Devils on horseback

Other Places

Other Places – Linda and Justin are leaving…

I’m beginning to get interested in horse-riding again.

Of course, it’s good exercise …get’s you out and about and all that – but I’ve had some of my best laughs whilst riding.

Take the time we lived on Exmoor and my mucker Steve came down for the weekend with his family. We all booked a ride and were issued with our horses and because Steve is such a big chap he got a big horse; lucky boy. I can still remember his face as he looked up at it for the first time; he didn’t say anything but you could see the thought-bubble: Oh my f–king god …and knew he was in for two hours of hell. We all did really, and that was enough to start me off. Laugh? …and the ride hadn’t even begun yet! Talk about value-for-money…

Steve very bravely mounted his horse with the help of a three-stage ladder we borrowed from a passing fire truck, and from atop the beast we heard him call down to ask the name of his horse …I think he wanted to get on ‘first name’ terms with it; You’re on ‘Fury’; the girl called back up to him, using her hands as a hailing trumpet. I watched the colour drain from Steve’s face – there was another really good belly laugh right there – but I daren’t let it out …I was in pain with trying to keep it in. Never mind Steve – I wasn’t sure how much of this I could take. The ride started and we hadn’t gone very far before we noticed that Steve was missing …so we turned back and found him and one-half his horse – the other half was stuck in a Beech hedge, browsing. Steve was pulling on the reins in a half-hearted sort of a way, pleading with it to come away, but he wasn’t being sufficiently assertive because he didn’t want to make it angry.

We put Steve at the front for a bit, after that, where we could keep an eye on him but, bite-by-bite, the horse fell back to last place. It was heartbreaking, really, to know that Steve had paid good money for this, but wasn’t having a lovely time. As for the rest of us, we were thriving!

When he failed to turn up at a gate half an hour after that I turned back and found him about a mile behind – horse in hedge, again. Steve seemed pleased to see me after so long – though I think he would have been pleased to see anyone …bit of company, like: Yoost, come and give me a hand, mate. He said, using my nickname and getting all chummy. I thought he was doing terribly well not to get cross with me, considering I was biting my lip so hard it was bleeding.

Then came an awful roaring noise from further along the track, which startled his horse. Two youths on motocross bikes were coming along the lane, full-pelt, spiralling up the dirt in their wake. Steve’s horse bolted, it’s eyes, I noticed as it galloped past, were as round as saucers. And then, blow me down, I noticed that Steve’s eyes were as round as saucers too …and seeing both heads wearing identical expressions, mounted one on top of the other, is one of my most treasured memories. You can’t buy memories like that, And at twenty quid with a horse ride thrown-in – you can’t very well go wrong.

Anyway, this is as a prelude to saying that having lived for eight lovely years in the Hebrides, we are moving back down south to where we come from – to Exmoor. We’ll be living back on board until the autumn, but we’re in the process of buying a plot, on which we are going to build a straw bale house. I hope to God a horse doesn’t eat it.

Living in the Hebrides has been wonderful:

It is not a garment I cast off this day, but a skin I tear with my own hand. (Khalil Gibran)

The view we will no longer have...

The view we will no longer have…

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14 Responses to Devils on horseback

  1. Nigel Brown says:

    Just to keep things in balance … we’ll be moving up from The New Forest in the South, to our new home we’re building at Ardnahoe …

    • justintyers says:

      Ardnahoe? Crikey, we would have been next door neighbours but one! When do you move?

      • Nigel Brown says:

        I thought the pictures on your posts looked familiar … aiming to move in September … if we’re built by then.

        As it happens, Exmoor was on our relocation list too. But Islay won out in the end.

        Building a house with straw eh? there has to be another book in that!

  2. Niki and Geoff says:

    Good luck with the move. We know you will miss the Hebrides, but also that you’ll be looking forward to more adventures “down south”. Hope to see you on the water around the Fal this summer …

    • justintyers says:

      Thanks Niki,

      It would be great to see you on the water. Well done for leaving work, again. You can go mad again now you’ve visited the money tree.

      Lovely to hear from yous, as always.

  3. Richard says:

    Hi Justin,
    I had heard rumours that we’re about to become near neighbours!
    Currently in the midst of a move to Somerset- a colleague rather disparingly said “semi-retirement”- and what’s wrong with that say I? Exmoor is just so beautiful and the climate isn’t quite as fierce as Islay (sometimes!)
    We’ll have to catch up when you move down………..perhaps when you moor in Bridgewater Bay?

  4. Bon Voyage! Will you be on the boat around Scotland in the Summer?

    • justintyers says:

      Thanks John!

      We won’t be going far from Cornwall this summer. I’m hoping to start building a timber frame for the Straw Bale house if we get the paperwork sorted out.

      What plans do you have …are you on board already?

  5. Keith KLEIN says:

    Hi Justin,

    I just finished your books (both of them) and I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed them. There was one passage that left me laughing so hard I woke my dear wife who was trying to sleep next to me. And although your adventures were largely in Scotland, you only mentioned midges ONCE! Must have been the ocean breezes that kept them away.
    I wish you well on the house building. I built a timber framed shed for a tourist railway here in Burgundy, and the build went well, if not always according to plan. You will need friends when the raising is to be done, but I’m sure you have them. But proper mortise and tenon joinery will last centuries, so do leave your name on the timbers somewhere.



    • justintyers says:

      Hi Keith,

      Great to hear from you. Thanks for those very kind words. I surely can’t be alone in wondering which passage made you laugh so inconsiderately as to disturb your wife?

      Those midges very nearly put me in an asylum – but in the interests of Scottish tourism I forced myself to stay schtuum.

      Thanks for the good wishes about building the house – I think you’re right about needing friends for the raising, so if you happen to be back in blighty at that time please pop-by. Mortise and Tenon joints – agreed – that’s the way to go, but I daren’t put my name on the timbers in case the building falls down prematurely and ruins my chances of a sideline.

      I wait with baited breath to hear which passage – by an extraordinary coincidence, as I write this, Stephen Thomas is here with me, and he wonders if it was the passage about him…

  6. stickitoffee says:

    Sounds intriguing………..all the very best with the straw building……..just wondering if you build a house of straw who will be playing the part of the big bad wolf?

    Will you also be setting up a riding school with the Exmoor ponies?

    I shall miss your Hebridean blog but hope the new building goes well ~ I am sure you will have a few more tales to tell!

    • justintyers says:

      Hi Stickitoffee,

      I only got interested in building with straw bale when I heard that big bad wolves had been eradicated in the UK. Someone has to be first to find out if it’s true – so here goes….

      Linda is quite keen to get back in the saddle and if she is able to round up some Exmoor ponies we may well give the riding school idea a go. We’ve got to turn a penny, in our new life.

      Thanks for your words about the Hebridean blog – I know the Hebrides are dear to your heart, but I hope to find loads of interesting stuff in Exmoor, and Cornwall.

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