Farmer Focus: Driving west with one eye on the Doreens

Of all the things you associate with Christmas – holly and snow, perhaps – there are always two things that are as intrinsically linked as Santa himself: calendars and traffic.

I have never understood the fascination in the agricultural world with calendars with pictures of either machinery I can’t justify, or fluffy animals (especially those with a negative impact on British farming).

See also: Read more from our arable Farmer Focus writers

Every year the poor salesmen come to the yard full of season’s greetings only to leave with a flea in their ears about the prices of their equipment and the fact I am not sure a calendar will make up for this.

Like many, I am sure, Christmas for me is a time to hit the roads and join Joe Public in the annual pilgrimage to some random family member with whom you are to spend the festive season.

Every year I come to the same conclusion as we strike out for the M25 to join the traffic headed to the West Country: anyone with an iPhone/satnav positioned in their eyeline ought to have a lifetime driving ban.

This rule will also include those who do not understand the basic premise of motorway driving – using the lanes.

There is nothing more frustrating than sitting in the fast lane at 55mph while “Doreen” from Basingstoke cruises in the middle lane at a slow enough speed so as not to disturb the cushions laid neatly in a row against the back window as she wends her way to Andover.

Having had a delicious Christmas lunch in Stamford, we then drove down to Somerset to my parents that evening just to make sure the kids had had enough presents for one day and to try and miss any Doreens who had misjudged their journey times (Doreens only like to travel during daylight hours).

Anyone who tries to farm in Somerset has my fullest sympathy. It is just so wet, every time we visit it rains, and if it is not raining it is sleeting. Us Howes are avid rain-gauge men, and Dad’s total for the year is more than 125cm. We are at just under half of that now, which is the way it wants to stay for the new year.

PS: No Doreens were harmed in the writing of this article.

Will Howe

Will Howe farms 384ha of medium to heavy land at Ewerby Thorpe Farm, near Sleaford, Lincolnshire, growing wheat, oilseed rape and winter beans.