Miss Jorrocks writes:
On Sunday February 8th hounds met at Clements Reach Farm, Meopham – the guests of Mr Fred French.
This was a change to the printed card and took us from the wetter, low lying Weald ground further up the country on to drier going. Nevertheless after the recent cold and miserable spell we were lucky indeed that Mr French let us go.
The country around Meopham, in the shadow of the sprawling metropolis of London, is open and given over to arable. This makes for a good galloping day, with lots of optional jumping set on the headlands.
Thus the field of about forty in total was divided into two, jumpers who wished to push on under the competent auspices of Paul Hollis and the non jumpers, an altogether more discerning bunch, under the kindly leadership of Master Sally Mack.
Hounds were quick and diligent and the first hunt was both long and swift ending near to The Cock Inn were glasses of port awaited us in the car park as we let our horses rest.
The second and third hunts brought more of the same although the third hunt had additional interest for the non jumpers as we mistook our gaps, jumped a smallish rail to escape some rabbit fencing, and promptly found ours elves stuck on the other side. The fence, the other way on, was altogether much less inviting and there were anxious mumblings from the group all of whom had been careful, selective jumpers all day. In the end it was agreed that the fence would have to be rebuilt and two nimble and athletic followers promptly dismantled the fence and reassembled it on the other side of the wire under the direction of those of us who had remained firmly in our saddles! In the end the new fence was deemed suitable for ladies such as Miss Jorrock, who regular readers know is a lady of a certain age and of a nervous disposition, and everyone streamed over and soon we were back with the main field.
The fourth hunt was shorter and took us back to the boxes, where the horses had minimal mud to be removed and not long after we were at tea where all sorts of dainties awaited us in the slowly extending daylight. Indeed, at some points in the day, the weather was positively Spring like turning Miss Jorrocks’ thoughts to the May Ball, which she hopes is already in your calendars – Sunday May 3rd for those not sure.
Miss Jorrocks is particularly grateful to Mr Hollis and Master Blagg for putting on such a suitable day for her especially as Master Blagg was already committed to a point to point where, she understands, he had a most satisfactory ride.
See you all next week.
On Tuesday 23rd December hounds met at Baron’s Grange, Iden – the guests of the Ramus and Wheeler families.
This is our annual fancy dress meet, aimed primarily at the children, with adults also in attendance. A field totalling 71 assembled at the Grange in varying states of fancy dress – some not at all and in proper hunting gear, some sporting just some tinsel and some in full on fancy outfits including fairies, a dalmation, a reindeer, a bloodhound (very fitting), a Christmas pudding, and a holly sprig. Miss Jorrocks appeared in her interpretation of a Christmas tree, complete with Christmas angel. Thus, we must conclude, that should the Martians have chosen now to land on earth, and at Iden, they would very quickly have rejoined their space ship and left us for good!
Stirrup cup and savouries circulated in generous abundance and Miss Jorrocks ate her own bodyweight in sausage rolls, onion rings and potato wedges. Well we are, after all, in training for Christmas Day! Parish notices and multitudinous thank yous delivered by dismounted Master Alex we set off to hunt - hunting 4 quarry with 10 ½ couple of hounds.
Miss Jorrocks joined Master Blagg bringing up the rear and regrets to inform her readers that soon her Christmas angel was fallen as she jiggled about in the wake of Master Blagg’s enthusiastic point to pointer. For the rest of the day the poor angel hung by some threads from Miss Jorrocks hat and was consigned to the bin on returning home. Nevertheless, Miss Jorrocks was pleased with her ensemble and grinned cheerfully at Master Blagg as she bobbed along at his side all wrapped up in purple tinsel.
We were joined at the back by 5 year old Olivia on her grey pony being led by her Mum on Mary, a horse in training to be the best behaved horse in the world. Miss Jorrocks thought their conduct exemplary and has returned home to polish her own manners in time for the Boxing Day Meet which, as everyone knows is a “big day” in any hunting calendar. This polishing includes:
1. Resolving to call the Master “Master” at all times - even when being tormented by Master Blagg.
2. Paying careful attention in gateways and on bridges to the needs of our field members.
3. Being prepared to do her share of gates if required – although being a lady of a certain age and of a nervous disposition Miss Jorrocks now relies on nice young gentlemen or children to the deal with the complexities of gates – unless of course the only alternative gate opener is a Master or (heavens forfend) the Huntsman, who should never, ever have to open a gate!
