Thursday 29th July travelling south from Selby to Epworth came a rare chance for a real meeting of passions. Totally by coincidence, my elder sister Julia (who lives in Somerset) was on her way north to York to pursue her passion playing her cello in a quartet. It was only the day before that we realised how close we would be, and she agreed to divert off the motorway to meet up with me in a gateway. With ponies tied to a signpost (which is a rare treat in itself - I'm heartily fed up of Micky bossing me into sharing anything and everything I eat and whatever I do having two ponies pulling in opposite directions), it was just fantastic to sit down - on a picnic rug no less - for an hour or more, eating the cake Juj had brought and catching up with each other. Work is truly the weed in the lawn of life, if only life could be like this every day.
There's a price to pay for everything, and the price I paid that day was still having an awfully long way to go once we said our goodbyes. Many of the lanes through to Fishlake had the wide verges so characteristic of drove roads, and Micky Magic and I thoroughly enjoyed ambling along in the sunshine. Once we'd crossed the River Don, as John had warned me the previous evening, we were into different country altogether, through the streets of an old mining town which could just as well have been in Central Scotland. I can't imagine what the drovers would have made of the opencast site we climbed up and over. I reminded myself that you have to take the bad with the good, and if it was glorious open countryside, rather than opencast spoil heaps, all the way, then I might not appreciate the good so much. Bit of a dodgy moment when one of the stallions I thought was pegged out on a bit of rough ground came galloping over and was clearly left free to wander, but thankfully having lived in Yorkshire for many years, he understood me perfectly and after I'd made it clear that neither Magic nor I wanted him mounting us, and no matter what Micky thought to the contrary, he wasn't going to run off and play, the stallion galloped off again bucking and farting.
Magic proved that she was worth her not inconsiderable weight in gold again walking along a really busy road past Hatfield Woodhouse, with combines adding to the rush-hour traffic, which she completely ignored. I thought once we were over the motorway it'd be quieter, but no such luck, and what with traffic roaring past, nothing much interesting to look at, my blisters hurting lots and realising I still had at least another 10 miles to go, by 7 pm spirits started to slump. At which point a motorbike pulled onto the verge in front of me and a lovely young man took off his helmet and came back only because he thought what I was doing looked so much more exciting than I was finding it at the time that he'd stopped simply to ask where I was going and why. His interest and enthusiasm kept me going for another few miles, after which I occupied myself trying to take photos of my silhouetted shadow against the different cereal crops. In my determination to think positive, I told myself how lucky I was that although I've seen a lot of rape, it's all of the type being harvested, rather than the rape and pillage which my mother was so sure I would encounter on my way.
When a smart car pulled up and the driver introduced herself as wife of the friend of last night's friend who had arranged somewhere for me, ponies and tent for the night, I was so relieved to have nearly got where I was going (had she not been in the car and me on a horse)that I could have given her a kiss. Even more so when Dawn said that once I'd pitched my tent and sorted the ponies she was taking me home for something to eat, so I could save my well travelled Doritos for another day.