On Sunday 18th October, hounds met at Iden Park, the guests of Mr Glenn Wassall and Mr Neven Znaor.
This was the Opening Meet, and we could not have wished for a more beautiful setting or a warmer welcome.
The run up saw Miss Jorrocks in a frenzy of activity as she brushed and polished, cleaned tack and applied Brasso and elbow grease to her coat buttons. Saturday brought hand wringing and angst as Miss Jorrocks stood forlornly, plaiting bands and mane comb in hand, and contemplated the enormity of the task of â€œOpening Meet Plaitsâ€. Fortunately her friend, Julie Hooton, came to her rescue and, while she plaited with lightning efficiency, Miss Jorrocks filled hay nets â€“ a task at which Miss Jorrocks excels.
Thus, suitably turned out and attired Miss Jorrocks arrived in good time at Baronâ€™s Grange where the Ramus and Wheeler families had kindly afforded us parking. Base camp established, Miss Jorrocks was on board and ready to go at 11.50 a.m. for the grand hack to the meet, which saw us sweep up the drive and arrive at the house just on noon.
We filtered most efficiently with hounds, Huntsman and staff arranged on the gravel outside the house and the rest of us in the park where soon stirrup cup and all manner of dainties, both sweet and savoury, were being circulated by a virtual army of helpers. Miss Jorrocks has been to Iden Park before and knew to have but a token breakfast! She tried all manner of things, well it would have been rude not to, and then had to stop because it would have been rude to carry on!
Replete and at one with her world Miss Jorrocks settled comfortably in her saddle to listen to the parish notices delivered by Master Lindsay. Thanks were offered to our hosts and the several landowners we would cross together with a stern warning about headlands and the need for care in the orchards. Hounds were called, and we were off.
Four hunts made up the day with 12 ½ couple following 3 quarry. The day was surprisingly warm and a couple of sharp turns executed by the quarry and the difficult scenting worked our hounds, Huntsman and staff very hard. When we were running though the pace was swift and the jumping, all of it optional or avoidable, flowed easily with the field of about forty proving confident and competent. Miss Jorrocks, suitably fuelled at the meet, left the jumping to her mare and didnâ€™t â€œdo ridingâ€. Overall, it seems, that makes for a better day as Miss Jorrocks will make random guesses as to the correct pace and place to take off much to her mare's chagrin as she has to sort it all out and keep Miss Jorrocks on board at the same time.
Miss Jorrocks was pleased to see Mr Ivan Massow return to our mastership after a gap of about 20 years. She was sure Master Massow would not recognise her but he assured her that he did at once. Miss Jorrocks, being a lady of a certain age and of a nervous disposition, preened and basked in the thought that she hasn't aged one bit!
Indeed it was lovely to see all our Masters, resplendent in their chestnut coats, out amongst us except for Master Alex who would normally champion the day but was off doing incredibly important parental things in Ireland instead. Thus the day progressed across fields, through orchards and along river banks where we gave cheery greetings to walkers and anglers alike and enjoyed the British countryside as it takes on its beautiful autumn hues.
We were back at the boxes shortly after 3.00 p.m. and at Tea, kindly hosted by Joy and James Ramus, shortly thereafter. There we were greeted by hot sausages, sandwiches, cake and Joy's famous meringues as we mulled over the day and talked over the season ahead. Indeed, as we did so, Master Clare remarked on an article in The Field on hunting etiquette. She looked at Miss Jorrocks in firm disapproval and Miss Jorrocks slunk a bit lower and looked round for more cake. Miss Jorrocks was aware that our Huntsman had overheard her speaking of the next 'line' when it is always, always 'hunts' and she wracked her brain for other transgressions. She is too old to be expected automatically to dismount for gates and she was reasonably confident that she had stuck to 'Master' as the correct form of address throughout the day. Master Clare said there are ten clear points of etiquette. Ten! Miss Jorrocks could not possibly remember all those. Miss Jorrocks suddenly found herself very absorbed in examining her cake and, when Master Clare wasn't looking, she made good her escape.