We’ve just had a lovely letter from our friend and partner Jenny Bawtree from Rendola in Tuscany, Italy and as usual her words conjure up wonderful images of lovely riding holidays. Here is her letter:
Well, I can call you friends, can’t I, because most of you have been to Rendola already. The rest of you we can call future friends, as I am sure that you will decide to visit us one day. Once a rider said of Rendola: “S’arriva clienti e si parte amici”: you come as a client and you leave as a friend. Another rider asked: “And if one arrives as a friend, then what happens?” You become a very Special Friend, of course! Our very S.F no.1 is Margaret from Lincoln, who has taken part in our weeklong programmes no less than eleven times. She came in September with her usual present of sponges to wash horses with(we have three greys), and later sent us two new sweatscrapers as she didn’t approve of our Italian one. She has promised to come next year, too.
Our very S.F. no. 2 is Andrea, who comes all the way from Michigan, USA. She says that as soon as she finishes one riding week at Rendola she starts saving for the next one! Is it six times now, Andrea? I’ve lost count. She brought me a very generous gift, four large tubs of a gall salve that is obtainable only in America. However good your saddle is, sores do occur when the horse is being ridden week after week in hot weather. This salve is a godsend as it heals the sore without compelling you to stop using the horse. Heartfelt thanks, Andrea.
Talking of our riding programmes, we have now established our dates for 2013. You will see we do more wine-tasting now (Chianti wine, of course) and we want to give more space to Franca’s cooking lesson, as it has always been such a success. Three of the Spring programmes are full already, so start booking your places. Tell your riding friends about us, too. And if a rider wants to bring a non-rider, don’t forget that we have a spare car available for him (it is usually a him, I’ve noticed) to use while the others ride.
A propos of cooking lessons, do have a look at our cooking courses, too: you will see them in the English version of our website and there is further information + recipes on our cooking-in-Tuscany facebook (see address below). On our last course we learnt to make handmade tagliatelle and gnocchi, various sauces for pasta, different kinds of bruschetta (note the pronunciation, broosketta!) involtini, tiramisù, cantuccini (Tuscan biscuits with almonds) and much more. Franca speaks very little English but is very good at showing what she means with smiles and gestures, while I am there to interpret – and also take part in the lesson, though I must say, being rather ham-fisted I never really got the hang of making gnocchi…Of course, there is much more to the course than cooking. I assure you that it is very good value and not nearly as expensive as some of the courses I have read about on internet.
Back to the riding. Our spring season was rather disappointing as we had fewer people than usual (why do Americans come less in election year? They are making up for it now, though, by booking 2013 rides). It was a pity as it is my favourite season, with all the flowers and the birdsong -nightingales sing day AND night here! However, our summer was very busy with children’s courses and we had a busy autumn as well, with five riding programmes back to back.
As for the horses, at the moment they are all well, though some of them are getting on a bit (aren’t we all). We plan to buy another couple next March, to give the oldies a bit of a rest. Here’s a list of them, young and old, see if you can find the one(s) you rode on your holiday here: Carmen, Ruby (named after Berlusconi’s sexy girlfriend!), Rosa, Silver, Jamil, Merlino, Nerone, Stellina, Rodrigo, Tappo, Silver, Tobia (28 now and still going strong, trotting round the ring with beginners on his back), Margot, Amedeo (nicknamed Rambo) and May. You would not have ridden May the Morgan because I bought her as a lead horse. She is a real beauty, but rather too feisty for me (I am 70, after all), while Eraldo, our BHS instructor doesn’t feel like riding her now after his knee operation (he tore a ligament refereeing a local football match). Luckily Evelina, a Dutch girl who came to work here last summer, fell in love with her and may take her back to Holland.
We are now coming to the end of the olive harvest and I can see from the window Sergio and Eraldo loading crates of olive into the lorry, which Sergio will then drive to the olive press. New oil is green, thick and peppery, delicious on a slice of toasted Tuscan bread, I wish you could try it!
That’s all for now, your next newsletter will arrive at the end of winter.
Goodbye for now from Jenny and her staff
If you want to see more images and find out more information about this amazing trip click here.