DIARY – NEWBURY – PLUS COURSEWALK NO.2!
– SATURDAY 27 MARCH 2010
Jane (that’s me!) and Choc following our coursewalk
The day finally arrived when I would have my second course walk with Choc, having bid for and won the charity auction item at last year’s Family Fun and Football Day at Worcester ... a prize I bid for and won for the second year running I have to confess! My choice of courses this time around, having walked the New Course at Cheltenham on the first occasion, was Ascot, Sandown Park or Newbury. Unfortunately Choc was unable to fulfil my request to walk Sandown Park on 13 March due to other commitments, so I settled for Newbury which, although fairly straightforward, has the advantage of being 1 mile and 6 furlongs in distance, which meant that I got to spend a few more minutes with him!!!
Anyway, here is a link to my diary entry for Worcester’s Family Fun and Football Day where the charity auction item was offered:
I asked my friend Lesley to come along with me, as she’d done on the previous occasion too. As she’s not the best timekeeper, I offered to drive up to Bedfordshire to pick her up en route. I didn’t want to keep Choc waiting, as I’d arranged with his valet, Phil Taylor, that Lesley and I would arrive at Newbury by 11:00 latest, which was gate opening time. My preferred routes to Newbury from Hertfordshire take around 90 minutes to complete – M25 / M4 / A4 or M25 / M40 / A404 / M4 /A4 – although, at this time, there was a contraflow system between junctions 18 and 16 with a speed restriction of 50 mph.
I decided to leave more than enough time to reach Newbury, leaving home mega-early at 08:00! My route took me up the A5, and I had hoped to travel through Dunstable and Totternhoe but discovered that, due to roadworks, all traffic was being diverted through the village of Kensworth. Okay, new plan. I took a route past Whipsnade Zoo, down off the Chilterns escarpment, and across the B489 to reach Lesley’s village on the Bedfordshire/Buckinghamshire border. I discovered the roads in Bedfordshire are under urgent need of repair, as they are in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.
Having arrived at her house at 08:30, we set off via the Leighton Buzzard bypass and Aylesbury. It had been an option to cut across country via Princes Risborough and High Wycombe but, as the route planner suggested the A41 to Bicester, followed by the A34 past Oxford and on to Newbury, I decided on the latter option. Having been to Cheltenham on 4 days the previous week, the journey out to Bicester and southwards to Oxford was very familiar. The route onwards to Newbury proved to be ideal too, the road skirting Abingdon and Didcot.
Having reached Newbury, I turned eastwards along the A4, and turned right at a set of traffic lights so as to approach the racecourse via my usual route. I turned left over the railway bridge, then left again, driving along the racecourse perimeter road to reach the free of charge car park, where we parked up at 10:10. We sat in the car until 10:45, then set off on foot for the Premier Enclosure entrance gate. We wore our shoes/boots, and were carrying our Wellingtons.
As we approached the entrance gate, we noticed Phil Taylor was waiting outside for us. He led us through the main gate, and around to the Owners/Trainers admission office to collect two complimentary Premier Enclosure tickets and race-cards, which was very kind of them to arrange. The staff in the office asked Phil how many jockeys he was looking after today – a mere 15, as compared to 40 at the Cheltenham Festival! We then set off for the Weighing Room, which is situated on the ground floor of the Berkshire stand, to meet up with Choc. Phil explained to the stewarding staff the reason for our visit, and he took us through to a small canteen area where we waited whilst he went to fetch Choc.
Choc had arrived dressed in a suit and, as he passed the canteen door he said hello to us, before going into the Weighing Room to change into his waterproof jacket and trousers, and his green Hunter Wellingtons in preparation for the coursewalk. Whilst we waited, we changed into our Wellingtons. A short time later Choc appeared, carrying his ‘going stick’ and he, Lesley, Phil Taylor and I set off for the walk. We exited via the Weighing Room doors, which overlook the Parade Ring, turned left to enter the Premier Enclosure, walked through between the Berkshire Stand and the Hampshire Stand, and exited onto the course via a small gate near the far corner of the latter building.
I think I must be ‘shrinking’ through old age, as Choc always seems to be the same height as me – he’s 5ft 7ins and I’m supposed to be 5ft 8½ ins!
