JUNE 2012



Saturday 30 June 2012


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Choc with Alice Plunkett


I spent a lovely day out at the Barbury International Horse Trials, featuring not only many of the world’s best event riders but also my favourite jockey taking part in the hit-air Pro Bull Rider Series.  Needless to say, that was the highlight of my day!!!  It was a pleasure to have the company of my friend Denise for the day too. 


And you know how it never seems that you are in the right place at the right time without a lot of effort ... well today was completely the opposite and I just couldn’t believe my luck!!!  Having watched the CIC3* show-jumping, the hit-air Challenge, looked around the Wiltshire Show area, explored the cross-country course, returned to watch a demonstration in the Festival of Food tent, we decided it was time to depart.  We began the walk along the ‘corridor’ towards the entry/exit tent when who should be heading in the opposite direction but Choc! 


I’m always pleased to meet and greet him, and especially on this occasion as I’d taken a birthday card with me hoping to get the opportunity to present it to him.  I made the card in 2010, but missed that year because Choc suffered his serious knee injury just days before his birthday and was out of ‘circulation’; then last year I was very unwell during July and grounded due to my sinus problems.  And, until I saw him heading towards me, I thought I’d missed my chance for the third year running.  Also, as he was alone, I had a lovely little chat with him too.  Wicked!!!  He is so lovely and so cute ...


Choc won’t be appearing at the Trials tomorrow; he will be heading straight to Uttoxeter.  I shall, therefore, spend the day selecting my favourite photographs to upload and, hopefully, drafting a diary of my day.

Friday 29 June 2012

I’m so pleased my working week is over ... it’s been a nightmare for the past eight working days with far too many tasks to fit into my standard working day.  So much so, that I’ve had to work 13 hours unpaid overtime during this period.  And I still feel my workload is barely under control, as I still have tasks to complete from yesterday and Wednesday.


No National Hunt racing tomorrow, but there are runners of interest at Uttoxeter on Sunday:

14:25 Midnight Myth (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Maiden Hurdle Div I

15:30 Pilgrims Lane (Martin Keighley/Richard Johnson) – Summer Cup Listed Handicap Steeplechase (I presume this race replaces the Summer National)

16:35 Sky Calling (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) – Handicap Hurdle

17:10 Titeuf De Tierce (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Chase


I presume Choc will be at the Barbury Horse Trials tomorrow, to take part in the Hit-Air Pro Bull Rider Series Jockeys vs. Eventers Challenge at noon.  He’s the jockeys’ Team Captain.  And, I guess, as he’s not due to ride at Uttoxeter until 17:10 on Sunday, he’ll be able to attend the Challenge on Sunday too; it takes less than three hours to drive from Marlborough to the Staffordshire course. 


Strangely enough, I’ve arranged to go to the Barbury Horse Trials tomorrow with my friend Denise ... and I can’t rule out the possibility that I will go back on Sunday too!!!

It’s charity cricket match season.  A 20-20 cricket match took place today at the Kenilworth Cricket Club between the Pacific Islanders Rugby XI and Richard Johnson’s Jockeys XI:


And this one, uploaded by Tom  Messenger, is really cute: https://twitter.com/thmessenger/status/218796528976920576/photo/1

The Scotsman has published further information regarding the death of Campbell Gillies earlier this week.  More

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Two runners of interest this afternoon, at Worcester:

Sky Calling (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) finished 4th in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles] (12 ran).

Mister Chancer (Alan King/Choc) finished 11th in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 7 furlongs] (12 ran).

No National Hunt racing tomorrow. 

Tuesday 26 June 2012


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RIP Campbell Gillies


27 June 1990 to 26 June 2012



I was shocked to learn of the death of young Campbell Gillies in a holiday accident.  He seemed like such a nice young lad, always cheerful, and it is so tragic that he should be taken from us before he could fulfil his great potential.  I’d like to take this opportunity to offer my condolences to all his friends and family.  RIP Campbell and Brindisi Breeze.


