your horse takes to it so longer term maybe we’ll do that….
Dino has been really good this week. I think the Equicore is helping him a lot actually. His trot is a bit more rhythmic and we have some canter going on. So hopefully this will continue!
Turns Hammond too had been taken prisoner in Italy, and almost certainly was suffering from PTSD as a result of his experiences in the POW & labour camps. And the Who Do You Think You Are? magazine (which 1ngi takes for her genealogical research) had some hints for chasing up similar stories.
So, well, I had to do that. And this is what I learned.
My grandfather was with the 2nd Battalion of the North Staffs during the Battle of Anzio. Anzio, if you've not heard of it before, was probably the biggest Allied cock-up of the war. From the small, personal perspective, the 2nd North Staffs were at the forefront and lost 323 men capturing a ridge which they were unable to hold because their ammunition supply was exhausted.
"Unable to hold" means many were taken prisoner. I don't know how many, but I'm guessing from the list which includes my grandfather's name that it was at least 50. That would be about half the battalion taken out in one day.
I don't know what happened to my grandfather in the immediate aftermath—that's going to take a lot more digging to try and find records. But I do know that he wound up in Altengrabow along with 60,000 other POWs. And that leads to the one piece of information I'd had passed down which is missing from these accounts: at the end, the Commandandt, having arranged for the Americans to evacuate the camp, took his own men and departed the scene.
I'm sure my grandfather was traumatised by his experiences in the camps, just as Harry Hammond was. But more traumatic, I feel, would have been that day on the Italian coast when so many of his comrades fell.
What I've read: poetry
I Speed Toward The Moon by Constance Hanstedt
At The Forestry Institute, Hanoi by Pepper Trail
Father Son Haiku by Kelvin River
Fallers by Alex Harper
What I've read: short stories
The Family Ghost by Jamie Lackey
Vervain, Grasshopper, Sun by Marissa Lingen
The Thing About Heisenball by Stewart C. Baker
Last Long Night by Lina Rather
While we were in Helsinki I noticed that Lois McMaster Bujold had another Penric novella out - and that it was in the middle of the existing novellas so she'd renumbered the series. I enjoyed it very much, both for the plot in itself and for the additional worldbuilding about the shamanic and sorcerous magic systems. Then I reread my way through the entire series:
Penric and the Shaman
Mira's Last Dance
What I've read: long fiction
Bookburners: Season 1 by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty and Brian Francis Slattery. If I'd read this as it was published weekly at Serial Box, I'd probably have listed each episode up in the short-fiction section. Instead I read one collected ebook with all 16 episodes. A New York police officer ends up getting drawn into a secret society of magical book collectors operating out of the Vatican, and joins the team in hopes of helping her brother. The overall arc plot gets resolved satisfyingly while leaving an opening for more, and I note that Series 3 is currently unfolding on Serial Box.
I finally read A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers and found it pleasant enough but less amazing than some of the hype had led me to believe. It's a good found-family series of minor adventures (in fact, in that sense it reminds me quite a bit of Bookburners) and I'm glad I've read it and will happily read more by Becky Chambers. But it didn't grab me in the way that e.g. Ancillary Justice or All Systems Red did.
Bewitching Benedict by C.E. Murphy came out last week. It's a historical-romance comedy of manners, which I really enjoyed, especially the grand farcical climax. I am hoping it does well so that the author feels like writing the books to pair off the rest of the eligible bachelors she's introduced here.
Listen to the Moon by Rose Lerner is another in her Lively St Lemeston series, this time focusing on a valet and a housemaid who have lost their jobs due to events in the previous books. There's a good job for both of them in the local rectory, but the vicar insists he only wants a married couple in post. Luckily they fancy each other like mad; it takes them a bit longer to figure out how to solve some trickier conflicts.
What I'm reading next
Well, now my degree is done, anything I like! Ahahaha.
A Taste of Honey by Rose Lerner just came out and is waiting on my kindle, which is what prompted me to read Listen to the Moon first. From my long-neglected physical to-read pile, I've pulled out The Scientist in the Crib by Alison Gopnik and The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande.
Apart from the specific course content, I have learned:
- I love to learn new things when I actually sit down and do so
- I default to deadline-driven when it comes to other people's deadlines
- but I can manage to do 'a little bit most days' and I'm happier when I manage that
- blocking out specific times to get a little bit done most days works a bit more than 50% of the time
- given the choice between producing 'good-enough' and 'truly excellent' work with 25% more effort ... I will do good-enough work and spend the 25% extra on something else
Now for all the things I have been neglecting for the last few years, especially this last year ...
So yesterday we finally got out on our first hack since April!!!
Just up and over the golf course, but it was a pretty chilled ride. We had a couple of tense moments with cyclists (that Jake doesn’t like) and inconsiderate drivers (that Dino doesn’t like) but it was a good hack overall.
This week we’ve been mostly focussing on short bits of work with the Equicore on to start to get him work more ‘correctly’. He’s not stressed or upset by it, which is good, but we’ve just been doing short bits of both ridden and in hand.
Plan for this week:
Monday – Schooling (Equicore)
Tuesday – In hand (Equicore)
Wednesday – Polework
Thursday – Day off
Friday – Day off
Saturday – In hand (Equicore)
Sunday – Field schooling