Day 5

Wednesday 06 August

I’m five days in and already life is looking rosier. I’ve yet to ride a horse, but no matter, as my work and exercise are keeping me busy and my mind occupied. I’m now six days without a cigarette or a drink – in spite of both being on offer here. Seriously the kitchen is stacked with booze left behind by tourist groups and riding holiday makers. There’s more liquor here than in a bar, but I’m thrilled to report I have had no desire to partake. I’ve reached my watershed. This is the turning point. My life will never be the same again.

I’ve repaired a goat fence from branches, saved baby rabbits being eaten from adult rabbits, been electrocuted, mowed the size of a football field (not quite), scythed the shit out of long grass (don’t fear the reaper), cleared a mammoth amount of dead trees, nearly broken my arm, been bitten by thousands of things, come up lobster red with sun burn, built a horse obstacle course and cleared a paddock of Donkey plants. That’s the thistle to you and me.

Yes it all but broke my heart to discover the Scottish national flower translates to a Donkey plant in Bulgarian. Apparently because they eat it. Donkeys I mean. One of the more strenuous tasks I’ve been required to undertake, is to remove it entirely from a massive horse paddock. With a sickle. Yes. A hand sickle. Luckily today I broke the back of it before in broke mine.

Yet the harder the work, the more dangerous it might be, the more challenging, the higher the chances of me showing myself up to be the city boy I am, and the more I feel alive. I’ve not worked this hard in years (since the last time I grafted on a farm). Maybe this life is for me after all? I’ve astounded myself at not only how quickly I’ve taken to it, but how much I’m prepared to do before the sun calls it a day. My host gratefully acknowledges my spirited determination and work ethic.

And all at the same time as a punishing exercise routine. I’m back to weights twice a day and lengthy cardio. I’ve not done this much good for my body and mind since before mum died. They say change comes from within. Well I’m changing. With every passing moment.

My hands are black, my arms cut to ribbons on thorns, my legs raw from the sun, my hair getting longer by the day and I smell like a homeless bum. The sun is going down, the flames lick the grill for a rabbit dinner. A Jack Russel sits in my lap, an Asian Shepherd paws at my knee, a cat uses my ankle for a back scratch. I feel like a kid again. I’ve let go of things I cannot change. The past is in the past, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to back to that shit show I called life after this.

 

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