DIARY –

VISIT TO GRAEME MCPHERSON’S MARTIN’S HILL STABLES

TO SEE AMI DESBOIS, LONDONIA, MONEY MAID AND STYNES

SATURDAY 30 JULY 2016

 

 

Zabeel Star 4.jpg

 

Zabeel Star chilling out in his stable

 

 

Useful Links:

 

EPDS’ website:

EPDS Racing

 

EPDS on twitter:

https://twitter.com/EPDS_Racing

 

EPDS on facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/EPDSRacingSyndicate

 

Graeme McPherson Racing:

http://www.mcphersonracing.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

EPDS Racing had organised a number of yard visits this summer – Robin Dickin, Graeme McPherson, Rebecca Menzies and Jamie Snowden.  Robin is based near Alcester in Warwickshire, Graeme near Stow-on-the-Wold, Rebecca has recently moved to Sedgefield, and Jamie Snowden is based in Lambourn.

A visit to Robin’s yard came a week too soon, as I was still drafting my 2016 diaries; also an early start so far away was difficult – beyond Stratford Upon Avon, although it is on the outward route that I’d use to get to Worcester!  I wasn’t sure whether I could make it to Stow-on-the-Wold because, originally, Menace was due to run at Stratford and, having expressed an interest in attending, I wasn’t sure if writing a ‘Stratford’ diary plus a ‘Graeme McPherson yard visit’ diary was going to overload me again. 

However, our Twitterati pony was found to be lame on the Sunday before his intended run, so that left me free to concentrate on a yard visit the following Saturday.  Fortunately the vet had diagnosed a pulled muscle, so it was envisaged that Menace would be able to return to action again soon.  Besides, I love to visit the Cotswolds ... although the downside is that it makes me sad to drive home again, with withdrawal symptoms setting in at Bicester! 

Also, on this occasion, I could ‘kill two birds with one stone’ – I wanted to drive to the hotel where I’d booked to stay during the 2017 Cheltenham Festival – a reconnaissance visit so to speak.  As you know, I don’t have and don’t need a satnav but, as it will probably be dark by the time I get to my hotel after the first day of the Festival, I thought it wise to drive it first.  Mind you I’ve already done my research, using Google Maps street view, so have already driven from the Minster Lovell end of the Witney bypass to the hotel via my laptop!

As I can look at a map and then drive the route from memory, today’s journey did not pose a problem; Graeme’s yard is situated on the Bledington Road, not even a mile from its junction with the A436 which is the road to Stow-on-the-Wold; I’ve driven it a number of times and know it from my formative years too, when my family used to take day trips to the Cotswolds.  There was a running joke that I’d always find my way home, had my parents decided to fulfil the threat to put me out of the car for misbehaving!  

So today, what I needed to know was how long it would take to drive to Martin’s Hill; Google directions provided the answer – two hours.  As the requested arrival time was 08:00, with ‘wiggle room’ this meant I needed to leave home at 05:40!  This being the case, I set my alarm for somewhere between 03:30 and 04:00 (there are no numbers on the dial) as I need time to have a shower and apply my makeup, etc!  And I don’t venture out without breakfast either, although that had been promised by our host – two breakfasts today then!

In the event, the alarm sounded at 03:45 and, as hoped, I was ready to go by 05:40.  My outfit today was a pair of dark blue M & S jeggings, a dark blue flower-patterned M & S Per Una top which I’ve had in the cupboard for ages but never worn (that old chestnut again!), burgundy frill-edged M & S cardigan, tan Per Una handbag, light blue BHS raincoat as the weather cannot be trusted this particular summer, M & S footglove snow-boots ... yes, snow-boots – I always use them on yard visits; besides, when did we last have proper snow?  I also wear them when it’s really wet at the races.  The jewellery I wore today was an item named ‘Cold Harmony’ created by Chaotic Rainbow; I’d recently restrung the necklace beads, replacing the amber facetted glass ones with two shades of glass pearls. 

So I left home at 05:42; my route took me through the centre of St Albans, with only one set of traffic lights against me, near the City Hospital.  I then drove to Hemel Hempstead, mindful to keep within the speed limit on the approach to Leverstock Green.  There’s a steep hill on the descent to the ‘Magic Roundabout’ and, on this occasion, I noticed two worn patches on the road surface caused by numerous vehicles braking to stay within the 40 mph speed limit as they neared the speed camera! 

