Saturday, 20 August 2011


Dear Readers,

Thank you for reading this far. I do hope you have enjoyed your trip to our little corner of the verdant Vale of Vaysey.

As I always say, a livery yard is pretty much like any other community whether a boarding school or borstal, holiday camp or prison or even one’s family.

The simple truth is that - unless you’re very lucky - you don’t always get to choose the people with whom you spend a lot of your time. We all need what they now call "coping mechanisms." These range from gin and cigarettes to sundry tablets and a variety of mindsets covering all possible forms of mental and emotional instability.
At Vaysey Pastures, the truly British way to cope has always been, as it says in the poster, "Keep calm and carry on" - although many of my liveries preferred response was often "Just panic and give up."

Like the final episode of any soap opera, one is left wondering: whatever happened next? Here’s an update.

After what I foolishly learned too late was my senior girl Enid Possett passed on, so did Eve Harriman.

Embarrassingly, she passed all the way to a guest house in Cromer and took with her devoted family man and building society manager Bruce Penge - leaving behind his loyal wife Betty and daughters Kellie-Mae and Bambi-Louise.

Fortunately, fate smiled when fellow livery Kevin Winkle stepped into the breach to help with the girls’ riding and do a few odd jobs around the house.

Kevin turned out to be a real dark horse and, before six months was up, he had moved into Chez Penge in the
village of Charmpit.

Betty and the Penge sisters think the world of him. He and Betty are due to marry when the divorce becomes absolute next month.

At the yard the Old Guard seem to go from strength to strength. Patsy Pottle experienced further unpleasantness when the Hilton twins secretly kidnapped Rupert her chihuahua and demanded a considerable ransom.

Luckily Patsy was able to overcome their cunning subterfuge by obtaining video evidence of their demands for the deposit of several thousands of pounds in used notes at an isolated location outside the
village of Breadvan in the south of the Vale.

The twins Milton and Warwick Hilton were eventually sentenced to a lengthy term in youth custody but their mother Brenda still stubbornly protests their innocence.

Patsy was thrilled to be reunited with Rupert after his ordeal and is planning a break with Joan and Betty, the Crumblewick sisters, Chris Brookes-Smythe and Julian Cholmondeley at the World Side-Saddle Championships in Frinton to recuperate.

The conviction of the Hilton twins came as a shock to us all. Ian and Candice Plebbe were particularly concerned about the effect that mixing with that class of person would have on their Corrie Anne and Emma Dale.

The Plebbes decided to leave the yard and move to a new house outside the
village of Sockdrawe with paddocks and stables for ponies Wino and Pikey. Candice explained "Call me a snob, but the trouble with livery yards is you get all sorts – innit?"

At about this time the Podmores also decided it was time to leave. Although they and their mare Moonflower had been happy at Vaysey Pastures, Che and Tyger Lily felt they could no longer be enlightened part-time. They were relieved to sell the betting shop and invested the proceeds in Holistic Holidays, a new-age naturist trecking centre near Brecon.

Another older hand, Tiffany Lampwick looks set to achieve less success in competition after it was eventually formally noted that she had won first place on no less than two hundred occasions over the last three years in Restricted Preliminary dressage competitions within the Vale of Vaysey.

Entre nous, word has it that Tiffany was reported to Senior Judge, Iris Drone secretly by fellow liveries Rose Bush and Penny Black.

Undaunted, Tiffany is now training hard with Werner Flumpenhoffer for her first competition at novice level – in the restricted section.

It is whispered that Iris Drone reacted less than graciously when she learned that her long-time writer Bathsheeba Wilkins had been covertly studying and had qualified as a listed judge.

Miss Drone has not spoken to Miss Wilkins since hearing the news of her success. This caused much embarrassment over lunch in the Committee Room at the Vale of Vaysey Riding Club.

It is understood however that Miss Wilkins paid no attention to the snub and continued cheerfully telling the other judges of her rapid progress in recent driving lessons.