Anyway, back to our day at Baron’s Grange we enjoyed four excellent hunts across a mix of arable and orchard and some lovely timber before regrouping in the yard for a tea including sausages and Joy Ramus’s famous meringues.
Miss Jorrocks is also delighted to report that 5 year old Olivia finished her day off the leading rein and was positively beaming at the end of the day which, we all have to agree, is what it is all about.
Merry Christmas one and all see you on Boxing Day!
Miss Jorrocks writes:
On Sunday 14th December hounds met at Firle Place, the guests of Viscount and Lady Gage.
A field of about 40 assembled in the lane by the village and then swept up the long drive to the house behind huntsman and hounds for a very traditional meet in front of the house. The recent rain meant it was polite to stay as much as possible off the Viscount’s lawn, so we ranged ourselves along the gravel and soon Mrs Woolgar was amongst us with trays of stirrup cup and savouries. Miss Jorrocks enjoys most particularly Mrs Woolgar’s savouries as all are home made and taste truly delicious. Indeed both Miss Jorrocks and those around her felt the need to try at least one of everything!
Having dwelt for a while in this timeless setting Master Clare made our thank yous to our hosts and their staff and we were off up the hill. We were two distinct fields, the jumpers with Master Clare and the non jumpers with Master Blagg who made, Miss Jorrocks learned, an amiable and kindly master leading his charges gently round. Miss Jorrocks, despite being a lady of a certain age and of a nervous disposition, spent the day up with the jumpers – much of it hard on Master Clare’s heels. Miss Jorrocks mare is perfectly capable of dealing with hunt timber with no input at all from Miss Jorrocks, which was just as well as the wind was brisk on the hills making communication between the bridge and the engine room tricky. At one point, as she hurtled down the hill feeling her face flatten as if by G force in the wind, Miss Jorrocks felt obliged to plead with her mare to go a bit slower. A plea roundly ignored as Miss Jorrocks continued to go “ooohhh” and “aaahhh” bobbling about on top as we galloped to keep up with hounds.
Hounds and quarry were on excellent form and we were either up with the hounds or enjoying spectacular viewing nearly all day. Four hunts in all, the latter slightly curtailed as the quarry were showing signs of succumbing to the cold wind and steep climbs and descents required to lay their trail. Thus we finished just short of the Firle Beacon, where we came across some poor Duke of Edinburgh trainees out on an exercise who both looked despondent and miserable whilst we, on the other hand, were full of chatter and pleasure as we hacked back down the lane to the boxes.
A quick wash down in a heavy shower of rain and then we all walked up to tea before trundling home Miss Jorrocks hopes to write our thank you notes.
Miss Jorrocks, being a lady of a certain age, still uses the written thank you and would encourage all who hunt with us to acknowledge the kindness and hospitality of our hosts with a little note in the post. Savouries and stirrup cup don’t make themselves and many of us are complete strangers when we turn up, quite literally on the doorstep, to be fed and watered! How nice then to know, when the washing up and tidying away is all done, that one’s efforts were both appreciated and enjoyed.
Should you wish to write to Viscount and Lady Gage you should address your envelope Viscount and Viscountess Gage and begin your card or letter “Dear Lord and Lady Gage”. Miss Jorrocks is so proper!
See you all next week.
Miss Jorrocks enjoys a day watching the hedge hoppers at Larkins Brewery
On Sunday 7 th December hounds met at Larkin’s Brewery, Chiddingstone – the guests of Mr Docherty.
This is a “serious” day in the Coakham calendar as it takes in Mr Stephen Gribble’s hedges and all manner of hunt jumping. It is really not a day to which Miss Jorrocks looks forward with particular relish being, as regular readers know, a lady of a certain age and of a nervous disposition. Nevertheless, having received a telephone call from her friend Mrs Baker, who is recovering from a broken collar bone, enquiring as to whether or not Miss Jorrocks would be out Miss Jorrocks decided that she would, indeed, go out and she and Mrs Baker could not jump together. Thus Saturday morning saw Miss Jorrocks running back and forth like a small, and mildly demented, gnome as she made good her preparations.