Our route took us across the track used for flat racing, then over the hurdles track to the inside one, which is the steeplechase track. At first I have to confess I was feeling a little shy and tongue-tied, so the conversation was a little stilted! And because I’d asked a lot of questions during my last course walk with him. Anyway, having stopped to re-tie the lace on one of my red Wellingtons, I had to resort to getting my notebook out of my handbag to jog my memory as to what questions I should ask! Choc said he was surprised that I wanted to walk the course with him for a second occasion ... I told him I just couldn’t help myself when bidding for his auction item!
I asked him about his website www.chocthornton.com ... he confirmed it’s gone. It was no longer cost effective to keep it up and running. He asked if my website was still online, as he’s not looked at it for a while ... I told him it is. He asked about hits and contacts – the website statistics state that I received over 8,000 hits during March 2010 (and I don’t think that can only be me checking on my uploads!). I haven’t received as many contact emails as I’d like or would have expected, but never mind!
Choc confirmed that Newbury used to place a hurdle at the far end of the track, a cross-hurdle ... I didn’t think it had been my imagination!
Does Choc have a favourite horse that he currently enjoys riding? Yes, Medermit. Choc has been disappointed with Bensalem - the horse doesn’t have the survival instinct to find that ‘extra leg’ when his jumping goes awrie.
I mentioned that I had walked around the Grand National course and was a little disappointed, as I thought the fences would be bigger! Although I did stress that I wouldn’t wish to ride the course myself! My problem is that I recall the fences before the safety modifications (although I was viewing it on TV). Choc said it’s dangerous enough, especially with 40 horses competing in the race. He said I must be from the Ginger McCain school of racing!
He’d like to go to the Czech Republic to watch the Velka Pardubicka, for the ‘craic’, but not to ride in the race again!
They commented on the golf course which is located to the side and centre of the course, they didn’t think it looked very good! He asked if I played golf ... no, I don’t.
Which horse currently in training would he like to ride? Big Fella Thanks in the Grand National (the horse Ruby Walsh had chosen to ride in the 2010 event). He’d also like to experience the ride aboard Kauto Star. He believes Kauto Star will win another King George, but another Gold Cup win may now be beyond him. He was not convinced that the currently 9-year old Imperial Commander will win a second Gold Cup, as the horse is just one year younger than Kauto Star and Denman . I suggested perhaps a novice from this year’s crop – yes, quite possibly. He thinks Denman would be too hard a ride, especially as he appears to have a mind of his own.
Which horse from ‘history’ would he like to have ridden? Viking Flagship, who was trained by David Nicholson for much of his career. The horse was in the yard when Choc worked there as a lad, but he never had the opportunity to ride him in work. He also mentioned Desert Orchid, although Choc said the experience might have been scary with Dessie standing far off his fences!
He did mention that he enjoyed riding the Alan King trained My Way De Solzen, as the horse was beautifully balanced. He thinks the horse should have been retired sooner than he was, and he is currently point-to-pointing.
We mentioned the Mares’ feature races which would be taking place during the afternoon programme. Choc said that Paul Nicholls only has one or two mares in his yard, as they don’t stand up to his training regime. However, Choc likes a good mare (that sounds good doesn’t it!) and mentioned Mysilv, another horse trained by David Nicholson, but whose career and shortly afterwards her life was ended due to a pelvic injury.
Choc said that Ruby was disappointed to have ridden only 3 winners at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. But I guess he was bound to be, having triumphed on 7 occasions last year!
Choc’s view of the new racecourse at Ffos Las – he likes the course itself, but it’s very difficult to travel to, and it’s very bleak. If you visit the course, he suggests it should be for a flat race meeting during the summer! That rules me out then, as I don’t like flat racing!
What about jockeys to supersede AP as champion? Phil and Choc were wondering if AP would go on forever! They would both like to see Richard Johnson win the title. What about up and coming youngsters who might become champion – I mentioned Giles Hawkins – yes, they both agreed. And, possibly, Ryan Mania ... but they think he would need to move south, as there are less opportunities on the northern circuit!
I asked if the jockeys ever pull each others legs when the horses they are riding have humerous names (such as Transvestite or Big Knickers). No, he often can’t even remember the name of the horse he’s riding – just yesterday he was milling around at the start aboard a horse trained by Don Cantillon and realised he had absolutely no idea what the horse was called! I jogged his memory – it was Grand Award!
Choc’s favourite chocolate treat is Peanut M & Ms, he eats his way through huge packets evidently. Although he has recently been enjoying Cadburys Chocolate Whole Nut bars!
