Monday, 31 March 2014

A post for London-based Mongolia enthusiasts (all three of us?)

Photo - Rebecca Empson

On Thursday 22 May, Dr Rebecca Empson will give a talk at the London School of Economics on the economics of temporary possession.  She will discuss whether an economy can be based on the temporary, rather than outright possession of resources and commodities, with reference to Mongolia and the significance of this question for Mongolia.

I can't recommend the LSE lectures enough - they are always worth attending if you're interested in the subject matter and I've found that even a passing interest is good enough.  Plus, they're free and anyone is welcome.

Dr Empson is a professor of Social Anthropology at University College, London and lists her research interests as: the politics of personhood; subjectivity and memory; exchange across bodily and territorial boundaries; new and alternative economies; migration and diaspora communities; and visual and material culture.  Her regional focus is on Inner and East Asia, especially Mongolia.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Friday, 28 March 2014

Books for prisoners!

I and the Abject met for further radicalisation with our dear friend Vanessa...

(Not really, but I wish she were) (she's wonderful)

The cause?  Books for prisoners.  Grayling wants to take them away.  Seems cruel and unusual and an extremely worthy battle which I hope we will win.  

We offered our thoughts to the v.attractive young man from the Islington Gazette and then off to for lunch to give the littlest Wallop (village) a chance to hold forth on the horrors of capitalism.  Rose 1, casual right wing North Londoners 0.


Then back to my sick bed, feeling a bit awful.  But more mobile, as instructed!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Need outdoor gear? I have a tip...

I've found a brilliant website...

Really well designed website and imagine my surprise when I rang up to query a bit of my order to be met by a real person, who was able to not only offer a bit of help but also chat about the Derby and refer me to a friend who used to do horse trekking for advice!

I can't recommend them highly enough.  Just goes to show that the little guy often does it better.

They've also got a great deal on Arc'Teryx Zeta jackets.  Which are, apparently, the business.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

A man for the boys

Peritas loves men, it turns out.  This is shortly before the pee disgrace.


This was just before Peritas peed all over the Kennedys' floor.  And me.

Just in case you thought this was a glamorous endeavour

I am becoming intimately acquainted with the petrol stations of the south east...

C. midnight last night

Before we got dirty

And here we are!  Cheyenne, me, Monita, Maggie, Sadhira and Willings.

Thanks so much to Fergus for a brilliant photo.

Then off for the world's hottest and most brilliant bath.  Thanks Clem and family.  Sorry about the widdle...   

Wednesday, 19 March 2014


It's so lovely when the weather starts to warm up.

The cats are happier, the little dog is less inclined to refuse a walk and the blossom is out...

New beginnings!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Skiing: invented in Mongolia

I'm not even kidding - it is thought that the first skiers came from the Altai mountians in what is now north-west China in the Altai mountains.

Outside magazine went to the mountains to photograph people making skis and using them in the traditional way.  

The skis are wooden and have horse hides attached for traction.  Skiers use one wooden pole instead of two.

Check out more awesome photos and the rest of the story here:

Sunday, 16 March 2014


After congratulating Gabi and Ed on their engagement...

Peritas and babe (Ed just off shot)(sorry Ed!)

The weather was just too nice to stay in London, so I hopped straight in the car on Saturday and drove West

Peritas recovering from last night's excesses

In between rugby matches we for a walk.

Henley's most eligible bachelor and his walker

Just before Peritas fell in the river...

And then, having watched Ireland win, we had to have a few celebratory drinks...

Just one more, Michelle

All great preparation for a morning of muck heap...

Effing massive 

And then an afternoon on the gallops.   Monita and Sadhira were on cracking form and it was so hot...

A hot and sweaty girl

But lovely.  Back to reality tomorrow, worse luck.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

The last time somebody pointed out that cowboys ride horses, not tricycles, I shot him.

I'm sure this won't seem exciting to anyone else, but last night I met up with Riding Club people and rode one of the Household Cavalry horses (badly)...

Lovely (dozy) Cambrai on right

Me on a professional horse (right again). Thanks for the tip re: mirrors (and the photos) Fergus!

Then I went home and reviewed my submissions (only one typo) (but still, ffs).

This is because today I was in court to fight the good fight (won! Hoorah!) and now must dash to be interviewed and photographed by a newspaper and a magazine.  To retain the air of possible glamour I shall not divulge the publications yet.  

Hopefully I'll be photographed in the lovely smart Riding Club jacket loaned by the delightful Katharine Quinlan, CEO.  Thanks Katharine!  

Wednesday, 12 March 2014


Another beautiful day in paradise (aka the City of London)!

But someone is clearly too busy to look out of the window at the weather.  Found at work:

Tuesday, 11 March 2014


Apologies for the radio silence over the last few days- as you know I was a bit under the weather.

