The List: #17 – Learn how to ride a horse (and actually have it do as I ask)

By | RL | One Comment

My Dad moved a few months ago, out to a lovely spot on a hill outside the city. It was all kinds of heartbreaking and new and exciting, and I realised that while I was out here I could cross another adventure off The List and I spent a week and a bit with Grove Livery and I learnt to ride a horse. And it actually did as I asked.

I learnt to trot, which was hard. Not the getting the horse to trot bit (which was easy when all the horses were so biddable and attentive) but trying to figure out how and when to stand up, and how to do so without your hands pulling on the reigns! It took some effort. Cantering was relatively easy by comparison and oh jumping! Jumping was quite fun.

It’s always surprising to me how these big, wonderful giants are willing to take instruction and do our bidding. To carry us around on their backs and run (or trot, jump, canter). I wonder what ‘breaking’ them in really means… they’d never do this in the wild, willingly carry us. How far does being humane go? (Especially cause the language we use to get horses to follow instructions are a piece of metal in their mouths and kicks).

In saying that, I spent a week on Ellie and Shadow and they were more than engaged. When I asked them to work a bit harder: cantering or jumping from a trot – they were more than happy. Their ears perked up, they moved a bit faster than asked and they were keen, often jumping further than required. It was an exhilarating experience!

It was a good week of lessons. I’m not an expert or anything by any means, but I did learn a lot about grooming; each lessons came with the extra responsibilities – brushing the horse down, picking out their hooves, tacking, putting the bridle and boots on. At the end of the lesson we’d remove the tack and wash our horses down. If it was cool we’d put on coats before releasing them into the fields.

I’d say I’m a comfortable beginner. But I can get a horse to do as I ask, so I’m calling this one done. Woop!

All Photos by Dan Draper, of DCD Photography

What makes home, home?

By | nubbed | No Comments

I’m in New Zealand, and oh man, is it ever so odd to be back.

I’m torn – have you ever felt like that? Not in a moral dilemma kind of way, but in there isn’t enough of me to do what I want to do kind of way. I can’t both live in London and in New Zealand (or in any of the many other places I’d love to one day live). I can’t both keep up with friends here, and friends on the other side of the world without a whole bunch of them slipping, or drifting (far and few between are the friends that you can just call up a year later and say hey – I’m here now, let’s hang out without there being any weirdness).

It’s almost uncomfortable to be home. I can’t have the same expectations – NZ doesn’t have the same population density to support all the luxuries that London does. Small things, like organic foods as standard in supermarkets, or internet that doesn’t dribble in down the line. Clothes that aren’t ridiculously priced. New Zealand can’t support what I do, with the way I like to do it (and the money I like to earn). London does it better than any city possibly could. Also, awkwardly, NZ has been a bit horrifically racist.

In saying that – London certainly didn’t give me any of those amazing instagram photos. Those my social media life is awesome shots are New Zealand’s everyday.

Oh expectations. It’s that my expectation that London changes frequently, that it has this rhythm and fluidity. You expect change, and aren’t surprised by it when it happens. Shop fronts are rotated in and out. People arrive, and leave, and arrive again. Constant waves of change.

New Zealand, by contrast is like a sloth, gently coming around with slow improvements. I suspect that’s why I feel so uprooted – my idea of home has changed rather drastically. It now belongs to a Chinese lady who is landbanking my childhood house with a thorough dose of neglect. My anchor of what ‘home’ is has gone from a place to people. If it’s people, and I’m making my own idea of what home is and growing my own family… perhaps it’s not New Zealand.

That’s kind of scary thought… isn’t it.

I also read a thing that suggested that I should intentionally seek out things I’m grateful for – it’s much easier to go with the woes, than it is the grace found in thankfulness. Okay, real quick, five things:

  1. That there is skype, that allows me to skype Zee from the otherside of the world. Just as I’ve gotten up and as he’s going to bed. I miss him terribly.
  2. That I can afford to fly over here and be uncomfortable. That I have the time, and the money. That I can even fly half way around the world is pretty cool.
  3. My dog. My gorgeous little Quinn who has kept me company and become a proper sidekick dog. I’ve missed him. I’ll miss him even more when I’m gone.
  4. The downtime. There has been a ridiculous amount of downtime, and enough ‘up time’ to make my life from a social media perspective look awesome.
  5. I’m learning to ride a horse. The prices and effort to do this in London would be astronomical in comparison.

I’m in New Zealand, and it’s feeling less like home than I thought it would. What makes home for you guys?

A Week in France

By | RL | No Comments

Oh France. I love the snow, snowboarding is my kick. Which is why it is almost inconceivable that I haven’t been in two years – my love of snowboarding has definitely lost out to my love of travel and adventure.

So it was a delight to be able to introduce Zee to snowboarding (and proper snowboarding, too. He went once to an indoor park, and when I asked him how he stopped he said ‘you find the wall at the bottom of the slope’ … Uh, no).

I was amping to get up on the slopes, so after a flight and a long transfer, checking in and out to the hire place to get gear (it was a loooong day!) we finally made it to the nursery slope. I walked Zee up and down (teaching heel and toe slides, the PROPER way to control your speed), and once he was going okay by himself, I strapped in and did my first turns in a long time.


