Better Late Than Never, Right?

Oh my word, ok, so it’s been way longer than I ever planned to wait between posts here. I am so very, very sorry, folks!
First things first, a very warm welcome to all my new followers! I promise there will be much more worth reading to come in the next few months.

Quick update splurge since January then; I have:

  • Had my 17th Girlguiding anniversary (I made my promise as a Brownie in July 1999!)
  • Visited the Cotswold Wildlife Park and seen very baby lions.
  • Visited the Wiltshire Game and Country Fair, where I saw some gorgeous birds, horses and watched Horse Boarding in action.
  • Attended Badminton and Barbury Horse Trials.
  • Passed my Entry Level Award in tacking up and preparing a horse for competition at Greatwood.
  • Taken 50 young girls away on camp for a week in the Midlands.
  • Been promoted to keyholder at work.
  • Created and published my Facebook page!! (Exciting times!)
  • Organised a masquerade ball for Wiltshire North County Senior Section to celebrate the end of their centenary year in style.
  • I’m in the process of creating a website!
  • I’ve added more images to my Redbubble shop and will keep doing so.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know some of what I’ve been up to, as 140 characters are definitely a lot easier to shoot out than proper blog posts for extended reading.

If anything above tickles your fancy, leave me a comment and I’ll write a bit more about it. There will be some more photos coming soon, mostly horsey and falconry but there’ll be a few lion photos in there too.

New Year, New (ish) Me!

Ok, ok, I know it’s cliché and everyone says it at some point, but for me this year, I hope it will be true! (also, apologies for the wordy post, but it needs writing. I’m hoping the weather will improve soon, so I can do another photography post.)

In 2015, I took part in Blogging 101 and vowed to actually blog stuff, as I’d left this poor thing to rot for over 6 months. I may not have posted quite as often as I hoped I would, but I’m pretty damned proud that the blog is still going, I seem to have a couple of regular readers and I’ve managed to post something at least once a month for the last twelve months!

This year, I have decided to try and get back into reading for pleasure.


I used to be a complete bookworm, but I have read hardly anything since starting university in 2010. Having to immerse myself in non-fiction text books and journals and then spend every waking moment of my ‘holidays’ either studying for exams or writing my dissertation just took out of me any joy I had for reading.
As such, I’ve decided to take part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I’ve set myself a modest target of reading 20 books in 2016. That might not seem like many (just under 2 per month), but I’ve also made a few separate goals that my shiny new widgets don’t show:

  1. Read books by at least 3 authors I have never read before.
  2. Re-read The Fellowship of the Ring. (I’ve seen the films more than I’ve read the books and that needs to change.)
  3. Re-read at least one Harry Potter book.
  4. Review each book I read- properly!
  5. Keep each book I read properly updated on my Goodreads profile (It’s why I signed up in the first place).
  6. Finish reading ‘The Selfish Gene’ by Richard Dawkins (I started at uni and gave up).
  7. Read any book that is recommended to me, regardless of genre. (I tend to be a sci-fi/fantasy reader. I need to broaden my experience.)

I did think about making a nice, round ten goals, but then I thought that defeats the whole object of them being achievable and spur of the moment, hence leaving it at seven.

In an effort to get my job prospects off to a better start this year (Seasonal Temp work very nearly over, I’m back to looking!),  I have made my first ever resolution that I actually aim to stick to.

  • I will not buy anything that I do not NEED. 
  • The money I have ‘spare’ after any wages come in will go straight into a savings account that I cannot access online and will only be spent on driving lessons.
  • No more fast food, tshirts, ornaments, in-game purchases.
    (I have a friend’s hen do in Bristol in March, and a ticket to see the Spanish Riding School in November that I will need souvenir money for, but I can do without all the other stuff.)

I’ve installed a Google Chrome app that lets me block specific webpages and redirect them to a site of my choosing. I’ve blocked all the usual sites I buy my geeky t shirts from, I’ve blocked a few game sites I might spend money on and I will add any more that may tempt me as the year goes by.

I’ve left Ebay open, but that’s because I plan to actually try and sell some of my stuff. I moved into a much smaller room than I’ve been used to five years ago and so far all I’ve done is leave stuff in the garage. If I can live for five years without it, I can probably sell it and not miss it when it’s gone permanently.

I’m also going to start on the 1st4sport Level 1 Diploma in Work Based Horse Care (QCF).

It’s one day a week at Greatwood, and it’ll give me a solid qualification to prove that my work experience hasn’t been wasted and an official way to prove what I’ve learned. My CV at the moment is a mish-mash of lots of different things, so the more I can put into a proper animal based one, the better.
Next week, I’m updating my ‘generic’ CV and getting ready to properly job hunt again. I’ll call the agency I’m registered with and get them actively looking for me too. Before November 2015, I had spent 18 months on the dole and I plan never to have to do that again.

