Sunday, June 6, 2010

Ruby and the Idiots

Normally I write about my drives out with Ruby the Magnificent in order to share the pleasure that carriage driving gives us. My driving is my recreation and I come home soothed in mind and spirit. Not so today. I’m BOILING.

I took Ruby out by herself because Mr T has had a few days off to ease a windgall on one his hind legs, and Jen didn’t want to work him hard today. So I packed up some plastic bags for “recycling” and strapped them to the cart seat before setting off towards Tebay over our big hill, Pikestoll. Since Pikey is a long hard haul, and I intended to go right round the circuit which is a distance of 8 miles, I let Ruby stroll along to warm up at a walk. I stopped at “Tom’s gateway” about a third of the way up to move the midge-repeller from the top of the collar, where it was touching Ruby’s wither as the collar moved, and clip it round the stem of the saddle terret. I don’t know if these sonic repellents actually work but when you’ve got a midgey farm and midge-sensitive horses all routes are worth trying. At any rate, the repeller (which is solar powered) didn’t give any other problems in its new position, and midges were the least of Ruby’s troubles on the drive!

It was all very peaceful over Pikey and down to Roundthwaite road end, where we paused for quite a while, waiting for a clear run out onto the A685. Ruby tends to think that once a car has passed it is time to move out, whereas I could see traffic coming from much further down the road. The traffic wasn’t actually heavy, but the cars kept coming. She was very good though and trotted straight out once the road really was clear. We kept a nice steady trot going over the motorway and railway bridges, up into Tebay and to David Trotter’s house, where I left the two bags of bags for him to reuse in his greengrocery deliveries. Then we went on our merry way through the village, through the narrows, down the hill and round the motorway roundabout. Keeping ourselves to ourselves, warning people of our presence with our flashing lights back and front.

Most people whom we meet on the road are courteous and smiling, and I smile and wave at them because I’m happy and why not share it? So it continued, until we were leaving the roundabout, when Ruby scooted because she saw a motorcyclist. But it was nothing serious, and I still managed to signal which exit I was going down. As we continued along the Orton section of the A685, however, I began to realise that there was a good deal more traffic than I’d expected; possibly leaving the motorway and heading for Appleby, where the Fair Hill gipsy gathering is coming to a close. Were they all horse people? I seriously doubt it. Horse sense was certainly not in evidence. When we approached blind summits where nobody should overtake because they can’t see if anything is coming, they overtook. When I signalled them not to overtake because, sitting higher than the cars, I could see oncoming traffic, they overtook. When a convoy of foreign registered cars came up behind me and the first one pulled out to overtake, they all did the same, as though an umbilical cord might snap if they were separated – never mind the fact that the oncoming traffic had to stop for them. I kept Ruby pounding along at a good straight trot, but her 11mph was just not fast enough for the idiots. I don’t mean that everyone who followed me was a fool, because I was aware of one car that sat politely twenty yards back from us for at least a mile; but my verbal commands along that stretch included several cries of greeting to members of the Head family [work it out], and my coachman style driving gave ample opportunity to exercise my whip hand in certain unconventional signals.

Do cyclists have these troubles? They are equally vulnerable on the road. How do they deal with them, I wonder?

Once past Orton, where we left the Appleby road, courtesy and good humour returned, and perfect strangers waved and grinned, just the way it all usually happens. And Ruby walked and cooled off from her frenetic two miles. When we passed the youngster being schooled on the lunge at Selsmire farm, and he used our passing as an excuse to squeal and buck in circles, she only flicked an ear and told him saddles weren’t that big a deal. She ignored the inquisitive Shetlands and the farm bikes, and only wanted to get back onto the yard and scream to Mr T that she hadn’t abandoned him, she still loved him and she was home.

And when I turned her out with him she squealed and told him to get lost!

If you were in your car on the A685 this summer Sunday lunchtime, heading for Appleby, and if Ruby and I held you up for a few minutes until the road was clear, then I apologise, and thank you. Nothing went wrong on the drive. We drove to the rules of the road. But I’m furious at the idiot behaviour we encountered, so come on Google, index this lot and let the idiots read the things I didn’t have the chance to say today. If they can read.

“If you risked your life and ours by overtaking on a blind brow, on a blind bend, or in the face of oncoming traffic, or if you forced me to rein in my horse as you pulled in front of me, then please tell me – what was so important, on a Sunday lunch time, that you couldn’t be patient for those few minutes?”