Tinker and Maisy (left), who is hopefully expecting puppies in early May
I’ve taken my young horse Freddie out to a couple more unaffiliated tests. He got 72% in the Prelim and 73% in the Novice, so we’re definitely heading in the right direction. I think he won the classes, but that’s not the whole reason for doing it. He was fine about getting on the lorry this time - thank goodness! It was so embarrassing when he wouldn’t load at our last show. There must have been something that he didn’t like for some bizarre reason as, touch wood, he’s been fine since.
We did have another incident with him though, as he got both his back legs stuck in his haynet. He managed to rip off an 8-inch x 3-inch piece of skin from one of his back legs, which was pretty horrendous, but he’s a tough old thing and 10 days later he was fine.
He’s working at Elementary/Medium at home now so I’ve been looking at Six-Year-Old tests and might have a play at one of them. There’s one in June locally, so I’ll be aiming him for that. I also plan to affiliate him by then, as I want him to start taking him out at Medium level.
I can’t believe I’m thinking about June already when it still feels like winter, but the dressage to music clinics are proving so popular that Julie has got me booked up till then. I don’t event know what I’m doing tomorrow, never mind in June!
That said, we've booked a weekend in France for the children as it’s both their birthdays in June. We asked Annabel whether she wanted a party or to go to France, and she chose the later as she likes practicing her French - even though she’s only five! Simon’s parents hire a farmhouse near Nice each year, which has a pool and tennis courts, so we’ll be staying there.
Before that we’ve got a big family event over Easter as my brother is getting married in Lowestoft. Annabel is going to be bridesmaid and I’ve got to get my son Ben a suit, and make sure my husband gets his hair cut as it looks like a mop at the moment. I’ve been shopping for a frock but I’ll still look like a man in drag! Somehow I look even worse in heels and I’m definitely not wearing a hat!
The big boys are keeping me busy too. I took Clyde to Myerscough Regional Championships for the Advanced Medium open, Advanced music and the PSG music. We used the Advance Medium as an arena warm-up, so that he could have a good look around. He was a bit tense and spooky, as expected, so we only got 63%, but in the Advanced he got 70% and just missed out on qualifying. And we won the PSG music, so now we’re off to the Winter National Championships next month. I was so shocked! Clyde went from zero to hero in 24 hours!
It just shows what acclimatising him to a new environment can do. I now know that he’s a horse that you need to take to a competition a few days before the main event if I can afford it.
I also took Mr President to the Myerscough Premier League, where we did the Grand Prix. Talk about a car crash! I’ve been doing Grand Prix for 10 years with him so how I can still forget where I’m going I do not know. Half way through the trot you had to halt and do a rein back, but I decided it wasn’t important and just missed it out!
One of judges said “halt steph”, and I went “oh god!”. The humiliation of it!
Mr P also had his tongue stuck out at the judges all the way round. He still got 65.6% and came fifth, so we didn’t totally disgrace ourselves. At 19 he’s still really up for it - he dragged me around the test and loved it out there. So I’m aiming for Keysoe Premier League next.
In a couple of weeks of time I’ll run through another Grand Prix with him at a pick your own test, just so I’m not so damn rusty when we get in the arena next time.
We could have even more on our hands in eight weeks time, when we hope to hear the patter of tiny paws. Maisy, one of our schnauzers, has been to find a boyfriend. She really wasn’t keen at first and I’d decided she was gay! However, it turned out all she wanted was a nice experienced man! So we’re hoping she’ll have a litter at the beginning of May. Watch this space...."
"We had a lovely Christmas, with just the four of us, although Simon and I were completed exhausted by the end of it as we had already travelled around the country to see both our families.
We always try to get up early to do the horses before the kids get up, but it didn’t work on Christmas day. Annabel called down, “mummy has Santa been yet?” So we let her climb into our bed with her stocking full of presents and she waited to open them while we mucked out, bless her!
It took then virtually all day to open their presents, while I stood by with a pen and paper to make sure I knew who had given what. We didn’t get to open ours till around 8pm! I got some nice fluffy boots for the yard, a riding coat, a watch and autobiographies by Miranda Hart and Dawn French, as well as the usual things like more pyjamas!
It’s back to work with the horses now, and they’re all going really well. Clyde [Mr Hyde] qualified at Bishop Burton for the regional championships in Advanced Medium, Medium Freestyle and PSG [Prix St George] to music.