Sunday dawned fine, dry and mild and Miss Jorrocks set off in moderately cheerful mood. An early arrival at the meet, in order to secure good parking, Miss Jorrocks had plenty of time to set up her little camp and be ready for the meet. The meet was quiet and genteel with stirrup cup and sausages and gentle conversation. Master Sally made our thank yous to our host and land owners and we were off.
To ensure they would be in no danger whatsoever from any jumping Miss Jorrocks and Mrs Baker went straight down the road to the end of the first hunt, where they joined in for the final hurrah across the last two fields. They found this strategy quite delightful and for the second hunt were squired by Mr Gribble, who led them round his farm at excellent viewing distance from his magnificent hedges. Miss Jorrocks and Mrs Baker finished this hunt by inspecting the recently jumped hedges close to and agreed they were not suitable for ladies such as themselves although, in the sunshine that smiled upon us, they agreed the hedge row would make an excellent picnic spot!
The third and fourth hunts brought traditional hunt jumping and Mrs Baker and Miss Jorrocks rejoined the field as full time participants although Miss Jorrocks positioned herself at the rear of the field, with Master Blagg, just in case. The fourth hunt finished over an upright rail, which nearly caused Master Blagg to fall as he jumped it sideways having been slowed down by Miss Jorrocks cautious approach. He managed to stay on, but it is a mystery quite how as he was 9/10ths out of the saddle as he came across the field.
A long hack back through the village of Chiddingstone concluded the day before tea in the brewery. Miss Jorrocks set off for home and reflected on her weekend, which she decided had been very fine. Not only had she enjoyed excellent hunting in good company but she had also bought new wellington boots, with steel toe caps, of which she was exceptionally proud - so much so that she spent some time at tea inviting people to step on her toes. Simple pleasures do indeed make Miss Jorrocks’ world go round.
Miss Jorrocks enjoys a lovely day on the St Clere Estate
On Sunday 29 th November hounds met on the St Clere Estate, Heaverham – the guests of Mr and Mrs Ecclestone.
This was a Master Blagg “special” designed for all with both jumping and non jumping fields, each with its own field master – Master Blagg for the jumpers, and Master Sally for the non jumpers.
The day dawned grey and dismal and threatened the stunning views promised in Master Blagg’s description of the day. For once, it seemed, it wasn’t raining and it certainly wasn’t cold so Miss Jorrocks was in good fettle as she set off for one of her local meets. The car was laden with all of Miss Jorrocks hunting necessities together with savouries for the meet and thus Miss Jorrocks was sure to be timely in order to do setting out.
As promised parking was ample and Miss Jorrocks was told she could park anywhere she liked, which she did only to be moved very promptly by Master Blagg who wanted her parked somewhere else (from where she was moved again, but that’s another story!). He did seem to be getting his breeches in a proper twist about parking, to the point where Paul Hollis had to come to the rescue with a calor gas container, which he used as a roundabout when directing the traffic.
Eventually everyone was arranged to Master Blagg’s satisfaction, we’d been fed, watered, and parish notices read including a vote of thanks to our hosts the Ecclestones, Mr French the farmer, and Mr Wickins who had moved lots of sheep to let us through.
Thus a field of in excess of 60 set off to hunt with many visitors in our number. Miss Jorrocks decided she would do some jumping, which she determined would require “doing riding”. Her mare took great exception to such a turn of events and immediately stopped at both the first and second fences much to Miss Jorrocks’ red faced embarrassment. Clearly the front end controls had been over applied so Miss Jorrocks dug deep in her pony club training and tried a kick at the third fence. Her mare ground to a halt and Miss Jorrocks pulled to one side bewildered, at which point her mare trotted up to the fence and popped over. Miss Jorrocks’ mare is firm in her opinion that Miss Jorrocks is a pure passenger, travelling first class, and really should not be getting involved in mechanics of the operation. The same is true of Miss Jorrocks’ collie dog, who much prefers Miss Jorrocks not to dance – even in the privacy of her own kitchen when making savouries for the meet. Poor Miss Jorrocks, a lady of certain age and of a nervous disposition, still seeking something at which she is “good”!
