I’m really looking forward to spiffing adventures of my own

STEVE CANAVAN: Take note of why I love this country so much

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One of my childhood heroines passed away recently at the grand old age of 90.

Her name might not be familiar to you unless you have a love of horses, or are of a certain age.

Author Josephine Pullein-Thompson and her equally-talented writer sisters Christine and Diana were responsible for igniting my lifelong passion for ponies.

They had a real flair for penning exciting pony adventures that you could relate to.

When you’re a child you want charactors you can believe in and stories that you can step into and believe that, if things were different, it could be your life.

Buying that dud pony only for it to turn out to be a champion showjumper. Or winning that elusive red rosette when you thought you’d scuppered your chances.

One of the things I loved about the era in which they were written (after the Second World War) was the language they used.

Everything was jolly and rather spiffing or supersonic.

Josephine wrote 32 books over a 50-year period. I still have a fair number of her books, some prized first editions amongst them.

The pages are brown, creased and rather dog-eared. Some are held together by Sellotape.

Not being one for playing with dolls as a child, I much preferred animals. Living creatures with a beating heart seemed to understand all your worries and problems.

Come to think of it, I spent most of my childhood/teens in jodphurs and spent endless hours sitting on the garden step with buckets of soapy water, shining my boots and polishing tack.

I don’t think my mum minded too much. She was probably only too happy that I never went through the pop star crushes and rebellion stage.

I’ve recently realised a lifelong ambition to break in a horse with my own three-year-old New Forest equine Aslan. It’s only taken me 34-plus years to do it.

It’s always worrying being the first person to get on a virtually untrained animal. But I’m pleased to report that all went well. So I’m now looking forward to some spiffing equine adventures of my own.