March 11, 2023 by Mike Madden

When Is A Hedge Not A Hedge? (when its a Dead Hedge!)

A Horse With No Name

Some interesting news on the horse racing front – we bought another one! We visited Tim Easterby in February, and he gave a rather bleak prognosis for Emerald Duchess. The vet thought that she would make a full recovery, but Tim did not. He had seen that sort of injury before. Although he thought the horse could recover, whether it could be trained to be a racehorse again was doubtful.

Emerald Duchess looking melancholy – she just wants to race

Duchess At The Doctor’s 

So, we took the decision to give her as much time as she needs before making a decision, essentially writing off the summer. Tim then made a very generous offer. He said that we could lease or buy a two-year-old filly from him at cost price, which was around £17,000. If any part of the filly remained unsold he would be happy to retain it. The filly was by the stallion Dandy Man out of the mare Wind Storm, with a very nice pedigree. We quickly decided that we would not want to lease, so we made the purchase and look forward to another two-year-old campaign.

Another Lady

Tim’s office made all of the arrangements, it was just left to us to choose a name. After multiple tense rounds of voting, in which Lady Gladrags, Emerald Dandy and Dandylicious were amongst those outvoted, the name Miss Dandylion was chosen. Unfortunately someone beat us to that by a matter of days, so we considered an alternate spelling of Miss Dandelion. However, Weatherbys would not allow this as the two names are phonetically identical, so we opted for Lady Dandylion instead. We await the results of our application.

Lady Dandylion

Its a great drive from here to Tim’s, the route takes you through the majestic Castle Howard. We gave the yard a box of home made biscuits, and I have never seen Tim move as quickly as when he thought someone had removed the box. 

The Great Jack Berry

Our next stop was at nearby Jack Berry House, home of the Injured Jockeys Fund, where I got some marvellous advice on my knee from their resident physio. We also took some pictures of this fabulous centre, including one with the great man himself.

Made For Middlethorpe

Finally we headed to Middlethorpe Hall, the wonderful National Trust hotel that never disappoints.

The Drawing Room

The Lady Is A Star

After a hearty breakfast the next morning, we took the short drive to David O’Meara’s Willow Farm. Here, Star Of Lady M is being brought along gently, and we have targeted a race at Thirsk in mid to late April for her racecourse return. She looked a picture in the early spring sunshine, and we are optimistic for the year ahead.


She is now famous enough to take pride of place on Beverley racecourse’s promotional material!

David has more or less said that I can plot her year ahead, and he will only intervene if he thinks I have made a mistake, which is great. We discussed it over tea and more home made biscuits, with the chocolate digestives disappearing rather quickly. We look forward to our next visit in March.

Discussing race plans with David O’Meara

Book Boost

The local newsletter ILoveManchester posted a feature about Star Of Lady M, which helped to boost sales of From Tattersalls To Triumphs.

From meal deal to real deal: Altrincham racehorse owner Mike who bought first horse with Tesco Clubcard points pens book on incredible journey

The book is still available on Amazon, with all proceeds to the racing charities Injured Jockeys Fund and Retraining Of Racehorses.

The Dead Hedge

I finally got around to building my dead hedge thanks to a couple of tools provided by renowned tree feller Dean Longden. It took a fair amount of effort to get the first post into the ground that involved digging up several large stones. However, once that was in place the other nine soon followed.

I added a layer of moss to the base and placed an upturned wooden box in a corner to attract wildlife. Then came the laborious task of weaving the outsides. Fortunately Dean had taken down dozens of small trees, aided by the railway closure.

I started to add the internal branches, and half way up I added another layer of moss.

Next, I filled the hedge to the top of the posts and covered it with a final layer of moss.


I videoed its first night – but the only critter I caught was Bo! However, there have already been wrens and tits milling around close by.

Eating Out

I managed to try a few local hostelries recently, and one of my favourites was a relaxed cup of coffee and bacon sandwich at Frydays Cod & Cake. Very friendly staff and highly recommended. Fish & chips are very good too!

I also visited Grill 13, the new burger place that occupies what was once Cafe 110. The chicken tenders and fries were excellent, but the burgers were a little disappointing. More MacDonalds than gourmet, but reasonably priced and certainly tasty.

The Cock seem to be doing a roaring trade on Sunday afternoons, serving tasty roast dinners and only a cockstride (pun intended) from home. Fantastic local option, but I recommend booking in advance.

We also went to the Barrel Inn at Bretton, and I am happy to say it was as good as ever. We had roasts except for Ole who tucked into a magnificent steak and ale pie. Booking is essential, but the views and the food are well worth it.

