A Happy Christmas!

What a year it’s been! I’ve been trying to settle into a new life on my own. Thought it would be easy, as I’m a loner by nature, but I was in for a shock.

In an effort to take my eyes off the past, I’d decided to set an objective. I would try and rise one step higher on the British Dressage judges list. I survived the initial one-to-one assessment and was considered a suitable candidate to embark on the prolonged journey of tests.

Next came the mock exam. There was a series of videos to assess – very different from previous experience. I thought I’d got the hang of it, so registered for two technical tests early in January. The first – a multiple choice paper on rules – was easy. But the second….. it wasn’t like me, I was stressed, I couldn’t see properly, I blinked an eye and missed vital clues flashing across the video clips.
What was I doing, trying to upgrade as a dressage judge? Why at my age did I want to put myself through such an ordeal? I’d been fairly content for the past 18 years on the bottom rung and had plenty of demands for my time. The results arrived: I’d passed the first paper with flying colours but failed the second by two marks. A hard lesson learned, especially as my mind was still acting erratically and even if I passed that test on a re-sit, the prospect of facing the final examination of judging while an adjudicator sat alongside filled me with dread. No.
Kenya beckoned. A whole month of escape from winter. It was wonderful setting foot on the tarmac of Nairobi airport for the first time in three whole years. Ten glorious days soaking up the sun on the pristine sands of Diani beach. A special night on the shores of Lake Naivasha, savouring familiar surroundings, spotting familiar birds. Then a taxi ride to Kajuki village in Embu/Meru District for a few days, experiencing how struggling villagers survive so cheerfully while operating their little businesses.

Back in Nairobi I treated myself to a bird walk at the racecourse with Fleur Ngweno. We had a hilarious trip to the Nairobi Game Park, when the roof of Dennis’s new car wouldn’t close in the middle of a thunderstorm. He popped an umbrella over us, which proved quite effective, but we didn’t see many animals. My final days were spent in a special place, Maanzoni, where we laid Roy’s ashes to rest under a thorn bush. Over them, Anthea had commissioned the map of Kenya in heavy slate, inscribed with the words: “Dad, this is your holiday camp…”

Back to earth in Eastbourne. Rounds of bridge, walks, dressage judging, and going through the agonies of editing my new book – Going It Alone – a handbook for those who want to start their own business; Mentoring new business start-ups at People Matter, my local charity, where I’m also Trustee; as well as marking IGCSE exam papers twice a year, a necessary top up to my income.

I started playing tennis again! My sciatica suddenly disappeared when on the suggestion of a physio, I stopped doing my early morning exercises. Amazing. I now rejoice in twice-weekly games with other geriatrics on the astra-turf of my local club. Just two sets, with a rest in between. Whenever the Masters tennis is on the telly, all else is abandoned.
And the climax to 2018: a wonderful five-day visit to Carcassonne, France, where my publishers live. I shared an Airbnb casa with one other author, while everyone else stayed in hotels. We got the better bargain. We enjoyed looking around this lovely place with its medieval city, including a day‘s conference at a lovely hotel in the Citadel. By the time we left, we felt really at home.

And now I’m preparing for another treat – three months in Australia basking in the bosom of my family, spread from west to east. And we’re taking a trip to Tasmania as well.

I must say, it will be nice to get away from all mention of Brexit, as well as the British winter.
Very best wishes this festive season

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7 Responses to A Happy Christmas!

  1. jwebster2 says:

    glad things have gone so well 🙂

  2. Rosemary Goodacre says:

    Have a lovely Christmas and a great holiday, Jane.

  3. Lynette Von Kaufmann says:

    Have a great time in Oz and glad you have had a good year. Happy Christmas! Lynette & Ralph x

  4. Ann Bowyer says:

    Happy Christmas to you Jane. I have a friend Jane Holderness Roddam we nursed together in 1966 she represented Britain in the Mexico Olympics. She came out to Rhodesia and rode in the Meikles horse trials on a brother of her horse Our Nobby who she rode in 1968. Jane’s sister is Jenny Loristone Clarke a dressage fundi the whole family were in the horse business. Ann Bowyer

  5. rolandclarke says:

    Happy Christmas, Jane and all the best for 2019. Where is the stately home and dressage?

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