It’s amazing how easily friction on the road surface wears out the tarmac; there’s a patch not far from my home, where the road surface has been damaged and repaired solely because the house owners used to park a vehicle for an extended period on the thoroughfare outside their house, instead of within their driveway!  It’s why the surface at road junctions and roundabouts always wears out more quickly than elsewhere.     

This summer, there were ‘window box’ style troughs of flowers in full bloom, hanging from the safety barriers surrounding the Magic Roundabout.  Being early in the morning, I was not impeded by any vehicles while negotiating it and soon headed along Two Waters Way; that’s the Grand Union Canal and the confluence of the Rivers Gade and Bulbourne.  The lights were on green for me to cross over the A4251 and I was soon heading up the steep hill to the A41 bypass.

As I was travelling westbound, I drove underneath the dual carriageway and turned right in order to head up the slip-road.  The road had recently been resurfaced, with warning signs suggesting a maximum speed limit of 20 mph.  However this was just precautionary, as the chippings had now settled; I chose 50 mph until the resurfaced section ended.  I was disappointed that there was no sign of the Belted Galloway cattle which can often be seen to the left of the road at Boxmoor; either they are no longer resident at the nearby farm or they were still tucked up in bed!

Anyway, being early in the morning, there were few vehicles on the A41 and I’d soon reached its termination just east of Aylesbury.  I headed into the Buckinghamshire town and chose the northern ring-road option on this occasion.  On the first section thereof, just to the other side of the canal bridge, a new road junction was under construction; there will be new traffic lights once completed.

Having reached the A41 once more, I headed westwards past the industrial estate, through the new housing estate which is being developed close to the new Aylesbury Parkway railway station and onwards towards Waddesdon.  Just after heading under the railway bridge close to the aforementioned station, I encountered the first of two lunatic drivers I’d meet today; there is always one or two, if not more! 

Because much of this section of the A41 leading to Bicester follows the old Roman Road apart from, that is, a diversion around Waddesdon, the road is very straight and encourages vehicles to speed; there is a sign stating the number of casualties (103 and counting) which have occurred in recent years.  However, it appears that not only do a number of drivers have no sense of danger, they cannot read either. 

The road bends to the right just after the bridge and, on this occasion, a speeding car overtook me and a white van in front of me on this bend; I couldn’t see if anything was coming in the opposite direction, so nor could he and it had to be a ‘he’ to possess such stupidity.  Fortunately the driver got away with this manoeuvre, just; a lorry, followed by a stream of traffic, followed moments later from the opposite direction.  Phew.  I don’t care what might have happened to the idiot, but I would have felt sorry for any innocent people who may have been involved in an accident had it occurred.  Besides, I didn’t feel like being a witness when I was working to a tight deadline. 

Further along the road, to the other side of Waddesdon, another car decided to overtake the white van, again on a bend ... and then he slowed down; what is that all about?  Having reached the hamlet of Kingswood, the white van turned right.  I continued along the A41, where another vehicle overtook me, but upon the short stretch of dual carriageway on this occasion.  It was then 60 mph all the way to the 50 mph section close to another railway bridge; the original ‘overtaker’ turned right just after the bridge.  I continued to Bicester, at a good pace.

I then headed along the Bicester bypass; there were road-works at the far end, with a Tesco superstore having been built to the left of the road.  I turned right and then headed straight on at the next roundabout, after which I turned left to take the B4030.  Oh dear, numerous speed bumps have been installed since my last trip along this road; I gave up counting after I’d driven over at least a dozen!  Anyway, they stretched all the way to the new roundabout at its junction with the A4095. 

I then headed out into the Cotswolds.  This route took me over the M40 to the village of Middleton Stoney; at this point I saw the first of many AA notices directing traffic to ‘Countryfile Live’ ... where and when I wondered!  Having crossed the traffic lighted junction with the M430, I continued my route along the B4030, through Lower Heyford and over the causeway beside Rousham House.  As I was heading up the hill towards Hopcroft Holt, a roe deer crossed the road just ahead of me, close to the hotel.  I then drove through the Bartons and Gagingwell, with the locals queuing up behind me ... I couldn’t go any faster on this twisting section of the route; it has a number of 90 degree turns!

Approaching Enstone, road signs suggest that a driver should turn left and follow the B4022 in order to join the A44; I did, the locals didn’t!  At the T-junction I turned right; I recall a motorcyclist pulling out of the staggered junction opposite.  I headed through the village, before continuing along this route and bearing left upon the slip-road at the traffic lights; it’s still the A44 which leads into Chipping Norton.  Having reached a mini-roundabout I turned left again and headed along the main thoroughfare within the town.  It was quiet at 07:15.  The A44 bears right at the far end and I headed downhill along New Street.

