Miss Jorrocks Reports - Luckhurst Farm
On Sunday 1st January 2017 hounds met at Luckhurst Farm, Wittersham- the last minute and impromptu guests of the Piper Family and Mr Danegate. Masters Blagg and Hollis set up the day, which consisted of three long, galloping hunts with some optional jumps.
We assembled in Mr Piper's farmyard, which afforded ample parking - some of it under cover. Luxury indeed! Mounted up, Miss Jorrocks - a lady of a certain age and of a nervous disposition, was assisted by a kindly gentleman, who both tightened her girth for her and furnished her with a glass of port. What more could one wish for?
Master Hollis gave out thanks and parish notices to a field of about 30 and we were off. Scenting proved difficult and hounds struggled a bit to pursue and "take" Andy Kay our gallant quarry. Nevertheless the day was given over to galloping with good viewing. Miss Jorrocks was out on her new steed, Linford, and was grateful both to Master Blagg (despite his tall tales) and Alison Childs for nannying her along as she adjusts both to Linford's controls and size. His feet are so large that keeping off the crop proved tricky at times particularly when, in the interest of safety, Master Hollis eschewed a ditch and stream crossing in favour of a longer gallop round, which required a short order turn around to go back the way we came.
The day was not without its excitements. One poor follower's mount had a tizzy at the first stream crossing and gave her a tumble. A Shire, being ridden by a gentleman who started riding just five weeks ago, slipped over on the last field from home and gave us all a scare, and someone else's horse slipped on the wooden bridge on the return to the boxes and gave his rider a fall. Thankfully all were relatively unscathed and hats off to the "novice" gentleman on his first hunt. Miss Jorrocks hoped you and your lovely Shire enjoyed the experience and we will see you again.
Back at the boxes cold rain pelted down so there was a mad dash to get horses rugged up and away for fear they would get cold. Tea, in the barn, was a brief but happy affair before we wended our weary way home. What a fabulous start to the year!
Photo by kind permission of Louisa Day, all her photos from the day can be found on this link. Photos of the day from Nigel Goddard can be found on this link and from Andrew Wickens can be found on this link.
Miss Jorrocks Reports from the Christmas Eve meet at Baron's Grange
On Christmas Eve 2016 hounds met at Baron’s Grange for the annual fancy dress meet generously hosted by the Ramus and Wheeler families. Regular readers will know that Miss Jorrocks has been absent from the field for a few weeks as her mare has been “off games” and she has been getting used to her “second string”, an enormous Irish heavyweight hunter called Linford.
Linford was a spur of the moment purchase for Miss Jorrocks and she is still getting to grips with just how big he is. So much so that she is under constant supervision from her friend, Julie Hooton, who was largely responsible for getting them both ready this morning on the grounds that Miss Jorrocks has to stand on a box to do pretty much anything in terms of grooming and tacking up.
A prompt arrival at the meet Miss Jorrocks joined the trailer parkers and set up camp. Soon she was ready and prepared to mount up. Her mounting block being inadequate for the task at hand Miss Jorrocks availed herself of Master Clare’s lorry steps and joined the assembled company where about 65 followers were enjoying mulled wine and savouries and getting in festive mood.
The meet was very spread out and Miss Jorrocks missed parish notices and our thank yous, but was assured they were standard and contained nothing of major warning or concern.
At 12.30 p.m. we were off behind Santa as our Huntsman, accompanied by a number of Santa’s helpers. Miss Jorrocks was chaperoned by Sam Field who put up with her nearly all day as she got to grips with Linford’s controls. Now, Miss Jorrocks’ mare goes along with a high head carriage and takes a hold. Linford has a low head carriage and likes precious little contact. Poor Sam went along with Miss Jorrocks “oohing” and “aahhing” behind and demanding more speed, less speed, and stop at varying intervals. Sam demonstrated the patience of a saint relieved only of some of her chaperoning duties by Master Blagg who was sweeping up at the back and encouraging the faint of heart.
The day was made up of four hunts with optional jumping. There were some good galloping moments and plenty for everyone. There were grownups out for the first time ever, small people on leading reins, and everything in between. Apart from one or two mounts who stated a genuine dislike of the whole affair a good time appeared to be had by all, even those who took a tumble.