The day progressed at a rapid pace with some long, galloping hunts. The masters worked hard to keep us up with hounds and we were rewarded with some excellent viewing, particularly on the last hunt where hounds fanned out below us like a timeless tapestry.
Earlier in the day Miss Jorrocks had learned quite how timeless this is as the Huntsman gave her an impromptu lesson on “taking” the quarry, meaning they are caught having reached their allotted point and “killing” the quarry, which means hounds have caught them at any point beforehand in the open. This harks back, Miss Jorrocks learned, to hunting a carted stag which was, quite literally, carted from place to place and then taken home to the kennels and looked after until the hounds went out again. The Huntsman drew the similarities of moving the quarry about for us to hunt, but he drew the line at taking them home to the kennels to be looked after!
As the days are drawing in quite rapidly we were back at the boxes soon after 3.00 p.m., with some tired horses to tidy away before we had our tea and set off home having had a lovely day with, as Master Blagg had promised, something for all on this beautiful estate.
Miss Jorrocks enjoys a freezing day at Jevington
Nigel Goddards photos from the Jevington meet
On Sunday 23rd November hounds met at Oxendean Farm, the guests of Mr and Mrs Carr.
This was an impromptu meet on the Downs – everywhere else being too wet to contemplate. Miss Jorrocks woke to torrential rain of biblical proportion and immediately sent a textogram to the kennels asking if hounds would go out. “No rain here”, was the prompt reply, “see you later”. Oh well, thought Miss Jorrocks and set off.
Let’s be honest, the day was wet and, at times cold, and only those of us who had to be out – Huntsman and staff, who had no choice, and those of us, of which Miss Jorrocks is but one, who really do need to make more friends who like indoor pursuits, like jigsaw puzzles on rainy afternoons, ventured forth. Enquiring idly of a fellow rider what else one could do on a November Sunday Miss Jorrocks learned that one could have been watching the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. “Yes, yes!” cried Miss Jorrocks’ inner sloth, “we could be at home, cur dog at our feet, watching the Grand Prix and eating chocolate!”. Instead Miss Jorrocks was sitting in the rain, drinking whisky mac, with the rain dripping rapidly off her hat and down her neck. Soon her undergarments were also damp and everything was just a touch, well, squelchy.
In all about twenty souls braved the elements and what a day we had! Our Huntsman remarked that he had rarely enjoyed such scenting conditions and the configuration of the Downs made viewing easy and pleasurable and we saw some excellent hound work. Our two Quarry, Paul and Andrew, set some wonderful challenges for the hounds and, when running, the miserable conditions paled in to insignificance.
Four hunts made up the day with just straightforward timber to jump, which gladdened Miss Jorrocks’ heart for she is, as regular readers know, a lady of a certain age and of a nervous disposition. As the Hunstman blew for home and we hurried to hot tea in a barn Miss Jorrocks concluded, that whilst the sofa doubtless had attraction for many of you, you missed a cracking day.
Miss Jorrock's leaves the quiz a better educated lady!
On Friday 21 st November 2014 Miss Jorrocks attended the Coakham Quiz at Bodle Street Village Hall. There were many teams present and all named after hounds in our pack. Miss Jorrocks was attached to “Tricky Woo”, a team made up of Richard Bramwell, partnered by Jane, Master Lindsay and Howard, Caroline Richardson and Miss Jorrocks. Miss Jorrocks harbours the dark suspicion that she may have been invited as the team Joker.
By about 7.45 p.m. intellectual activities were in full swing and anxious, whispered, debates ensued as we tackled questions, we were later to learn, are faced on a regular basis by GCSE students. Chris Wheeler was the question master – a duty he undertook with the authority of a very senior headmaster, such that Miss Jorrocks wilted under his glare and resolved to try harder in the next round. The trouble was the questions were too hard for a lady of Miss Jorrocks’ brain and she struggled to divide 1 by 2.28 to work out the percentage an acre represents of a hectare which, should her readers wish to know it for future reference, is 40%. Miss Jorrocks arrived at 44%, a figure she considered close enough but not close enough, it turned out, to get a mark.
