Although my day job is helping people improve their business and personal writing, my hobby for many years has been horse riding. Hope you enjoy sharing one of my funnier experiences!It was, quite simply, the most revolting jacket you've ever seen. Several sizes too big, bomber style with elasticated cuffs and bottom edge, and bright gold. Yes, bright, shiny, sparkling, glitzy gold. Well, someone I knew had done a promotion for Britain's old "gold-top" milk - you know, the ultra creamy stuff bristling with so much cholesterol-ridden fat you could stand a spoon up in it. After several weeks promoting "gold-top" milk around supermarkets my friend couldn't stand the sight of the jacket any more, so he gave to me.
Being the thrifty type I ignored the throat-grabbing colour and appreciated the jacket's warm, padded lining - just the job for riding on cold days, I thought. On the first occasion, a chilly May morning (supposed to be spring, I know, but in the UK we've even had snow in June) I shimmered into the stable yard by London's Richmond Park and walked up to Campari the mare.
As the working pupils shaded their eyes from the glow, even the mare looked down her pretty nose at me.
"I don't know what your problem is, it's the same colour as you are," I grunted at her palomino face.
All tacked up, we set off into the park. Despite the near-winter conditions the rhododendrons were in full bloom and after a long canter up a hill, we pulled up by a huge clump of these bushes, a blaze of pinkish purple blooms radiating their glory - and an invitation.
Campari was an obliging sort, a 15.1hh Welsh Cob cross who was used to Auntie's foibles, from hour-long chats at a standstill with the Park Rangers to hacks accompanied by two lunatic English Setter dogs. Conveniently the rhododendron bushes had been planted in a circle with a small, secluded oasis in the centre. We slid through a gap between two bushes and there, with Campari stopped statue-like, I stood in the stirrups and picked a selection of blooms.
Unzipping the golden wonder I tucked about 12 flowers inside it, and zipped it back up to the neck.
Apart from looking like I had just undergone surgery for serious breast augmentation, not a single petal could be seen all the way back to the yard. All I had to do was open my car door, unzip the jacket, heave in the flowers, and no-one was the wiser.