Instead of writing 'on the road', this evening I'm sat at home having travelled nearly 1,400 miles around the country judging the best group as well as the best individual donkey nationally. Today's final visit was to Llanelli in South Wales to meet Mike Thomas with his four donkeys - Charlie, Josh, Talor and Dennis.
Molly had previously dropped me off at my hotel for the night where we had arranged to meet Lionel Ford, regional welfare officer for South West England and South Wales. After a 'Welsh' breakfast, we set off to Llanelli through some of the most scenic routes in mid-Wales. Along the way, we stopped off to admire the view across Llyn Clywedog, a man made reservoir formed by the construction of the Clywedog Dam.
We arrived at Llanelli mid-morning and found Lizzie Ellis, one of the area welfare officers, waiting for us by the beach. I first met Lizzie back in July when myself and Amanda Gordon went along to Gloucestershire during the filming of the Chalford Donkey project, so it was good to catch up with her. Having learnt the North Wales translation of 'donkey' yesterday, I found out that the translation in the south is 'asyn'!
Down on the beach Mike and his donkeys were busy at work so I watched for a while before joining them and looking at each of the donkeys individually. This year Mike had won both the regional competitions for best group of donkeys and best individual donkey. You may remember that Dennis won last year's competition so he was defending his title.
As with all the donkeys throughout the week, I checked their teeth, feet and general condition as well as their saddles. I also looked at how they reacted with children and how the children themselves interacted with the donkeys. I also judged each group of donkeys as they walked along the beach. On this occasion, Mike asked if I would like to take a turn at walking them. For those who know me, I didn't need a second invitation!
Just like all the beach donkeys I have seen this week, Charlie, Josh, Talor and Dennis knew where they were going. I must say the donkeys coped very well with me as they walked me back along the beach to deliver their charges safely to their parents.
We said our farewells to both Mike and Lizzie and began the final leg of the journey - home.
My thanks to Lionel for driving me around South Wales and taking me back home to Devon.