Thursday 15 July
Titterhill to Broome
Viv made us feel so welcome. After breakfast, we were harnessing up the boys when a friend of Viv's arrived – then surprise, surprise, Kitta and Nigel Laird appeared. It was through them that I was in touch with Barnaby Martin who is Nigel's nephew and they had been visiting him and his wife Victoria. We had to go really carefully down Viv's drive and through a gate and a very slippery slope and then through another gate to avoid the cattle grid. We set off down the steep and slippery lane of Titterhill keeping the boys walking very slowly. All was well and at the bottom we checked the boys' hooves for stones and a bit further on a lady came out of her house to stroke the donkeys and give us a donation. We have had several very generous donations today. Stanton Lacy seemed to be a tractor run (rather than a rat run!) but the drivers were very considerate and one even pulled so far onto the bank that he almost demolished a wall! The boys were so keen they decided to trot almost as far as the 'B' road where Neville and Peter were waiting to escort us. After about a mile we turned off on a road which ran across a golf course/Ludlow race course. Soon after we turned off a lady golfer came running over a small bank to catch us with a donation, saying “I love donkeys” , When Peter is escorting us he closes the top doors of the trailer and that displays the notice about being careful when overtaking. Once safely on the golf course road he stopped to open the doors as he was no longer escorting us. There were loud shouts – he had stopped in the middle of the fairway! He quickly moved on before being struck by a flying golf ball. At the other side of the race course is a level crossing but we took a tiny road off to the side. This lane runs for about 3 miles along the edge of the railway line. It is so peaceful and there was only the odd cyclist so Nelson was able to run alongside without being on a lead. Carolle drove the length of this lovely flat road. We tried to get a picture of a train passing the donkeys but although 2 trains actually went past, both times they were hidden by a load of vegetation. We soon arrived at Onibury where the whole primary school were awaiting our arrival, All the children were very excited and I asked them to all shout together 'Hello Wizard and Muffin' which they did with great alacrity. Barney's son Henry is at the school so I had a little chat to him. On our way again we had to cross a level crossing. The boys are quite practiced at this, but to be ultra safe, Oscar put on their leading reins and led them across as I drove them. We then went over a bridge and turned right by Barney's stately home entrance. We waved good-bye to Viv and started climbing up a hill. Neville had again asked a local farmer if we could park in his drive and let the donkeys munch grass and he generously let us picnic on his garden table! The garden was beautifully manicured with many colourful flowers and potted plants. The farmer and his wife were out but Neville pointed out his workshop where he makes bird tables and walking sticks as a hobby. There was a swallow's nest in the workshop and the swallowed surveyed us from the safety of one of the beams.
We then had a two mile slog up a steep hill. The boys were amazing and went up relatively easily. At the top Peter was waiting and talking to two gentlemen at the top who lived there with their standard poodle! They used to breed standard poodles and at one time had eight!!
Of course what goes up must come down and we then had a long slow descent with Oscar driving the donkeys very slowly. At the bottom we crossed the Roman road which I am told is Watling Street into Broome. We found Ben and Maria Gwilliam's farm, unharnessed the boys and put them in the trailer. Ben and Maria had kindly agreed to look after the carriage for us as we were going to all stay 7 miles away with Phil and Helen Worley in Bucknell. We had a very welcome glass of water with the Gwilliams and then Phil and Helen arrived to escort us back to their fields and stables. They have two beautiful Welsh Cobs, 3 dogs and a cat! Viv Haigh was already at Phil and Helen's – she is the committee member in charge of this section. We got the boys settled in their splendid stable and Oscar put up his tent. We then all sat around drinking coffee and tea and chatting. We did a quick change and were off to the pub for a lovely supper on the edge of the River Teme. Phil and Helen are very hospitable and we are having a great time,