Mr P is still a bit hyper since being clipped before Christmas, but I took him to do a local Grand Prix and he did a nice test and scored 67.7. He had a lovely time and I think we won, but I don’t tend to hang around to wait for the results at local shows!
We also took our five-year-old Freddie out to his first unaffiliated show. We did a Novice and Elementary test at a Trailblazers and managed to score 65 in the novice, even though we almost dived out of the arena.
Poor Freddie had never been in arena before and he didn’t understand the white boards. As there is a gap at A he went to the left, I yanked to the right, and we ended up landing in middle of them. One of the white boards flicked him under his belly and he leapt and did huge buck - I lost my left stirrup and nearly came out the side door. I thought we’d end up being disqualified, but luckily I stayed on. We only got three for that movement, although Simon somehow missed it all.
I said to him, ‘did you see that?’ and just said said: “See what? I was reading!” So I must have looked quite composed when he looked up again.
In the Elementary Freddie had worked out the boards by then and we got 67.6, which I was so pleased with as he was only backed in July.
We did manage to disgrace ourselves trying to get home, however, as Freddie wouldn’t go on the wagon. He was rearing and managed to get away from us in the car park. We must have looked like a pair of complete amateurs and various people offered to help. It was quite amusing getting all sorts of advice from fellow unaffiliated competitors on how to load a horse! I’ve no idea why he did it as he’s never done it before and has never been nappy. We had to use the bridle in the end.
When we finally got him we unloaded him and then put him back on and he walked straight back up! We’re planning on taking him out to do another unaffiliated Novice or Elementary next month and we’ll definitely take a chifney we us!
We’ve got another youngster called George, who is a two-year-old by the 2011 Dutch harness champion, Waldemar – he looks like Mr P in harness! As far we know he is the only Waldemar youngster in the country. He’s also half brother to Cizandro, who is up for KWPN horse of the year against Valegro.
George looks like a calmer version of Clyde, so we’re hoping he’ll be like him but with a more sensible head. It’s quite exciting to see how he comes out, but for now he’s just eating grass, chilling out and enjoying life.
"Since being clipped Mr P has turned into a complete lunatic!"
Clyde [Mr Hyde] is still going really well. Julie Geraughty, who I run the dressage to music clinics with, put together some music for a Prix St George (PSG) test at Bishop Burton. I thought we’d just have a little play, but we ended up scoring 71.25, which was a bit of a shock! The nearest score to us was 66-something, so we won it well. I was thrilled.
We also did our first ‘proper’ PSG a few weeks ago at the High Profile show at Vale View in Leicestershire. We scored 64.6 and came 10th out of 24, so we certainly didn’t disgrace ourselves. But what I was most pleased with was that Clyde really tried, and he let me ride him.
We’ve finally clipped Rimmer [Mr P], and ever since he’s been a complete lunatic. We always clip him as late as possible as he hates it, but he was a shaggy monster and we’ve got a competition coming up. I told him he can’t go out in public looking like that, so we pined him down and clipped him.
I think he thinks he’s off to Olympia as the only time we ever clipped him properly was for that show, but it’s just a little tootle out to do the grand prix at Field House in Uttoxeter.
I’m also going to start doing some stuff with our five-year-old Freddie. I’m taking him to his first unaffiliated prelim on Sunday (9 December), or we might do a novice. I just pray he stays straight going down the centre line!
The other five-year-old in the family, has no intention of ever doing a dressage test. My daughter Annabel is not remotely interested in horses and during the week I take her to ballet, swimming and tennis lessons. But she is very good about coming to shows at the weekend and never moans. Mind you, the Nintendo DS helps!
She just did her first ballet exam and got 84 per cent, so her teachers were really pleased with her. But I reckon Wimbledon is calling – or at least it better be – as I drive her all the way to Derby every week for tennis coaching. There are no decent coaches around here, and the club she goes to is really nice with a great coach.
Annabel is so excited about Christmas and has been going on about putting the Christmas decorations up for weeks. I said that as soon as December was here I’d get them out. So I’ve spent all day putting them, with my two-year-old son Ben ‘helping’ me.
We’ll be at home for Christmas, with just the four of us, which I’m really looking forward to. And we’ve got a couple of pantos lined up for the kids, which they love.