Linford, not being Bloodhounding fit, had to be taken home at the end of the third hunt and was accompanied by Mrs Baker and Carol Kay, both saving their mounts for Boxing Day.
This meant we were tidied away and ready for Tea uncharacteristically early. Tea was the usual Joy Ramus “special” with sausages, rolls, cake and the famous meringues. The assembled company was jolly and festive as we talked about our Christmas Day plans.
Miss Jorrocks was in very cheerful mood as she said her thank yous and left for home. She hopes you all have a lovely time and Santa brings you lovely things. The Meet on Boxing Day is always fun, but do spare a thought for the Huntsman and his wife (Nic and Sue) tomorrow. Work at the Kennels doesn’t stop and Boxing Day preparations have to be factored in. A special thank you will be greatly appreciated!
Miss Jorrocks will not be out Boxing Day, she will be enjoying the beautiful cake made for her by Carol Kay as her Hunt Ball auction item. It looks so delicious Miss Jorrocks can hardly wait. Merry Christmas one and all!
Photo by kind permission of Andrew Wickens - all photos from the meets can be found on this link.
Mountfield Half Term Meet
& St Hubert's Day at Montague
Well, Miss Jorrocks has had a busy couple of weeks. Wednesday 26th October saw her at Mountfield Park Farm, where Mrs Althea Berthon very kindly hosts a half term children’s meet. Regular readers will recall that Miss Jorrocks recently suffered a fall and, accordingly, she concluded that a children’s meet would be the very thing to restore her nerve.
The first to arrive at the meet Miss Jorrocks set up camp in the ample parking and waited for others to join her. Soon they came, in their hordes, and all of them considerably junior to Miss Jorrocks by several centuries. Ideal, thought Miss Jorrocks, as amongst the small people she would surely cut a dash. Master of the day was the Huntsman, who gave the preliminary address about giving plenty of room and having fun, and thanked our hosts for both their hospitality and the use of their beautiful land for the day.
Then we were off, with Miss Jorrocks at the rear prepared to “sweep up” youngsters having problems. Well, the little blighters went like bats out of hell, leaping all in their path at astonishing speed. This was entirely contrary to Miss Jorrocks’ plan and she was left miles behind with no lead and no excuse to open gates. Miss Jorrocks, being a lady of a certain age and of a nervous disposition, was quite furious! Notwithstanding Miss Jorrocks’ outrage at being shown up by small children a wonderful day was had by all, in glorious sunshine, culminating in a cavalcade ride by to thank Mrs Berthon, followed by a quite excellent Tea in the barn.
Thursday 3rd November saw Miss Jorrocks at Montague, Hankham, where the Hole and Glessing families host our traditional St Hubert’s Day meet. As always we assembled by the main house, parts of which date back to the Norman Conquest. Again, as he has for the last several years, the Reverend Ginno was there to address us and bless hounds, horses and field before handing us off into St Hubert’s care for yet another year. Votes of thanks offered by Master Clare, we were off for a day slightly curtailed this time by the hard ground rather than the wet as in previous years. Master Ivan led the field, and Master Clare shuttled back and forth checking we were all in order.
Yet again the sun shone and the back drop of the Pevensey Levels and Pevensey Castle was timeless. This made it the most fitting of days to pay our last respects to John “Potto” Glessing who first established this meet and allowed us to roam across his beautiful farm, which today is husbanded with utmost care by Gundrada and Martin Hole – a fitting legacy to a most charming and generous man. Sadly, Potto died two years ago and left himself to science. Recently, his ashes were returned to Montague and it was a great privilege for Miss Jorrocks to be part of the scattering party. Each of us was provided with a pocketful of Potto (duly wrapped, of course) and instructed to scatter them as the mood took us. Master Clare let Potto go as we hunted in full cry along the river bank. Miss Jorrocks said goodbye as we galloped the last hunt home and hoped Potto would appreciate the turn of speed. Others let their allocation go quietly in spots they found fitting. Our Huntsman, in time honoured tradition, mixed Potto with some biscuits and fed him to the hounds at the end of the day to the haunting lament of “Gone Away”. Miss Jorrocks believes that Potto, who was a keen hunting man, would have approved very much. She hopes he is hunting in heaven with other keen followers lost to illness over the years, together with some of our outstanding hounds and horses. On reflection, Miss Jorrocks considers there is now a very merry company indeed running around behind St Hubert!
