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30 September 2013

On Another Tram

We get so excited about Trams. We are currently on the 112 Tram going down St Georges Road to meet our friends Samantha and Rod who are here from Canberra with their 2 kids Tilly and Oscar as well. Tilly and Jessica are best friends. We are meeting in Southbank i think. I haven't been there since Melbourne Cup week.

It was nice catching up with my friends at Caulfield yesterday. Our move to Melbourne is beginning to rush up on us and it is beginning to feel more real. Lyn and I had another talk about our riding plans this morning. We are both so excited about that. She has a great little horse for the kids to ride too. Happier Days? We like to think so...


We all decided to stay in for dinner. We stayed outside to watch the fire gas thingies when they came on at 6pm. The kids were wild with excitement. I've seen them before, on Melbourne Cup night. I liked that night, with my friend Saskia, after her horse Green Moon won the Melbourne Cup.

During dinner Rod suddenly exclaimed he hated mushrooms too!! A kindred soul! He says "they are the Devil's Work!!" Classic...

28 September 2013

From the Tram

We are at Murchison.  We've had the most wonderful afternoon and evening with my dear friends the Clarkes.  The kids and I are sleeping in Marg's renovated and restored Tram.  Yes.  It's an actual Tram!  

Yes, it feels dislocating to not wander down last thing at night to say goodnight to the horse I grew to love so much.  There's a horse with a great name currently living in "Her" paddock...  His name?  Halfblood Prince..  Fantastic!!!  We of course love Harry Potter.  My sister also thought it was cool, when she phoned to check up on me, thinking we were arriving today, and wondering why she hadn't gotten my usual 'we're on the road, dang it, we're later than we hoped', or the 'just finished a stop, took longer than hoped, on our way again' kind of messages.  The Clarkes of course called Black Caviar "Princess", so it's sort of cool that a horse called Halfblood Prince is currently in her paddock.

We've had a genuinely lovely night.   They are wonderful people.  Again I reflect on the wonder that was Black Caviar, of the difference she made to our lives, and to the wonderful people who I've met because of her.

Where's Holbrook??????

The road trip to Melbourne usually involves stopping at the same places each trip. Each and every landmark on the way comes its own memories and triggers.  For example Bookham reminds me of my Dad.  Holbrook reminds me of The Castle. That's an actual castle. Not the film!!  

Jugiong reminds me of the purple fields. Filled with the evil noxious weed Patterson's Curse. My family know all about this weed. It nearly killed my old thoroughbred Tickles. Lucky for him he had a tough constitution and the death of my friend's horse alerted us to the danger and the epidemic sweeping the paddocks of Canberra. My Dad was largely responsible for getting the weed under control in Australia. As I've said, he's one of the smartest people I know. He and his legal team fought the bee keepers who were only thinking of themselves, and not what the weed was doing to the country, and successfully fought off their challenge in Court so that CSIRO could continue to introduce the weevils that would destroy it as a real menace to the country. His trips took him away to Adelaide where the legal battle was being fought. 

Around Wodonga I find myself not looking at the exit signs until we pass a few exits. Chiltern reminds me of semi trailers. Lots of them. And a fatal truck accident that closed the highway for hours. My grandma used to tell me of anger terrible accident at that town which left dad a bit traumatised. Cattle all over the road. Glen Rowan reminds me of the daffodils. 

Now that I am the driver, with my kids in the car, we are creating our own little landmarks. These 8 hour drives are becoming slightly easier to handle. I am doing so many of them. I look forward to this situation changing though. 

We normally always stop at the Submarine at Holbrook. I've made many a phone call from there, while my children ran along the top of it under my watchful eye. And sent many messages. This trip we did plan t stop there. By we missed it!!!  All of a sudden the signs were saying Albury. We had driven past no castle. Ad we realise the bypass must be finished. And that is the biggest milestone. For the very first time in my life I have driven the Hume Highway between Canberra and Melbourne completely on divided road. And that's a pretty big thing. 

The Grand Final has started and is on the television here at the roadhouse.   I pause to watch for a moment, and think of the Sydney Swans last year. I'm a bit of an underdog girl. And I hate Hawthorn. Always have. Go Freemantle. As if you could pick a brown jumper end team over a purple team anyway....  That's just silly isn't it. 

I prepare to set off again. We have an hour left until we reach the serene paddocks of Murchison. Last time I was there Marg said I wasn't allowed to wait out on the driveway. She's a great person. It will be odd not seeing that beautiful brown mare, who's eyes soften when she saw me, and pricked her ears at my voice. Things change. ABBA's I Have a Dream plays. And Dan still looks after us. The Carnival is coming. Can you feel it?? And have you missed it?.

