Monday, April 07, 2014

Sulky, or not.


For our hearts' sake, and that of our spirits and minds and legs and lungs too, we try, of late, to get to the beach on Sundays. Molly still gets quite excited about going out in the car, but when we get there she doesn't want to walk much, so she has five minutes potter round the edge of the car park and takes in a few smells, then happily hops back in the car and settles down to sleep, while we walk.  It works quite well; she has the pleasure of a ride in the car, we get the exercise, and also we hope, perhaps vainly, that we are rather practising and preparing for a time without her. 

We could of course go pretty much any day, but we've fallen into a somewhat old-fashioned pattern of the Sunday drive, and I rather like it. If you get out before about three there aren't too many people, but in fact, not being short of peace and quiet in general, I don't mind being among other people busy about their leisure activities. Although yesterday it was kite surfers.  I quite like the shape of the coloured kites against the sea and sky, but as with other surfers and many other sporty people I'm afraid, I don't much care for the practitioners' braying gregariousness and crowding physicality, and it seems to me most of them spend more time hanging around on the beach fiddling with their equipment and talking a lot than they do executing interesting moves on the water. Never mind, room enough for everyone, we were quickly able to put space between them and us.

The week before, though, we were out in the morning and the tide was still a way out, and the surfers hadn't surfaced yet, but the pêcheurs à pied had,


and so had the sulky drivers.



 I always imagined 'sulky' here must be some borrowing from the Hindi from the days of the Raj or something, but now I learn that it is, literally, about being sulky; since the traps are single seaters and fast moving, they are suited to sulky people who prefer to be alone, an etymology I find quite appealing.  These two equipages however, who made several circuits around us over the length of the beach, seemed to give the lie to that idea.


The drivers were very proficient in the way they handled their vehicles and horses, and though they went at a fair clip, they kept close together throughout and maintained a steady flow of relaxed conversation.




 It was hard not to have the impression that the horses were doing likewise, they seemed very attuned,


Made me think of Black Beauty and Ginger. Poor Ginger.  Do little girls still read Black Beauty?


This fellow is much more withdrawn, maintaining a stony silence.  You have to catch him at the right moment to notice him at all. I feel he is quite benign though.


17 comments:

Chloe said...

I never knew that about sulkys, how interesting! Glad to hear that Mol is still enjoying trips out :)

polish chick said...

ah yes, the "braying gregariousness and crowding physicality" is something i can completely understand.

when i was in australia, i would get up very early before the sun turned the tent into a sauna and walked along the beach. the surfers there took their surfing very seriously and were a silent focused bunch. i always figured that for young men (and sometimes women) to get up at the crack of dawn to catch the best waves takes some dedication and they weren't about to waste time on idle chatter.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Beautiful. I'd love to drive/ride a sulky and use it as transportation anywhere . Well, in London it would frighten the horses.
Are you near those cliffs which were carved by that French 'outsider'(not unlike le Facteur Cheval)? I can't think of his name at the moment but will try to Google him.

Dale said...

:-) Love this!

Lucy said...

Thanks chaps.

PC - I do get a bit churlish about surfers, but I think it must be quite exhilarating. There always seem to be a few who are getting on with it on their own in the water - after all the practice itself is a solitary one - and a great many more who seem to be merely farting about.

Natalie - yes, it's out St Malo/Cancale way, not too far at all, and I've forgotten his name too, I think he was a priest. In fact I've a whole load of photos somewhere I was going to do a post with then didn't get around to editing them. The sculptures tell the story of a pirate clan, I think, they're rather astonishing.

Ellena said...

I like walks along the edge of the water. Fascinating area. I keep going back to the last horse photo. Were you really that lucky to catch this very moment, Lucy or......?
The fellow better not come down to break the silence.

Lucy said...

Hi Ellena, it really was just dumb luck, honestly, and I didn't take that many either. It's not quite perfect, the front horse is just curving its foreleg slightly more than the one behind!

marja-leena said...