The day completed we returned to the boxes where the dry ground meant minimal washing down and tidying before we repaired to Tea in the farmhouse where a delicious chilli con carne and stew awaited us, followed by the most sumptuous collection of cakes. The company was in very jolly form as we ranged ourselves around the kitchen and recalled the day. As she left for home, past the wrought iron cockerel established at the gate by Potto himself, Miss Jorrocks reflected on how proud he would be to see us streaming across his beautiful farm in glorious autumn sunshine. Gallop on Potto, my friend, you have left us possibly one of the best legacies of all - a day in which we can all come together and enjoy being alive in our beautiful country.
Iden Park - Miss Jorrocks Reports
On Sunday 23rd October, hounds met at Iden Park - the guests of Mr Neven Znaor and Mr Glenn Wassall, and their two young daughters, Kit and Bay.
This is a very fine Lawn Meet in the Coakham calendar hosted as it is in front of the manor house dating back to 1866, and where hounds and Huntsman assemble on the gravel carriage sweep in front of the main entrance to make a truly timeless picture. The clerk of the weather smiled upon us as we left the parking at Baron's Grange en masse to arrive in some style for our generous and welcoming hosts. The sun shone and set off the Boston red and yellow ivy that bedeck the front off the house and announce that Autumn is well and truly upon us. It was indeed a glorious day to be out.
With in an instant of our arrival our hosts and their willing helpers were amongst us with trays of savouries and pressed beautiful glasses containing large measures of stirrup cup into our hands. Miss Jorrocks enjoyed sausage rolls, mushroom palmiers, and quail egg scotch eggs before moving on to miniature mince pies, all accompanied by a courage boosting whisky mac.
Regular readers will recall that Miss Jorrocks, who is a lady of a certain age and of a nervous disposition, took a fall earlier in the week and thus viewed the day with some trepidation - her nerve, never of the best, being somewhat diminished. Indeed Saturday had seen her out on a long hack with her friends, Julie Hooton and Hannah Bridges, in an endeavour to get her new leathers the right length, and to agree upon suitable stirrup iron treads. For two hours they trotted and cantered around Lullingstone Park and its environs with Miss Jorrocks pausing from time to time to ask "how do these look now?" At last Miss Jorrocks arrived at a length with which she was happy. All that remained was for Julie, who despite being considerably Miss Jorrocks junior often acts in "loco parentis", to select the correct stirrup iron treads and supervise Miss Jorrocks over a practice log.
Nevertheless, Miss Jorrocks was not quite herself, and clean forgot to count hounds or Quarry although she knows both Andy Kay and Chris Wheeler were running. Parish notices and multitudinous thanks offered by dismounted Master Alex, who laid on the day, we were off. A field of about fifty led by Master Massow.
Miss Jorrocks hovered at the back, supposedly under the wing of Master Blagg but all he did was get more and more cross with Miss Jorrocks and just about everything and everybody else, including his horse and a difficult gate. Miss Jorrocks has never seen him so happy!
Four galloping hunts made up the day. The first had optional jumping, duly avoided by an anxious Miss Jorrocks. The second had several boundaries and hurdles. Sadly, Miss Jorrocks had a nervous stop at the first and thus curtailed the immediate activities of Gundrada Hole about which she felt very guilty. She was delighted to see Gundrada up the front shortly afterwards. Anyway, suitably galvanized by sharp words from Master Blagg, Miss Jorrocks and her mare hunted successfully over the rest of the fences to the end.
For the third hunt Miss Jorrocks came along quietly alone. Popping what she considered to be a small rail in her path. She learned later this fence was considered "big and upright". Perhaps Miss Jorrocks should make an appointment with SpecSavers as both she and her mare agreed it was perfectly acceptable!
The fourth hunt was taken quietly in the company of kindly Master Clare, whose new horse, Eton, was a touch tired. They came upon a tiny rail. Master Clare encouraged Miss Jorrocks to step over, but she wouldn't, finding instead a far more challenging boundary crossing. Though she says it herself, Miss Jorrocks can be an odd one!
And so to the boxes and then to Tea, where a full range of Ramus delicacies and the famous meringues awaited us. It was indeed, the most glorious of Coakham Days.