Here is a link to the Racing Post’s website. More  And tributes on Lucinda Russell’s website too.


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The new format Atttheraces begins tomorrow, when they start broadcasting from their new offices in Milton Keynes.


Two runners of interest tomorrow, at Worcester:

15:40 Sky Calling (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles]

17:45 Mister Chancer (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 7 furlongs]

I must remember to set up my video to tape the races; I’ve become far too accustomed to there being no racing to tape with Choc having so few rides this summer. 

Monday 25 June 2012

It’s very quiet on the horse racing front, with no runners of interest at the weekend, today or tomorrow. 


I’ve been researching the Hit-Air Pro Bull Challenge, which is due to take place at the Barbury Horse Trials next weekend. 


Here is a link to the Horse Trials website: http://www.barburyhorsetrials.co.uk/


And a link to the Hit-Air website: http://www.hitairuk.co.uk/


Plus an article in ‘This is Wiltshire’


I have a ticket for Sunday ... but it appears that the Pro Bull challenge is taking place on both Saturday and Sunday.  I shall have to tweet Choc to ask him if he’s going to be there on both days, as I don’t wish to miss anything, albeit a 190 mile round trip per day! 

Friday 22 June 2012

Just one runner of interest at Market Rasen today:

Lake Legend (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished a head second in the Handicap Chase (9 ran).

No runners of interest this weekend ... I think Sunday is forecast to be a washout ... just for a change!


I’ve finished and uploaded my diary relating to the Heythrop Summer Fair.  Click here to read.


No plans this weekend but perhaps Barbury Castle Horse Trials next weekend to watch the Hit-air Jockeys vs Event Riders event!

Thursday 21 June 2012

Choc had a wicked evening at a very soggy Fontwell Park, with both his rides winning! JJ


Fontwell Park:

Double Chocolate (David Bridgwater/Choc) won the Handicap Chase (7 ran).

Dirty Bertie (David Bridgwater/Choc) won the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (13 ran).

They were Choc’s 4th and 5th winners of the season.


Choc was brilliant tonight; the ride descriptions were as follows:

Double Chocolate:

tracked leader, bumped 1st, not fluent 6th or 10th, led 12th, clear when not fluent 3 out, mistake 2 out, ridden out

Dirty Bertie:

prominent, led after 1st, headed 4th, ridden to lead again after 3 out, headed approaching next, rallied to lead again flat, very game


Ffos Las:

Pilgrims Lane (Martin Keighley/Richard Johnson) was a non-runner in the Handicap Hurdle

One runner of interest at Market Rasen tomorrow:

16:10 Lake Legend (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase

I’ve drafted my Summer Fair diary and hope to upload it in the next day or two. 

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Three runners of interest at Worcester today:

Monty’s Revenge (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) was pulled up in the Handicap Chase [2 miles 7 furlongs] (12 ran).

Midnight Myth (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 5th in the Maiden Hurdle Div II (12 ran).

The Fox’s Decree (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 9th in the Handicap Hurdle (13 ran).


Tomorrow there are three runners of interest:


Fontwell Park:

19:25 Double Chocolate (David Bridgwater/Choc) – Handicap Chase

19:55 Dirty Bertie (David Bridgwater/Choc) – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle


Ffos Las:

19:45 Pilgrims Lane (Martin Keighley/Richard Johnson) – Handicap Hurdle

So that’s my Thursday evening TV viewing sorted!

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Three runners of interest at Worcester tomorrow:

14:45 Monty’s Revenge (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) – Handicap Chase [2 miles 7 furlongs]

17:10 Midnight Myth (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Maiden Hurdle Div II

18:15 The Fox’s Decree (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Handicap Hurdle


Another photograph of young William today, this time perched upon Archie Bellamy’s horse.  Archie is the youngest son of ex-jockey and Towcester’s Clerk of the Course, Robert Bellamy.   



