Royal Marsden's Caroline Langham on her perfect Surrey weekend
PUBLISHED: 09:49 13 September 2013 | UPDATED: 10:36 13 September 2013
Kept busy during the week with her job as a registered play specialist at the Royal Marsden hospital in Sutton, CAROLINE LANGHAM relishes her weekends with her horse, Coco, who she keeps at a stables not far from her home in Carshalton
My weekend is always focused on my horse Coco. I work full-time as a registered play specialist for the Royal Marsden’s children’s centre in Sutton and, although I absolutely love my job, it can be stressful. I work Monday to Friday helping children and young people with life-threatening illness understand their condition and treatment through therapeutic play. It can be hard to leave work at work so spending time with Coco at the weekends takes me to another world and is my salvation. Down at the yard I only started horse riding when I turned 50, six years ago. It was always my dream to learn how to ride a horse properly so I signed myself up for classes at Orchard Cottage Riding School in Lower Kingswood, and within a few years took the plunge and bought a horse. I had spent my entire life wishing I could ride a horse but ferrying my two sons from football, swimming, cub scouts and school was always my priority and, of course, it’s a time-consuming and expensive pastime.
I keep Coco at Green Lane Equestrian Livery in Lower Morden not too far from my home in Carshalton. I enjoy mucking out her stables, grooming her and riding. She is a 14.2 hands, skewbald cob and has quite a stubborn personality. She is a typically ‘moody mare’ and sometimes it can be a battle of the wills, but we do have a strong bond and she always whinnies when she sees me, which is so lovely.
It also amazes me how a horse can sense if someone is nervous or not feeling well. I once arranged a riding lesson for one of our young patients who always wanted to ride a horse. It was a dream come true for her; the pony looked after her and it gave her a real lift and she couldn’t stop smiling. It’s an incredible experience for anyone to try.
At the moment, I am spending as much time as I can getting us ready for our first horse show (Wimbledon Village Horse Show). We both need to be pristine and immaculately turned out as we are entering the Condition and Turnout class! Away from the stables After a morning at the stables, I often spend a leisurely Saturday afternoon food shopping and, of course, picking up things for Coco. My first stop is Hengest Farm in Banstead for Coco’s bedding rugs and horse wear creams and shampoos. Lester Bowden in Epsom is fantastic for my horse riding clothes and equine gifts. My last stop is to Waitrose in Banstead.
When I am not at the stables, I enjoy going for afternoon tea at Fanny’s Farm in Merstham with friends. The last time we went, it was decorated as a Mad Hatter’s tea party. Fanny’s has changed a lot over the years but has still managed to keep its country charm.
At home, I love baking cakes and traditional British country fare such as marmalades and jams in my Aga. I enter each year into Fanny’s Farm’s marmalade competition but as yet have not achieved first prize so I will keep trying.
Sunday morning I will be back at the stables and my perfect relaxing Sunday afternoon would be painting flowers in watercolours. I get my inspiration from my garden and day trips to RHS Garden Wisley, near Woking, with my family.
Over the last 10 years, The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity has raised over £100m to fund pioneering developments in cancer care. There will be even greater progress over the next 10 years. There is a very simple way you can get involved by using your birthday in 2013 to raise funds for the charity. For more details, see royalmarsden.org