| Published in The Independent on 17.05.2020 | A Touch of Frost |

We’ve been let out (still no racing though).

I don’t know about you, but to me I feel that we are in a long dark tunnel, and each few days we get a little nearer to the end, then we hear something else in the media and the end appears to be still a very long way off. Certainly, as far as normality is concerned.

This week the Government has told us we can go out and get as much exercise as we want, drive where we want, go back to work if we can’t work from home and meet one person from another household in an open space as long as we remain 2 metres apart. They have also said cleaners can now work in your house. My mother, in her eighties would love to see Hadden, Dan and Bryony again. She hasn’t seen them since February. She can now do this, but she can only meet one of them at a time – possibly in the park. But if we employ her as our cleaner, she can come here and see us all. How stupid and irresponsible is that?

On the subject of irresponsible, behind our home is Hembury Woods. As children both Bryony and Hadden spent many hours on horseback walking among the beautiful surroundings, just as I did when I was a child. The land was left to the National Trust some years ago, maybe the 50s or 60s, evidently with a clause that it should still be available for public use and as a bridal path.

Illustration for Touch of Frost, 17.05.2020

Hembury Woods drain

Sometime ago drains were dug across the paths. The drains, concrete funnels not much wider than a person’s foot, were built to channel rain water away from the path so they were not muddy. The same size drains were used in Essex on a piece of public land and bridal path. Tragically a young girl on her pony died when the pony’s foot got stuck in the drain and fell killing the poor child.
I asked the person supposedly looking after the land whether the drains could be widened to avoid the same happening again, or a cover placed over them, so they became a tunnel rather than an open drain. I was told it would be too much trouble. I referred to the young girl who died in Essex and was told that she probably couldn’t ride properly. We called the BHS – British Horse Society – to come and look at it and they too said it was very dangerous indeed for horses but was told that the National Trust might choose to close the path off to riders altogether if we complained as they have done it before.
Will it take another tragic accident before something is done about it? If anyone reading this has any information that might help us sort this matter, please contact me.

On a happy note I am going to tell you about the ongoing story of Oscar the owlet that Bryony rescued. Following sleepless nights due to its continuous hooting and flapping, Bryony has turned one of our barns into an aviary. Oscar has tree branches to perch on, things to peck at, plenty of food and a very comfy nest. Worried he might be cold the first night he spent in there, Bryony made up a hot water bottle for his nest which he snuggled up to straight away. She has since watched the TV each night to monitor the temperature to see if he needs a bottle or not, Oscar is a very spoiled owl.

One day, I promise I will be able to talk about racing again.

Until we catch up next week, keep safe and importantly be kind to each other.
Jimmy