THERE has been a distinct schism this year for holiday opportunities in our family. Neither of our daughters have been able to go away. Bryony and her husband, both doctors, have worked flat out during the pandemic. Jo and her husband have worked from home, even over time they could have taken as holiday.

I had my one holiday opportunity in Malta cancelled due to the rise in Covid cases on the island. But John is about to take his third vacation this year. Another week away fishing in Scotland.

In pursuit of this latest jolly, John decided he needed to renew and replace several items of his fishing wardrobe and tackle. Only one place to go. To venture out of county and over the A66 to his favourite fishing Mecca in Penrith. We wanted some new waders and specific fishing gear. None of which John assured me could be bought locally.

The A66 is a lovely road. Views are both pastoral and spectacular. But my favourite memories of the drive are when Appleby Fair is being held. Then we would divert into the town to see the ponies and horses taken down to the River Eden to be washed.

Although there is a specific “flashing lane” on a cordoned off road in Appleby for showing off the horses and ponies trotting at speed, the A66 also presents good opportunities for ponies and traps to “flash” along the highway. The problem being then that unlike in the town where the road was cordoned off, on the A66, the ponies and traps share it with lorries, caravans, tractors and general motor traffic. But who cared. Well I didn’t. The long queue, and there are frequently long queues on the A66 when the highway authorities seem to cordon off miles of dual carriageway for no visible reason at the height of summer, is worth it to be able to gingerly overtake or, if lucky, follow, a pony and trap spanking along the road.

But there has been a dreadful price for my day out. Dotted around the paddock I have pens where bantie hens and their chicks live until they can roam freely. The sheep in this field are a greedy lot and I have my main poultry feeder fenced off so they can’t literally gorge themselves to death. But yesterday, these terrorists had broken into the pen of a lovely bantie with four Barnevelder chicks presumably to steal their chick crumbs. An opportunistic fox has then seized his chance and killed the whole family. I am distraught.