Cleethorpes Beach ©Tracey Edges
Saturday, 7 July 2012
OOOF – AAARGH – OOOH – OW- OOOOOH
Don’t think I’ll be trying this again in a hurry. I lay there for a moment, flat out on my front, wondering if I could move and desperately trying not to cry with pain and frustration. I knew if I started I’d end up like Alice in a big pool and this was supposed to be beach not sea.
The realization that there may be people about, made me decide to try. Tentatively, I moved my foot. Phew – at least I hadn’t done that pathetic girly thing of twisting my ankle and the other one was okay too.
I was pleased about that as it meant I was less likely to be plucked up by a huge gorilla and be dangled from the top of the Empire State Building. Then again, as I wasn’t Jessica Lange, and I wasn’t in a film, it was fairly unlikely anyway. The air-sea rescue helicopter was circling in the blue sky above me. I wondered whether to wave for help but then got embarrassed at the thought they may have spotted me anyway.
A bit of a wiggle ascertained that my right knee worked but, oh crap, I’d landed on my useless knee that had just got better. NOOOOO, not again.
I had a slight panic then, really wondered how I could get up. Had to. No choice. I could hear voices. Luckily I had gone down on a dune track that was in a bit of a trench with high-ish maron grass either side. At least sand was the best to fall onto. You didn’t tend to get grazed knees on sand – not unless you landed on some sharp shells anyway.
I was hanging on to the three leads for dear life. The dogs looked bemused.
“What the hell are you doing down there?” They would have woofed at me but they knew I didn’t understand dog. Mabel stared at me with her blue eyes and looked upwards. I knew that meant “Get up, you look silly.”
Oh, slight problem. The leads had somehow twisted and tied my wrists together. Great.
A bit like an escapologist, but without the big tank of water, or strait-jacket, and, thankfully, without the audience, as long as I got a move on, I writhed and wriggled onto my good knee and then, sorry Maude, used Maude as a table to push myself up. She nearly crumpled but managed to stay upright and I was relieved that I hadn’t broken her back as well as actually managing to get up.
I had to bend over to un-twizzle the leads as I had kept them short while we walked from the car to the salt-marsh, where I had hoped to let them off for a good run.
A small terrier, not on a lead, and with no owner in sight, had come belting towards us. My three, obviously sensing a tiny dog as a massive threat to us all had gone pack-like and dived towards it. The problem was, I was attached to them and their combined might was far more than mine. They were the Huskies and I was the sledge – Whooooosh, off we all went. Splat, I went.
This was the very reason I didn’t normally take all three out on my own, but today everyone else was busy so I had no choice but to try. Unfortunately it turned out to be a big fail. Fraught and injured I turned round and hobbled, very painfully, back to the car. Luckily I wasn’t back to square one, knee-wise, but I certainly felt like I’d slid down a big snake. Don’t pass Go, don’t collect £200.
Sand had always been somewhat of a saviour to me. When I was still at school, every Saturday morning I would head off to Seaview Riding Stables on my ratty blue RSW 14 bike. Riding hat firmly on and crop in hand. It was inevitable that I always got some clown yelling at me;
“Lost yer ‘orse Luv?”
After dismounting from my bike I would mount my favourite horse, Bluebird. A massive White, as wide and as comfortable as an armchair.
I had a Polo the other day and all the old horsey memories came flooding back. The mingled aromas of steamy horse flesh and breath, manure, sweet hay and mint. The tickling by the bristles on my outstretched palm as he gently slobbered all over me to get his treat. The nuzzling at my pocket for “More please,” while I wiped my slimy hand on my jodhpurs.
My Grandfather had ordered me some jodhpurs from the back of a magazine. I excitedly ripped the packaging open only for the whole of the assembled family to fall about in stitches, clutching their sides in agony, wheezing with laughter. They were the really old-fashioned type with massive stiff, sticky out bits at the top of the legs. To my utter humiliation I was made to put them on and parade about. How anybody survived that performance I do not know. They were utterly hysterical. Needless to say they were sent back and I didn’t have to suffer humiliation in public – thank goodness.
The yard girls would always come round and make you sling one leg forward. They would then furtle about under the saddle to tighten the girth by pulling the double buckles tight before sticking a couple of fingers underneath to check it wasn’t too tight.
