As expected, the deeper I burrow into the mountains and beaches of Corsica, the more London fades in my rear view mirror. It took a surprisingly long time to settle into the mind-vacancy this holiday deserves (I’ll blame EC for getting me wound up tighter than a tangled fishing line); but I am pleased to say that the over-stimulating constant parade of the world’s finest equine athletes has now been entirely superseded by the casual acquaintances I’ve made with rather more modest specimens in the Land of Gaulle.
Here is the view from the window of the first ‘gite’ (that’s a self contained holiday rental, French-style) where we stayed near Fontainebleau:
And here it is again with ‘company’:
Here in Corsica, horses are more scarce, having lost the popularity battle with their long eared cousins:
The Corsicans, we have learned, are a fiercely proud culture, many of whom still speak Corsican, which looks and sounds much more like Italian than French – with a dollop of old Latin, in the form of the letter ‘u’ inserted where ‘o’ is usually to be found. Thankfully, the Corsican separatist movement limits its activities to applying spray paint to the French versions of place names on road signs, but it does exist. I have a message for those Corsican Separatists: you can’t say you aren’t French until you stop driving like them. The most common sight in our rear view mirror here is an oscillating white object – the dreaded French ‘pick up’, which is what we like to call those trucks/delivery vans they so love over here. It might be a Renault, it might be a Citroen – we can’t usually tell because the little devil is so close to our rear bumper that we can no longer see the grill with the logo on it. Their preferred method of passing: blind curve, on outside, cliff side worth bonus points. Our preferred method of being passed: by getting the hell out of the way on whatever scrap of shoulder the road builders have left us.
Now, we are headed fully ‘hors de la grid’ in a couple of days, so it might be a couple of weeks before you hear from me again. But I don’t think you are probably missing me, what with back-to-school and back-to-work post Labour Day and all. Even the powers of the equestrian world have gone relatively mute, with the following notable exceptions:
1. EC has declared it will appoint a task force to investigate Hypersensitivity. I applaud that move, but am a bit concerned that the press release (which I can’t give you a handy link to because EC hasn’t put it on its news banner yet) makes no mention of involving two critical stakeholder groups besides itself: the international riders groups (IJRC and NARG) and other national federations. Mike G, whose transformation from FEI panderer to patriotic Canadian would seem to be complete, does say EC ” looks forward to presenting our recommendations to the international community”, but that isn’t quite the same as getting them involved at the ground floor. I know it’s early days and they haven’t done more than put Kerri McGregor, EC’s busiest volunteer, and Mark Samuel, in charge of it. But I do hope someone has the good sense to know that the exercise will be one of utter futility if Canada doesn’t garner support for an FEI review from outside its borders. Because one thing is fo sho: Mission Control has a very large fly swatter for maverick members who try to swim against the current.
2. the FEI is launching its own clothing line, and hints at other commercial enterprises in its announcement of a couple of days ago. I haven’t had time to properly digest this news, but here are a couple of thoughts that spring immediately to mind: they must think a lot of people like to wear purple; and I wonder, do other international sports federations sell merchandise?
3. Lastly, the final curtain is about to fall on London as the Paralympics wind down this week. I want to congratulate our Para riders, who together achieved what I believe is a new best team result for Canada at a major championship. I hope they had as much fun in London as I did.
Today, we will visit Corsica’s officially ‘most Corsican’ town, and hang out at some neolithic stone monuments (think Stonehenge but smaller and not in circles) while the sunset turns the stones from grey to pink. Some little white French pick ups are sure to be part of our day, as will be a picnic. Today’s most challenging decision: should we have white or rosé with our sheep’s cheese and wild pig sausage?