I asked whether he would like to write an autobiography. He said he’d probably be unable to get the funding to write one, as a number of his colleagues had encountered problems wherein they’d received the initial commissing fee, but had experienced difficulties with the publishers after that. Didn’t I find the books boring he asked? No, in the main, I’ve enjoyed reading them. Both Phil and Choc recommended Graham Bradley’s autobiography – strangely enough, they are not the first to recommend the book!
When he retires, would he like to go on adventures similar to Richard Dunwoody’s expedition to the South Pole. No, he thinks he will probably disappear without trace. That’s so sad. L
I’m pleased to say Choc confirmed the number of National Hunt career winners he’s ridden, and our figures tallied! I’m not to reveal the number just in case fate intervenes to deny him entry to the ‘1000 Club’. But, if he reaches that magic number, he agreed it would be nice to celebrate during the main part of the season, rather than during the summer months when it might pass by unnoticed. Choc has also ridden 6 flat winners and 3 (or was that 6) in Ireland.
I found out why Choc doesn’t like horror films (although his wife Meally like movies of this genre). Evidently his brother Richard forced him to watch An American Werewolf in London at the age of 8 or 9 and it really scared him. So Choc has a particular aversion to Werewolves! But he did admit to having watched the remake of A Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Lesley mentioned that she’s watched the original film.
He doesn’t get jealous when someone else pilots a horse he might usually ride. But ... it does sometimes annoy him when they win on the horse, as every winner is important to him and he doesn’t like to miss one.
I asked about Katchit, who was found to have fractured a hind pastern following the World Hurdle. He assured me Katchit would be fine. Initially Choc had thought that perhaps Katchit just didn’t get home in the race from the second last, the lameness not having shown up until he reached the unsaddling enclosure.
The remounting rule. Choc is in total agreement with this, as he always thinks about the welfare of the horse. (I’ve noticed he’s always one of the first to pull up if the horse no longer has a chance.) He did mention that he was perhaps the only jockey who thought that Ruby should not have remounted Kauto Star to canter back following their fall during the Gold Cup. I said that I was surprised that Ruby remounted, so was in total agreement with him.
As we approached the final fence, we passed Clerk of the Course, Richard Osgood, who expressed his surprise that Choc was walking the course again, because he had ridden at the course yesterday and very little had changed with the going overnight. Choc explained that he was doing the walk with me as part of a charity auction prize.
Having completed the walk, we paused in front of the Hampshire Stand. I was permitted to take a closer look at the scar on his lower lip/chin, which he sustained at Newbury in mid-December. It has healed well, but is more noticeable than I’d realised. He asked if I’d like to see a picture of the injury before it had been stitched (it was on his mobile phone) ... it looked awful, very gory. And we touched on the fact that he’d lost a top tooth in the accident too ... so I got to look at his battle-scared teeth. Bless his cotton socks, he’s very accommodating!
Obviously I asked if his back was okay now. Yes, it’s fine. He spoke in detail about his injury. Choc said that when he was kicked by Cracboumwiz, a tingling sensation shot down his legs (L1, L2 and L3 nerves are linked to the thighs). His initial x-rays didn’t reveal the damage but, as he had blood in his urine, they sent him for a CT (Computed tomography) scan, which was when doctors discovered that he’d suffered fractures to his lumbar vertebrae. He also spoke about Sam Thomas’ recent spinal injury too.
Phil Taylor was then kind enough to take a couple of photos of me with Choc as a memento of my walk. We then walked back towards the Weighing Room. It was 11:45, and Phil said that he hadn’t realised the first race was so early (13:15), Choc now needing to go into the sauna. I thanked Choc and, as always, gave him a peck on the cheek before saying farewell. J
Choc is a very nice guy, very well mannered, and a gentleman, holding open the doors for us whilst we walked through, and letting us go first when walking through the gate and through restricted gaps in the rails too.
Having completed the walk, we decided to return to the car to change out of our muddy Wellingtons, our passes being scanned to log us out at the gate. Now wearing our shoes/boots again, we returned to the grandstand entrance where our passes were scanned to log us in again, we then popped to the loo (more information than you needed) where I changed my tights as I had a hole in one toe following the walk! We waited inside the grandstand during a brief shower, then went to the Premier Enclosure to buy coffee.
Following that we returned to the Parade Ring, where the first event of the day was taking place – a demonstration of the Anatomy of a Horse. Former Cheltenham winner, Monsignor, was being used as a living detailed diagram – special paint having been applied to his body to demonstrate his muscle and skeletal structure. He was very well behaved, and would need to have been, because it took 4 hours to apply the paint!
