• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 07


A calm unremarkable departure from a large pebble beach, amidst a cool overcast sky, had brought our summer vacation towards its end. No swimming today, as our family slipped back to the large expanse of unmanicured grass that stretched behind the long row of beach huts.

DON’T DO IT, a voice inside my head froze.

‘This is Hercules,’ the horse ride attendant said. He was far larger than the others, as he towered above us. ‘A gentle giant,’ she said.

I cannot begin to imagine why my normally sensible, set-an-example mother, should want to embark on this rather risky, unpredictable attempt at having such a daring moment of fun. Hercules, a steaming chestnut of determination, flared his nostrils, as my mother was helped onto the saddle.

‘Would you like to trot?’ I heard her say. Hercules now champing at the bit.

‘DON’T DO IT MUM!’ I called, laughing hysterically as Hercules tossed his head. My father’s last-minute advice seemed to fall on deaf ears. This was no three-legged race at my school sports event or even the egg and spoon, I reminded her that she’d won. ‘YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR MIND!’ I yelled, as she smiled determinedly.

How we ran the race with her, as she wobbled and bounced, her cheeks smiling with elasticated fear and laughter. Hercules, faster than a trot, no longer in control, powered towards the photo finish with terrified exhaustion, as the attendant pulled with all her strength to an out-of-breath slow. We all laughed with relief and embarrassment as my mother dismounted without a second glance at Hercules. His glance spoke volumes.