So it turns out after nearly 20 years together that Arthur can still surprise me. Having acquired a fancy Ford F450 pick up truck last year, this year we took delivery of a bright green John Deere tractor complete with a drill combination thing on the back for planting crops. On the day one of its arrival Arthur asked for the vacuum cleaner to clean it out, then further dumbfounded me by looking through my cleaning products in search of what he needed to shine his new toy.
This amazed me because a) I didn't realise he knew I had cleaning products b) he knew what they were for and c) he didn't ask me to do it for him. His truck is also incredibly clean and frequently polished with enormous enthusiasm. We recently paid a visit to Goose Green for the Motocross and while packing Arthur informed me to take extra clothes to wear after the race, because I wouldn't be allowed in the cab of his truck if I were dirty!
So apparently its OK for him to come into MY house looking like he has just been dragged through an oil pit then rolled in a dust bowl, but I can't have a speck of dust on my clothes when entering HIS truck.
This may sound as though I'm exaggerating but it's the honest truth – in fact having asked me to drive his tractor into the garage the other day he went on to suggest I wash my hands first. It's like being a kid again; then again bearing in mind the problem I have with getting older, I actually don't mind so much.
Well the motocross was fun, Arthur had convinced me to race my Honda I must admit I wasn't keen on the idea but he won me around pointing out that even if I didn't win I'd have the opportunity to show off the new bike to my pals. As I am incredibly proud of Hondy (yes like all great things she has a name!) I decided to give it a go and Arthur took me out each night to practice with him. Well I say practice; I'm not sure how much I learned being overtaken every few minutes and covered in a cloud of dust - although I now feel confident driving my bike with my eyes closed for 10 second bursts to let the dust settle.
On reaching the event, a rather dubious KTM riding friend gave me a guide to being a motocross racer just five minutes before the race started, and other friends were quite keen to tell me how much I would enjoy it.
Well for the first ten minutes I was hating it and couldn't believe I had let myself and Hondy be subject to roaring around and around the same piece of ground. Then I noticed it was a nice day, my bike was awesome and I could practice taking corners, so I relaxed and I did enjoy it.
At the same time I am pretty sure I don't have the mental attitude necessary to become a full blown MX fan; while driving I became distracted with thoughts including wishing I had asked my old Pal to water my tomato plants and then planning what meals I was going to cook for shearing. I later loaned my bike to a friend for the expert races and was amazed to see Hondy doing things and going at speeds that I didn't think she was capable of.
After the race it was back to reality and a chance for me to put Hondy to the use she was purchased for, namely gathering sheep. Eighty-three miles later Arthur and I had successfully gathered our 8000-acre French Wreck camp using just the two bikes.
It was an enlightening day for me in so many ways; having to keep up with Arthur taught me to jump ditches that I previously wouldn't have thought myself capable of, plus I also learned how to jump off peat banks and drive at what felt like 100mph over huge grass bogs. The latter skill came in particularly handy because on my beat there was a cow with a new born calf hidden in the grass and mummy was far too interested in me for my liking, and in turn the damn sheep seemed to sense I wouldn't get too close to them if she was around and kept heading off towards her.
I also learned that I never ever want to do a gather like that again without one of us having a dog. I must have put in an extra 50 miles going back and forth behind the sheep to keep them moving. When we got all the sheep turned down onto the coast Arthur went back to get the rover and the four dogs to help us drive the sheep up to the settlement. Not sure who was the most excited when they turned up, me or Yuppy.
That bleeding cow decided to come along the fence with us for a while much to my horror a) because I am a caring farmer and was worried about her getting too far from her calf and b) and most importantly, I was terrified of her and she seemed to really like me. It just confirmed all of my past my thoughts about bovines; they really look their best to me on my plate with a little mustard on the side.