The horses will get Christmas and Boxing day off, but then it’s business as usual as we will be building up for the summer regionals in the new year. I’ll be aiming to qualify in the advanced medium and PSG, and if I do that then I’ll have look at qualifying for the PSG to music. That's the fun bit!
I might do the Addington high profile show, but I haven’t decide if I’m definitely going yet, or which horse to take. The prospect of Addintgon car park in the middle of January doesn’t really appeal when I could be sat by a warm fire instead. It’s not got any qualifier classes so part of me thinks, what’s the point? It all depends how enthusiastic I’m feeling in the new year.
In the meantime I’m keeping up my lessons with Richard [Davison] to keep me and the horses ticking over. In my last lesson we went from medium to grand prix in 45 minutes. Suddenly we were doing two time changes! Poor Clyde had a bit of a shock, but he slept well that night.
It's been a busy few months. I took Mr P to the British Dressage National Championships, where we made a lot of silly mistakes that we wouldn’t normally make, as we were a bit ring rusty. I asked for piaffe and he said, ‘what?’ He never normally misses on the one-time changes – although five is often the bogey one – so I was counting, three, four, five, six… When I suddenly thought ‘ohmigod, I don’t know what leg I’m on!’ We still got a respectable score of 65.7, so didn’t disgrace ourselves.
We didn’t come down the night before the competition, which in hindsight was a mistake. Mr P had to travel from Yorkshire to Stoneleigh, and then warm up and do the test all on the Saturday – and he was knackered. He’s 18 now, so I think I need to re-assess things.
I’m not saying he’s ready to slow down yet – Mr P isn’t a horse you can retire as he’s still so switched on. And as long as wants to keep doing it and go down that centre line we’ll carry on. At the moment he’s definitely still up for it – he dragged me down the centre line at the nationals – and as long as feels this good it’s not fair to say ‘we’ve had enough of you now’.
My main reason for going to the Nationals was to do my Kur test as part of a demo with Richard Davison. We had a blast doing it and after our grand prix test I was really pleased the demo went well. I chose Fatboy Slim for the music, which was a bit of a marmite moment as I knew people would either love it or hate it. We got a big cheer at the end, so I think it went down okay and we got everything in the right place.
I’m hoping to take Mr P to the high profile show at Vale View in Leicestershire and we’re also umming and ahhing about whether to take Mr Hyde to do a prix st george (PSG) there.
He’s going really well at the moment – we had another couple of goes at a PSG in pick your own tests. At Beaver Hall we won with a score of 69% and we also came fourth at Vale View with 67.8%.
I don’t want to get too exited, but I’m really pleased with him. He’s always been a trier and now he’s beginning to show he can cope in stressful situations and get reasonable marks. And at seven years old he’s still only a baby.
I’m teaching him one-time changes at the moment. He can do about 10 but they’re all on the same spot. It’s like he’s saying, ‘I can either go forward or move my legs – I can’t do both!’
The dressage to music clinics are still going well, which I do with Julie Geraghty from Equivisions. We did one a Brooksby Equestrian Centre recently and it was fully booked.
Before we meet our clients we ask them to email us their strengths and weaknesses along with their music tastes – so we have an idea in advance of what they want. I then put a floor plan together, although I often end up making changes once I see them ride as people don’t always tell truth! They either over or under estimate their ability.
During the clinic I spend around 40 minutes with each rider, and go through the floor plan with them before they ride through all the sections. We then video and time it, before it goes to Julie who finds the right music. And all for £150 – bargain!
"Artemis is known to be spooky, but Richard has worked incredibly hard trying to acclimatise him"
After much deliberation I decided to take Mr Hyde to his first Prix St George (PSG). It certainly wasn’t his best test, but he didn’t disgrace himself either. The conditions were awful – it was sweltering and there was no air to take away the horse flies, which were horrendous. Mr Hyde can be so sensitive, so he didn’t cope with them very well, but we still scored 63.85, which I was really pleased with.
We would have scored higher, but had two points deducted as it turns out I was riding the wrong test! Simon was reading it out and suddenly the judge beeped the horn. I didn’t know what was wrong as I’d performed what he was calling, but the judge said we were doing the 2000 test, and it changed in 2009! That just goes to show how long it’s been since I’ve ridden a PSG!
By that point I had no idea where I was going, but we carried on and managed to finish the test. It was a bit of a wing and a prayer, but the main thing is we got all the changes and the pirouette work.
