More Summer School Donkey Pics

See yesterday’s page for Thursday’s Summer School donkey visit pics and further information.

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Follow up classroom donkey activities:

For younger children here are some links to donkey activities There are also galleries of previous years’ donkey photos in the menus under the blog banner above, with the photos of baby donkeys!


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Summer school donkey visits

Feeding apples and carrots to the donkeys

Matilde likes being the centre of attention, particularly when there is food involved. 


This page is for children and teachers visiting the donkeys during the Summer School programme. At the foot of this page are some links to follow-up activities that teachers may want to use in the classroom.



About the donkeys:



Matilde is a six year old part-Andalusian mixed breed donkey with the classic dark brown donkey cross on her back, and she is also lately beginning to develop a distinctive dappled colouring of dark brown spots over her mostly grey coat. She is much bigger than the others and she carries a pack saddle with bags. She is quite happy to carry a load of 50 kilos. Matilde likes being brushed, but doesn’t like too much fuss: she is not a donkey for cuddling!



Aitana is three years old. She is a very pretty donkey and very cuddly, but the thing to watch out for is that she will reach out and tap you on the leg lightly with her hoof, offering you her front leg: but do not take hold of her foot as she will then rear up!  Rearing must be avoided for safety reasons.

Morris patrols the manger to see if food has arrived yet


Morris is also three years old. At present he is being trained with long-reins to pull the donkey cart and he does it quite well. He licks everything so he will probably want to lick you. He is very affectionate and is the best candidate for smaller children who want to cuddle a donkey.




Rubí is five years old. She is Morris’s mother and she is the “Eeyore” of the family: she spends the day mostly apart from the others, gazing into the distance, wondering if today is Tuesday. She will occasionally reach out and do a “play” bite, a light nip on your shoulder, leg or arm, but without closing her jaw to squeeze the skin. I think this is just to check you are real and not a figment of her imagination. You can cuddle Rubí but she doesn’t care whether you do or not.

Donkey activities:
For younger children here are some links to donkey activities  There are also galleries of previous years’ donkey photos in the menus under the blog banner above ( 2011 is the year of the foals, with the photos of baby donkeys!)


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A wasted week on a charity non-event

It was on Twitter on the 27th June that the Donkey Sanctuary placed a tweet calling for runners for the 2015 London Marathon, to raise money for the charity.

Twitter 1


It was a fairly fast decision, but a heart-felt and also rational one.

I have long supported the aims of the Donkey Sanctuary and I have a book written by its founder. I regularly respond to the tweets of the charity  I walked from Worcester to Santiago de Compostela in 2008 and raised a considerable sum for Whizz Kids, the children’s mobility charity. I raised forty thousand pounds for an AIDS charity when I cycled across Europe from England to Istanbul.  I ran around a parade square for 24 hours when I was in the RAF and raised money for Shelter, the homeless housing charity.   At that time I ran long-distance races for the RAF.  Now, I am much older but I know what training is needed for an event.

I considered the question carefully. This would need 100% dedication over ten months and would need to be timetabled into a full-time job, plus the usual two hours a day minimum spent on my own donkeys, plus I needed to spend three hundred pounds on an entry fee, guarantee to raise at least a thousand pounds, pay for my fare to London next April, plus get unpaid time off from work either side of the marathon.  Such was my enthusiasm, I went for it.

There was one other motivating factor: the Donkey Sanctuary has been advertising its campaign to stop the maltreatment of donkeys in the holiday resort of Santorini.  I cannot bear to see donkeys treated like that, for I have four adult donkeys who live a quiet and stress-free life while I go out to work to pay for their needs. These gentle creatures are our teachers, not our slaves, and they must not suffer just to satisfy the curiosity of mere tourists!  I made up my mind to run the marathon.

Twitter 2



“There we are then,” I thought to myself, “Now you’ve done it!”  When I set my mind to something, with conviction, it happens.  All I could think of was the practical steps ahead: the change of diet, the need for a training plan, the new timetable of getting up long before dawn… etc. A local friend who has run the London Marathon offered to come out and train with me.

I received an email from the Donkey Sanctuary asking for a postal address and they said they would be posting some further information.  On the strength of this, I worked out a ten-month training plan with the PE teacher at the school where I work – a trained sports scientist – and we decided training should begin immediately.  He advised on the proper fitting and purchase of running shoes…

Luckily I had not yet spent the 140 Euros I had intended to invest on a pair of Asics when I found out today what the actual situation is with these five marathon places, for it was not made clear ten days ago when I began this whole process.

I have now received an email informing me that I should fill in a form providing further information together with my previous experience and my plan for fundraising. Then my application will be considered and I will learn on 31st August whether the Donkey Sanctuary wishes me to be one of their charity runners.  Two months into a gruelling training programme, I will learn whether there is any point in my efforts!

At this point, I simply wrote to the charity and withdrew my offer to run.  Over the years charities have evolved into big organisations with highly sophisticated fund-raising professionals running their financial affairs.  I felt quite foolish for thinking it was simply a matter of volunteering and committing myself to a lot of time and hard work, when what they actually wanted was a business plan with a two month wait to see if it was a successful bid.

Well, at least the donkeys are relieved that I am no longer intending to spend most of the next year focused on raising money for the donkey charity: I’ll have more time for donkeys…

Now he's not buying the running shoes, maybe we will get more carrots?

Now he’s not buying the running shoes, maybe we will get more carrots?








A disappointing experience. Maybe some thought needs to go into better charity communications? Perhaps charities have simply become businesses now? Or maybe I should just stop reading Twitter!