Photo by kind permission Andrew Wickens - further photos from the day can be found on this link.
Long Grange Farm - Miss Jorrocks Reports
On Wednesday 17th October, hounds met at Long Grange Farm - the guests of Mr Martin Weaver, and by permission of multiple landowners.
This was a Master Sally day and she had provided stirrup cup and sausages in generous abundance for a mounted population of just 17 riders, including the Huntsman and staff. It was a very quiet
and genteel meet. In amongst the parish notices was recognition of one Roger Wadsworth, who was present on foot but was a mounted follower when Neil Wates, our founder, was Master and the late
Nigel Budd in his prime at the front of the field.
Mr Wadsworth regaled Miss Jorrocks with hunting tales, discussed the composition of the current pack, and shared anecdotes of the late Mr Wates who was, Mr Wadsworth reported, minded to challenge the vicar of Chiddingstone mid sermon on the finer points of his homily and was similarly keen to be off and hunting at the end of the service. Indeed in those days hounds met at 1.30 p.m. to accommodate such activities.
Miss Jorrocks was in fine fettle as she set off and, by mutual agreement, kept away as much as possible from Michala Blackburn on her impeccably behaved stallion. Miss Jorrocks' mare having more than just a schoolgirl crush on this fine fellow. The first hunt was all galloping on wide headlands with a little jumping. Miss Jorrocks was in her element despite, yet again, believing her new stirrup leathers to be too long even after adjustment. She was, however, not as inconvenienced as Lionel Rummell, whose bridle broke comprehensively mid gallop and gave us all a fright. The good offices of Abbie Buffy Hart using baling twine from Miss Jorrocks' pocket soon had him back up and running and he hunted the rest of the day quite literally held together by string!
The second hunt brought disaster upon poor Miss Jorrocks, who is a lady of a certain age and of a nervous disposition. Facing an upright rail at the top of a hill Miss Jorrocks quailed and rode, Master Blagg later informed her, like a "complete plonker". Indeed, so inevitable was Miss Jorrocks' accident, that the lovely Andrew Wickens abandoned his photography and sped at once to retrieve Miss Jorrocks' mortal remains. He arrived just as Miss Jorrocks jettisoned over the fence before landing in a heap head first the other side. Thankfully she still had hold of her reins so there was no loose horse to recover. Nevertheless poor Miss Jorrocks equilibrium was horribly disrupted and it was several minutes before, again with the calm assistance of Andrew, that she could remount and continue on her way.
Unfortunately, when they get upset Miss Jorrocks and her mare make a "proper pair" and when they came upon the next fence, a small but trappy rail, Miss Jorrocks mare refused to go anywhere near it on the grounds of health and safety. After suitable discussion they made an attempt. The mare wanted to go at a reasonable pace. Miss Jorrocks wanted to go at a near walk. It ended in tears and Miss Jorrocks fell off again! No falls for two seasons and then two in a row. Poor Miss Jorrocks was in pieces.
Together Miss Jorrocks and her mare found their way round with Miss Jorrocks getting on and off for gates in sufficient number for the rest of the season, grumbling as she did so about "these wretched leathers just aren't right". As they hacked along, including a stretch on the A264, they settled back down and by the time they caught up with the others were ready to resume activities. The last hunt was a gentle jolly home, which Miss Jorrocks took quietly in the company of Master Blagg and Gundrada Hole.
Back at the boxes Miss Jorrocks discovered that she had hunted a full day on uneven leathers, which she attributed to early adjustment without her spectacles. That's Miss Jorrocks excuse and she is sticking to it! Tea was a convivial affair taken at the boxes before we wended our way home.
Miss Jorrocks is delighted to report that she is none the worse for her adventure and is very grateful to all those who rendered her assistance. This afternoon saw her at Woldingham Saddlery where the delightful Ted Blackburn punched extra holes in her leathers and furnished her with a new hat.
Miss Jorrocks has lived to hunt another day!
Photo by kind permission of Nigel Goddard - all photos of the day can be found on this link.
Opening Meet - Miss Jorrocks reports
On Sunday 16th October hounds met at Cherry Croft, Herstmonceaux – the guests of Miss Caroline Richardson.
