April 21, 2023 by Mike Madden

Horace Comes Home

Waiting For Wildlife

A month or so after completion the dead hedge has not seen too much action – other than the wrong kind of birds!

There seems to have been a lot of shifting of moss, and as we come towards spring I think the activity should increase significantly.

Meanwhile, regular readers will no doubt recall the array of hedgehogs we had last year. This year we have had more activity, and perhaps one of the babies has grown. He seems quite a large chap!

Shortly before the hedgehog, this very skittish critter appeared, no doubt wary of the presence of Bo!

I have placed plenty of bird treats throughout the garden as well as some shiny discs to deter the crows (I knew those CDs would come in handy one day). Hoping to have a few more visitors when the weather warms up.

St Guinness Day

St Patrick’s Day is always one to be celebrated with Guinness and cake, and this year was no exception. I made an Irish stew with soda bread, and of course St Patrick’s Day cake.

The crustiest soda bread in the world!

St Patrick’s Day cake

Turkey Taste Test

Elsewhere in the kitchen, I stumbled upon a real crowd-pleaser with turkey slices. These are “Gregg’s quality” according to Ole, and even Zac is a fan.

Home-made turkey burgers with home-made burger sauce have featured a lot recently. This is partly because of the healthier nature of turkey mince, and partly because Zac actually eats a whole one, though he does make his own sauce with ketchup, mayo and more ketchup.

Voluptuous Volcanoes

Another experiment that did not last very long was chocolate fondants, also known as lava cakes, with custard, cream, or just as they are. Disappeared within minutes!

Finally, we cranked up the wood-fired oven for the first time this year. Pizzas, chicken and sausages all came out very well. I think I am getting the hang of it now!

Duchess And Dandylion

It is an exciting time to be a racehorse owner, and we took a trip to Malton and Upper Helmsley to see our horses. First up was Habton Grange where Tim Easterby is looking after Emerald Duchess and Lady Dandylion.

Emerald Duchess is still recovering from her injury, but she did seem pleased to see us.

(Pic thanks to Edwina Currie)

Lady Dandylion looked magnificent, and although she is not quite ready to race, we should see her in action in May.

The syndicate really enjoyed the tour of Tim’s facilities, and particularly Lady Dandylion on the gallops. It was certainly a family affair, with the legendary Peter Easterby on hand as well as Tim’s son William.

We left them with gypsy creams and look forward to seeing them at the track.

The Star Is Back

Over at Willow Farm it was a brief visit as David O’Meara was on his way back from Dubai. We found Star Of Lady M to be in good spirits, and she should be making her seasonal return at Thirsk on 22nd April. She will have been off for 236 days, and so this race will be a good opportunity to blow the cobwebs away, and to prepare her for the challenges ahead.

Second Syndicate

I did a presentation for High Peak Business Club on racehorse ownership – and particularly Star Of Lady M. Despite a few technical hitches it seemed to go well, and it was an appropriate time to launch a new syndicate.

This will not be actioned until September, and only if I get 40 names to each buy a share. The cost will be £975 per share, and that will cover the purchase price plus one year of training fees. After a year the horse may be sold or trained for another year – depending upon what the syndicate decides. The 40 shareholders would each own 2% with the trainer retaining 20%. The benefits include watching the initial auction (online or in person), stable visits, prize money, days at the races, and even the chance to name the horse. If you are interested please let me know.

There have been some injuries in the house lately, with Ole first up suffering ruptured ligaments at football. He didn’t help himself by going out dancing the same evening, but when the doctor examined his x-ray he confirmed that nothing was broken. Given that he is relatively young and fit he should heal normally with no further treatment. Lady M is not so lucky. She fell of Nancy, though I think that if it was a horse race the correct term would be “Brought Down”. She is left with a swollen knee and a damaged air jacket. A replacement hat is essential, and she will need to install a new gas canister for her protective clothing. She has been resting and icing her injury, in between bouts of gardening and tending to her horse. If she went to the doctor, which she won’t, I think he would frown upon this prolonged activity.

Kitchen Karma

Sally has been tinkering with the oven recently, and her “one-pot” method can be a bit of an acquired taste. Ole remarked that whatever was in the oven smelt quite nice, but Zac was quick to reply. “It might smell nice, but you can’t trust mum’s cooking”.


Sally seems to have a perennial problem with Easter eggs. She tends to buy them in bulk, particularly once Easter has passed, and she puts them into her “chocolate cupboard”. Ole and Zac have known this for quite some time, and so they frequently dip into the cupboard to satisfy their chocolate cravings. Zac is particularly bad for this, and he had to replace two eggs that he demolished. Unfortunately, before the replacements could make it into the cupboard, he ate one of those too.

Also in the cupboard are several boxes of biscuits. The problem here is that biscuits have a relatively short shelf life, and I noticed the other day that a box had expired. However, as it was only by a couple of weeks I put them into the biscuit tin. Once the boys found out they did not last long, and when I pointed out that the Easter eggs may also have expired they were attacked too. Now, part of this is sheer gluttony and a lack of willpower on the part of the boys, but part of it is definitely the insistence of Sally to buy anything that is a bargain. It is approximately 50 weeks until Easter, and we must have at least half a dozen Easter eggs stashed away.

Cat In The Clouds

Bo has discovered that she has the ability to leap great heights, and she has taken to tucking herself away on the top of cupboards to keep an eye on those below. It can be quite disconcerting when a cat suddenly lands at your side when you least expect it.

You can read the previous edition here

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