The Bliss Mill soon became visible in the valley to my left; a local landmark.  There were black and white cows in the field to the side of the road, just above the Mill; Holsteins I presume.  I continued along the A44, past the entrance to the village of Salford on the right, before reaching the A436 turning to Stow-on-the-Wold; I was too early!  The tree-lined route eventually heads downhill to the bridge over the railway line and river; the bridge is quite narrow.  I continued towards Stow-on-the-Wold until I reached the Bledington turning to the left; it is an oblique turn; Martin’s Hill is just a short distance up the road, on the left.  But it was only 07:30 ... so I took a quick drive around the block and then returned. 

A long driveway leads to the yard but, having not visited previously, I wasn’t sure where I was supposed to park.  So, having got to the yard gateway, I turned around to head back to the road again, hoping to see others arrive; another vehicle did, so I turned back again!  They’d disappeared by the time I returned to the gates ... so I had to presume that I needed to drive through the gates, through the yard with stables on each side, and find a space in the area beyond.  I must have been heading in the right direction, as trainer Graeme McPherson waved as I drove through!  Yep, there were a number of vehicles already parked up, and I was able to squeeze my Fiesta between a small horse-box and another vehicle, with room to park behind me.

In addition to the entrance yard, there was a second yard with the rear-windows of loose-boxes overlooking the parking area and horse walker; I was reliably informed that the grey peaking through his window was Londonia.  Evidently there is also a third yard, but that tends to get too hot in the summer.  As the sun hadn’t put in an appearance yet, I put on my raincoat, along with my snow-boots.

The early birds soon congregated in the first yard, and Ellie, John and their son arrived shortly afterwards; Ellie was driving, with John on ‘Alfie’ watch.  A couple of the horses arrived back from exercise whilst we waited; Kielan Woods was aboard one of them – he was due to be back from injury and in racecourse action after the brief August NH break. Evidently he’s Samoset’s regular pilot but has never won aboard the horse but, whilst he’s been on the injury sidelines, Richard Johnson rode the horse to victory; Samoset is owned by his girlfriend’s parents!

We headed up to the area beside the ménage, to await the arrival of latecomers and whilst the horses were prepared for second lot.  There were a number of horses in the adjacent paddocks, including EPDS Racing’s Stynes which had run at Bangor-on-Dee the previous day.  There was also a good view of Stow, in its hill top position (wold).  There was a smock mill overlooking the ménage; it had been converted into a residence, but had no wind sails. 

Once John was satisfied that everyone had now arrived, we headed off to the gallops; they are on the other side of the road.  This meant heading down the driveway, past a small enclosure containing a small grey pony; she’s one of Graeme’s daughter Eliza’s ponies, but not her favourite one evidently.

There was a wood-chip walkway which led to the lane, we crossed this and headed down the hill to the area just above a viewing platform; I chatted to Ellie, who was carrying son Alfie in a back-pack, as we walked down the slope.  It had been Alfie’s first birthday the previous day, and John had joked that they’d managed to keep him alive for a year!!!

Second lot soon arrived, there were seven of them.  I didn’t catch the name of three of the horses, but they included Great Value, Samoset, Londonia and Zabeel Star; Graeme admitted the latter was a particular favourite of his.  They had tried to turn him into a Juvenile Hurdler last season, but this had not been a success, so they’ve reverted back to the flat; he’s not particularly big.        

As the name suggests, Martin’s Hill is on a hill; so the horses headed down this to the far end of the gallops.  It provided an excellent view over the surrounding area too ... which I gather is, in fact, ‘Choccie Land’!  To the southwest is Icomb Hill, with a transmitter aerial atop.  The horses came up the gallops twice, before they circled around us, also twice.  We then began our walk back.  Upon reaching the lane, the frontrunners managed to cross the lane whilst it was clear, but a bus heading from the direction of Bledington had to wait for the stragglers!!!  You’ve guessed it, I was a frontrunner!

Having crossed back over the road, the horses circled around within the schooling ground for a few minutes before being ridden back to the yard.  It was now breakfast time, and Graeme led us back to the main house where a lovely ‘spread’ had been prepared for us.  As it was still early in the morning, a number of horses were still turned out in the paddocks bordering the driveway.  Graeme drew our attention to a 5-year-old dark bay gelding named Skipthecuddles, winner of a bumper on his last race outing at Towcester in May.   