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Homage au Poitou

Things are slow and hot here on the donkey field at this time of year, so there has been little updating of the blog, and so I turn elsewhere, to the donkey news this week of a pure-bred Poitou foal born in Canada. This lovely little chap joins an endangered species, for there are just one hundred remaining donkeys of this breed worldwide. This delightful news prompted me to look again at the Poitou donkeys.

The Poitou foal born earlier this week at Davis Farm in Sterling

The Poitou foal born last Saturday 28 June at Davis Farmland in Sterling

Poitous, as described by Davis Farmland where this one was born, are “tall animals with Rastafarian-like hair, llama-like legs, big ears and a small rat-like tail.” Charming description but they really are beautiful. Here is a video of the foal:

Davis Farmland is a sanctuary for all types of endangered farm animals, made redundant by mechanised agriculture and new industrial farming practices.

It is believed the Poitou donkeys survive from a strong breed introduced into France by the Romans. They are named after the region in France of which Poitiers is the regional city. (Incidentally, it was from Poitiers that I set out in August 2010 on a bus journey to Benidorm, to start my new teaching job and present life with four donkeys in the Costa Blanca.)


For more about the Poitous have a looks at the Poitou Santuary website in the links bar at the right side of this page. (Sorry, this link is not working now: I will put a new link in when I can update it.) If you are reading this blog in the UK, you can see Poitou donkeys at the Donkey Sanctuary.

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Alicante horse cart rally

All this week in the Marina Baixa a group of a dozen tradititional Valenciano antique horse carts have been touring around on their annual rally.  I drove over the Aitana ridge to see them drive past on today’s route from Confrides to Benifallim  (mispelled Benifallin on the poster, so don’t try looking up the wrong spelling on Google maps as I did!)

La Nucia Vuelta Carro 2014 (1)

















There was one cart pulled by two small donkeys, but the rest were pulled by a mixture of horses and mules. If you like mules, this is a very impressive turn out! A real mulefest. The traditional carts are lovely too. Enjoy…























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Life with the donkeys

Last Friday was the end of the school year and I have a one week break before starting a four-week July “Summer School”. I did not realise how exhausted I was at the end of the school year until I found myself sleeping through most of the first three days of this break. I didn’t have the energy to even go for a walk with the donkeys, though I had been waiting for free time to get them out and exercised. I did at least spend some time in those three days grooming them, scraping away with the curry comb to pull out the thick winter coats that are hanging on too long into the June heat.

Yesterday I began to snap out of my torpor and I managed to get Matilde out for a five kilometre walk, then Morris in the cart for a quick ride at a cracking pace: holding him back from a gallop is the real challenge! I enjoy being with the donkeys and I don’t want a regular social life any more. Apart from a drink and a meal in Finestrat with my friends, when my salaried work is over – till the next school session – life outside the donkey field doesn’t interest me. That’s why I identify with this cartoon:


Hat tip to @BruvverEccles for retweeting this Kieran Meehan cartoon

Oddly enough, while I might seek a quiet life at home, it is donkeys who are making the news this week. Everywhere you look there are donkey stories.

The BBC is reporting today that “Herdsmen in Turkey are tethering solar panels to their donkeys to power their internet sessions.”
solar donk

Yesterday we read about the braying donkey Jaffa fostered by a lovely lady called Mary, who acted like a guard dog in the middle of the night to prevent burglars breaking in.

Jaffa and Mary Beetham

Jaffa and Mary Beetham

Then we had Lola the braying donkey on balcony in a block of flats in Belgium, in the Daily Telegraph story “Belgian police demand braying donkey is moved from balcony.” (Of course, those of us who sometimes invite our donkeys into the kitchen will say, “What’s all the fuss about?”)

Rood norty donkey on a balcony

Rood norty donkey on a balcony

Then we had the Daily Mail World War 1 story of the stretcher-bearer with the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance, who landed at Gallipoli in 1915, found a donkey wandering on the beach and used the animal to carry casualties.

Back to the cartoon, and I wonder again do “I like being isolated from society”? Well, put it like this: society seems to be catching up, with lots more focus on donkeys. That’s a good sign, and once society is fully involved with donkeys I will quit my isolation.

UPDATE 15.00

From @RifugioAsinelli URGENT: stolen donkey Pinpon, in La Spezia. If you see it please notify the police IMMEDIATELY!

Stolen donkey Pinpon, in La Spezia. If you see it please notify  the police IMMEDIATELY!

Stolen donkey Pinpon, in La Spezia. If you see it please notify the police IMMEDIATELY!

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Packsaddle rides again

It was in December 2010 that my friend Barbara Reid arrived here from France driving a camper van and a trailer full of goodies, including my own stuff from storage in her barn plus a load of furniture and kitchen utensils to get me started here. There was also a donkey packsaddle…


… which was in regular use until it was broken by Morris last year. My friend Carl repaired it, a moment celebrated in a post exactly a year ago:

Sadly the whole thing collapsed again as it was made of pine rather than hardwood. Now it has been rebuilt again, but this time with oak struts. Floris, a neighbour and carpenter, found some old oak chairs recently. Luckily the chair legs were the right size to rebuild the struts of the croisillon.

Once again, the croisillon is rebuilt and ready for donkey walking on the road to Finestrat. Here is the master craftsman Floris with his handiwork, and Puig Campana in the background.

And Matilde admires the handiwork, grateful that she can once again labour up the hill to Finestrat carrying pannier bags in the hot sun, grunting and panting to dismay the tourists with her donkey drama, as she carries her own lunch and a bottle of water weighing about 5 kilos, while onlookers glare at that rood norty owner making the donkey suffer with her load. (Drama queen!)


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