Soon it was time for the first race of the day. Choc did not have a riding engagement in this race. Before the first race, and throughout the day, children were encouraged to approach the jockeys to ask for autographs. Once the horses had left the Parade Ring, Lesley and I set off for the course-side rails – our special treat today was being able to enter the Premier Enclosure and stand opposite the water-jump during the steeplechase events.
The start of this race was at the far end of the home straight.
Then they were off. The small field was led away by Extreme Impact and Riptide. They were followed by Theologist and Lively Fling, with Souter Point held up in rear. The field was closely packed as they travelled up the straight with one circuit to go. Riptide received encouragement as they began the turn away from the stands.
The Nicky Henderson trained Souter Point was travelling well in last place. Theologist, having taken the lead, jinked on the approach to both the 6th and 7th flights. Extreme Impact soon dropped to the rear of the field. However Riptide, who had lost his place by the end of the back straight, was switched to the outside, rallying to make progress again.
Turning in, Riptide led, followed by Theologist, Lively Fling, Souter Point and Extreme Impact. Souter Point challenged on the inside at the 3rd last, with Riptide hanging left, hampering Theologist in the process. At the 2nd last it was Riptide with the advantage, followed by Souter Point and Lively Fling. The former stayed on and went clear on the run-in, winning by 5 lengths from Lively Fling. Theologist took 3rd after the last, with Extreme Impact in 4th. Souter Point weakened to finish last.
We returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the horses return.
Before this race, there was a demonstration of the Saddling Up procedure taking place at one of the ‘open’ saddling boxes, presented by ex-jockey Colin Brown (who piloted Desert Orchid in 42 races) and trainer Philip Hobbs. The mare being saddled was Calusa Crystal. We didn’t venture over to watch, as Choc would be riding in the next race, and I’d already found a good vantage point on the Parade Ring steps!
Once Choc had left the Parade Ring aboard Over Sixty, we set out for the Premier Enclosure to find a vantage point beside the course-side rails. According to reports, this would be Over Sixty’s last race before being retired to stud. Also competing in this event was the Martin Keighley trained Wychwoods Legend. I believe Lesley had an each-way bet on her.
The start of this race was near the far end of the back straight, with one fence to negotiate before the downhill run to the cross-fence.
Then they were off. The field was led away by Double Hit, with Wychwoods Legend a close second, followed by Calusa Crystal. Over Sixty in midfield made an error at the first, as did Tot Of The Knar in rear. Double Hit led the field into the straight for the first time, followed by Wychwoods Legend, Moulin De La Croix, Carole’s Legacy and Over Sixty. In rear, Tot Of The Knar was jumping out to the left. Daraz Rose made an error at the 4th, and blundered at the next too.
Wychwoods Legend, with the advantage of the inside line around the top turn, took the lead from Double Hit. Choc was on the outside of the field aboard Over Sixty. Double Hit regained the lead as they travelled down the back, Martin Keighley’s charge making a mistake at the 10th. Next it was Calusa Crystal’s turn to lead, Over Sixty having made progress into third. Wychwoods Legend had dropped to the rear of the field by the far turn.
Turning in, Carole’s Legacy had made progress up the inside and held third. As they approached 2 out, Over Sixty was in 4th. However Carole’s Legacy and Calusa Crystal switched across in front of her, so Choc had to steer to his left. This resulted in his mare ‘missing’ the fence and she virtually fell, giving Choc absolutely no chance of staying aboard. The description of ‘unseated’ is extremely unfair. Choc was fine, sitting on the turf, casually removing his goggles as he did so.
Double Hit led over the last from Carole’s Legacy and a slow jumping Calusa Crystal, the former galloping on to win by 6 lengths. Carole’s Legacy finished 2nd, with Tot Of The Knar staying on to finish 3rd, Calusa Crystal faded into 4th. A double for trainer Donald McCain Junior.
Having come to grief during the race, Choc would
have been given a lift back to the grandstand area. As I stood on the steppings above the Parade
Ring, I noticed Phil was taking a break on the Weighing Room steps and, as
Choc came walking back in, he followed him inside.
It was now time for Choc’s second ride of the day, aboard Asturienne. Also competing in this race was Miss Overdrive, full sister to Over Sixty. She used to be trained by Alan King, and had been switched to the yard of Andrew Turnell. Once the horses had left the Parade Ring, Lesley and I set off to find a spot beside the course-side rails. Lesley’s ‘fancy’ in this race was Miss Nightshade ridden by Sean Quinlan, who she thinks is cute!
