What day is it today?

Did you know that today is  Go for Broke Day?  And  Read a Road Map Day?  Actually, I think I like yesterday better:  yesterday was  National Tell-a-Lie Day – now there’s an interesting concept …   Not to mention World Rat Day – lovable little creatures that they are!???!   But wait, there’s more:  tomorrow, ah, tomorrow is Plan Your Epitaph Day!!!  (Who makes  up all these inane, insane days????!!!!)

But if you really want to talk about days of significance, today is one that is particularly meaningful to New Zealand and Australian horse racing enthusiasts:  today it is 81 years since the most famous New Zealand racehorse, Phar Lap, died on 5 April 1932 in mysterious circumstances while racing in North America.  At the time he was the third-highest stakes winner in the world, and had just won the Agua Caliente Handicap in Tijuana, Mexico in track-record time.  And all this after what could be termed an inauspicious start to his stellar career …

Phar_Lap

Phar Lap

“Sydney trainer Harry Telford persuaded American businessman David J. Davis to buy the colt at auction, based on his pedigree. Telford’s brother Hugh, who lived in New Zealand, was asked to bid up to 190 guineas at the 1928 Trentham Yearling Sales. When the horse was obtained for a mere 160 guineas, he thought it was a great bargain until the colt arrived in Australia. The horse was gangly, his face was covered with warts, and he had an awkward gait. Davis was furious when he saw the colt as well, and refused to pay to train the horse. Telford had not been particularly successful as a trainer, and Davis was one of his few remaining owners. To placate Davis, he agreed to train the horse for nothing, in exchange for a two-thirds share of any winnings.  Telford leased the horse for three years and was eventually sold joint ownership by Davis.   [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phar_Lap]

Phar Lap’s heart was remarkable for its size, weighing 6.2 kg (13.6 lbs), compared with a normal horse’s heart at 3.2 kg.  And let’s not forget, any of you Australians reading this, that he was born and bred in New Zealand, so he’s OURS and not yours! 🙂 🙂 🙂  (Says she, who is – cough – not actually a New Zealander, despite having lived here for nearly 40 years …)

I’m just winding down on a Friday night here at home – played bridge 3 nights this week, with good results, and was considering heading off to the Pallet Pavilion events tonight (which are actually being held at an indoor venue due to inclement weather), but decided I really couldn’t face another late night, and needed to relax at home instead.  The weather has taken a cool turn in the last few days, with quite a bit of rain (at last!), mostly at night.  The trees are really starting to show their beautiful autumn colours, and I’ll soon be able to start using some of my lovely woodpile!!!  Still waiting to get the chimney swept, though, hopefully in the next few days (it was supposed to be done on Tuesday, but I wasn’t able to be here when he wanted to do it, so it’s yet to be rescheduled – soon, I hope!).

I mentioned in a previous post that I was reading “Everyday Matters”, by Danny Gregory:  however, I’m sorry to say that I struggled with the ‘comic strip’ presentation of this book and just couldn’t finish it.  Instead I moved on to “A life on Gorge River”, by Robert Long:

A Life on Gorge River

“Robert Long and his family – wife Catherine, and children Christan (17) and Robyn (14) – live in complete isolation, in a hut two days’ walk south of Haast in South Westland. Robert has lived there for nearly 30 years; Catherine for 20 and the kids all their lives. Their only contact with the outside world is a helicopter or plane once a month, and two trips a year to the ‘outside world’. This is the story of how and why Robert – known locally as ‘Beansprout’ – came to live at Gorge River, and the family’s experiences there over the years, living self-sufficiently and forging close bonds with the natural environment. It is an inspiring tale of one man’s decision to ‘drop out’ of capitalist society and successfully establish a lifestyle most New Zealanders can’t even imagine, harking back to the days of the earliest pioneers.”

Quite a story:  this guy thinks nothing of having to walk 50kms over some incredibly rugged and isolated country to get home (and a good part of his walking appears to be done barefoot to boot – if you’ll pardon the pun), or bathing in the river in wintertime, but the way he writes about it, it actually sounds like fun!  His affection for the remote area in which he chooses to live, his enjoyment of the challenges presented by his way of life, and above all his deep love for his wife and children, all come through very clearly in his writing, and make for an engaging read which I can recommend to those who enjoy ‘real life’ stories.

Next up in the TBR (to be read) pile beside my bed is another memoir, “The Boy who Loved Books”,  by John Sutherland:

The Boy Who Loved Books

“John Sutherland’s childhood ended, before it began, when his father was killed flying a Wellington bomber – happily before he could kill any Germans.  Half-orphaned, John was abandoned when his widowed mother decamped to Argentian with a new man.  John was brought up by an assortment of well-meaning, but not necessarily qualifed, relatives.  It was an odd, unsettled childhood and John took refuge in books.  In the short term, they helped him.  In the long term, his solitary reading habit merged into a very bad drinking habit.”

And after three real life books in a row, I think I’ll probably be ready for some fiction!

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