Burgers & Burnt Offerings

At home I combined with Nixie to make a lemon drizzle cake – and it came out rather well.

However, my greatest culinary achievement in the last couple of weeks was home made burgers. These used the somewhat extravagant processes of Heston Blumenthal, but I have found that the way he layers the strands of meat certainly makes a difference. I stopped short of making my own cheese slices and burger buns from scratch. However, I did knock up a home made burger sauce and accompanied that with my chilli jam. See what you think!

Meanwhile, Sally continues to get through an alarming number of pans. This was supposed to be savoury rice.

A Night Out

We seem to have gravitated away from the Royal Exchange theatre and towards the Lowry recently. The Girl From The North Country show was outstanding, and in January we went to their production of The Ocean At The End Of The Lane. This was brilliantly staged, with the special effects stealing the show. We now look forward to 2.22 A Ghost Story in November.

Super Sunday

The Superbowl certainly lived up to all of the hype, though Rihanna’s half time show was not something that I was interested in. However, I can recommend the rendition of The Star Spangled Banner by Chris Stapleton. A real goosebump inducing performance. Looking forward to the Bengals making an appearance next year.

Work Weary

Zac has returned to Tesco, but at the end of each shift he seems to produce another reason why it was “terrible”. From the wrong aisle, to the late deliveries, and other staff not pulling their weight, he has an endless supply. I suspect that he simply does not like work!

Ole, on the other hand, seems intent on adding more strings to his bow. He has started to get a few audition requests through, and he has completed his level two Personal Training course. When he has passed level three you might well see him in a gym near you.

Two Left Feet

I have decided that, as I am walking on average several miles per day, I might as well resurrect my golfing career and do the walk with clubs in tow. It is almost eight years since I last played, and although my clubs seem to be in reasonably good nick (we shall see), I definitely needed new golf shoes. American Golf Discount had some good deals, so I ordered a natty pair of Greg Norman’s.

I quickly realised that they had given me two left feet. When I contacted customer service to inform them of the error, they confirmed that the shop that had dispatched them were left with a box containing two right feet. Hardly surprising, but to be fair they arranged a courier collection and delivered the right shoe within a matter of days. Other online retailers could learn a lot from them.

Movie Time

I will sometimes watch a film based on the cast, and with Bullet Train I was not disappointed. However, it is not a foolproof method, as the truly awful Paradise City proved. John Travolta and Bruce Willis should take a long hard look at themselves!

White Nancy

For Valentine’s Day we treated ourselves to a walk up White Nancy. If you have never been, I recommend taking the scenic route from Kerridge rather than trying to climb the escarpment from Bollington. After a couple of much needed rest stops we reached the summit, and I had a bit of a funny turn. Sally insisted that I get myself checked out, so over the next few weeks I was prodded and poked and eventually given the all clear, or certainly as all clear as a 61-year-old can get.

Anyway, whilst I was having one session of prodding and poking at the Alexandra in Cheadle, Sally took the opportunity to visit a car showroom in Stockport. At about the same time that I was having needles stuck into both arms, Sally was signing on the dotted line for a replacement Range Rover Sport. Thinking about it, the White Nancy climb was her idea, as was the insistence that I get checked out. She knew it would take place in Cheadle, and she knew she would have plenty of time to nip to the dealership. It was all a ruse!

The first stage of the “near death experience” that is White Nancy

TikTok Totting Up

Sally and myself have been experimenting with TikTok, initially to boost sales of From Tattersalls To Triumphs. My first attempt started off quickly with 42 views, but TikTok then muted the sound due to copyright issues, so I deleted it. Since then a seven second video of my dead hedge has reached almost 1500 views, whilst a more leisurely inspection of it has passed 1600. Even a five second snippet of a hospital waiting room has had several hundred engagements, and we have come to the conclusion that there is no rhyme nor reason as to why something would be popular. Any ideas?

Once Upon A Time…

Finally, seven-year-old granddaughter Nixie came to stay, and each evening she had a bedtime story. One of her favourites is The Three Little Pigs, the gruesome version where two of the pigs get eaten and the wolf is boiled alive. After the most recent reading she asked, why did the pigs’ mummy send them away when they didn’t have houses. I tried to explain that wild animals do not live with their young. When they are old enough they have to find their way in the world. She pointed out that the pigs were not wild, because they had clothes and they could speak. I fear we may have another Zac on our hands.

You can view the previous edition here


Evri Cloud…