I didn't know about sulkys either! How graceful and lovely they are. In the last sulky image, it looks like one trap with two horses. Great shots - I do love seacoasts.

HKatz said...

Thanks for taking us on this outing. I love how your photos capture the strength and movement of the horses. They could very well have been carrying on their own conversation. And their motions are eloquent too.

I didn't read Black Beauty as a kid. Maybe I will as an adult. It's what I did recently with Little Women - never read it as a kid, but recently picked it up as an adult. I saw things in it that I wouldn't have seen as a child (particularly the author's tension and personal conflict), but I also couldn't enjoy it the way I knew I would have as a young girl, imagining myself as Jo.

Zhoen said...

Beaches seem the ideal place to sulk. In the best possible way.

Catalyst/Taylor said...

I wonder if the stone figure is sulking.

marly youmans said...

Enjoyed all this (including your "churlish" aside!) rambling time at the beach, and am a bit in love with that last picture, the diagonal of wet sand that prevents it from being too tidy, and then the mottled part of the sand and bands of color in the water leading to cloud.

Rouchswalwe said...

Oh! I miss the shore. But I've never seen such sights. This gives me an ale brewing idea ... sulky ale - the perfect malt/hops balance. With your photo on the label! How cool would that be?

Roderick Robinson said...

Like the Germans the French often complicate things. Many horse races in France involve horses towing such carts. If you have Sky TV (we haven't; we'd never line the Dirty Digger's pockets) there is much coverage of these races. But, alas, there is an ulterior reason. Frequently, says my grandson, the sulky becomes detached from the horse, the shafts dig in and the jockey is projected on a curving path that forms part of a circle of which the radius is equivalent to the shaft length. All this happens very quickly and the jockey leaves the TV screen as if chased by a (very fast) bear. No doubt you are surprised I am the source of such an arcane revelation. I don't just do screwdrivers.

Stella said...

One fine afternoon somewhere in Ireland, came whizzing, clattering, down the road and onto the beach......a sulky. Caught completely offguard, not wanting to lose sight of the horse, fumbling for my camera, I have a perfect memory but lousy pictures. I also didn't expect the horse's return trip and missed a second opportunity. I'm SO glad to see your lovely images.

Lucy said...

And again.

ML - it's a marvellous expanse of bay for the horses, though you have to time it right for the tides, one of the largest tidal reaches in the world I think, sometimes the sea's so far away you can scarcely see it, other times it's so far in there's hardly any beach!

Hkatz - I re-read Black Beauty not so long ago on the Kindle, since it's out of copyright. It is interesting, lot's of 19th century social issues, not just about horse welfare, and changing sensibilities about what being humane and civilised should mean, and the anthropomorphic conceit (well would you believe it, a talking horse!) holds up pretty well, in fact. I don't think I've ever read Little Women, as a kid I liked horsey books! I might try that.

Zhoen - yes, we find it blows the cobwebs away quite well.

Cat - well if he is he's been doing it a long time!

Marly - thanks for noticing the last picture, in fact tat was the following week, last Sunday, and the weather was less sunny but the colours in the sea were really rich and subtle and varied, which it was difficult to catch altogether, but you do get some interesting horizontals and diagonals out on the bay there.

RS - but then people would think it was me that was sulky. Which I am a bit sometimes, I suppose, but in a good way.

RR - Oh that's hilarious! As long as the horses aren't hurt of course. Sounds like that mediaeval thing they used to use to project nasty things over castle walls, was it a trebuchet?

Stella - lovely to see you here! As RR says, it seems to be a popular form of horse use here, more so than riding even, and you can usually see one or two at low tide on this stretch. The memory may be the more vivid for the lack of photos.

Rouchswalwe said...

Ach, Lucy! You made me smile ... not YOUR photo, I meant the one where the sulkies seem to be perfectly matched ... like malt and hops. (This is proof that I should not comment on blogs when slightly tipsey ... I think people can read my mind).