Car Crash, Crying and Chicken Nuggets with Satay Sauce on Toast

16th – 20th March

It feels great to be in a routine now. Travelling is ace because it encourages the unexpected. But having a job gives you purpose, and that’s pretty rewarding too. The jobs that MUST be done everyday are the morning feeds, morning medications, hay, poo pick yards, evening feeds, evening medications. To give you an idea of how long this takes, with one person (going like the clappers) it would be 6am – 6pm with 1 hour for lunch. May I remind you again that there are 110 horses. However, with two of us, we end up with a couple of hours spare to do other jobs / have a ride.

Connie rode Fabio and my baby RJ today. I have fallen in love with RJ. He was almost sold as horse meat, but Shelia rescued him from the sales. He has the sweetest nature I have ever known. Kind brown eyes with a glowing bay coat – he reminds me of my old pony, Maisie, which in turn, makes me think fondly of home in North Yorkshire.

I want to buy RJ so badly. I genuinely researched how much it costs to transport a horse from Australia to UK.

Up to $30,000. Maybe not.

***

It had been a hard day. Our backs were sore and our heads were tired from the sun. We finished late but then drove into town to do some grocery shopping, buying lots of nice food and looking forward to cooking up a storm in our cute cottage kitchen. After the day we had had, we were starving so very ready to get back. Oh wait. Who do we see in the supermarket car park? Shelia.

Shelia had been out all afternoon getting the horse trailer fixed. On her way back to the farm she crashed the car, wrapping the trailer around a post at McDonalds making it impossible to drive. She asks us to give her a lift. She wants to get a big hammer from the house to then have us drive her back to the trailer to try and fix it herself. Oh Shelia. “First let me just pop into the $2 store and see if they will sell me a hammer.” You’re kidding right!? Shelia was not kidding.

Surprise, surprise, the $2 store did not sell any equipment worthy of fixing a car crash.

After watching Shelia use her own brute force (her foot) to try and fix the dents, she eventually let us drive her home. We then felt pretty sorry for her. “This is the worst day of my life” she moped. “What else could go wrong!?”

Within seconds of her saying those words, Connie and I smelt smoke and struggled to contain our laughter. The timing would just be too hysterical. Turns out, the air con makes the car overheat (of course it does), so flicking it off soon sorted out the nasty BBQ stench.

Defeated, Shelia eventually called it a day. We finally started our dinner at almost 9pm. What a day!

***

I can’t work out Shelia. Sometimes she is so predicable – for example, it’s a classic Shelia thing to think she can fix a car with something from the $2 store. And it’s classic Shelia to have leopard print wellies and have lipsticks and mascaras amongst the head collars in the back of the truck. However, she can also really take you by surprise. She is very, very involved in the farm and really gets her hands dirty. Even though she’s scared of most of the horses, you’ll see her working all day, fixing fences etc. I have no idea how her false nails stay on. Also, even though she’s a little crazy and I’ve never met anyone quite like her, I respect her a lot. She’s an extremely independent, kind hearted woman.

***

Sweet Shelia gives us wooly hats, fluffy socks and big rain coats on the day of the storm. Who’d have thought it was 32 degrees yesterday! Today our toes are numb and our lips are blue. Before Shelia came to the rescue with winter clothing, we were in our summer gear and trainers. Torrential rain all night meant the fields were a bog. We were cold and miserable but moods were soon lifted when Connie dramatically slips under the Ute when trying to get in. I swear I pulled a muscle from laughing so much.

Laughter continues when the Ute gets stuck going up a hill. I’m out in the pouring rain, trying to push as black smoke comes from the engine. A good 10 minutes later we’re free and Connie calls out, “oops! The hand break was on!” Sorry Shelia.

***

Last day on the farm – emotions were running high. I can’t believe I cried when I said goodbye to RJ. Nothing else has made me shed a tear this whole trip, but something about saying goodbye to that velvet nose, brown eyed beauty really got to me. We had a really strong bond and he reminds me of home. Perhaps it was also the realisation that this incredible experience with Connie has come to an end? Perhaps they’re happy tears too. I’m having the time of my life and feel incredibly lucky.

Now we can’t end a crazy week without having a crazy last meal. We had run out of food but couldn’t be bothered to go into town. I had baked beans. Twice. Connie had chicken nuggets with satay sauce on toast for lunch and for dinner she had chicken nuggets with satay sauce and a frozen vegetable pasty. The best thing is, we did not buy these bizarre ingredients… We stole them from next-door’s caravan!

Foals, Tarantulas and Having the Time of Our Lives

12th – 15th March

We’re living our 12 year old’s dream. It is SO cool to be working on a stud farm with Connie. Did I mention it was in Australia?

The week here has been mad. This is probably the most difficult post I have had to write so far because so many memorable things have happened I don’t know where to start.

Please check out the last post to read about Shelia and Blair – that’ll give you a bit of a feel for the place.

We’ve hit the jackpot and have our own cottage. Minus the cobwebs and life threatening bugs – it’s really nice and spacious.

Our fist day we saw a tarantula. Lovely.