Many questions had a scientific nexus and Miss Jorrocks considered Howard should lead on this as he is a vet. Poor Howard made good natured protestation but acquitted himself admirably as did other team members, notably Jane on music, Richard on geology, and Caroline and Lindsay on all manner of topics. Miss Jorrocks made a reasonable fist of Latin names and we finished the day at the top of the middle. Not enough to win a prize, but honour satisfied.
The evening was broken by an interval for an excellent supper provided by the Supporters’ Club, which provided a welcome rest for our over worked brains.
Supper over we faced the “guest round” provided by Martin Hole who chose, on this occasion, to major on beavers. Beavers! This confirms to Miss Jorrocks that the Hole residence, at Montague, suffers from rural isolation relieved only by excellent and extremely fast internet access. The questions were so specialised that a mystified quiet settled upon the room and the use of random guesswork was immediately deployed. As always, though, Martin left us better educated than before and Miss Jorrocks now knows that there are 8 English rivers with beaver populations, the longest beaver dam in the world is 850 metres long, and beavers have internal testicles. The latter point not being a topic of conversation for the dinner table.
Thus better educated than before, and buoyed up by an evening of convivial company, Miss Jorrocks set off for home and to begin her preparations for a day on the Downs on Sunday.
Miss Jorrocks writes:
On Sunday November 9th hounds met at Attwood Farm, Bodle Street - the guests of the Petrides and Godwin families. This is a very traditional meet in the Coakham card as our hosts are kind enough to organise our “Remembrance Meet”.
A field of about thirty assembled in the field behind the house to enjoy savouries and stirrup cup in generous proportion. Miss Jorrocks sampled many delights and was soon glowing from not one, but two, whisky macs having been informed, by someone in the know, that this was a “three port day”.
Socialising complete Master Clare led us in our own particular form of remembrance where we remember not just our fallen human heroes but the animals that have served in war both in the past and today. It was an almost uncanny silence as hounds and horses fell completely quiet – not a snuffle, bark, whimper or stamping of hoof interrupted the observation of a minute’s silence and Miss Jorrocks firmly believes that one could have heard the fabled pin drop.
Solemnities over we set off to hunt - a day made up of three hunts behind three quarry captained by Adrian. The ground was deep and wet and we were lucky indeed to be out - confirming that our farmers and landowners really are the most tolerant and kind people.
Despite the warming glow of her multiple stirrup cups Miss Jorrocks determined that she would confine her jumping to the strictly necessary and was soon teamed up with Master Blagg bringing his best point to pointer along carefully in the rear. Miss Jorrocks was also soon to learn that this may not have been her most judicious decision as Master Blagg, despite following on quietly, was up for the odd big jump. As he set off across a big field towards a large railed hedge Miss Jorrocks was obliged to draw his urgent attention to the gate in the corner. Master Blagg appeared deaf to her protestations and worse her mare, detecting hesitancy up on the bridge, set sail in Master Blagg’s hoof prints at an ever increasing canter towards the hedge. Miss Jorrocks sat, a mixture of terror and horror, as the hedge grew closer and was a complete passenger as her mare sailed over. A smooth landing ensued and Miss Jorrock’s mare jiggled her back firmly in to her saddle further underlining her point that things go better for the both of them if Miss Jorrocks refrains from “doing riding”.
As regular readers know, Miss Jorrocks is a lady of a certain age and of a nervous disposition, and she was rather alarmed by this turn of events and was therefore delighted to team up for the rest of the day with Tracey, a young and fit person, on her pony capable of doing all manner of gates. Thus Miss Jorrocks was able to complete her day safe from the danger of any unnecessary jumping!
Three hunts completed we returned to the boxes where Miss Jorrocks believes she washed a goodly percentage of East Sussex from her mare. Fortunately the mud, though much in abundance, was the very washable sort and soon we were at tea in the Godwins’ lovely farmhouse the history of which has been traced back to 1460. A delicious spread of chilli con carne, hot pies and remembrance cake awaited us and clearly much preparation had been completed prior to our arrival. A really lovely end to a wonderful day.
Miss Jorrocks writes:
On Monday 3 rd November, St Hubert’s Day, hounds met at Montague, Hankham – the guests of the Glessing and Hole families. We have marked St Hubert’s day for the past twenty seasons, and always at Montague unless the weather was so foul that mounted hunting was impossible.