The horse had recently suffered a horrible accident on the horse-walker; he’d lost his tongue!  Evidently they’d gone to collect him one day, to return the horse to his stable, and had found the tongue on the ground within it.  The theory was that he’d lost it, having got it trapped within the mechanism as it travelled around.  Poor horse.  The vet had been called after the accident and did arrive promptly to ‘tie up the loose ends’ so to speak’, having initially said “what do you want me to do about it”, because you cannot sew it back on! 

The accident had happened around six weeks ago, since which time Skipthecuddles had been learning how to eat again but, apart from dropping a certain amount of his food and suffering from mouth ulcers, he seemed to be getting on okay; he certainly looked well.  Amazing. 

We took our boots off outside, and were ushered into a spacious new extension to the original house; fortunately my socks were hole-less, although Rudolf the red-nose reindeer themed!  There were rolls filled with bacon or sausages, coffee, orange juice, and croissants (chocolate and plain).  I had a bacon roll and a plain croissant; that’s in addition to the Weetabix I’d eaten at 05:00.  Champagne was on offer, but I couldn’t partake as I was driving; I didn’t drink anything, apart from water from a bottle in my car, as I didn’t wish to be caught short at any point during the day!  Although there was a toilet facility at the house.  The McPherson’s Dachshund wandered around looking for any scraps; he’s named Sizzle, because he’s a sausage dog!  They had lost their Dachshund bitch, due to an accident on the lane outside the yard.  Graeme wanted to replace her, although Sizzle hadn’t been pining at all! 

After breakfast there was a discussion regarding the plans for the EPDS horses.  Money Maid is still recovering from a fractured pelvis, but they are hopeful that she will steeplechase in time and get that all important black type prior to heading to the breeding paddocks.  EPDS have one broodmare, namely the ex-Alan King-trained Shilpa; she was their first ever winner.  Sadly the mare’s race career was ended due to no fault of her own – she was injured when being brought down during a race. 

The grey Londonia has learnt to settle, and loves to come from behind in a race; he’ll continue to hurdle for the present, but is of a size to jump fences at a future date.  Stynes is still green, when it comes to hurdling, and also carries his head very high at the end of a race.  The thought is that this is a vestige from the time before his breathing operation, when he had difficulties in breathing when under pressure.  Connections are hopeful that, once the horse realises he can breathe okay at all stages of a race, his head will begin to drop; it is thought that a big fluffy noseband will also help! 

Hopeful that Ami Desbois will prove to be the star of the EPDS operation, he is still eligible to run in Novices’ events this year having not won until after the turn of the season.  So it’s aim high, or maybe resort to high class handicaps if a necessity; the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals were mentioned.

It was then time to put our boots back on and head to the yard to take a look at the horses.  Concealing the stables from the garden was an attractive hedge – it looked like laurel with a pink variegation at the end of many of the leaves – but it didn’t look like ‘Red Robinphotinia; it’s been trimmed to keep it in shape but it still wouldn’t be a shade of pink.  A mystery.  I noticed a Rhus tree in the garden, currently in bloom.  I recently had to identify one for someone on twitter who I follow ... they have bright coloured leaves in autumn before they fall, but they also throw suckers which is very annoying, especially when they grow up through a lawn!

Ami Desbois was the first horse we visited; he was in the nearest yard, the one which I’d driven through earlier.  All the other residents in this area were mares!  He was a nice, friendly horse and was led out for us to meet.  The next one we met was Money Maid; she was housed in one of the stables opposite.  Having spent time recovering from her injury, which happened on the home gallops, she was very chubby; if one didn’t know better, you’d think she might be in foal!  Evidently she has been a trencher during her absence but, when racing fit, she doesn’t eat that much.  Graeme also has EPDS Racing’s substitute mare in his charge, Dolly Diamond.

Money Maid was also led out of her stable; she is very sweet, a light chestnut with almost lop ears.  John confessed that, although he doesn’t have a favourite horse ... Money Maid is his favourite!!!  Our group then went through a passageway into the main yard; it was quite long and narrow, with stables on both sides.  Graeme had about 45 horses ‘in’ at the present time.   One horse which is still out at grass is Red Admirable ... because no-one has been able to catch the horse since turning him out! 

John and Ellie recounted another tale of an uncatchable horse – evidently they looked after Noel Williams’ hack whilst the stable move was underway but no-one could catch him either.  Noel had to come to the rescue in the end.  I wonder if his hack is a retired Alan King-trained horse.