I can’t even describe it without being overly soppy. It felt like coming home… Like my body instinctively knew what it was doing, and it felt good! I felt all of the joy, bubbling up and taking over my face… I had a massive grin, and I cheered and everything in that moment was perfect. It was a moment of happiness that I remember quite vividly, mostly cause it surprised me.

Isn’t it interesting how somehow so small can knock you over like that? Love it.

It was a great week, we stayed in a chalet with 10 others who ended up being lovely – people from all over England, of varying lifestyles and ages. The deal included breakfast and dinner (with wine!) so we saw each other an fair amount – we all got on splendidly, and we were riding/skiing together by the end of the week.

We even rode across to Italy for lunch one day, as our resort (La Rosiere) was on the border and had lifts down to the other side. How amazing is that? We snowboarded to ITALY for pizza and bombardinos (a funny little alcoholic drink, advocaat and brandy, served warm with wipped cream). Nothing like a freshly made Italian pizza!

It was an epic week, with gorgeous views and fun times. I was stoked with how far Zee came in a week (from not being able to control his speed to making turns on reds and blacks) and overall, was pretty glad to be back on the snow.

Loved it. Now that Zee also has the snow bug, I doubt we’ll wait so long to go.

A time of inbetweens.

By | RL | No Comments

It feels odd to be here, it feels like I’m perpetually in between. I’ve finished my last contract, and went off to France (post coming soon!), and now I’m in this weird two weeks before I go out to New Zealand for a month. With no job, but all of the things to do. Part of it is organising all the things (Oh NZ, whyyyy are you so far away?) but I’m doing some fun design work: finaaaallly got the Tuesday Labs site up and running – high five! I’m also starting to work with Pixate, which is a pretty fun prototyping tool.

The surprising thing for me is that I’m not anywhere near as productive as I thought I would be. When I have a job I cram in all the things. Contract work, side hustles, an active social life. It’s all top speed – lets go! But now? Now when I have all the time? I’m meandering. I feel like I’m window shopping all the things. A lunch with friends here, a walk by the river here. Some design work, trying out new recipes. It feels like I’m perpetually on the move, and yet it’s all very slow. Like I’m taste-testing my way through my days.

It’s quite bizarre. I think I’m okay with it, though. It’s not often that you get the time to meander a little.

I’m trying to make a concentrated effort to just enjoy London (although London, with it’s gloom and grey and rain clearly doesn’t want to be enjoyed). So, here’s the thing. The last time I was in an inbetween, I got all down which in part I think is because isolation sucks. This time I’ve made an effort to leave the apartment everyday and have a conversation with someone other than Zee. So far so good! I’ve enjoyed meeting people for lunches – lunches are the perfect amount of time for a catch up, don’t you think? It’s been taking me all over the city (from way east in Shoreditch, to way west in Richmond) and it’s nice to visit these places in daylight and catch up with some familiar faces outside a bar or a restaurant.

So yes, the downtime is nice. The change of pace pretty surprising (I’m always surprised when I go from high level ALL THE THINGS and shift down into something more sedate), but generally? I just feel like I’m waiting till I’m on a flight to New Zealand. I’m counting down you guys! It’s going to be brilliant.

#TravelTuesday – Snow Trips

By | RL | One Comment

In a few weeks Zee and I will be headed to France to enjoy their copious amounts of snow. Now, I’m an avid snow bunny. I LOVE snowboarding. I was introduced at university (it seems ridiculous that that was almost ten years ago now) and I loved it so much that I became a snowboard instructor and have since ridden snow all over the place. New Zealand, the States (VT + CO), Canada (Whistler I love you), Austria, France, Italy

(Sauze D’oulx, Italy)

(Whakapapa, New Zealand)

(France, with Mont Blanc in the back)

(Mayrhofen, Austria)

(Whistler, Canada)

In New Zealand, a snow trip doesn’t haven’t to compete with any other holidays. In New Zealand, most places are too far away to begin with, so you’re mostly doing domestic trips. In the summer that means beaches and epic road trips and water sports. In winter, it means snow trips. However in London, a decision to go to the snow is always competing with something else. Kitesurfing in Egypt. Climbing mountains in Africa. Any one of the million of places I haven’t yet been (Athens, Prague, Morocco, Instanbul – I can reel off a million places I want to go but haven’t yet been). My love for snowboarding is forever competing with my love of travel.

It was just a small thing to tip the scales to a snowboarding trip, just a small tiny thing: Zee has never been. I’ve gifted him surfing lessons, and kitesurfing lessons and Dad taught him to waterski off the back of our boat last (NZ) summer. His love of watersports and activeness rivals mine. So, the idea of him not knowing what a joy it was to be riding down a mountain of snow was inconceivable. So we’re going.

I gave him the choice for Christmas: I could teach him to ride, or I’d pay for lessons. Up to him. He chose me, we’ll see how that goes. It sounds soppy, but I’m really excited to be introducing Zee to proper snow and my love of snowboarding. I’ve been checking snow reports (the small amount of snow we’ve had in London has only been good for snow elsewhere… a good 30cm fell at our resort last night!) and yesterday he’d bought himself a snowboarding outfit, which of course he tried on immediately.

It’s been two years since I was last went to the snow. I actually can’t wait. It’s going to be glorious.