21 July 2021
Forden to Trefnanney
This is being written on 22 July as I was just too tired last night to write the blog! Yesterday was a long – but truly fantastic day! Early in the morning we decided to re-route to avoid going through Welshpool. Peter rang our 'team' – Hilary and Cherry and asked them to recce a road that looked as if it turned into a track for a distance of about ½ a mile. They duly did this and woke up a gentleman who came to his door in his pyjamas – they wanted to ask him if the route past his house was a 'goer'. He said that it was so they drove over this rough uneven track but they felt it would be OK for the donks.
We waved farewell to our dear friends Mary and John Payne at 0830 and set off en route. Very soon we passed beautiful green pastures with lots of fabulous mares with their foals. We had been invited by David and Birt Futter to visit their race horse stud at Leighton. We turned up the drive to find Peter had already parked the trailer under a tree so that we could tie the donkeys up in the shade to eat grass. Carolle had been there before on a WI visit so offered to stay with the donkeys as I never like leaving them tied up without someone there – just in case they get entangled in their leading ropes.
David who runs the stud and his wife Birte who is full time vet at the stud met us and showed us around. Yoreton Stud is situated in a Victorian model farm built in those days by a multi millionaire with no expense spared and originally employed 700 people. They now have 90 breeding mares and have converted the old Bison pens into a high tech maternity unit and a wonderful circular piazza where they hold horse sales. The horses were spectacular and the listed building conversions were amazing. It was incredibly kind and generous of David and Berte to give up their precious time to show us round.
On our way again and we met up with the team to escort us the ½ mile on the main road to cross the River Severn (yet again) and avoid the centre of Welshpool. We then followed Hilary and Cherry up to the bungalow where the kind gentleman in his pyjamas had assured them the road was passable. Once the tarmac road petered out we walked along the track to check that it was safe to take the carriage. There was a short but steep bit of hill so David and Cherry walked behind us to support the carriage should it slip at all. All was fine and we bid them farewell for them to drive around on the 'proper' road.
No sooner had we turned right onto another country lane than we found a really good place for a picnic. We quickly rang Peter and the team and they were soon with us. There was a gate on one side of the road where we could tie the donkeys and they could munch grass and we could put our chairs for lunch and on the other side of the road there was a double gate where Peter could park the trailer so that it didn't block the road. All this was in the shade of a big old oak tree. Some people came along the road.
They lived just down the road and when they saw us all stop they thought something was wrong so came along to offer help. We told them all was fine except we needed a bucket of water for the boys so one kind man went to get that for us. The children with them stroked and patted the donkeys and we had a chat to them all. The consideration of complete strangers to come and offer help was truly overwhelming.
After our picnic we set off again through wonderful country lanes where Nelson could run freely – the high hedges and myriad of wildflower banks was a joy to behold. After a while we rounded a corner and there was a chapel with some people outside. As we approached John Hughes 'The singing farmer' burst into the Donkathon song he had written with his guitar – it was a moving moment and I was on the verge of tears as we went forward to the sound of music.
We turned into Joy and Charles' home where a Pimms reception awaited us. As always the children loved the donkeys and the donkeys loved the children. Peter had a job reversing the trailer into the small entrance to Joy and Charles' yard but John went to the rescue and soon we was a whole crowd of us on the lawn as John once again played the Donkathon song and we all joined in the chorus.
On once more and we met another family who had just had a baby – now 7 weeks old – called Charles. The father was called Charles and he offered to help the donkeys up the hill near their house – we were then met by Neal who is a stone mason who walked along with us.
We finally reached Carolle's at 7.15pm and as always although we were tired and hot, the donkeys came first and we did their hooves, fed them and settled them in their stable. Once that was done, Joy had driven down to Carolle's with supper for us all! How amazing is that? First to organise a Pimms reception and then to bring supper for us all. This is the story of the 'Donkathon' where we have experienced so much love, kindness, generosity and positive support.
Before leaving for the Donkathon, The Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary had given me a list of vets en route. I had written personally to each one telling them what we were doing and just alerting them in case we needed their services. I told them not to reply – this was just a courtesy alert. However, Simon and Cassie DID respond and offered a free vet check – Lower House Equine Clinic, Plas Cerrig Lane, Llanymynech, Oswestry, SY22 6LG. Simon and Cassie are husband and wife. Simon is the vet and Cassie the vet nurse. They came this morning and gave the boys a thorough check and pronounced them 'perfectly fit and healthy' – which is reassuring. As today is a day off, I will not write another blog until tomorrow.