27 September 2013


At approximately 9.58pm this evening (because who really thinks about the G1 race being run at 10pm???) I remembered the Group 1 Moir Stakes was about to be run at Moonee Valley.  I'd wrestled with how I could possibly get there to cover the race, but had eventually decided it was too difficult.  So it was with the slightest hint of relief that I saw it was raining quite hard in Melbourne just before the field jumped, which didn't make me feel so bad about missing the race.  As the field swung for home though, and my eyes followed that pretty dark brown mare on the outside of the field round the leader Buffering (poor old dear) up and run away from the field, I felt a pang of regret.  The mare is called Samaready.  She's by "My Boy" More Than Ready, and is owned by my friends at Vinery Stud.

I first saw her race, and win, on one of the Blue Diamond Stakes lead up races.  I liked her immediately.  There are things about her that can make me wince from time to time.  She won the 2012 Blue Diamond Stakes and she was just so impressive.  I had a pretty tough day on the track that day, with temperatures of about 42 degrees.  I hate the heat.  It was a truly disgusting day, leaving me feeling physically sick by the end of the day and weekend.  It certainly showed how tough the near black filly was to win in such heat.  I'd finished the day with a swim at Nelly's beach, sitting on the beach in the dark for half an hour after leaving the water.  I thought she'd win the Golden Slipper, and she ran so bravely for 3rd behind Pierro after an unlucky run.  She was then injured as an early spring 3 year old, and she's only just returned to the track, with 2 runs for 2 pretty terrific wins.  

Samaready should run next in the G1 Manikato Stakes on Cox Plate eve.  I'll be in Melbourne for the week leading up to that race, because I'm coming down early for the Black Caviar Statue Reveal on Thursday 24th October and I'm then going to the special lunch being held afterwards.   I'm hoping that Samaready holds her form and wins the Manikato Stakes as well.

Samaready being sold on 5 April 2011 at the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale

Samaready.  CF Orr Stakes Day.  11 February 2012.  Blue Diamond Prelude.
Samaready.  25 February 2012.  Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes.

Still 40 degrees at 8pm on 25 February 2012.  I went on my own to Nelly's Beach...  I got lost on the way there, getting my lefts and rights upside down and back to front.  Again....

Samaready went to Sydney and won the G2 Riesling Stakes before running an unlucky 3rd to Pierro in the Golden Slipper

Vinery Stud's Peter Orton
Trainer Mick Price
Samaready's comeback from injury.  Now a 4 year old mare.  31 August 2013.

Running all day

I feel like I haven't stopped all day today. Actually. That's not true, because I did stop for a couple of hours to get my hair done. It's the first time in over 5 months. I'm sick of cutting my own fringe. It was pretty wonky. Thank goodness I don't attempt the rest of it. I can still feel myself fighting off the impulse to feel guilty about getting it done. I'm sure there are woman out there who NEVER go without a hair cut and never feel guilty.  I'm not one of them, alas.

I've bought supplies for Maxie. I've bought new feed for Freelance. I still need to drop it down to her paddock. I've done the chemist and managed to get some all important forms signed and lodged. And I managed to get the kids' book club orders in too.

But although I've begun rounding things up, I haven't packed a single thing yet. And we want to be on the road early too. These short turn arounds are always hard.  My friend rang today though and I have to photograph his mare for him while I'm there. And we are hoping to grab time for dinner too. And the kids are excited about seeing their cousins and I can't wait to see my sister and the rest of the family too.

I took some carrots along to riding this evening, hoping to see Snips. I sighed sadly when I found his stall minus the lovely bright bay horse who face lights up when he sees me.  They said he's off to another show.

26 September 2013


I'm trying to concentrate on photos that I need to get processed and out this evening.   As I work, I have on in the background (yes, I have a habit of putting the television on behind me as background sound, you may have gathered this by now) one of my favourite movies from ages ago.  It's got Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in it.  "You've got Mail".  It's probably a bit fanciful, but there's lots of little things I like about the movie.  There's some funny parts and lines in the movie, and some poignant ones as well.  I just always liked it. 
"You were expecting to see someone you trusted and met the enemy instead"
"People are always telling you that change is a good thing. But all they are really saying is that something you didn't want to happen has happened...   but the truth is, I'm heartbroken.  I feel as if a part of me has died..  and no one can ever make it right".
It grows late, Maxie feels heavy on my lap, and I feel myself growing very tired. So I will admit defeat and head off to bed.  It's been a hectic, and taxing 7 days.  I've driven over 1500kms, and the day after tomorrow will drive another 600km to Melbourne.   I'm quite taken aback by the public following that Animal Kingdom has.  It's Black Caviar'esq.  The number of 'retweets' (sorry, I still shake my head and feel silly using the term, but I realise that it's now common place I society and that I should just get over it) of my photos of the horse is quite remarkable.  Adulation for a horse.  I love it..  Am I packed?  Nowhere near it..  I did get some washing done and dried today.