The start of this race was at the far corner of the track.
Then they were off. The field was led away by Playing With Fire and top-weight Banjaxed Girl. Prominent were Evella, Cobbler’s Queen, Kerada, Queen Poline, Raise You Five and Sure Josie Sure. Asturienne was taking an inside line in midfield. Evella took the lead after the 4th flight, Kerada blundering at the 5th.
Around the far turn, Ryde Back was making good progress. The jockey aboard Banjaxed Girl was in danger of losing his silk cap! Asturienne, having jumped the 4th slowly, was struggling by the end of the back straight. Choc would pull her up before 2 out.
Into the home straight, Evella led by 3 lengths, followed by Banjaxed Girl, Sure Josie Sure, Cobbler’s Queen, and Kerada. There were 8 horses in with a chance at the second last, only three by the last – Banjaxed Girl, Kerada, and Ryde Back, the latter galloping on to win by 3 lengths at the line. Miss Overdrive finished well to take 4th. Jenny’s Gold having pulled up before 3 out, was later dismounted as it became apparent she was lame. Miss Nightshade finished last of the 15 which completed.
We returned to the Parade Ring to see Choc return, having pulled up Asturienne. He looked a little disconsolate as he walked back to the Weighing Room.
As part of today’s demonstrations, Colin Brown would take small groups of spectators to visit the starting gate before 3 of the races, in order that they could experience what happens before the start of a race. The first trip was to the 3 miles 2½ furlongs start, which is where the Hennessy Gold Cup commences.
Choc didn’t have a ride in this race. Once the horses had left the Parade Ring we set off to watch the race from beside the course-side rails.
On the second attempt, the field set off (perhaps the official starter was conscious that he had a group of spectators watching him closely). The field was led away by Le Burf and the grey, Rimsky, who was not fluent at the 2nd obstacle. Close up were Pretty Star, Bold Ransom and Dom D’Orgeval. In rear was Carrickmines, not jumping fluently.
Into the straight for the first time, Rimsky held the clear advantage, with Bold Ransom, Le Burf, and Pretty Star still prominent. Rimsky was slow at the water, but still led down the back straight. Pretty Star blundered at the 14th.
Rimsky held the advantage around the final bend, followed by Knighton Combe, Burren Legend, Qhilimar and Dom D’Orgeval, the latter two horses hitting 4 out. Knighton Combe took over 4 from home, with Burren Legend taking the advantage 3 out, staying on well to draw clear in the final 75 yards to win from Dom D’Orgeval, with Knighton Combe back in 3rd.
We returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the horses return.
As the organised trips to the start would continue with the next race (and the following one) we were considering participating but, in the event, the heavens opened and we ‘chickened out’, instead seeking shelter under cover of the glass roof just beside the Weighing Room!
Once the horses had left the Parade Ring, again we set off for the Premier Enclosure to watch the race. The start of this race was part way down the home straight.
Then they were off. The field was led away by the keen Outside The Box, who kicked the top bar out of the first flight. Soon he had established a clear lead over You’re So Vain, the remainder of the field choosing to remain in a group some distance behind them.
Outside The Box remained well clear, until You’re So Vain joined him around the far turn, however the latter made a mistake at the third last, and was awkward on landing at the next, and made a further error at the last too. The only horse to come out of the pack was the Nicky Henderson trained Osric, who was 13 lengths down in 3rd before 2 out, 7 lengths down at the last, and closed until near the finish, but didn’t manage to pass the long time leaders.
Outside The Box had made all to win by a length from You’re So Vain, with Osric a length down in 3rd. Richard Johnson riding a winner for his father-in-law, Noel Chance.
We returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the horses arrive back.
It was now time for Choc’s third ride of the day, aboard Mam Ratagan. Choc was legged up early, supposedly going to the start before the other runners. However, he was actually accompanied to the start gate by another competitor! The start of this event was part way down the home straight, which meant the horses would jump two plain fences before the water-jump and then travel one complete circuit after that.
Then they were off. The field was led away by Choc aboard Mam Ratagan, and he soon had a clear lead over Its Crucial, Circus of Dreams, Kew Jumper and Invisible Man. However, he got too close to the first fence in the back straight (4th obstacle) which allowed Its Crucial to take the advantage as they cleared the open-ditch. Jumping slowly, Mam Ratagan dropped to the rear of the field, however he was able to rally and was soon back with the leader again.