This was the Opening Meet for the 2016/17 season, which meant the dreaded plaiting! Sunday dawned wet and rainy and Miss Jorrocks was in gloomy mood as she lay in bed early in the morning listening to the rain hammering against the windows and contemplating the fate of her freshly cleaned and polished kit if the rain continued. However, as luck would have it, the rain moved over and soon the sun was shining. On arrival at her livery stables Miss Jorrocks found her friend, Julie Hooton, in full swing of her plaiting her mare. Miss Jorrocks is not famous for her competence on the stable management front and is usually assigned only the simplest of tasks, which are always completed under supervision. Thus, today, Miss Jorrocks was very much “got ready” and sent on her way shortly after 9.30 a.m..
A prompt arrival at the meet Miss Jorrocks went straight to her special parking place by Caroline’s house and set up camp. It took several people to get Miss Jorrocks on as, first, she was unnerved by there being no mane to grab when mounting and then she got her hunting whip in a tangle and eventually it was agreed that Miss Jorrocks should get on and then her whip would be handed to her. Then her new girth on her new saddle was too loose and Master Alex, who is well used to dealing with children, had to tighten it for her. Then her new stirrup leathers seemed too long and another kind person had to help her with those. Finally, Miss Jorrocks was ready and went up to count hounds carrying her antique hunting whip prominently lest the Huntsman should feel the need to avail himself of Miss Jorrocks newly acquired whipping in skills. He didn’t, and with an all too familiar feeling Miss Jorrocks was not chosen for the team and had to content herself with pretending to help Master Blagg bring up the rear.
Master Clare gave out thanks and parish notices and then we were off. A field of about fifty, behind nine and half couple, hunting one Quarry, Adrian. Five hunts made up the day, over beautiful country, in glorious sunshine. Jumping was mostly optional and largely straightforward so, even with Opening Meet exuberance, the field was able to comport itself well and flowed in good order as hounds set us a brisk pace.
The day was not without minor drama for Miss Jorrocks. To begin with she was grumbling that her mare’s controls appeared faulty, which she was convinced was due to her carrying a hunting whip. She continued in this vein until Master Alex relieved her of it and put it in her car for safe keeping. Then the stirrup leathers still weren’t right resulting in Miss Jorrocks losing a stirrup over a fence and wobbling about all over the place. All her wobbling caused Miss Jorrocks to lose both stirrups, which immediately took things from bad to worse. At this juncture Miss Jorrocks knew that, in order to remain mounted, she must put her legs down and round and underneath her. This action caused her mare to speed up as, by agreement, Miss Jorrocks’ mare will transport her safely on the firm understanding that Miss Jorrocks doesn’t do “riding”. Thus as they hurtled along at ever increasing speed poor Miss Jorrocks, who is a lady of a certain age and of a nervous disposition, was practically sobbing as she begged her mare to stop. Fortunately, the kindness of her mare brought Miss Jorrocks to a gentle stop and equilibrium was soon restored.
The last hunt took place over Cherry Croft and provided excellent viewing for mounted and foot followers alike. Thanks offered once again by Master Clare, the Huntsman blew for home at about 3.30 p.m. and not long after we were washed down and assembled in Caroline’s yard for Tea. Miss Jorrocks trotted up with her usual offering of smoked salmon dainties and was most impressed that Melanie Siggs, who knows a lot about matters marine, should identify at once that Miss Jorrocks had used wild Atlantic smoked salmon. Miss Jorrocks preened a little and then noticed that not all of them were eaten so the Huntsman took them home for SirPrise. At Tea Miss Jorrocks learned more of SirPrise’s illness and treatment. He was lucky indeed to be taken to hospital so quickly and is reported to be recovering very well, which will be welcome news for all his followers.
See you Wednesday!
Miss Jorrocks Reports - Puppy Hunt, Saturday 8th October
Hounds met at Goblands Farm, Hadlow – the guests of Mrs Maxine Pierce. This was the last weekend puppy hunt before we don our black coats once more and hunting “proper” commences on Sunday next.
Miss Jorrocks’ day did not get off to an auspicious start. Having decided it is now Autumn, Miss Jorrocks determined that her mare should now be rugged for travelling. This was against her friend, Julie Hooton’s, better judgement and she watched on dubiously as Miss Jorrocks fastened surcingles and straps before announcing that this would keep “the mare nice and snug” for the 40 minute journey. Unfortunately, rather too snug and the mare was a bit sweaty on arrival. Undaunted, Miss Jorrocks sponged the obvious bits and carried on with a nonchalant air.
