Phil and I were never blessed with children. I confess I led too active a life as a travel writer and when we tried it was too late. So we regard Polly, an accomplished young equestrian, as the daughter we both never had and had we, we would have wanted.
Polly rides internationally, breeds and sells horses, ran a farmhouse and equestrian centre and supervised the building of 2 homes, all before she turned 27.
County entrepreneurs are not like metropolitan ones as Polly is unfailingly courteous, modest and kind. Having said this, she has clear views on the equestrian world. She supports our sanctuary, but in her understated way gives us a hard time. Her view is that the horses have no chance of recovery, that they are being kept only to die and many, hopefully not us, collect charitable donations for their overall property, not just for the welfare of horses. She admires the commitment of sanctuary owners who, phone in their bedroom, answer the call at midnight to take in a horse with a busted fetlock, but ultimately it’s totally in vain. She considers them well-intentioned eccentrics.
Some football friends of ours asked her about dressage. She simply asked would you be happy if a referee determined your team’s result, as in dressage he judges the winner and they all have different criteria. Another asked about country eventing. Ten died last year, she replied.
She asked us if we would recognise Scott Brash, Olympic gold medallist, whose winnings last year were in excess of £5m. Not one of us would.
In the travel business I’ve met many who think themselves exceptional in their abilities. And let you know it. Our Polly would be the last to proclaim her talents, deep and varied as they are.