Its Crucial jumped out to the right, losing ground at the cross-fence. Having turned into the home straight in second, Mam Ratagan cleared the 4th last at the rear of the field so, having lost all chance, Choc decided to pull him up. Having gone 4 or 5 lengths clear by the 2nd last, Its Crucial blundered, but still went away to win easily by 16 lengths from Kew Jumper, Circus of Dreams and Invisible Man.
We returned to the Parade Ring to see Choc arrive back to unsaddle his mount. Again he looked disconsolate as he walked back to the Weighing Room.
It was soon time for the final race of the day, in which Choc would be riding Easter Meteor for trainer Emma Lavelle. Dual Festival winning jockey, Katie Walsh (sister of Ruby), would be riding in this race aboard the Nicky Henderson trained Pampelonne (although we didn’t actually notice her!)
When it was time for the jockeys to mount, Choc came across and walked along between the perimeter rails and the Winners’ Enclosure. He had to jump quickly out of the way, as one of the approaching horses became frisky (possibly No.9 Steel Bullet). It made Choc laugh, as it did both Colin Bolger and a guy who I assume was Easter Meteor’s Travelling Head Lad!
Lesley decided to put an each-way bet on Easter Meteor (all her bets being each way).
Once Choc had exited the Parade Ring we set off for the course-side rails to view the race. Being a Junior Bumper race, it started at the beginning of the back straight, with less than a circuit to race. The proceedings were held up by Top Smart, ridden by Jamie Moore, the horse initially refusing to exit onto the course. Then he played up again, Jamie riding stirrup-less to the start. And that wasn’t the end of the problems he would cause, because several attempts were made to lead the horse in before he finally set off with the other runners.
The field was led away by Pre Raphaelite, Balustrade, Merehead, and Kid Cassidy. Easter Meteor was on the inside, midfield.
Turning into the home straight, Easter Meteor was going well in third, just behind Merehead and Kid Cassidy, the latter taking over 2 furlongs out. Initially Choc’s mount looked like finishing 2nd, but faded as they approached the line, with Merehead regaining the advantage.
A win for Lesley, each way at 16-1! With 3 each way bets of £2 (£12 total), I believe she lost less than £3 today ...
Choc returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to unsaddle his mount, speaking with Emma Lavelle’s Assistant Trainer (and partner) Barry Fenton, and the horse’s connections.
Once Choc had returned to the Weighing Room for the final time, we set off back to my car. As we’d barely eaten all day (I had breakfast – Weetabix and Croissants; and Lesley had eaten some biscuits at mid-day) we sat in the car and tucked into our favourite snack of cheese-straws and chocolate covered biscuits (both M & S)!
The attendance seemed fairly low today, so we had no trouble exiting the car park, which we did at around 17:20. Outside the main gates we turned right, heading back to the A4, and then heading west to re-join the A34 northbound (it is probably easier to take an alternative route ... but this is the one I know!) We drove towards Oxford, noting the eyesore that is the Didcot Power Station, weirdly we’d not noticed it on our southbound trip ... surely it’s visible from everywhere? Anyway, our journey took us back to Bicester and Aylesbury, then via Wing, and skirted Leighton Buzzard before I dropped her off at her home in a nearby village.
My return journey then took me back past Whipsnade Zoo, through Kensworth and onto the A5 to return home. I arrived back at 19:10, in time to watch the end of the new Andrew Lloyd Webber ‘Over The Rainbow’ programme on TV. I then logged onto my laptop to upload my photos ... and shortly afterwards experienced all kinds of technical problems ... the weekly security disk check started up, applications stopped responding and I couldn’t close them down, my screen saver disappeared due to inactivity and it refused to reappear when I moved the mouse. The disk check finally finished, but then the laptop refused to close down ... eventually it did ... and then automatically rebooted, carrying out a checkdisk to ensure everything was okay. By the time I’d written and uploaded my blog it was gone midnight!
I was so relieved to eventually crawl into bed ... although, of course, as the clocks changed to BST that night, I lost an hour too!
And I’m pleased to report that my bad knee held up well too – I’m still experiencing intermittent problems with the ligament on the inside of my knee. Following a week of respite during the Cheltenham Festival, the symptoms returned during the week prior to my course-walk, so I decided to wear a support bandage ... until I noticed that my ankle had become swollen due to fluid retention. I didn’t wear the bandage the day before my walk (Friday) and, luckily, the swelling had disappeared by Saturday!