Mounted up, Miss Jorrocks decided now would be a good time to say good morning to the Huntsman and count hounds. This was her first mistake. It soon transpired the Huntsman was short a whipper-in and invited Miss Jorrocks to help. This was about as welcome to Miss Jorrocks as being invited to sit beside the Headmaster for a maths lesson. However, she had an excuse readily to hand. Miss Jorrocks would have loved to whip in but, unfortunately, she had left her hunting whip at home. This excuse was met with the same incredulity as announcing that the hounds had eaten Miss Jorrocks’ homework and she was soon furnished with a whip and became assistant whipper in to Andy Keep, who is an old hand and very experienced.
Master Sally gave out thanks and parish notices and we were off, with Miss Jorrocks up the front, to the right of the Huntsman, and still uncertain as to quite how many hounds were out having arrived, variously, at anything between ten and eleven and a half couple after several counts. Hounds were laid on and with a whoosh we were off and hunting. What a day Miss Jorrocks had! It’s a different world at the front and Miss Jorrocks was truly privileged to watch hounds and Huntsman at work and to see the “golden thread” between a Huntsman and hounds at close quarters.
As a whipper in Miss Jorrocks was more hindrance than help and some of the language directed at her in the heat of the moment would have made Donald Trump blush! “No! No! No! Not beep beep there! Beep, beep there!”, the Huntsman would shout as Miss Jorrocks fumbled about trying to look competent. Scenting, Miss Jorrocks learned, was patchy on the stubble and over fresh plough very taxing for hounds who had their heads down and noses working over deep and sticky going. Then she wasn’t watching properly at a check, so Duncan went in the river and couldn’t get out up the reinforced concrete sides, so Master Hollis had to go in and get him. Then, on another hunt, Miss Jorrocks was tasked with being ready to turn hounds should the youngsters switch to hunting the fishermen enjoying a quiet morning on the river bank. In so doing Miss Jorrocks nearly ran the poor fisher folk over and had to canter off shouting “sorry, sorry” back over her shoulder. The fishermen were very bemused as hounds never gave them a second glance anyway. It was very hard work for all concerned. It is tempting, from the field, to watch the Huntsman and whippers in and think the job is easy. It’s not easy. They make it look easy as Miss Jorrocks soon found out.
Four hunts made up the day and for Miss Jorrocks, who was having one of the best days ever, over all too soon. She handed her whip back rather sadly and returned to her trailer to wash down and pack up for home. Would Miss Jorrocks do it again? Absolutely she would! Will she be asked? Probably never!
See you at the opening meet !
Underriver Puppy Hunt
11th September 2016
Miss Jorrocks Reports
It was not all plain sailing. First, Miss Jorrocks was completely bewildered as to why her mare was refusing to leave her trailer, only to discover the poor mare was still tied up on the tying rope, and then she managed to get her reins in a pickle so her mare trod on them and they broke. Running repairs effected Miss Jorrocks was ready to mount and assume escort duties of her friend, Hannah Bridges, and her horse, Louie. Having witnessed Miss Jorrocks incompetence on the ground the pair of them looked on in complete dismay at the prospect of a first day in her "care".
Organising Masters of the day were Masters Blagg and Hollis, with Master Blagg in charge of the field. Master Blagg is never happy unless he is cross so he barked his welcome and ever more terrifying instructions and we were off. A carefully thought out day followed. A long road hack at a brisk trot settled the field of 67 and five short hunts ensued. At first, sensibly, we were kept back from hounds but, as the day progressed, we were taken up a bit closer so we could enjoy the thrill of watching hounds at work. There was good jumping and the opportunity to canter on turf, although the ground is still hard.
The sun shone, hounds sang, and the field was an amenable and jolly company from the child on the leading rein, through a child aged eleven out for her first time, to Miss Jorrocks who carbon dating estimates to be a lady of a certain age (and nervous disposition). The last hunt finished back at the boxes and soon we were ready for home. A smooth day that belied the hard work of the masters and the generosity of our land owning hosts to whom all thanks are due.
Photograph courtesy of Louisa Day Photography - all photos from the day can be found in this gallery on her website.