I have fallen in love with driving the Ute (a big 4×4 pick up truck). I think I was a farmer in another life. Driving around, up and down hills, through mud, Connie on the back throwing out hay – I just couldn’t stop smiling! Best not to mention my hideous efforts at reversing. However, slowly but surely I improved and felt like an absolute boss. Don’t get me started on us both whizzing around on quad bikes doing the morning and evening feed – so much fun and so many giggles.

Giggles stopped when Shelia asked us to help her take photos of foals. God that was long. She’s screechy, doesn’t know what she wants and she’s scared of horses. Connie probably clocked in about 6 miles running up and down the field with them, sweating buckets in the 30 degree heat. Meanwhile, as ordered by Shelia, I shake a gold cheerleading pom pom to get the horses to look up.

Back to the heat… Good lord, the constant heavy lifting in the heat is seriously hard work. Within three days my arm muscles had seriously, noticeably grown. 110 horses poo a lot. That much poo is heavy. They also eat a lot. Their food is heavy. A full days work probably equates to about 3 hours of none stop weight lifting in the gym.

Hard work gets harder when tyres go flat and the whole days work is put on hold so you have to go like superman when we’re back up and running.

Hard days mean early nights watching some DVDs that we found. “Bunnies of the Playboy mansion.” Oh Shelia.

Right now me and Connie look quite the opposite. We stink. My fingernails have never been so disgusting and my sports bra tan line is quite something. Legs are pretty torn up with scratches and bruises.

Alongside the back-breaking daily jobs, we’ve also had a good laugh fixing fences, playing with foals and riding a couple of the horses. Not so much fun when Shelia asks us to move horses that won’t catch. Winston was awful but I eventually caught him. Turns out he liked it when I sung a lullaby (Connie was in hysterics at this point).

Laughter turns to screams when we see the most deadly spider in Australia. We’re about to pick up a really, really heavy feed bin. Sensible Liv comes out to play. “Hang on, Con, I’m just gonna check what’s underneath…” I get on my hands and knees and have a peak. RIGHT where I was about to put my hand to lift the bin was a red back spider. Thank goodness I checked!

We’re alive, we’re stinky and we’re forever laughing. We’re exhausted but don’t want this week to end!

To be continued… (Car crash, Shelia banter and a very, very strange food combination will be coming soon in the next post!)

Horses, hippies and a homeless man

5th Feb

Sorry dorm-mates. Woke up at 6.45 for a run around the picturesque Kaiteriteri. I think I was pretty quiet though as I was so conscious of disturbing people. SO conscious that I slept in my running shorts and sports bra so I could just get up and go. However, I guess I didn’t think it through so well… I had slept in my retainers so still needed to rummage around in my toiletries bag to take those cool kids out.

Ran up some mountain on the road. About 20 mins in, the first car went passed and I realised I was in the middle of freakin’ no where. Even though I had my emergency alarm with me – who would hear me? Swiftly turned around and ran back at a quicker pace (due to fear and the fact it was now downhill). I wish I could run in the wilderness by myself for hours on end… But unfortunately, the fact that there are some horrid people in the world and the fact that no one knows where I have gone… It’s probably not the best idea. Life is just too precious. (Be proud Mum and Dad, be proud).

Had a nice shower after my run – but you know who didn’t? The guy I was sitting next to on the bus to Westport. Apparently I ordered several mouthfuls of B.O. with my lunch. Not OK.

There were stunning views on the road – surrounded by rainforest and the mighty Lake Buller. Population is pretty tiny here and has the whole hill-billy, inbred vibe. That aside, the west coast is remote and beautiful. What a perfect place to horse trek though…

Me & Annie were the only advanced riders, the other 4 were beginners. This meant it was all a very slow place except at the end when us two got to have a good gallop. Man, that felt good. My trusty steed was Leroy – a handsome chestnut gelding about 15.2. He was a grumpy old sod with tonnes of character. He looked a right misery guts when we arrived and I whispered to Annie, I bet he’s mine. Classic.

Most of the ride was through water which was fun. Other bits included open fields surrounded by mountains, or narrow paths within rainforest foliage – the greenest of greens, dotted with fluorescent red flowers and the piercing sound of bugs.

Fun time over – I’m in a dorm with a couple of crazies. They’re known on the bus as ‘the hippy girls.’ They are nice girls and they mean no harm but they sing a lot, laugh a lot and walk around the room naked. Are you ready for a genuine quote?

(American accent): “so I was in Fiji 3 weeks ago and I met the love of my life so I thought what the heck. I married him.”

Crazy hippy girl number 1 was in Fiji for 2 weeks and married a native Fijian.

Even though she now has another half, she still passionately kisses her best girlfriend on a regular base. Meanwhile… I’m there, sat on my bed, eating my muesli bar and trying to watch an episode of BBC’s War & Peace that I downloaded on my iPad, thinking: what even is this. Please, for the love of God, put some clothes on.

Things get stranger the next day when I to for a run. Conveniently, there was an athletics track opposite the hostel. As I did my laps I was followed by a little homeless man, who had his life in a plastic bag. As I changed from clockwise to anti clockwise, so did he. Lovely. Bearing in mind I did 45 min session, he did a fair few laps of that track…

Peace out Westport, you’ve been interesting.