Finally, the van drew to a halt outside my new home - Silverglade Equestrian Centre. I hopped down from the truck. I’d come the scenic route, traveling through Golden Hills Valley on my way here from the docks at West Cape Fishing Village. On all of the post cards, West Cape looked lovely but what the photos couldn’t capture was the putrid stench of rotting fish.
I thanked and paid the driver (I knew which one she’d prefer more) before I lugged my suitcase across down the lane and across the yard to where a girl with dark bunches sat at a desk.
“Hello,” she said, in a heavy Jorvik accent.
“Hi,” I replied smiling shyly. It was times like this that I wished I wasn’t 14 so that my parents could drop me off.
The girl picked up a highlighter and poised its florescent yellow tip over the paper. “I’m Tyra,” she introduced herself, “and you are?”
“I’m Kate Shawl,” I told her.
As she highlighted my name she exclaimed, “From Britain then?”
“Lovely. Now if you see the second house from the left, that one is the first year girls accommodation. You are the fifth here and will be sharing with Autumn Diamondson who has arrived already. I believe that your room is on the second floor to the left. I suggest that you get settled in before our introductory talk later!”
I thanked her before I dragged my suitcase across the pavement towards the fourth small houses. I pulled the case onto the balcony area belonging to the house that Tyra had pointed out. My arms complained at the struggle. I finally opened the door into the small house. I slipped off my shoes and, as I did, I had the impression of a small - yet homely - area. There was a door to the left and stairs to the right. I followed the stairs up two flights (much to my arms’ annoyance) before reaching my designated room.
Upon opening the door, I saw a reasonable living area. There were two loft beds with a futon and a desk residing underneath along with (I noticed) 2 big boxes under the futon. At the end of each bed was a combined wardrobe and draws. I stared out of the small window at the back as it had an excellent view of the working yard below. Alka, my horse, would be there after being sent ahead from England. I couldn’t wait to see him!
Before I, however, had a chance to take in the room any further, a tall girl with shoulder length brown hair bounced into view.
“Hi, I’m Ali. You’re Kate my roomie right?” she said very - too - cheerfully.
“Yes, hi!” I held out my hand politely but she bobbled me into a hug before my fingers were even fully outstretched.
She pulled away and started up an endless babble “I’m so so so excited to be here! I arrived super early because I only live in Valedale after all and I’m so grateful that I got in. I didn’t think I would because my parents are farmers and don’t really ride and the daughter of Charlotte Patterson is here… Like wow! I saw her at the tryouts of course. Imagine having Charlotte as your Mum! Crazy right… I have an annoying sister who came here two years ago and has told me all about it. She named my horse actually. Called him Smokeblood. Dumb name huh?”
“I think so,” I laughed, Ali’s enthusiasm was catchy. “Hey, I’m just going to sort myself out and get unpack.”
“Ok awesome!,” she nodded understandingly, “I can be a bit… full on… but hey! I’m going to go downstairs and make myself some grub before meeting the others who live here, see you then?”
I agreed before looking around the Ali free room. This was going to be awesome!