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The Carriage Commentator




Lester Dagge reports back from a successful & convivial occasion organised by the Kesans family. Our grateful thanks to Glyn Evans of Ffotoimage for the pictures - Spring 2019

In Wales, there’s a saying that there’s a welcome on the hillside, and when Road Club members visited Llandeilo in the heart of rural Wales, that is exactly what they found. Modris and Simon Kesans worked extremely hard with their army of helpers to provide the first outing of the season for the Road Club, an ideal venue and perfect timeslot for a ‘pipe-opener’ just before the coaching meet at Royal Windsor.

An impressive array of around 14 turnouts from all corners of the country descended upon the quiet market town, using the local farmers’ market as the centre for their gathering. This worked out quite well as there was easy access, plenty of hard standing for the horseboxes and comfortable stalling for the horses. Llandeilo is strategically placed geographically as it sits within the meandering valley of the Tywi river surrounded by the Welsh hills which provide perfect, unspoilt pasture lands for the famous Welsh lamb. High above the valley looms the imposing Llandeilo Castle sitting next to the National Trust Dynefwr estate and Newton House with its distinctive turrets. The location offered fantastic driving with long Roman roads following the Tywi, and unusually in Wales, relatively flat roads! The local agricultural college nearby was busy harvesting their first silage crop of the season but fortunately we were able to avoid any heavy contractors’ vehicles.

The two day event offered a relaxed and inviting atmosphere, where participants were able to explore their own routes on the Saturday, with the customary pub stops carefully marked out. It was a wonderfully convivial social gathering with friends meeting up and able to catch up with the latest exploits and undertakings in the driving world. It was great to see new participants being invited to take part with their new turnouts, horses and carriages, test driving them ahead of a busy season. Notable was the debut of Jessie Dudley-Apicella with her delightful team of Hackney ponies to her new pony sized roof seat break. The ponies worked exceptionally well in this new combination and we look forward to Jessie forging her craft and promoting the abilities of these incredible creatures. Jack Harris is normally seen driving his smart team of Hackney ponies too, put to his delightful pony coach but this weekend, Jack debuted his new combination of much larger grey Dutch Warmbloods to a wagonette, which looked really impressive. Another Hackney ambassador is Joanna Broadbent who is in the process of putting together a new team of ponies for driving trials, but this weekend, she rode ‘shotgun’ to husband Mark who brought his coaching team out to enjoy the Welsh countryside.

The hospitality was exceptional with an evening dinner and dance at the local White Hart Inn. A hearty dinner was enjoyed by all, followed by the homegrown entertainer Corrin Cassini, daughter of the inimitable Carey Knox. Corrin is a talented singer with a wide-ranging repertoire and an equally mischievous personality to suit. She managed to successfully engage all the guests to create a wonderful night of entertainment and fun. This was followed by a hilarious horn blowing competition, with each coaching team offering up a suitable candidate. Needless to say, some were marginally better than the others! The evening’s entertainment did unearth a couple of stars in the making with both Callum and Jo Broadbent running head to head in the final for best horn-blower, judged by Martin Horler. Jo with her diminutive profile, managed to surprise everyone with her exceptional musical talents. (Mark revealed later she used to play the trumpet in school orchestra.) Modris and Simon did a great job setting up an enjoyable evening and managed to dance the night away in style.

The next morning, everyone was up and at it for an early start, with an organised, signed route down the Tywi Valley and back to Llandeilo via the Dynefwr estate. A couple of scheduled pub stops were enjoyed provided by a team of volunteer stewards and marshalls. A relaxing stop in front of the impressive Newton House gave a view of some White Park cattle and deers, as well as an admiring public who marvelled at the sights of so many traditional turnouts. Alison Kesans kindly provided refreshments and canapés to the occupants of the coaches who were the subjects of a multitude of tourist cameras. After a short wait, we then set off back though the park down through Llandeilo, taking in the views of the attractive and unspoilt Georgian market town. It also gave the passengers the ideal opportunity to see their reflection in the shop windows.

On return, the horses were duly taken out, washed down and put away, whilst Modris and Barbara Stockton bade their thanks to all the helpers and finished with a celebratory farewell tea.