Manhattan Rain

Smart Missile


24 September 2013

Last Day

Today is my last day at Arrowfield Stud and in Scone.  It's not a tough day, with just tidying up of loose ends and trying to nail that final photograph, and I'll do some family photos at the end of the day too.  I slept terribly last night, and so am now wondering whether my planned very early assault tomorrow morning, involving a 4.30am start, is indeed wise, given I have the 8 hour return drive home to negotiate as well tomorrow.  I don't know what to do about that now, I want to do it, but given that I bolted awake in a panic at least 3 times last night, I'm not sure..  My neck is twinging again, and that pinched nerve is there nagging at me, saying "look, I'm nearly trapped, can you feel it??".  The answer is yes, I absolutely can, and it is making me move cautiously and carefully.

It's all over the news and on my friends' Facebook posts that this weekend is AFL Grand Final weekend.  I'm trying not to think about.  It's ironic that I should have returned to Scone on almost the exact same days this year to my trip last year.  I'll see my Melbourne friends this weekend, when I arrive in Melbourne, and am pleased that my friend Gatty managed to get his iPad fixed after being told it was ruined.  Gatty is the funniest, gentlest and nicest of people, and a lovely friend.  But Facebook shows another side to my friend (and continues to make me wince from time to time), because he is also an AFL devotee.  I'd never realised this fully!  He smashed said iPad in a fit of frustration over a football match!  It wasn't even his team playing!  Amazing.....

We will stop overnight on our drive to Melbourne at Murchison to catch up with my friends the Clarkes.  I adore Marg and I am so pleased that we will see her and her family, and we may well do the same thing on the return trip.  It will feel odd not wandering out to the front paddock and saying a gentle and quiet hello to the horse I love so much.  

Did I feel a quiet happiness at the defeat of Atlantic Jewel on Saturday?  I hang my head, and guiltily whisper "yes, I did....."  I didn't see the race live, or of course photograph it, because I was here shooting at Arrowfield Stud.  Don't get me wrong.  I like Atlantic Jewel, I think she's a very good racehorse, potentially a champion.  But my heart belongs to the Famous Pony, Black Caviar, and the comparisons at such an early stage were irritating me.  And essentially, I suppose because at heart I am a pretty loyal person, I felt indignant on her behalf.  I'll call Atlantic Jewel as good as Black Caviar IF she achieves what the Famous Pony does by the time she retires.  That's a really big IF though...  Because I truly believe that what the Great One did is unique.  So my quiet happiness was caused entirely out of loyalty.  I was also quietly very pleased for Arrowfield Stud, because I'd known about the stud deal before it was announced, but of course was sworn to secrecy.

I realise we are all probably looking for a "rebound relationship", to fill the void, but I'm not ready to do this yet....  My heart still belong to The Famous Pony.  My heart has always worked like that...  I guess it would be good to be able to change it at times, but in this case, I think it is the right way to be.

Animal Kingdom at Arrowfield Stud

23 September 2013

The King and I

I spent the day today with Animal Kingdom today.  He likes the peppermints that I brought for him.  My shoot here has only one day remaining.  We've covered good ground.  And today I managed to slip into Scone very briefly to catch up with the friend, and to buy another bird mug.  There's a lovely little gift shop that sells the tea cups I like.  They feel nice in my hand.  And aren't too large.  And I've made a habit of buying one on each trip.

Animal Kingdom at Arrowfield Stud

22 September 2013

Arrowfield Days...

What a long day.  I am just in.  I've spent all day shooting and editing.  Had a lovely dinner with Vicky, Virginia and Amy...  Just finishing downloading, and putting everything on charge, and doing a little bit of overdue 'housekeeping'.....

Alinghi.  Catching up with an old friend.  Her Snitzel foal is gorgeous
Alinghi's new foal by Snitzel.

21 September 2013

Sunny Days

It's the most perfect weather today.  There is not a hint of the wind that had whipped up so strongly by this time yesterday.  It's clear, warm, and still.  Alas this is my quietest day.  That would be right...  Arrowfield have no stallion staff available, so I can't make a start on the boys.  Instead I hope to make the most of the light by wandering around the farm getting nice mare and foal images and just nice general farm imagery.

There's a bit to like about this little sequence of Big Brown this morning.  What's the only thing I don't like about them?  I can't see his white spot...  Love this horse.


Would you like to know the end of the story? I can only just admit to it now. I ran my bath and walked away. My distracted and tired mind decided the taps were off and I say down flicking through pictures thinking the water would need to cool a little bit. A little later I walked down the long corridor and in dismay realised I could still hear the taps. I hung my head in despair when I saw all the water on the floor. But the biggest disaster was the bath being cold.... So not only did I gave a mess to mop up, but I missed out on my bath as well. Are you laughing, hopefully in sympathy or affection?? I almost think its funny. Almost. But not quite.... I suppose it was the perfect end to a not so perfect day yesterday.

Big Brown (Boundary - Mien).  He's let down into a smashing looking stallion.