And if you’d like to view a video of the trainers’ heat of Sunday’s Donkey Derby, click the link below.  Taking part were Fergal O’Brien, Richard Phillips, Charlie Longsdon and Martin Keighley:



I gather superhorse Frankel won at Ascot today, the unbeaten colt extending his winning sequence to eleven.  More


I had a lovely day out in Eastbourne today with my friends Lesley, Fay, Angy and her 3-year old daughter Rebecca.  Angy and her hubby Alex are expecting their second child in October. 


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Rebecca, Angy and Fay on Eastbourne pier

The weather was great too but, as usual, the top of my boobies caught the sunshine and are a bit red!  I put sun-block on my face and a little on my décolleté too ... but obviously not low enough on the latter!


Monday 18 June 2012

I’ve uploaded the photographs I took at the Heythrop Country Fair and Donkey Derby yesterday. 

Click Here to view


Catriona Bissett, who is Assistant to trainer Richard Phillips, has tweeted a piccie of the photo-finish between Denis O’Regan (far side) and Fergal O’Brien in the final.  Denis having got the verdict.



Choc has retweeted a lovely picture of himself with a young fan taken at Towcester a few weeks ago:



No runners of interest at Newton Abbot tomorrow, but I am hopeful that Choc may have rides this coming Thursday and/or Friday.

Another day out tomorrow.  I’ve booked the day off work to travel down to Eastbourne with my friends Lesley and Fay to see our friend Angy and her young daughter Rebecca.  I forgot it was the ladies International Tennis Tournament at Devonshire Park in Eastbourne this week too, but hopefully the area won’t be too busy with spectators.

Sunday 17 June 2012

Not much occurring in the world of National Hunt at present or at least not as far as Choc is concerned unfortunately ... so I took a trip down to the Cotwolds today to attend the Heythrop Country Fair and Donkey Derby in search of my favourite jockey!  And, as you can see, I found him. J


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Choc competes in the ‘driven’ donkey heat 2.


It was a relief to have a respite from the recent rain and the day proved fine and often sunny, although breezy.  I left home at just after 09:00, arriving at around 11:00 having taken the scenic route to Cocklebarrow Farm. 


We were treated to hound racing, a display by the Cotswold Falconry Centre, a demonstration by the Cotswold Polocrosse Club (although no horses were involved due to the underfoot conditions), terrier racing and, of course the Donkey Derby; the latter consisted of four heats, with the winners progressing to the final. 


Choc finished second in his heat, the winner being Denis O’Regan.  In fact the same donkey won each of the 4 heats, but narrowly lost in the final, which Denis O’Regan also won.  


The highlight of my day was saying hello to Choc ... and meeting William too!


I shall write a diary and upload further photos later in the week. 


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Having completed his heat, Choc is passing on tips to Martin Keighley ahead of the latter’s race.

On the right is William, being held by Choc’s friend Patrick Sheehan.


Choc has tweeted a photograph of William on the mini-bouncy castle:



And he’s retweeted a couple of pictures taken during the race too:




And a photo from last week when Choc went to school a horse at Robin Dickin’s yard called Bally Lagen:



No National Hunt racing tomorrow; the next fixture being an evening one at Newton Abbot on Tuesday.

Thursday 14 June 2012

Three runners of interest at Hereford this evening and a winner for Choc too J

Compton Blue (Alan King/Choc) won the Novices’ Hurdle by a head (8 ran).  Choc’s 3rd winner of the season.

Sky Calling (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) finished 3rd in the Handicap Chase (7 ran).

Hilfiger (Ian Williams/Choc) finished 4th in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 1 furlong] (11 ran).  It was a promising return to action, as the second, third and fourth horses finished closely grouped.


There is National Hunt action at Aintree tomorrow, but no riding engagements for Choc.

If you watched the racing from Southwell on Tuesday you will know that a couple of horses were pulled up due to injury.  However, reports on the Racing Forum suggest that Braddock Island was okay and walking soundly again later in the evening.  His gait had been very strange when halted and contributors were wondering if it was caused by a nerve problem in his back.  Veteran Gallik Dawn was also reported to have been well enough to return home.  Unfortunately not such good news about Cydonia who suffered a suspected heart attack after his race and is no longer with us. 

