120 pink ladies
last year's outfit
Some of you will know that for the past three years I have taken part in a tractor road run for ladies that is being held every year in a village near B. A few years ago while on holiday in Holland, I spotted a tractor for sale in a farmyard. Not thinking anything of it, I pointed it out to B., who promptly made me drive past the farm again the following day, got out and sat on it. The owners were on holiday (a neighbour wandered over to see what was going on!), but we put a note in their letterbox saying we were interested. Although I didn't expect to hear back from them, about a week later we received a phone call and after some negotiation B. had actually bought it off them. Three weeks later we hired a lorry and set out to collect our Fendt. A rather unusual holiday souvenir!
Two future pink tractor ladies
I had got 'caught up' in the ladies' road run a few times as they drive almost past B's house, and I promised B. that if he did the tractor up, I'd actually take part. This may sound less impressive than it was - I'd never really driven anything other than an ordinary car before. B. spent the winter lying underneath an oily tractor in a draughty barn, and come July the tractor was restored to its former glory and I'd had several practice runs. Although initially nervous of driving on my own, I had a great time on the day and determined to take part the following year.
My second road run
That was a few years ago, and the collection of tractors has grown with almost one for every year. When B. turned 50, he bought a John Deere on American eBay and had it shipped over. In the meantime he'd bought a lorry as well so we could actually transport the tractors if we wanted to go to any rallies. A year later and he found a very small French tractor (a Semiac, in case anyone's reading who knows about these things!) which meant a trip down to Somerset to fetch it. And this weekend we're off to Wales to go and pick another one up (a Bolinder Munktell). Our criterium for adding tractors is that they have to be unusual - all of these have never been imported into Britain and there probably only are a few of them in the country.
The baby of the family, in restoration phase
The tractor road run started 10 years ago and was the brainchild of Annie and John Chapman in order to raise money for charity, in this case Cancer Research UK. I don't think they ever expected it to become as popular as it has, but in ten years more than a quarter of a million pounds has been raised and this year we have 160 ladies taking part. All of us have a cancer story to tell. In my case there are several, although the main reason was and is my own mum, who has battled and conquered first pancreatic cancer and then breast cancer. B's own mum suffered from breast cancer for years before passing away shortly before I met B. My grandmother-in-law survived breast cancer twice. A good friend from WeightWatchers was diagnosed a year ago and after treatment is now doing well. A customer of B's died earlier this year, two years after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Learning to plough
Some people are lucky, some are not. But we want more people to be lucky. In fact, lucky shouldn't be a word that comes into it. Cancer should not be that dreaded word, but should be treatable. There is a long, long way to go before that is realised, and it will need a lot more research. Research costs money. So, if you enjoy reading my blog, if you have a cancer story of your own to tell, if you want more people to feel grateful that their partner, parent, child, loved one is still with them, then please consider making a donation. Every little bit helps. My JustGiving page is linked on the right.
400 tractors at the National Vintage Tractor Road Run in Chepstow at Easter