Other changes have also been taking place at the Riding Club. After a mild stroke, veteran competition announcer Norman Haddock lost the power of speech and was no longer able to commentate.

After much persuasion,
Norman’s wife Lillian Haddock gamely stepped into the breach and impressed everyone with her quiet authority and dry humour.

Since Lillian’s resounding success at the microphone
Norman hasn’t been seen at the Club on competition days.

After the publicity regarding sado-masochistic gatherings in the basement dungeon of her cottage in Daisy Vaysey, Verbena Sprowte gave up her post as Senior Wayleaves Officer at the Vale of Vaysey Gas Board.

Last month she started hosting "Bondage with Verbena" on the specialist Discipline Channel on satellite and has, I gather, already built up a considerable following amongst the S & M fraternity. I now know that isn't short for "Snaffle & Martingale" - or is it?

After a demand from the Inland Revenue for an account of profits from her undeclared business of dealing in horses, Magenta Hayes bit the bullet and paid up a substantial sum in settlement.

Deciding to go legitimate, Magenta became a full-time dealer in horses and equestrian supplies and has expanded into horse-boxes and trailers. She is now even wealthier.

Of the younger set, Dorinda Miggins dropped out of uni and married her titled boyfriend Gervaise to become Lady Spiffington.

After the wedding, her parents Ken and Minty Miggins acknowledged that they had no further reason to remain together and quietly divorced.

To her parents delight, dressage prodigy Minerva Belcher has resumed training after splitting up with older divorcee, Ken Braylee.

Mervin and Maureen Belcher are somewhat anxious as to the precise arrangements under which their daughter has moved in with local riding club supremos Sam and Sabrina Patterson-Fforde, but can at least again look forward to the kur.

When last heard-of, popular farrier Kirk McGurk had given up his business and was understood to be running a bar in the Spanish coastal resort of Sitges with his civil partner Roy de la Mare.

Rita Palgrave dropped in at the quaintly-named "Chaps & Studs" whilst on holiday and found the clientele varied and most amusing.

On the evening of Rita’s visit there appeared to be a drag cabaret. She thought that the artiste impersonating Dame Shirley Bassey bore a startling resemblance to our local vet Fred Marpleston, but later admitted that this may have been "a trick of the Spanish moonlight or one too many cervesas."

There was however no doubt that holding court for numerous enthusiastic young men at one end of the bar that night was our own dear dressage instructress, Pandora la Gueriniere. It’s such a small world.

Locally based dressage sponsors Frank and Petronella Wylde-Best go from strength to strength with their Sherbert Giraffe Lapdanceateria plc young dressage rider scholarship achieving great prominence.

Their generous largesse appears to have contributed to the knighthood bestowed upon Sir Frank at the last Birthday Honours.

Fate has looked less favourably upon Hyacinthe Crabbe-Legge. Her husband Crispyn was obliged to stand down from his position in the City after sustaining substantial losses during the credit crunch when adopting too exposed a position in pork belly futures in the fringe
US south western market.

Hyacinthe had hoped to restore the family fortune by accepting an offer to edit what was intended to be the prestigious new bible of rural chic "Raybans & Rayburns." Unfortunately - rather like her Raybans - it folded after only two issues.

We gather that the Crabbe-Legges have been forced to sell their weekend cottage on the village green in Dibble and to let go at least one of their darling Filipinas.

For myself, I decided it was time for a change after twenty years at the helm at Vaysey Pastures. It was a joy to realise my long-held ambition and buy that taverna on the beach in Skiathos.

Costas and I are very happy running it and trade is booming. I am enjoying being Mrs Papadopalos.

Vaysey Pastures is in good hands in its new ownership. It was bought using some of her lottery winnings by Dolly Grubb shortly after her marriage to Bert Postlethwaite. We should now call the yard, Dolly and Bert Postlethwaite’s Vaysey Pastures.

Here’s wishing them and all the liveries and horses good health and every happiness in the future!

Love, tight girths and sparkles to you all

Bunty Papadopolos (nee Pargeter)

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