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Home Comforts

Read 'A Day in the Life' for part 1.

We’re back for lunch, and Guillermo’s mother ushers me into the kitchen. She stops by the oven and proudly announces in English, “Chickeng an potatoes”. It’s completely delicious. She beams. She’s building up her vocabulary with a new meal every day. Aubergine was a struggle, but the Spanish berenjena is hardly any easier on my end.

Rosario is the ultimate mother-hen. She keeps the fridge well-stocked with coke and beer, she wears long patterned tops and rubber sandals, and she chats to me from behind her cigarette while we wait for the men to get home for lunch. She’s determined to keep all signs of loneliness, illness, and - above all - hunger, at bay while I’m staying here. After a salmorejo and a chat, all three are cured. I ask her for the recipe, she asks me about Brexit. Trying to explain the Northern Irish Border Issue was slightly out of my Spanish comfort zone, but I did my best. She helps me understand the Spanish news while we both watch the telly, and we bumble along together rather well.

Everyone takes a siesta to let the worst of the 32-degree heat pass us by. It’s back to the stables for the evening. It’s hard to know when to turn up. Even in England people say I’m punctual to a fault. Here, I’m told 6, but I’m alone with the horses until 6:30, and nothing starts until 7.

One line of stables doesn’t yet have automatic water. The first job is to deal with these thirsty horses. Why lead seven horses to a water-trough, when you could bring the water to them? There’s an old shopping trolley with two big buckets in it. You push the trolley over to the hosepipe, fill the buckets, and wheel it along the line of stables, pausing to let each horse drink its fill. Genius. I made me smile every time I saw it, until yesterday, when the trolley was replaced with a green cut-off wheelie bin. In the few days I’ve been here, the picadero has already modernised.

Lunge one horse. Lunge two horse. Time to go riding. The horse and I are both sweating after an intense lesson, and I’m sent out for a quick paseo, alone, to cool him down. ‘Paseo’ comes from ‘paso’, ‘to walk’. The sun sets, silhouetting the cacti and the olive trees against a pink sky, and I grin, exhausted. The horse is tired too, so I’m free to stretch my arms and my back while we clop along calmly in silence. After ten minutes, we’re both ready for bed, and we turn home. I pat his warm neck in the falling darkness. Another good day.

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