Thursday, 14 April 2016

Springy Heeled

Spring may have sprung but it isn’t feeling very springy here in Cartmel. The temperature gauge on my car dash board says that it’s only nine degrees in the middle of the day – which is a relief because it’s a new vehicle to me and at first I thought it was the number of miles that I had left until I ran out of petrol.

I called Lake District Audi, part of the Hadwins Motor Group, who put me right: not just about the temperature gauge, but also the fact that I mustn’t put any petrol in the car because it’s manufactured to run on diesel. They’re so helpful – it’s lovely to have race sponsors that you can recommend with confidence.
Anyway, I know that it must be Spring because the Aintree Festival has been and gone - and a second group of campers has descended on the racecourse for a caravan rally. This group have called themselves the ‘Micro Maniacs’ and they have the daintiest little vintage cars that you’re ever likely to see on the road. None of the vehicles is allowed to have an engine larger than 700cc, although they’d be splendid fun to drive with the roof open – if it was warm enough.
To be honest I’m in a bit of a quandary. I can’t decide whether I really want the grass to start growing on the track, or whether I want it to stay cool and slow the progress of the tulips planted in the tubs outside the office. The grass is important as we have to have a decent racing surface come the end of May, but it would all look so much brighter if the tulips were still in flower when we’re racing. It did say, on the packaging, that they were ‘late parrot tulips’ – and I’m quite glad that didn’t mean that they were actually dead – as in an ‘ex-parrot tulip’. All the same, they seem to be growing slightly too fast.

Which brings me to the rabbits – they’re growing a little too fast too. I think it’s the way we rear them – they stuffed themselves on tulip shoots in February and March, before getting their exercise sprinting down the woodside-straight of the racecourse – usually followed at a distance by my daughter’s whippet-cross dog. We haven’t actually caught one yet, but chef Paul Rowley is getting excited about the size of their thigh muscles and if we’re not running rabbit races at the May bank holiday weekend, there’s a fair chance that Lapin à la Cocotte
will make it onto the restaurant menu.

The weather forecast suggests that it could be sunny in Ayr this weekend for the Coral Scottish Grand National. I’m hoping that Jimmy Moffatt’s Highland Lodge will show a clean pair of spring-heels to the rest of the field.

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