One day, I must have been too busy, patting Blackbird, feeding him Polos and twisting my fingers in his silky mane, to notice I had been missed out in the girth checking session.
All was fine as we clip clopped our way down the streets, leaning back in our saddles down the steep hill, before crossing King’s Road. Metal shoes slightly slipping on the cobbles, we filed down Brighton Slip, onto the soft, sandy beach.
We’d walk for a bit, then trot for a bit and then the lead group would break ahead from the rest and start cantering. Bluebird was perfect for a canter. His rolling gait and wide back just carried you along through the fresh, salty sea air.
That’s when I suddenly felt a bit odd, wrong even. Oh God – my saddle suddenly slipped to the side. Startled I moved against it and my foot shot straight through my stirrup, which ended up around my knee.
Feeling like I was in slow-motion, I disappeared slowly downwards until I was underneath a cantering horse, hanging on for dear life.
“Help,” I feebly croaked with shock. “HEEEEELLLLLP,” I yelled in fear of my life. Luckily, with Blackbird being a beast of massive proportions. My unfettered leg dangled a foot, or so, above the ground.
Eventually realising my not-terribly-small predicament. The two lead riders yelled for everyone to pull up and steer away from me and then they rode their horses to block Bluebird and slow him down. Not before time – I really don’t think that my white knuckles could have hung on for too much longer.
Just to add insult to injury. Blackbird had a massive pee. How it missed me I don’t really know. Rather needed one myself by that point.
I was thankful that I had forgiving sand to drop down onto and, momentarily, on my back, underneath Blackbird, I saw that he was, indeed, a horse of massive proportions.
“Do you want a wheelbarrow again?” snorted Gangly Ben.
“I most certainly do not,” I snarled down the phone. “Does Ally happen to be with you? I’ve tried her flat and her mobile, but no answer.” That was unusual for Ally as she usually had it either clasped to her ear or was madly texting or changing her online status. She was never hard to pinpoint so this was slightly disconcerting.
“Erm...” said Ben.
“Erm?” I questioned.
“Well she sort of is.”
“What do you mean she sort of is?”
I frowned. Oops. I stopped frowning.
“Well......she’s in, erm....the shower actually.....” he trailed off.
Well, what’s the problem with that? Why are you sounding odd? Oh No! Oh yes! You haven’t, have you? You have. Oh my goodness. Really? Yes! Thank god for that.”
It was about time that Ally and Ben, got around to ‘Doing It’. They were made for each other. I was laughing and Gangly Ben was on his third WHOOP when he went very very quiet.
Ally, wrapped in a big fluffy towel, was glaring at him for sharing. She of the share-everything mentality.
“I’d better go,” he whimpered. “Oh, did you want something?”
“No. No. It’s alright. I’ll see you both tomorrow at, 11-ish?”
“Yeah that’s fine,” he practically whispered. Used to his normal Great Dane like enthusiasm and deep voice. I felt his pain. Trust me to interfere at exactly the wrong moment. Well, it could have been a slightly worse moment, but even so...
I gathered a few bits around me; multiple remotes, a big glass of water and lemon juice, the Radio Times and a pen and crashed out on the sofa. I was just thinking how lovely it was when the girls all jumped on me, rearranged the cushions to suit, took over most of the sofa and snuggled down. Maude yapped softly in her sleep, Lucaya twitched away (probably dreaming of the run she very nearly got) and Mabel snored her head off. It wasn’t long before I joined her.
It is really embarrassing, never mind annoying, to be woken up by someone banging on the window, staring in at you, when you could lay bets that you probably had had your mouth wide open and were unlikely to be looking your glamorous best - not that I ever managed to achieve glamour when awake. Let’s be honest.
By the time that I had shook my head awake, squeezed out from under the hysterically barking dogs, who were happily trampling all over me, and hobbled to the door, the Peeping Tom had gone but there was an envelope sticking through the letterbox.
I like getting letters, as long as they’re not in brown envelopes, as that usually spells trouble. This one was long and white with grubby black marks all over it.
“Oooh, “ I said aloud. “Oh.”
On a single sheet of, also grubby, paper was very badly written:
“You’re on our patch. Get off....”