It’s given me confidence that Mr Hyde can go out and do it now, although I don’t know what I’ve worrying about. We’ve done around nine advanced tests now and he’s only ever missed one line of changes. But every time during the changes I’m thinking ‘come on!’
Both the boys have had a bit of break since then, as I’ve been on holiday with the family. You wouldn’t think the Northumbrian coast would be a sun spot, but we had our own little micro-climate there, and the weather was lovely.
It was nice to have a non-horsey week. Our house sitter Tally always looks after the place while we are gone. This time, as well as five horses and two dogs to take care of there were five puppies as Tinker, our miniature Schnauzer, has just had become a mum for the third time. Tally is going to Australia for a year – how dare she! I don’t know how we’re going to cope – but I’ve begged her to come and stay during the nationals before she goes.
They are just a couple of weeks away now, so we’re in full gear mode with Mr P. It was a bit of a shock to his system after our holiday. You could tell he was thinking, ‘God, this is hard work’ and he was grunting like an old man. I think I was as well!
I’ve got a couple of lessons with Richard [Davison] beforehand. I’m supposed to be doing a demo with him at the nationals, but I can’t do the dressage to music as well as it’s on the same day. Rules state you’re not allowed to do more than one FEI test in a day – it might be seen as an advantage as I’ll have already been in the arena.
I’ll see how we go in the grand prix, and then decide. We might not qualify anyway – which means I can definitely do the demo. I would like to do the music test though, as Julie Geraghty has put together some Fat Boy Slim music and I can’t wait to see the judges faces: ‘Right here, right now, right here, right now!’
I’ve spoken to Richard about his performance at the Olympics. He was disappointed as in the grand prix special Artemis spooked a lot – he said it was down to the whirring of the cameras. Artemis is known to be spooky, but Richard has worked incredible hard over the last couple years trying to acclimatise him to situations like that. He did the world cup circuit, which is very intense, but it still didn’t settle him enough.
A lot of horses were backing off going into that corner. Canadian rider, David Marcus, was disqualified as his horse also spooked at a TV camera, which meant the rest of his team was too. To fly all the way over to the UK and not even have a chance to compete is so unfair.
Nick Skelton said the same thing happened to him in the individual jump-off. When he came to the upright – all the cameras went off, and he had it down.
It’s an outside influence, so it needs to be looked at. I think there should to be minimum distance from the horses where they can set up the cameras. To make it worse they threw bits of fake grass over the top of the damn things to try to hide them. It would be better to leave them uncovered, so at least the horses could comprehend what they are.
I didn’t get to see the dressage, but took the family to cross-country day, which was just brilliant. It was a beautiful sunny day, and we had a picnic in park and the kids loved it.
Simon’s parents have got a flat in London so we stayed there. We got a boat up the Thames to Greenwich and went through the Olympic rings on Tower Bridge and we did the London Eye the next day, so it was a proper London experience.
When we got the train back to Victoria, there was a sea of pink and purple volunteers everywhere. You only had to look slightly lost and someone came to help you out. It was an amazing couple of days.
As I write this, the children are playing in our new paddling pool out in the garden. The sun has finally come out and we’ve got a life again, after feeling like it’s the middle of winter. They’ve been out there all morning and are starting to look like little prunes! The pool is much bigger than it looked in the shop, and it took me an hour just to pump it up half way. I feel like I’ve done an aerobics class!
The horses have been enjoying the warm weather too and finally getting some sun on their backs. We’re quite high up here – around 1000ft above sea level – so it’s not too warm although the flies can be a pain. I’ve had to put their masks on for the first time this summer.
Both of my boys have been doing really well out competing, although they do have their moments. I took Mr President to Sheepgate Premier League in Lincolnshire last month as a late entry. He was so naughty in the first test took that I almost pulled him out of the rest of the show. He stuck his tongue out at the judge all the way down the centre line and then decided to do a medium gallop, so our one-changes were rather fast!
I was sitting there thinking this is going to be 59% and yet he got 68-something – obviously they were judging a different test to the one I rode!
The next day he was much calmer and we both worked out what we should be doing after our time off. We won two grand prixs and direct qualified for the national championships.
While we at that nationals we are also going to do a demo, as BD has asked my trainer, Richard [Davison], to do some demos there.
I took My Hyde to Sheepgate too and we won the Advanced test, which is great considering he’s only seven.