I’d like to say I resolve to lose weight, go to the gym etc, but until I have a decently paid job, that will have to wait. I’ll settle for ‘working out’ on Mondays when I do mucking out, grooming and other physical tasks.

What are your resolutions? Think you’ll keep them? Think I’ll keep mine? Have you got any book recommendations? Please comment or even tweet me @MuleReeve! I’d love to hear more from my readers this year.

Greatwood’s Residents- Special

So, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been taking some photographs of the residents at Greatwood Charity. They’ve got copies and I’ve given permission for them to use however they like, but I am also posting them here too- for you to enjoy!
Whether they’ll go in my Redbubble store for you to buy prints eventually, we shall have to wait and see- if Greatwood decide to sell them I don’t want to take sales away from the charity itself.

Annoyingly, I lost the memory stick I held them on, so I can’t upload all the photos I’d wished to upload, but I hope you’ll agree the ones I have put up are worth looking at anyway. I’ll keep looking for the stick, and when the weather improves and the horses are allowed back out in the meadows, I’ll try and get some outdoorsy shots for you.

Until then, head on over to my brand new Greatwood Charity page to see the images in their full, individual glory!

Here’s a sneaky peek. 😉

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Pennybridge (Penny)

The Musing Mule

December 2, 2015

A very quick update tonight, I’ve not been blogging as much as I should, but hopefully you will forgive me when you read why.

To cut an 18 month long story short, I Got A Job!!!

It’s only a Christmas temporary job and it’s a zero hour contract, but apparently they are looking to keep the ‘good ones’ on permanently, so I’m working very hard and keeping my fingers crossed! I’ve been there a month now and I’m still loving it, so it’s definitely an improvement on my previous place.  My family have all commented on how much happier I have been since I’ve been working again and I’d have to agree.  A degree, 4 months unemployment, 5 months employed and then another 18 months on the dole was not how I saw my life going and it’s such a relief to be contributing to society outside of the volunteering that I do.

In other news, I’ve started a pre-apprenticeship at Greatwood. At the moment, I’m there every Monday, helping out with pretty much anything they need help with. I’m learning a lot about what you do with horses, including how to roll bandages, apply poultices and tidy lead ropes. At some point, I hope to start taking some more horsey qualifications too.

I’ve also been taking some more photos. Now the horses are all in for the winter, it’s the perfect time for some mugshots, to help me learn who they all are! There’s still a few I haven’t captured what I’d call ‘good’ shots of, so I will have to take my camera back another week. I’m also planning on taking some outdoorsy shots when the weather starts to improve again in the new year.

The vet paid a visit to do some dentistry work when I was doing my camera thing, so hopefully, if he likes the shots I sent him, my photos may be gracing his website at some point! (Can you tell I’m excited?) Greatwood have also asked if they can use some of my photos, so maybe I’ll be able to take the ‘amateur’ part off of my description soon?
Anyway, some of the photos of the horses will soon be gracing the blog here (sneaky preview at the end of the post!), but I’m also considering creating a new blog, specifically for my photography. with watermarks and officialness and everything. (Maybe even paying for my own url?!)

I’m aware that my audience tends to just be a handful of regulars (thank you, you know who you are!), but if you’d be interested in following my photography blog if/when I make it, please do comment and let me know.

I would dearly love this blog to become more audience interactive again. I’m missing my fellow Blogging 101 course mates. Even a ‘like’ on a post would give me just that little more incentive to stick to weekly posts.

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The Risky Viking (Eric)

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy the photo of Eric as much as I do!

Mule

 

Standing at the Crossroads

So… Some good things have been happening in my life recently.

First of all (but not necessarily in chronological order) the New Zealand All Blacks have made it through to the Rugby World Cup final next weekend!!! It was a hard fought match, with some poor discipline and questionable referee bias, but we did it. Super happy, although I feel like I jsut watched the 2011 final all over again. Really hoping the actual final will go easier.

On Tuesday, I went to a job fair organised by the job centre I go to every week. I got offered 2 interviews the same day! They’re both retail seasonal temp jobs, but apparently the companies are known for keeping on their temps if they do well.

On Wednesday, I went to the first interview and was told I’d hear back within 72 hours. On Friday afternoon, just before 5pm when everyone shuts up shop for the weekend, I got offered a place on a course with Greatwood- the horse charity I did Get Going with a few months ago. My other interview isn’t until the first week of November.

I now have to decide what to do!
If the first job is offered to me, do I say yes and put Greatwood off until the temp job is over, ask if the job would still be on offer even though I would now like to not work Mondays (the only day the course can be run) although I can still be flexible over weekends etc, or do I decline and hope that my next interview is awesome and I get offered the 2nd job after telling them at said interview that I can’t work Mondays?