Further news regarding the Heythrop Summer Fair.  Martin Keighley has been recruited to ride in the Donkey Derby as part of the trainers’ team.  I do hope the weather is okay on Sunday for them.  It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that I could make an excursion to the Fair, to see Choc ride as part of the jockeys’ team.  My one worry would be for my poor Ford Fiesta to be towed out of a muddy field ... although it would not be the first time it had happened.  But at least I know the whereabouts of the tow bar accessory; it’s in the glove compartment now! 

The route to the event would not be a problem.  Just head for Cheltenham but, shortly after leaving Burford, turn left onto the Bibury Road, then right into Aldsworth and take the Eastington Road.  Simples!!!

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Yippee, we have three runners of interest at Hereford tomorrow; including two ridden by Choc.

18:10 Compton Blue (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle

19:40 Sky Calling (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) – Handicap Chase

20:10 Hilfiger (Ian Williams/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 1 furlong]


That’s my TV viewing for tomorrow evening settled then! 


And I have a photograph taken exactly two years ago today, of Choc and Hilfiger in the Winners’ Enclosure at Stratford having won the Novices’ Hurdle; it was the horse’s last run, as he’s been out of action for two years due to injury.


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We’ve finally had a dry day in St Albans and, even though it’s not been particularly warm or sunny, it’s been wonderful!!!  But I gather the weather for the next few days is due to be pretty dire again.  And, being in the Veolia Water Central area, we still have a hosepipe ban. 


The workmen finally arrived this evening to patch up the road outside my home.  It is being repaired in sections and it’s our turn this week.  The road isn’t in too bad a condition as the foundations and surface were completely replaced within the past ten years or so.  However, having been patched from time to time, on this occasion the edges of the new repairs are being sealed so as to prolong their life.  I presume the road is being repaired because the Olympic torch relay will pass along it early next month.  It’s a pity they hadn’t filled in one of the dips further up the road a little earlier ... as I wouldn’t have got so wet when a lorry drove by when I was walking to work!

Monday 11 June 2012

Just one runner of interest today, at Newton Abbot, and this is how he fared:

R Craig (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 2nd in the Handicap Hurdle (9 ran).  The race was won by Wilde Ruby ridden by Andrew Thornton; so I guess it was recompense for the unseating incident at Fontwell Park 8 days ago.


No runners of interest at Southwell tomorrow evening, so still nothing for Choc. 


Here is a link to details for the Heythrop Country Fair taking place next Sunday 17 June; where Choc is due to ride in the Donkey Derby.


Sunday 10 June 2012

Just one runner of interest tomorrow, at Newton Abbot:

17:00 R Craig (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Handicap Hurdle


Choc currently has provisional riding engagements on Thursday, at either Hereford or Uttoxeter.


More photographs of young William on Twitter today:





The Willie Mullins trained Thousand Stars won the French ‘Champion Hurdle’ at Auteuil today.  He won the race last year too.


The men’s French Open title has yet to be decided; with Rafael Nadal leading Novak Djokovic by two sets to one before ran stopped play early in the fourth set.  Play will resume tomorrow.  I hope the former wins.  The grass court season starts tomorrow, with the commencement of the tournament at the Queen’s Club in West London.  I fear their playing schedule will be severely disrupted by rain this week ... but, then again, it usually is!!!


The wall to wall football coverage is driving me mad ... thank goodness for extensive horse racing coverage.  Although, last evening, I was reduced to watching back to back episodes of Cowboy Builders!  I’m watching an old episode of Midsomer Murders as I write this blog entry.  It’s one of my favourites, Beyond The Grave; although I have seen it numerous times.  One of the locations featured in this particular story is Chenies Manor in Buckinghamshire.   

Saturday 09 June 2012

Just one result today; Consult finished last in the Beginners’ Chase at Worcester (8 ran).  That’s disappointing, as he’s one of my favourites; a sweet natured horse. 


