Eastern Region members visited Abbey Farm, East Walton in September for a relaxed weekend of donkeys and driving, kindly hosted by Bill and Rachel Lewis who have a pair of driving donkeys, Jimmy and Timmy.
Five members set up camp on the Friday. Carole and Dave (Mandy and Tin) managed a drive out before being joined later in the day by Emma (Penny and Bart) and Diane and John (Amos).
On Saturday three more turnouts arrived, Jo (Flora), Gill (Jack) and Alan and David with (Harry Potter). To help we had three grooms, Lucy, Emma and Christina, who were very interested to learn about driving donkeys.
Whilst harnessing up a local cub group walked through the farm yard and seeing they were interested in what was going on Jo introduced them to Flora.
Sadly the weather wasn’t behaving but we carried on regardless. The land rover was loaded with rugs for the proposed halfway stop at West Acre and with Bill and his pair in the lead we headed down a small lane to avoid the lakes on the track opposite.
Once off road we could see the beautiful countryside but the rain was a constant threat.
As some of the group found the weather and ground conditions difficult they took a circular route back to the camp site whilst four turnouts continued to the Stag Inn at West Acre where we had the car park to ourselves so parked our carriages in the parkbays, let the donkeys graze in hand on the lawn and enjoyed a platter of mixed sandwiches and beverages.
On our return we learned that Norfolk has hills.
The walk and trot back to camp was most enjoyable, Emma’s pair had valuable experience of being in the company of other turnouts, all the donkeys enjoyed the freedom of trotting along grass tracks with no traffic and had experience of pigs (thdidn’t care), real water features and uneven terrain.
On returning we had a little relax with some in hand confidence building which was no problem at all to the donkeys.
As it was camp we had to have fish and chips for tea. With no chance of eating outside, it was just too cold and wet, we settled on the feed barn and enjoyed a friendly evening of donkey chat.
On Sunday the weather was kinder. The sun appeared and the sandy tracks had dried a little.
Jill and her sister joined us on Sunday with Mix and Match.
Again to avoid the worst of the wet tracks we did a little road work then headed off across the Norfolk countryside.
The area you can drive on is vast and we were very lucky on both days to be escorted by Bill as many of the tracks we used didn’t appear on my map.
The scenery varied from trees to open countryside.
It was a most enjoyable weekend and we have already booked for next year.