Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Beaumont Bivouac day 1

“We’re doing a 2 day bivouac next week”, says Isabelle, the owner of the riding school in Beaumont “why don’t you bring Ali’s pony over and she can come with us?”

Right, OK, I think, how hard can it be?
As with the Naulet trip, it takes me over a week to organise everything. I reckon Seraphina would be much happier with Gandalf around, so I have to get a team of people roped in to look after the SNO and the other animals so I can go too. I get Tanya to drive the horses up to the stables the day before, I organise hay, camping gear, lunches & food for the evening barbie.

Wednesday morning, I wake at 5.30 as a huge thunderstorm is threatening the tiles on the roof. I get the last of the gear in the car, it’s lashing down with rain. Get the kids in, SNO not happy to be woken so early, then take her up to Tess’s, still lashing down rain, set off for Beaumont, in the rain & dark. It occurs to me that Isabelle might cancel due to the weather but in the absence of a phone call, carry on anyway.....
Once past Bergerac, the storm vanishes. Past Issegeac, the ground is bone dry, we have escaped the weather! Arrive at the stables, unload the kit, get the horses ready, leave at 9 was the plan, actually it’s more like 10, gotta allow for French faff time........

There are 14 of us in all, 2 leaders, 9 kids, us 2 & Jo on Socianda. We’re told to stay at the back, my usual position when riding with a group, problem with a group this size is that we’re trotting more or less all the time to keep up. Gandalf and Fina very excited, Ali asks to be on the lead rein for the first bit, Gandalf jogging about, does some nice piaffe and lateral work in his attempt to go and see the horses in front (who all pull faces at him).

Undeterred, he bounces on, Fina doesn’t even bother trying to keep up with him. After the first canter Ali relaxes so we forgo the lead rein.

We ride through some fantastic countryside but annoyingly I lose my hat silk on a tree in the woods somewhere. Some of the horses ahead of us are silly, one spooks at a water filled ditch, one doesn’t like an automatic waterer, G and S wait patiently until they get over it and we can carry on. During one canter, one of them tanks off and reduces its rather overhorsed rider to tears.......they are all arab types, some of whom do endurance, all of whom are mega fit as they work every day, ours look very short and fat in comparison.
We stop for lunch in some woods, the ground crew have provided ropes to tie up and buckets of water and our picnics, all very civilized. We are on part of the pilgrim’s route to Santago de Compostella, we will ride all the way there one day.....

Seraphina acquires a fan club, she seems quite happy with the attention.

We continue in the afternoon, catch a glimpse of the river before turning away from it again, ride through maize fields, up stony tracks in the woods, then we are back at the river again and we arrive at the stables where we will spend the night. A drink for the horses, then we ride down to the river and go for a paddle. Gandalf not keen as usual, but went in anyway. Seraphina not fazed at all, stuck her nose in the water and pulled faces like she does......

Back to the stables, put the horses in their little paddock, sit and watch the show as the owner fails to start his tractor and has to jump start it so the horses can have a delivery of hay. Ours stand by the gate looking at us hungrily, I have to send Ali to scrape the last bits of the old bale up to give them while they wait.

Horses fed and watered, we wait to be fed. And wait, as French faffing recommences and the barbie refuses to light. Someone goes off in search of firelighters, luckily we are more successful in the search for a bottle opener so we have aperos and eat all the crisps and olives while we wait. The kids put their tents up, one of them gets kicked by her horse and cries a lot,  Ali gets locked in the loo and I have to go and rescue her, still we wait. Finally after dark, the barbie is ready and we eat some barely scorched burgers in time honoured fashion. I have accepted Jo’s offer of a proper bed with alacrity, so she and I retire to civilisation for the night, leaving Isabelle & Luc in charge of the kids in the tents.......

Stewart's pics and videos of day 1 here

1 comment:

trudi said...

commented on HT but wow what a trip!

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