You may recall that some weeks ago I spent 20 minutes or so scrabbling through the odiferous outpourings of a pair of semi-wild horses in the mistaken belief that I had lost my hearing aid in their stall.

Thankfully, it was all a mistake, as my hearing aids were both safe on the dressing table at Hextol Towers – I had simply forgotten to put them in that morning.

Well last week, it all happened again – not with my hearing aid, but with my treasured wristwatch, an expensive gift from Mrs Hextol somewhere around the turn of the Millennium.

But this time, there was no happy ending, as the trusty timepiece had indeed flown off my wrist while I was energetically shaking out straw to provide a comfy bed for a couple of dozen ponies.

A proportion of the rescue ponies I am involved with bunk down together in roomy sheds, forever bucking and jumping or simply charging round with the sheer exuberance of youth. They certainly churn up the straw with their cavorting, and it is renewed every day, which meant finding a Tissot beneath all those churning feet was always going to be a bit of a challenge.

I did had a few half-hearted scrabbles through the straw but as I was unsure of exactly when or where the watch had parted company with my wrist it really was a case of looking for a needle in a haystack about 30 yards long!

And even if I had been lucky enough to have fund it under the ordure I am not sure I could have worn it again after its total immersion in foetid straw.

I knew the strap was faulty, but had convinced myself the repair I had carried out with a pair of pliers and a dab of Blu Tack was robust enough to keep the watch ticking away safely on my wrist until the next Millennium.

Not for the first time my faith in my repair skills proved wildly misplaced, and I was watchless by mid-morning.

You don’t realise how many times you look at your watch in a day until you no longer have a watch to look at, and I became altogether too familiar with the hairs on my wrist. I am not a clockwatcher by nature, but I do like to pace myself.

I was watchless for several days, and felt completely deprived. The only way I could keep a check on the passing hours was by taking my mobile phone along and periodically rummaging through several layers of clothing to take a look at the clock display.

Keeping the phone about my person while shovelling muck and spreading straw proved too much for the device, which protested by making multiple silent calls to various baffled contacts and acquaintances.

As it happened, Mrs Hextol had bought me another even more splendid watch for Christmas, but I was understandably not allowed to wear it for stablework.

I therefore had no choice but delve to the very bottom of my wardrobe, beneath the ridiculously small Speedos and headache inducing Hawaiian shirts to find the box which contained the watches I wore before benefiting from Mrs Hextol’s largesse.

There were two of them – a golden number given to me for my 50th birthday by my eldest son, and a large and clunky Sekonda of uncertain vintage.

Neither had turned a finger for decades, but I rather fancied renewing an acquaintance with the Russian relic, I reckoned a new battery and a couple of jump leads would have it ticking away as smoothly as Olga Korbut.

I found the hands rather too stiff to turn with my arthritic fingers, so Mrs Hextol decided to lend a hand with a screwdriver – moments later she had pinged the winder halfway across the room, while humming the refrain from the Volga Boatman. “It probably wouldn’t have worked anyway,” she sniffed, leaving me to see what could be salvaged from the golden number.

I had been going to take it to a jewellers in Hexham for a clean, oil and new battery, doubtless at considerable expense, before Mrs Hextol informed me that watch repairs were among the multifarious services offered right here in Bellingham,

I took it to Broons’ Bits where the ever obliging Terry soon whipped the back off with a Stanley knife, blew away a few cobwebs and then delved into a box of assorted batteries before shoving in the correct one.

The watch has kept perfect time ever since