Elephant Herd in the Masai Mara, Kenya

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Jane's Horseback Safari News

Music * Horses * Sheep

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I do like being busy. It is my choice to take on so many different activities. Sometimes it can become a bit stressful but how lucky I am to choose what I do day-to-day. I have been rather too busy of late - so much so that I missed my blog update!

I've heard it say that sailing, horse-riding and playing a musical instrument are activities that go together for a number of people. Sailing, I do attempt badly [thanks, Simon]. Horse-riding? Well, it's better than my sailing but I guess my forte out of all three is my music. I play a clarinet in small groups as well as in the Suffolk Concert Band but I also play the bassoon. In fact I've just passed my Associated Board Grade V with distinction so I'm looking to upgrade to a better bassoon. Anyone out there want to buy my old one?

Sheep is a new past-time with a whole new language to learn from Jane Barber, my instructor shepherdess. 'Orf' , 'hoggit', 'wether' are all new words for the Scrabble board. To go alongside my part-time travel role, I wanted a volunteer job which was outdoors. Suffolk Wildlife Trust came up with the answer. It is fun learning a new "trade" even on days like last Monday - a long day in the pouring rain spent gathering, worming and foot-trimming. At least I know I have to go shopping - both waterproof coats I have no longer keep out the rain. Another job for the list...

Horse-drawn safaris?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Another week gone and time to update my blog. How time flies - I must be enjoying myself too much. Last Friday was a big occasion for me. I was asked to groom for Mike Daniell at a wedding in Woodbridge. I had dreamed of a carriage for my wedding but alas in February it was a bit too cold.I do hope the bride enjoyed her carriage ride to and from the ceremony because for me it was a great day and also another ambition ticked off.

It was a brilliant, clear bright sunny day - the horses' coats gleamed and the brass sparkled on the carriage. I have yet to take the groom's examination but I've been hired again this weekend. If anyone sees me on the streets of Felixstowe, please snap a picture (making sure you get the nearside horse please!) so I can attach it to my blog.

Meanwhile, I have been working at my PC too. Graham (my husband) just thinks I ride and play tennis all day! I have advertised Horseback Safaris in BT Today (the internal newspaper for BT employees) and have been designing my own publicity postcards which should be dropping through the front doors of Suffolk soon. Just a thought, I could consider offering a discount to anyone who books a horse-drawn carriage for their wedding and then goes on a riding safari for their honeymoon. There will be a prize for the first person to do just that.

Walking in the bush

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The children are back at schoool, the weather has improved, and there is dew on the grass which has once again survived the drought. Just two weeks ago our lawns were a crisp, golden yellow reminding us of walking in the wilds of Africa, with an experienced guide who is just so knowledgeable on anything you can see, hear or indeed smell. Conversation over dinner, under the stars, brings varied and sometimes heated topics for discussion. How many species of mammals and birds were seen today, plants used for medicinal cures, the pro's/con's of 'animal management', the constellations, animal behaviour and what activity you'd like to do the next day ... and did you hear that? A giant eagle owl hooting in the distance and answered by his wife with a higher pitched "oooh" as if she'd just been tickled. September/October is a fantastic time to choose for a walking safari in southern Africa or Eastern Africa. A gentle ramble best describes a typical walk - it is not a fast nosiy hike. If it were, you would miss all the signs of what has passed through just before you. By interpretation of various signs, you hope to get close to animals and birds, but enjoying the flowers, trees and picturesque landscape is what it is all about. The tall grasses are a golden colour, ideal for walking and giving you a much better chance of seeing game as you follow tracks in the sun-baked dusty paths. The Ramblers Association would die for clear paths like these, made by the twice-daily walk to water by the larger hippo, elephant and then the stream of zebra, kudu, impala, bushbuck, warthog, serval, gerbils down to the tiny dung beetles and ants. It is a fascinating world out there and one where I never fail to learn something new. But just now it's time for tea - a break from planning itineraries for my clients' African safaris next year I remember how idyllic this tea and cake tasted at Chindeni during a previous walking trip in the Luangwa Valley...

Three funerals and a wedding

Friday, September 01, 2006

No, I haven't got the title wrong! This is Volter and he's been busy recently. He often travels more miles in a week than I do as a working carriage horse . He is usually in a pair but can be hired as part of a team too. So, while he's been busy I've been stuck behind my desk planning safari itineraries for people making enquiries at the recent Bird Fair, Rutland. It was one of the friendliest shows I've attended and although it did rain, thank goodness it was warmer than the Suffolk Show in June. Despite it being August, I confess to packing my thermal T-shirt because I find it difficult to smile and look relaxed when I’m shivering to death! You would have thought trekking to Everest Base Camp last Christmas would have hardened me up a little - but no. The highlight of the Bird Fair for me? Rubbing shoulders with my hero presenter, Simon King. Can you imagine having your own Big Cat Diary pictures in your photo album? Better still, can you imagine riding over the savannah in Africa riding amongst the huge herds of wildebeest and zebra. Don't just dream of doing this, see my website Horseback Safaris and I can help you start to plan your own safari.