Do you remember the terror of your first drive on the road? Well it was a long time ago for me, but it has all come flooding back since John has decided he will accompany me on my morning trips to the woods and ponds to feed the ducks and pheasants for his shoot.

For three weeks since his knee operation, I have trundled off each morning in my gator with the cargo area holding the sacks of corn I have diligently filled for all the hungry birds. No mishaps such as driving into a pond or causing a traffic hazard when encountering speeding cars or lumbering tractors. Yet. It has even proved a nifty little vehicle for me when I want to visit neighbours as, because it is licensed for the road, I can nip along to the post box, for a cuppa if I need a break from the arduous task of nursing my invalid husband, or more realistically to escape answering the frequent requests of “ can you just...........”

I am not the only one feeling slightly put out by the prospect of an inquisitor in the cab each morning. My spaniel Moss cannot accompany me if John is selfishly occupying her seat. She is decidedly nose put out by this change of tactics and cried piteously when she watched me loading up and then driving off without her. The problem is that the gator is a left hand drive vehicle. Well it wasn’t a problem to me , but John commented , well snarled, today that I am misjudging the distance from the side of the road, going too slow and almost driving in the ditch. Which I am not. But having your every minor driving variation criticised and commented on is unnerving. And you tend then to make more mistakes. My friend Steph has commented on this husbandly habit since she has bought a brand new car that has gizmos that were never even dreamed off when she first sat behind the wheel of her old vehicle. Although she still doesn’t trust the car to park itself, which apparently it will do, she has only learnt to familiarise herself with her new wheels when she has been allowed to drive unaccompanied.

But tomorrow holds fresh challenges. Judgement time to see if enough birds have been kept in the woods and on the land and not been tempted away by sneaky feeders placed in adjoining woods by neighbouring farmers who haven’t put any game down. Ooh, there are some dastardly tricks played in this game I can tell you. We are having a shoot day and although John is not taking part, we are driving round the shoot in the gator to observe how the day goes.

Up till now my cross country driving skills have been only observed by hungry game birds and an entirely uncritical co passenger, Moss. Now I am to have the human equivalent, a Stirling Moss wannabe beside me, and, an audience of critical farmers watching to see if I’ll get stuck, scare the birds or have brought enough sloe gin for drink times.

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