I am the proud possessor of two watches, both purchased for me by the ever-thoughtful Mrs Hextol.

One is an expensive piece of Swiss precision engineering, with multiple knobs and buttons scattered about the circumference, and a display of dials and swirling needles on the face that would not look out of place on the latest space shuttle. The other was purchased at a local garden centre for a tenner, and while it is nothing flash, it tells the time with just as much precision as its glittering brother.

The posh watch graces my wrist for most of the time, despite the weight of it giving me a permanently sloping shoulder, while the other one is reserved for messy tasks like creosoting the fence or mucking out horses.

I do try to remember to sport the appropriate watch for the occasion - not always successfully - but disaster struck on the weekend the clocks went back last month.

The cheapy watch had been ticking away on a bookshelf for much of the pandemic, as I was stood down from horsey duties, but that weekend, I was recalled to ply my muck shovel and fork for another season.

I slipped the watch on, but as I was filling my first barrow of the day, I caught my wrist on the handle, and the watch strap snapped, sending the timepiece skittering across the yard.

Luckily I kept my eye on it, and was able to retrieve it before it was trampled on by the winner of the 17-30 at Musselburgh.

The strap was completely hors de combat, and I resigned myself to having to risk wearing the posh watch to work for a few days until I could get a new strap.

I spent much of the following night pushing buttons and pressing knobs, trying to reset the posh watch to Greenwich Mean Time, and it all proved too much for the chronometer, because the next morning, it had stopped.

At first I thought I may have pressed one button too many and seriously damaged something, but then I realised I had owned it for more than two years, and it was still operating on the original battery.

So there I was, a busy man without a working watch - so I did what all sensible North Tyne people do in times of crisis, and called at the Aladdin’s cave that is the Bellingham Country Store,

You can buy the most unlikely things there, from fishing tackle to lawnmower cord, and when someone asked for sunflower seeds, owner Charlotte said they had none in, but she would pick some out of the birdseed if so desired!

They don’t sell wheelbarrows, but quirkily, they do sell wheelbarrow wheels which I think is great!

I knew they fitted watch batteries, but the posh watch proved a bridge too far for master jeweller Terry’s sophisticated battery of implements, and an expensive trip to the Toon for a new battery was going to be required.

I wasn’t sure if watch straps were among the available merchandise but of course, there was a whole rack of them for less than a fiver.

I bought one, and rushed home to fit it, but only succeeded in pinging the little spring-loaded bar that holds the strap in place into oblivion.

A fingertip search of the conservatory floor failed to locate it, so I had to summon Mrs Hextol, who found it in nano seconds beneath a chair I had already searched four times.

Unfortunately, one of the lugs had broken off, so it was back to the Country Store with a plaintive “I don’t suppose you have any of those little bars for watches do you?”

Of course they did, and I was soon working up a sweat trying to shoehorn the bar into place with the aid of a Stanley knife, two screwdrivers and my Nana’s hat pin.

It refused to co-operate, and I was eventually forced to conclude that the pin was fractionally too big.

So back I went for another rummage in the box, and found a pin was infinitesimally smaller, and bore it home in triumph.

After much sweating and straining, I finally managed to get the strap on, but the sweet taste of victory was all too brief - I had put it on upside down and back to front.

I eventually managed to get it on, only to hear Mrs Hextol inquire sweetly: “How are you going to fasten it? Neither strap has got a buckle on it!”

Hextol is compiled by former Hexham Courant deputy editor Brian Tilley.