Graeme told a anecdote about one of Nicky Henderson’s horses; he doesn’t know whether it is a true story.  Nicky supposedly borrowed a sheep from a local farmer in order keep one of his more nervous charges from box walking and it worked a treat.  At the end of the season the sheep was returned to the farmer, with Nicky hopeful that the horse would return the following season much more chilled out than before.  However, that didn’t happen and Nicky asked the farmer if he’d still got the sheep ... yes, but I don’t know which one it was.  So they took the horse to the field and, legend has it, 199 sheep ran away but one ran up to the horse to say hello!

Anyway, we started at the far end, with Skipthecuddles; he’s a full brother to Minella Fiveo and half brother to According To Trev.  There was another Westerner horse (Rio Bravo?) in the box next door, but he bites.  Opposite was a 4-year-old which would be going pointing shortly, with the hope of strengthening up before beginning a career under rules.  Samoset was stabled next door.  There was a lovely natured chestnut horse back on the other side of the yard, named Faraway Mountain; he’s got freckles within his blaze.  Originating from the Gordon Elliott stable, he’d won at Perth under Richard Johnson before being purchased and moving to the Cotswolds.  He’s currently resting; his run having jarred him up on ground which was too firm. 

Zabeel Star was chilling out, lying on the floor of his stable (I took some lovely photos of him).  Polo Springs is pretty; she’d finished 3rd at Bangor the previous day.  Then Stynes and Londonia of course; the latter’s got a pink nose so needs sunscreen in hot weather.  Trillerin Minella was being sent to the sales the following Wednesday; he has a mind of his own and only occasionally gives his true running – he’d now run out of reprieves!  The horse ran at Market Rasen the following day ... and won, but there was to be no going back this time.

At the near end of the yard were Harry Hunt, which may be having his final season; the stable lass adores him and wants to give the horse a forever home when he retires.  Opposite was Great Value; he can nip, and gets bored easily.  Yesterday he grabbed a head-collar from a hook on the wall outside his stable; he did this a number of times until it was moved.  Also, he can undo the bolt on his stable door – the safety bar at the bottom of the door has to be closed to ensure he remains within!  

As it was now the end of the stable tour, one of the group thanked Graeme for his kind hospitality and we broke into applause too.  What happened next was very amusing ... a number of horses poked their heads over their stable doors and neighed in unison, seemingly in agreement!

I stood chatting to one of Ami Desbois’ owners; he said that the best owners’ experience he’d had was provided by Aintree racecourse.  Evidently they have a different owners’ check-in desk for every race, seven each day.  He lives quite locally, in a hamlet near Cirencester.  Most of the attendees had left by the time I decided to go, which left me with plenty of space to back my car out of its previously restricted space; although, having latterly been moved, the small horsebox was re-parked by this stage.  I’d now removed the raincoat I’d worn since arriving but, in hindsight, I should also have removed my cardigan because the day was now sunny and warm. 

Having driven back slowly through the yard, out through the gate and down the drive, I arrived at the Bledington Road.  Left or right; I choose left, as I wanted to see Bledington.  It’s an attractive village, situated around a green.  I also recognised a house which had once featured on an episode of Escape to the Country!  I actually needed to get to Burford, in order to duplicate what would be my journey back from Cheltenham in March.  The B4450 actually heads back to Chipping Norton but, having crossed over the River Evenlode before driving past Kingham station, I decided to cut through via the village of Lyneham in order to reach the A361.

At the T-junction I turned right and headed through Shipton-Under-Wychwood but further on, at Fulbrook, I encountered a traffic jam; it was 12:15.  What I had failed to take into account was the traffic lights located either side of the ancient bridge over the River Windrush; it was single file traffic in both directions.  And, because this was preceded by a roundabout with the busy A424, traffic arriving via that route took precedence over mine.  It was also baking hot within my car as I waited within the queue; I left a space in front of me at one side-road junction to allow a car driven by a young man plus a companion to pull out and turn right.  

However once I’d crossed the bridge, having finally reached the front of the queue, I headed up the main street through the picturesque town of Burford.  The only issue was pedestrians crossing through the traffic; there was a pelican or puffin crossing, but they didn’t seem to use it.  Too idle to walk those extra few yards I guess!  I’d soon reach the top of the hill, and the familiar roundabout on the A40.  I turned left to head along the ridge above the Windrush valley. 