Hyde also qualified for the advanced medium at the regional championships at Frys two weekends ago. It was a flaming disaster! We got to Beverly, which is 50 minutes away, and the clutch went on the lorry in the middle of town centre. We caused a complete gridlock in the entire town and the police had to be called to try to sort out the traffic.
My friend Helen Lowe managed to pick me up with her lorry, and you should have seen poor Hyde’s face when he got out. He’s never seen traffic like it, or shops! We had an audience by that stage, with kids sucking lollypops watching.
I then abandoned my kids and husband in the lorry and dashed off to the show. They refused to move my start time so I only had three minutes warm up. Bless him, he still scored 65.53 which I was really pleased with and we came fifth.
As for my family in the lorry – the kids spent five hours travelling in the wagon from East Yorkshire and back again, and never got to see mummy ride. Once they got the wagon going, Simon drove it back.
I turns out one of hydraulic pipes had fractured so clutch fluid had been pouring out and there was none left. If the lights had been on green we would have been fine, as we could have stayed in second gear all the way to Frys. Life’s never boring here!
I’m thinking of doing our first prix st george with Hyde this Thursday – although I might bottle it. We’ve done a 102 a few times – and it’s not that different, it just has a few more changes on the diagonal.
The hardest thing will be my tailcoat, as he’s terrified of it because it touches him behind the saddle. I got on him on Saturday and schooled him in it and he was very calm, but it was a still day. So I got on yesterday thinking he’d be fine but the wind was blowing and he was like a rocket.
I’ve been discussing with Simon how we can fold it up so it looks like a normal jacket and then when I get on, we can slowly unravel it as I warm up. I could have a go and if ends up as a car crash we can always retire so no-one sees my score!
I’ve also been busy with a new sideline, as British Dressage have asked me to help them with dressage to music. I design the floor plans and Julie Geraghty of Equivisions does the music. It seems really popular and we’ve been inundated with requests. So I’ve been visiting colleges all over the UK, which is great, but knackering as I’m out at 6am start and not back till 8pm.
I’m looking forward to having some time off next week as we’re going down to the Olympics to watch the cross-country. Dressage is too boring and the kids can’t watch that for eight hours, so I’ve told them they can walk around Greenwhich park instead, and that there might be the odd horse passing through!
"Hi everyone. Competition wise it's always quiet at this time of the year, but with my husband Simon away this week I've been trying to do six horses as well as look after my two children, who've both had stomach bugs. Fortunately I have had my in-laws up here to lend me a hand."
Mr President blots his copybook
Mr President (Rimmer) has been back in work for a couple of months, but he’s being a complete monkey at the moment! I was leading him out to his grazing corrall and he gave me both barrels, so he’s in the bad books. The plan with him is the Myerscough Premier League dressage in March, if he's ready. He is 18 now and though he's older, he's fit and happy and still loves what he does. But I don’t want him to come out and get 52% in a dressage test, I want him to be remembered for doing high-60's tests. So if I think he's no longer enjoying it, it'll be time to stop.
Heading for the regionals
Mr Hyde has qualified for the British Dressage regional championships at Medium and Advanced Medium level, so that's the main aim with him. It will be interesting to see how he handles the atmosphere, as he’s quite a nervous horse. I’m trying a new calmer with him, which works as long as he eats it! I'm having to resort to bribery, so I'm getting him used to the smell and taste of garlic to mask the taste of the calmer to trick him into eating it.
Ancie gets antsy
My broodmare Ancie went to her first competition recently, though someone else has been riding her for me as I can't ride in any qualifiers up to Medium level, whereas Adam and Ancie can compete at Prelim and Novice. Ancie had never been anywhere except the vets to be AI'd and the stud, but she’s so laid back at home I thought she'd be easy. But she went into the arena and nearly had a heart attack! So she'll need a good few outings to get her used to the idea of competing.
Brits on form
We watched the live streaming of the World Dressage Masters in Florida, and the Brits did a very good job – they're really up against it with the Americans on home turf. But it's phenomenal to be beating the Dutch and the Germans, and long may it continue. Though Team GBR has had some great results recently, we need to keep working and pushing in the run up to the Olympics, and to become more consistent. But we're very strong at the moment, and I believe there's even more to come.