But I made it out to help Maggie Partinson mark and marshall a race on Sunday.  And what a beautiful day it was!

Just after dawn

The race was an endurance ride around Tilford and the first endurance ride I'd seen.  Boy, did the riders get lucky with the weather.

The pony club on the tops

I had quite a nice time too...  Turns out there was a film set on location and the riders had to be paused occasionally for a scene to be shot. 

Mildly exciting. 

Some filming was going on v.nearby hence the smoke 

But MORE exciting was the fact that MICHAEL FASSBENDER is starring in this film!  The man himself!  Sadly no photos, but, *sigh*, I was in the presence of greatness.

Still had enough time to hang out and recuperate in the sun, though...

Peritas on guard

AND my little car went on an adventure, too...

Off road in an eleven year old Mazda

But it got a bit carried away.

Bad car

I had to be rescued by the (really quite dishy and glamorous) location manager.  In his big truck.

James and his Subaru Forrester

Ooops!  Thanks James!  And thanks for the very helpful Derby recommendations - great to meet you.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Great film scenes #1: the Land Rush Scene (Far and Away)

There are quite a few famous scenes involving galloping hordes, so I thought I'd do a series of blog posts on favourites.  Please suggest any film you'd like below...

Land run (sometimes "land rush" ) usually refers to an event in which land of the United States was opened to settlement on a first arrival basis.  The settlers, no matter how they acquired occupancy, purchased the land from the United States Land Office.

You can watch a recreation of one such run (the Cherokee Strip Land Run) in Far and Away, as a friend told me today.  
The Cherokee Strip Land Run
My friend mentioned the film because he thought it might inspire braver riding from yours truly.  You'll see why if you watch the clip below...

Setting aside the thorny question of where the US Land Office got the land from, this is a great scene.  Tom has turned up late to the party, so there are only two horses left.  One is half-dead and the other one is bucking like mad.  He chooses the half-dead horse.  It dies.  He then has to saddle up the crazy green horse, which duly goes bananas.  In a move familiar to horse lovers everywhere, Tom delivers a smart punch to the nose of the horse, horse falls in love with him and there follows a glorious galloping scene where Tom outpaces everyone.

The film borrows heavily from an earlier (1925) film, and you can find the famous land rush scene from "Tumbleweeds" here.

To give Far and Away some credit, when Nicole Kidman's character announces she is going to America to claim land being given away, Tom Cruise points out that all land belongs to someone.  Or something similar.  Well done Tom - I don't know why people think you're unusual.

Sadly, the removal of the Cherokee and other peoples following the Indian Removal Act of 1830 that allowed land runs like this was terrible.  Many Native Americans suffered from exposure, disease and starvation on the route to their destinations.  Many died, including at least 2,000-6,000 of 16,542 relocated Cherokee, although this number is disputed.  The route walked has become known as the Trail of Tears and I don't think the removal can be described as anything other than ethnic cleansing.  As one lady says, the Trail isn't a celebration of her people, it's a memorial.

You can read more about the Trial and the horrors that went with it here.  You can help support indigenous peoples here.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Age of Glory

Today I met Irish racing enthusiast Brian Bunyan.  Who, lucky for me, also works for Standard Chartered in London.  We'd been put in touch by a mutual colleague, who had explained that we were both keen on riding and therefore might enjoy a bit of horse talk over a cup of coffee.

This didn't prepare me for Brian.

Turns out Brian was an amateur jockey as a schoolboy because his father trained racehorses; his brother Darren has now taken up the mantle.  Naturally, when the chance to ride at Cheltenham in the St Patrick's Derby Charity Race came up, Brian signed up to ride in his father's memory.  Despite 25 years since his last race!

Age of Glory, owned by Brian and trained by Darren, was an outsider with the bookies but Brian rode a great race to finish first.  As Brian explained, he was nervous, but when he thought of his father everything else fell away.

I was blown over by such an incredible story and Brian's humble claims that he was just a passenger: I don't believe it for a second.  A lovely bit of inspiration for a Wednesday afternoon.

Brian on Age of Glory

I checked and Brian's fundraising page is still open.  He was raising funds for cancer research, as he lost his father to cancer.  You can donate here:

Brian, it was great to meet you and I look forward to maybe riding some of your brother's horses.  

The Curragh, Co. Kildare (home to racehorse trainer Darren Bunyan)

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The February Reckoning

The February Reckoning 

General news
This month I got a puppy, the police recovered my stolen Brompton from a neighbour's house (thanks you idiots), it has rained an awful lot, I went skiing (again) and ... er ... I've done a lot of training.  
March should be a good month: Tilford endurance ride where I'll help mark and marshall the course, hunting before the season ends and Liverpool Half Marathon at the end of the month for a grudge match with an old training partner.  Watch out Jenny Lee: I'm coming for you.

