The judging is almost finished and I'm on the home straight. Today I visited Rhyl, Barmouth and Aberdovey in North Wales.
I found the contenders for the Best Group of Beach Donkeys for this area on Rhyl beach with Kenny and Joe Jones. Their four donkeys were called Monty, Vicky, Sophie and Benny. All but Sophie are what are called 'coloured donkeys' (skewbald).
Part of my judging is chatting with the owners themselves. Talking with Kenny and Joe was extremely interesting. Both brothers have been working donkeys on Rhyl beach since 1945. Their father and grandfather before them had been working on the beach as far back as 1848. The family spanning a staggering 160 years of owning beach donkeys!
I could have listened to Kenny and Joe's stories for hours, but time was marching on, so both Molly and myself said our goodbyes before driving to meet Steve Staff and his Barmouth donkeys who were contenders for Best Beach Donkey Feet. It was a lovely surprise to see Carys Roberts working with the donkeys. I have known Carys for about four years through International Donkey Week and have spent time together looking at donkey photos.
The other contenders for best feet are Maggie Aldridge's donkeys at Weymouth and Parker's donkeys at Great Yarmouth, both of which I judged at the same time as judging them for the best group earlier in the week.
After a coffee break on the promenade it was time to set off for Aberdovey to meet Louise Peeters and Del Boy for this region's best individual donkey.
We found Del Boy on the sand dunes busily giving donkey rides. While waiting for Louise to lead Del Boy and Moses back, I chatted to the parents of a little girl called Katie. Every week she saves £2 from her pocket money so that she can see the donkeys and have a donkey ride. Also a regular visitor to see the donkeys is Samuel from Worcester. Today he was looking forward to a donkey ride on Del Boy.
I learnt my first Welsh word today - mulod (donkey)! It's my challenge tomorrow to find out what the welsh translation is in the south as I hear it's not the same as in the north!
It was time to drive on to my accommodation for the night where Molly was handing me over to Lionel Ford, regional welfare officer for South West England and South Wales to take me on the last leg of my journey around the country.
Today's judging covered a distance of 150 miles through some spectacular scenery. At Aberdovey I heard what sounded like a steam train and looking up towards a bridge that went over the main road, a steam train blew its whistle and trundled over the bridge pulling carriages full of passengers waving to pedestrians down on the street!
Tomorrow Lionel will be driving me to Llanelli to meet Mike Thomas and his donkeys who are contenders for the best group of donkeys for Lionel's area. Dennis from Mike's group was last year's winner for the best individual donkey so he will be defending his title this year. I'm looking forward to meeting him in the morning.
My thanks to Molly for driving me around the North and Mid-Wales, Midlands, Cumbria, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cleveland area that she covers.