Choc has posted another photograph today:



Someone complained on Twitter that all Choc does is post pictures of William ... what do they expect?  William is the most important person in Choc’s life, so he’s bound to upload photographs of his beautiful little boy.  If they don’t like it, why don’t they just unfollow him? 


As I don’t have a smartphone (yet!) I can only follow Choc’s tweets when I log onto my laptop ... and it’s the first page I look at each evening.  And I always look forward in anticipation of seeing new photos of William each time I do.


There have noticeably been a number of unpleasant tweets aimed at a variety of jockeys by irate punters in recent days ... and especially after poor old Andrew Thornton fell off his mount at Fontwell Park last Sunday when the saddle slipped.  I really don’t think these punters have any understanding of how perilous it can be to ride a horse, let alone at speed.  Horses can be so unpredictable, especially highly strung thoroughbreds.  Andrew’s saddle actually slipped backwards; with the girth no longer in the correct place and now irritating the mare’s belly, it was no wonder that she jinked and deposited her jockey on the ground. 


It makes me sound like a scaredy-cat when it comes to horses ... but I did ride from the age of 9 until 17, and again for a few months at the age of 33.  I have recollections of a few falls and being bolted with too.  I recall an incident when Lollipop jumped a cavaletti then promptly tripped over a drain cover in the outdoor school and tipped me over his shoulder.  I remember doing a brilliant roll!  During one riding lesson all the horses bolted across Harpenden Common and along one of the very smart residential roads!  Once again I was aboard Lollipop and I did manage to pull him up before he got as far as some of my companions; they ended up in a field on the outskirts of the town!  Maxwell bolted with me at least twice, he was a 15 hand dark brown horse, very narrow I recall.  And Sherbet, a 13.2 chestnut mare, I hated riding her ... she was slow and used to get tailed off from the other horses, breaking into a canter along the lane in order to catch up when they disappeared from view.  And she used to buck too, if given the chance. 


My worst falls were when I took up riding again, aged 33.  When I was attending the University of Hertfordshire, Wednesday afternoons were put aside for sporting pursuits ... I choose horseriding.  And, because one of the students lived in Stilton and knew the area, we drove a minibus to an equestrian establishment near Rutland Water to go riding ... ridiculous really!  I remember falling off of a horse called Monty when he refused at a jump in the floodlit outdoor school; I landed on the poles and suffered quite bad bruising to my back and thighs.  And then there was Sidney, a grey, whose mouth was far more sensitive on the right than the left.  So, when cantering in a clockwise direction I slipped out of the saddle and ended up hanging around his neck before lowering my legs to the ground!  But the worst and final fall was from a horse called Joe, who bolted across Knebworth Park before suddenly putting on the brakes and firing me out of the saddle.  I led him back to the stables, then drove home ... but later that evening I began to feel nauseous.  I think it was concussion.  I was advised to go to hospital if I’d been physically sick, but fortunately it didn’t come to that.  I was ‘crocked’ for a few days too.  I’ve not ridden a horse since.  

Friday 08 June 2012

Just one runner of interest this weekend, at Worcester tomorrow:

14:45 Consult (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Beginners’ Chase


The weather is very un-drought like, but Choc is definitely suffering a drought as far as riding engagements go.


Choc has tweeted two new photos of William, this time he’s blowing a hunting horn!





I survived today quite well, having been a ‘team of one’ at work.  I worked from 08:20 until gone 17:30 without a break, but feel satisfied that my workload is under control heading into Monday.  Fortunately one of my colleagues will be back from leave by then, so we should be okay moving forward.

I’ve no plans for the weekend, again.  But I am having my hair trimmed on Sunday.   

Thursday 07 June 2012

Uttoxeter was very soggy this evening, so Sky Calling was a non-runner.


No runners of specific interest at Market Rasen tomorrow.


The nightmare which is the European Football Championships starts tomorrow ... I can’t believe there will be no BBC1 One Shows broadcast until after the tournament has finished.  What about the people who hate football, like me?  Oh well, there’s always horse racing, even if it’s flat racing ...