Usually I’d head along the Witney bypass but, today, I took the first exit in order to head through Minster Lovell and onwards into Witney.  There were a number of mini-roundabouts I needed to negotiate close to the centre of the town; I followed the signposts indicating the route to Bicester, as I needed to remain on the A4095. I eventually arrived at a T-junction, where I turned left.  It was not far now.  The hotel entrance is opposite the second road on the left.  Found it ... that was easy!

My mission completed, I continued through Long Hanborough and Bladon, before arriving at a busy roundabout upon the A44.  I’d also, finally, completed my knowledge regarding ‘Countryfile Live’.  It was a 4-day event, running from Thursday 04 August to Sunday 07 August at Blenheim Palace!  The AA signs I’d seen directing traffic to the event seemed to be heading around in circles ... but that was because I was also heading around in a circle today!!! 

I headed straight across at the A44 roundabout and continued along the short stretch of road to reach the A4260; I then turned left.  However, instead of turning right just a short distance later in order to continue upon the A4095 to Bicester, I continued all the way to Hopcroft Holt before turning right at the traffic lights.  It was a nice stretch of road, the A4260, recently resurfaced.

I headed down the hill to the Rousham causeway, the lights had just turned to green and I followed a queue of vehicles along the single track roadway over the River Cherwell.  The route then heads uphill through Lower Heyford before bearing left; a short distance later it was necessary to turn right in order to continue through the village of Caulcott and onwards to Middleton Stoney.  The traffic lights changed to red just before I reached them.  Then, to add insult to injury, two slow moving farm machinery vehicles approached from a northerly direction along the B430 and turned left towards Bicester; my route.  Damn.

Having negotiated the junction, I’d soon caught up with these vehicles and had to follow them all the way to the outskirts of Bicester.  I had visions of following them all the way to Aylesbury, at a snail’s pace, but fortunately they turned right at the next roundabout to head along the A4095.  Phew.  I carried on through the housing estate to reach the town.  At the far end of the road I turned right at the roundabout, then straight on at the next one; although that particular island was in danger of becoming gridlocked due to weight of traffic entering the Bicester Shopping Village. 

At the third roundabout I turned left in order to head along the Bicester bypass, after which I travelled along the A41, through Kingswood and Waddesdon to arrive at Aylesbury.  Upon reaching their ring-road I turned left and travelled at 30 mph along this stretch of the journey, which included having to wait at the traffic lights on the Buckingham Road.  At the far end of the ring-road I turned left and headed out of Aylesbury before taking the A41 dual carriageway bypass all the way to Hemel Hempstead. 

I overtook a number of cars on this stretch of the journey, and had to manoeuvre into the outside lane at Boxmoor to accommodate a number of vehicles which joined at that point.  There were a number of cars which left at my junction, and I headed down the steep hill to the traffic lights, before entering Two Waters Way.  There was a queue tailing back from the Magic Roundabout, as many vehicles were travelling around the traffic islands. 

Having turned right, then left, then right, I headed up the steep hill, before entering the bypass lane at the next roundabout, and crossed a further roundabout before driving along the final stretch of dual carriageway and turning right at the final traffic island in order to head through Leverstock Green.  I returned along the A4147 and the ring-road to reach home at 14:30.  There’s a smiley face speed limit sign on the ring-road; I gained a smile for being within the 30 mph limit!  Mind you, the following day, I sped past at 34 mph and produced a sad face instead!

I was hungry again by the time I reached home so, having eaten a crust of bread and a tongue sandwich ... no, Skipthecuddles didn’t put that idea into my head, I sat down to watch the racing on TV, Channel 4 actually, despite preferring RUK.  I’d begun to develop a headache by this point so, late afternoon, I went to bed for a couple of hours, after which it had disappeared.  It was probably partly dehydration, and partly my cervical spondylosis; I’d not driven any long distances since Aintree.  

I was awake in plenty of time to eat an evening meal of vegetable pasta bake, before settling down to watch the penultimate episode of The Musketeers.  There were still three baddies at large, including Grimaud, but the King, the King’s uncle, and Treville (Hugo Speers) were all dead. 

The final ever episode was broadcast two days later ... and, with the baddies now despatched, all four Musketeers survived to live happily ever after, having also found love at some point during the three series.  The gorgeous Aramis, played by Santiago Cabrera, was reconciled with the late King’s wife, Queen Anne; he was appointed First Minister by this point, replacing the late Treville.  And, of course, Aramis was the father of the Dauphin!!!        

 

Click here to view my photographs Part 1

 

Click here to view my photographs Part 2

 

 

 

 

 

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