Monday dawned wet and windy and gloom settled over Miss Jorrocks’ household as she prepared for another day in the rain. Such despondency was short lived as she brightened at the prospect of hunting on Montague, one of her favourite hunting places.
A small field of about thirty assembled and were promptly lashed by another torrential downpour. St Hubert must have been in very bad humour indeed! The St Hubert’s day blessing was given by the Reverend Albert Ginno who usually seems oblivious to the elements, but today sported a barbour rain coat over his clerical vestments and stood under the shelter of an umbrella held by a kindly foot follower.
The reverend’s homily was both poignant and pertinent as he remembered the late John “Potto” Glessing who was our host for nineteen seasons and no longer with us to enjoy the twentieth. The reverend spoke of Potto’s love of the countryside and nature, which set the foundations of the Montague we enjoy today – a tradition carried on by Martin Hole whose benevolence knew no bounds as he allowed us to gallop about on his impeccable pasture in the pouring rain.
Hounds blessed, we set off to hunt thus forging a new link in the chain that stretches back fourteen centuries to St Hubert himself, who hunted deer with his St Hubert hounds - the one time name of the Bloodhound.
Three hunts made up the day and there were, Miss Jorrocks is delighted to report, some “serious fences” several of which she attempted successfully herself – clearly emboldened by the hand of St Hubert!
The ground was wet and at times deep. Miss Jorrocks only hopes that the hoof print fairies will visit under the cover of darkness and poor Martin Hole will be none the wiser of the holes in his beautiful turf.
The day finished with a rousing cheer for the late Potto before the Huntsman blew for home and we went in to a truly excellent tea of Chilli con Carne and hot pies.
Miss Jorrocks writes:
On Sunday 19th October hounds met at Cherry Croft, Herstmonceux – the guests of Miss Caroline Richardson.
This was the Opening Meet and Miss Jorrocks had expended a great deal of energy in endeavouring to achieve appropriate Opening Meet turn out, so much so that she dozed off at the dinner table the evening before.
Suitably rested, Miss Jorrocks woke to sound of heavy rain and her heart sank as she thought about all her preparations and how they would soon be ruined. The clerk of the weather, however, had Miss Jorrocks’ best interests at heart and sent a day of mild, dry weather with the occasional sunny spell. Perfect weather, Miss Jorrocks considers, for a jolly hunting jaunt.
About forty people made up the field and stirrup cup was soon in circulation. Having managed to cajole a willing friend into plaiting her mare the day before, Miss Jorrocks took a drink and conducted an inspection of the field and general turn out. She was not disappointed, although she felt somewhat superior being the owner of sewn in plaits.
Master Clare gave us all a welcome and thanked our farmers and then we were off. Eleven couple of hounds behind three quarry, captained by Adrian.
Having been assured the day was well within her capabilities Miss Jorrocks a lady, as regular readers know, of a certain age and of a nervous disposition, opted to position herself at the front where she could enjoy a good view of hounds and huntsman at work. The start was steady for, although hounds settled quickly to their work, the stiffening breeze appeared to buffet the scent and move it around so hounds had to work their noses very hard to follow the line. Soon they were running true to form and the pace for the field picked up as we thundered along in open order to avoid creating a track of foot prints.
Thus the day continued, gently and without incident, set against the wonderful back drop of the South Downs to one side and the dome of the Observatory, seemingly floating above the woodland, on the other.
Four hunts concluded, simple timber and some modest hedges setting the tone for the season ahead, our huntsman blew for home and we washed down at the boxes before gathering in Caroline’s immaculate yard for tea and chatter about the day and the days ahead.
Miss Jorrocks trundled happily home along the A21 and then had all her sewn in plait superiority deflated as she spent forty minutes with nail scissors and reading glasses trying to take the wretched things out! Miss Jorrocks will, in future, forever observe her constitutional right to appear in the field plait free!
Photos from the Opening Meet at Cherry Croft Farm can now be viewed at http://www.ksdigital.co.uk/portfolio366042.html
Photos from today at Cherry Croft Farm can now be viewed at http://www.ksdigital.co.uk/portfolio366042.html
Miss Jorrocks writes:
On Sunday 2nd November hounds met at Great Hollanden Farm, the guests of Mr and Mrs Brooks.