Not looking forward to work tomorrow.  Normally there are three people in my team and often it’s difficult to cope with the workload and deadlines ... tomorrow, due to holidays, there’s just one ... ME!  Arrrrgggghhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Wednesday 06 June 2012

No runners of specific interest today and just one tomorrow at Uttoxeter:

20:05 Sky Calling (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) – Mares’ Handicap Hurdle

However, Martin has warned in his blog that if it rains further she will not run.


Having sold a number of horses at Doncaster last week, it was mentioned on Alan King’s website that a couple of horses had been purchased at the recent Cheltenham sales.  So I investigated further and have discovered these were Two Rockers purchased for £80,000 and Pirates Cay bought for £62,000; both in conjunction with Highflyer Bloodstock.

Sorry that my blogs are very short at the moment, but there’s not a lot of action going on at the races or at home either!!!

Monday 04 June 2012

Another quiet day tomorrow, with no runners of interest.


Today Choc has posted a photograph of William aboard a palomino pony, led by William’s mum Meally.


Sunday 03 June 2012

Just one runner of interest at Uttoxeter today, as Suburban Bay was a non-runner:

Miss Exhibitionist (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (13 ran).


Despite it being unremarkable summer jumping cards at Uttoxeter and Fontwell Park today, the races weren’t without their fair share of incident.  King Fingal was carried out by a loose horse after the last in the Selling Hurdle at Uttoxeter when he might well have won.  Whilst at Fontwell Park, Andrew Thornton ended up on the deck after the last flight when Wilde Ruby’s saddle slipped; he was well clear of the field at the time. 


No runners of interest at either Towcester or Cartmel tomorrow. 


The weather seems to have been wet almost everywhere today; I stayed indoors and have been continuing my cross stitch project for most of the day.  Tomorrow’s forecast is now for mainly fine weather in the southeast, with just a few scattered showers, although still cold.

Saturday 02 June 2012

One runner of interest at Stratford this evening:

Pilgrims Lane (Martin Keighley/Aidan Coleman) won the Handicap Chase (7 ran).  Congratulations to the team; their 5th winner of the season.  Aidan gave the horse an excellent ride.


There was a long run-in during the hurdle races at Stratford this evening, with just one flight after the final bend before the winning post; they’d moved the other flight beyond the lollipop.


Two runners of interest at Uttoxeter tomorrow:

14:10 Miss Exhibitionist (Alan King/Choc) – Mares’ Maiden Hurdle

16:40 Suburban Bay (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Chase


Choc has posted another photograph of William on Twitter today:



Woke up to drizzle then rain this morning which delayed plans a little.  Fortunately it had stopped by 10:30 so I walked down to the local garden centre to purchase garden vouchers; a distance of 1½ miles away.  And walked back of course, although I could have caught a bus.  But I just love walking!


This afternoon I watched coverage of the Epsom Derby fixture.  I had planned to do some cross stitching today, but didn’t get around to it.  Never mind, I’ve still got three more days, which are expected to be wet, so no doubt my cross stitch project will be on my agenda at some point. 

Friday 01 June 2012

Just one runner of interest at Stratford this evening:

After a slow start, Tower (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 10th in the Handicap Hurdle (15 ran).


One runner of interest at Stratford tomorrow too:

19:30 Pilgrims Lane (Martin Keighley/Aidan Coleman) – Handicap Chase


Choc will be at Uttoxeter on Sunday, more details tomorrow.


Choc has posted a photograph of William playing with his toy tractors ... and he sure likes tractors!



The applications on my laptop are becoming more and more temperamental, so I fear it will soon be time to buy a new one!


The weather forecast for the southeast for the weekend and Bank Holidays has deteriorated even further ... rain is now expected every day, including tomorrow.


No special plans for the next four days ... although tomorrow I’ll probably walk down to one of the local garden centres to buy a gardening voucher for my friend Denise for her birthday, which is next week.



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