Life was lovely and simple when I was at school: Get good GCSE grades, get into Sixth Form, get good A Level grades, get into uni, get a decent degree and get a job. Now I’m stuck at this crossroads and I have no idea which way to turn…

Thankfully the first job has yet to call me, so I’m really hoping they won’t until I’ve had chance to chat with the job centre on Monday, but what do I do if they call tomorrow? They’re retail- they’re open on Sundays!

God Defend New Zealand

I only really got into rugby after the 2003 World Cup. You know, the one where England actually managed to win a major sporting title for once.
I went back to school after the half term holidays to discover I had a new English teacher, an Australian woman.

“So, from my accent you might have guessed I’m from Australia. Does anyone know anything about the country?”
*several hands go up*
“20-17”
“… Ok, enough of that, let’s get on with the lesson, shall we?”

Since then, I had decided I would follow and support the New Zealand All Blacks. At first it was the History and Meaning of the Haka ‘Ka mate’ that got me hooked, but then I watched a few more games and began to fall in love with them more as I realised that the All Blacks aren’t just a cool dance at the start.

Richie McCaw, Sonny Bill Williams and Dan Carter perform Ka mate in the 02/10/2015 Pool C match against Georgia at the millennium Stadium, Wales.

Richie McCaw, Sonny Bill Williams and Dan Carter performthe haka “Ka mate” in the 02/10/2015 Pool C match against Georgia at the Millennium Stadium, Wales.

They might have taken 24 years to win a second World Cup, but they have consistently been the best team in the world for many years, topping the rankings in 2003, 2004–07, 2008 and 2009–15. The All Blacks are discipline, hard work, dedication and skill. I remember watching them and remarking how they seamlessly passed the ball- they didn’t need to look for the man to pass to because they knew he would be there automatically.

My university halls room window, circa Sep-Oct 2011.

My university halls room window, circa Sep-Oct 2011.

When they won the 2011 World Cup, I vowed to one day see them play live. When the 2015 World Cup host was announced as England, I vowed again that I would see them play during that tournament, regardless of anything else that year. I mean, I live in the country, it’s not like I’d have to pay £1000 + just to get there!

Tickets were originally allocated by ballot and I made damned sure I got my name down for that! I applied to all of New Zealand’s pool games and ended up with my golden ticket to see them take on Georgia at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. I was initially a little disappointed, I had really wanted to see the Argentina match as I know they’re a very good team that can always give the All Blacks a run for their money. Watching Georgia in their first pool match changed that though, I was actually a teensy bit worried that I might see my team play for the first time and see them lose.

I saved up and bought their 2015 World Cup shirt; since they now have two years on the sleeve, it would be rude not to and besides, perhaps my buying their 2011 shirt was some kind of good luck charm and not buying the new one would result in them losing?

ignore the long hair, that disappeared 4 months later! This is how I played badminton the day after the All Blacks won the World Cup.

ignore the long hair, that disappeared 4 months later! This is how I played badminton the day after the All Blacks won the World Cup in 2011.

I learned the national anthem “God Defend New Zealand” in less than 24 hours (even the Maori verse), took along my 2011 scarf and kiwi mascot “Richie” for good luck, got on a train to Cardiff and got ready to achieve my 4 year dream.

God Defend New Zealand

I started off with a bit of sight seeing as I went to find a tourist-y shop that sold fridge magnets of the Millennium Stadium for my mum, then I headed to the Fanzone at Cardiff Arms Park to while away the 2 and a bit hours left until the gates opened to let me into the stadium.

Once inside, I discovered that my ticket (the cheapest possible for this match) was actually in a brilliant part of the stadium. I was told where to go, but as I got closer and closer to the pitch I began to doubt. Maybe I’d gone wrong somewhere, I’m never this lucky? I asked a couple of people to confirm where they were sat and realised that I was in the correct place- my seat was in the second row back from the pitch!

The Golden Ticket!

Once I’d calmed down, I had a chat with the folks sitting around me (mostly English who were supporting Georgia as neutrals, but there were a few New Zealanders too. Crazy how friendly rugby supporters are!). The teams started to come onto the pitch for their warm up. Unfortunately, in doing so, they confirmed that the All Blacks would be performing the haka facing away from me as the ‘home’ team. I took advantage of my dad’s ‘epic zoom’ lens and my proximity to get some nice photos!

They won, and now they’re heading back to Wales to take on France in the Quarter Finals. Considering the 2011 final ended in a hard fought, one point victory for the All Blacks, I’m a nervous wreck! Please, wish them luck- it’d be a dream to see them become the first team ever to successfully defend a World Cup title.