Whilst pedal-powered delivery services of every conceivable kind are common-place in Oxford, yesterday was the first time that I’d seen a mule. As a little girl, I remember seeing mini-bridges criss-crossing the rivers and streams in the some of the older towns of Lancashire and being told that they had been built in the Middle Ages for the mules and pack-horses that carried finished hand-woven cloth across the moors to ports bordering the North Sea. So yesterday was a reminder that, for much of our history, these sturdy, sure-footed animals had a critical role in our national economy