Mr President is somewhat pleased to be back in action
“I’m pleased to say that Mr P is back in work! For the past eight weeks he’s been ridden around the lanes, and I took him in the school for the first time today. It was all simple work, plenty of straight lines and circles, and we only did about 20mins work to start with. However, we’ve had mirrors put up since the last time he worked in the arena, so he spent a lot of time reversing. I did think – ‘How old are you?!'
He won’t do any Grand Prix work until Christmas, as there’s nothing really for us to work for until Myerscough Premier League in spring. He’s enjoying being back in work, and he found it so hard playing second fiddle to Mr Hyde. Every time the wash buckets came out he was convinced it was his turn to go out and compete.
The first time I got back on him after his lay off, I went off for a supposedly gentle hack down the lane, and ended up reversing at 190mph because he wouldn’t go past the pigs. He even reared and tried to buck me off!
A visit to Olympia
Mr P won’t be ready for Olympia, but I’ll be there as I’m one of the judges for the British Riding Clubs’ Quadrille final. When I judged the qualifier at Aintree, myself and the other two judges all had differing opinions on who should go through, so the final judging could be fun. I also thought I was being lenient but I ended up being the strictest judge of all of us!
Mr Hyde is no music lover
Mr Hyde is now six years old, and has qualified for winters at medium and advanced medium level. I’m currently trying to put some music together for his freestyle tests – I like the music from the film Transformers. The problem is that it’s a bit dramatic and Mr Hyde is a bit of a wimp, so when we had our first practise with music we had to switch the music off because he was terrified. He’s had music blasting in his stable every night to try to get him used to it.
We’re currently weaning our foal, who's traumatised and missing his mummy. He's by a Dutch harness stallion, like Mr P, and he’s got a white blaze and four white socks, and his knees are up round his ears. We were thinking we might keep him entire but he’s too full of it and we had to geld him.
I’m pleased to say Simon is sound again after breaking his leg. He’s been riding Mr P a lot as it’s helping manipulate and work his ankle – it’s quite nice to see the two old timers go off down the lanes together!
Annabel has started school, so Simon and I get up at 5.50am to exercise the horses before Annabel goes to school and Simon goes to work at 8.30am, leaving me free to look after 16-month-old Ben during the day. So it was nice to get away to Majorca for a half-term holiday so we could have a break.
We had a little pony for Annabel to learn to ride on, but unfortunately she got dumped four times in two days. A further 11 months down the line she’s had her first riding lesson again, so I’m going to take her and her friend for lessons and hopefully she'll enjoy them.
There’s been lots of talk recently about the rule change about what hats you can wear to compete in dressage, and riders below Prix St Georges will now have to wear a safety helmet with a harness. I think there’s now a fantastic niche market for beautiful diamante skull cap covers – I told my local saddler that dressage divas need a bit of sparkle on their hats and don’t want plain old black or navy!”
"I am currently trying to prevent Annabel chasing ducks on a playschool outing to Drayton Manor Park, but that's easy compared to how hectic it is at home!
Broken bones for Simon
Simon has broken his leg, so I'm juggling seven horses, eight puppies, two children and a broken husband! He was riding a three-year-old when a pheasant flew out and hit the horse in the chest. Being young, he reacted fairly strongly and Simon came off and broke his leg. I'm exhausted!
George is born!
Our foal, George, has arrived! He was born on St George's Day and has four white socks and a blaze, which I'm delighted with. He really is great; he has a similar gait to Mr P - he's strong and uphill with a fabulous little crest. He has a lovely nature so we plan to take him to the KWPN grading in September.
Mr P recovers
Mr President is looking well; the swelling in his leg has gone down, but I don't want to bring him back to full fitness too quickly. He's 100% sound, but I don't want to risk bringing him back yet. We'll crack on with him when Simon is sound.
Mr Hyde needs one more point
Mr Hyde has been doing well. He won the six-year-old qualifier at Kingswood EC on 74.8%, so he's qualified for the Hartpury finals and he's been going out at Advanced Medium. He's scored a 65% and a 66%, so I need just one more mark to qualify. He's working PSG at home now, so all good there.
Next on my list are Annabel's fourth birthday and Ben's first. We're going to have a fairies and gnomes party in the garden, but with Simon out of action, all cooking, clearing up and fetching of drinks is down to me! Time to enlist the grandparents...
Tinker has had her puppies and we're currently weaning eight miniature schnauzer puppies. If anyone wants one, let me know!"