I've raised £640 so far... Thank you to everyone who has donated.  For anyone who hasn't yet, you can click here to do your bit for the fight against avoidable blindness.

I have started riding Sadhira.  

This is a work in progress.  Clearly she missed the memo about my "unshakeable natural authority" and "total confidence in the saddle" because she behaves as if I were nervous and she were Sadhira, Queen of Everything.  Strange.

Thank you once again Maggie Pattinson.  You have been very patient this month ("I find it more helpful to do [insert bogstandard yard task here] like this [cue polite correction of whatever retarded thing I was busy doing]").  And your advice has been excellent ("LEAN FORWARD LEAN FORWARD LET HER GO THROUGH YOUR HANDS").  Without your encouragement ("you sat that buck!") and the excellent company of your various friends and clients who have suffered me along with you, I wouldn't have learnt even half as much.  And Peritas wouldn't have such a great friend in Basil.

Maggie is an excellent endurance trainer - you can find out more on her website - she offers a kind and intelligent approach to training for both horse and rider.

Cross training
I'm definitely getting stronger, thanks to 7am Cross Fit classes (I get up at 5am so no biggie) (yeah in your face late risers) and the team at CrossFit Central London.  Thank you everyone there and thank you Torq for your excellent recovery drink - it really helps with muscle soreness. 

Anita is also busy building me a better body... 

If you're having tweaks and niggles or even serious problems, I would heartily recommend her.  She's based near Albury and feel free to contact me if you're interested.

Last, but not least, I shouldn't forget the Lewisham Running Club - it's been emotional, you guys.  Particularly the sausages.

I weighed a massive 72 kgs on return from Austrian fat camp and 69.7 at the end of January.  The downward trend has continued and I now weigh 68kgs.  That means I've lost 6 kilos (just under a stone) since I started training.  So clearly the odd KFC doesn't hurt!

You wonder what I am doing? Well, so do I, in truth.

Like Robert Graves, I don't believe in great men. 

But that doesn't mean, as a girl after Caesar's heart, I can't love a great story.  Or a well ordered camp, but that's another story.  So of course, when I turned 30, I also sat down and wept because by that age Alexander the Great had conquered most of the world as he knew it.  I was mostly reading financial regulation.  Have a look at Plutarch's Life for the original story.

It won't then surprise you that I haven't done much conquering to date.  The closest I've got to Alexander is naming my dog after his favourite dog.  Can you see the resemblance?

Peritas hunting the noble foe-beast

Peritas hunting the noble foe-beast

Someone who got much closer than I have is another favourite soldier: T.E.Lawrence. 

Lawrence in 1918

Or Lawrence of Arabia, for those of us who are also slightly in love with Peter O'Toole.

Ah well, we can't all be lion tamers...

During the First World War, Lawrence famously led (or at least encouraged) an Arab revolt against the Turks in support of British strategy and captured Aqaba, as well as fighting alongside Arab troops at a number of other Arabian battles.  His dream of an independent Arabia was, in the end, frustrated by an English-French pact, but he became famous nonetheless partly because he was himself a prolific writer but also thanks to the sensational reporting of an American journalist.

For those who are interested, you can visit the motorbike he toppled off in the London Imperial War Museum (a rather lovely Brough Superior, if you like motorbikes) (I do).  

Lawrence on one of his eight Brough Superiors

If you also love a great story, Lawrence of Arabia was made into an extraordinary film, starring Peter O'Toole (see above).  The best scene is Omar Sharif, riding out of the desert haze.  This still doesn't do justice to the film or to Omar but you'll see.  Watch it.

So as I sit dreaming of Lawrence and camels and dust, on this beautiful Spring day...

Some favourite words of his come to mind.

"You wonder what I am doing?  Well, so do I, in truth.  Days seem to dawn, suns to shine, evenings to follow, and then I sleep.  What I have done, what I am doing, what I am going to do, puzzle and bewilder me.  Have you ever been a leaf and fallen from your tree in autumn and been really puzzled about it?  That’s the feeling."

(T.E. Lawrence to artist Eric Kennington, May 1935 )

Monday, 3 March 2014

Monday music

Anyone else knackered from the weekend and a bit overwhelmed by the start of another week?

Get thee to Spotify my friends for some pretty pop remixed by Canadian Kevin Drew.  Ariana and the Rose - In your Bed.  Summer is on the way!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

After KFC, comes...

A Japanese hair rock night.  No, really.

At least it started civilised...

SO glad today was bucking/rearing lesson day.  Thanks, Sadhira.  The AA could learn a lot from you.