The day dawned rainy and wet and put poor Miss Jorrocks in dismal mood, for Miss Jorrocks had offered to assist with the catering for the meet. The evening before had seen Miss Jorrocks’ kitchen transform itself into the Great British Bake Off as Miss Jorrocks chopped, flaked, crumbled, crimped, cut out and shaped her offering for the following day. Miss Jorrocks spent the evening more floury than a floury thing and even her collie dog, who usually views Miss Jorrocks antics with detached disdain, sat up all evening in the kitchen in case he should miss out on his opportunity to play Paul Hollywood to Miss Jorrocks’ Mary Berry. Indeed Miss Jorrocks probably ate her own bodyweight in canapes as she conducted quality control and the dog caught the odd dropped ingredient before it hit the floor. So, imagine Miss Jorrocks dismay at the prospect of rained on savouries! Her unsoggy bottoms threatened by the downpour. Poor Miss Jorrocks, nevertheless she soldiered on and was soon pressing plastic boxes and foil packages on master of the day, Paul Blagg.
The meet saw a large field of 55 assemble, many attracted by the prospect of a special non jumping day under the kindly leadership of master Sally Mack. Master Blagg gave out the parish notices thanking the landowners over which we would pass, these were numerous and Miss Jorrocks soon ran out of fingers trying to keep up.
Having endured a torrential downpour we set off. Miss Jorrocks being, as regular readers know, a lady of a certain age and of a nervous disposition, oscillated back and forth between the jumpers and non jumpers a strategy that worked exceptionally well for her and gave her the opportunity to view the day from many vantage points. Miss Jorrocks had counted hounds but the rain has rusted her brain and she thinks there may have been ten and a half couple and two quarry (or maybe three) captained by Garth. Miss Jorrocks nearly ended up wearing an ordnance survey map before the meet as she endeavoured to “assist” Garth with helpful hints on map reading – pointing out pubs, telephone boxes and deciduous woodlands to him until she was told, rather forcefully, to go away.
The ground, it has to be said, was wet and we were lucky to be allowed to go in Miss Jorrocks humble opinion. The jumping she took on proved most enjoyable and the cantering round with master Sally most entertaining and pleasurable.
The rain persisted throughout the day and Miss Jorrocks finished with a soggy bottom stained an elegant mahogany from the new seat on her saddle. A wooden seat, it might be said, to accompany her wooden head!
Thankfully for Miss Jorrocks this was a local meet and she was soon home to clean tack and do washing in time for St Huberts day tomorrow, to which she looks forward very much – especially the savouries! Hopefully St Hubert will smile on us and send us dry weather and sunshine.
Miss Jorrocks goes Puppy Hunting
On Sunday 28th September hounds met at Knockholt as the guests of Mr Wickins. This was a first visit to this piece of country for the Coakham and a gift from heaven for Miss Jorrocks, who stables her mare just 20 minutes away by hoof.
The day dawned bright and sunny and it was hard to believe this was the last Sunday in September, such was the warmth. For a first time visit word had spread and the field had many visitors, all of whom turned out to be incredibly competent on well behaved steeds. Even the more enthusiastic horses were well managed and, despite the occasional undoubtedly hairy moment for their riders, caused no problems at all.
Miss Jorrocks being, as regular readers will remember, a lady of a certain age and of a nervous disposition found herself appointed a native guide for those wishing to miss out the fixed fences - all of which were optional. Miss Jorrocks assumed this office with a bustling air of self importance and positioned herself, as instructed, in the middle of the field with her charges behind her. She caused a considerable degree of confusion as we set off when she saw the horses ahead of her stopping at a bend whereupon she cried "hold hard" in ringing tones. The horses in front of her pulled up abruptly and the horses behind clattered up to see what all the commotion was about. This was not the outcome Miss Jorrocks had planned but thankfully everyone untangled themselves quite quickly and we resumed our canter in short order. Miss Jorrocks, however, was somewhat disrupted and forgot to go straight on at the left turn thereby avoiding a brush fence and a boundary. As we cantered towards it there were murmurings about the "way round" from behind but it was too late and the horses in front pulled us over with everyone making the leap successfully on the first attempt. Miss Jorrocks felt obliged to apologise but took comfort from the smiling faces on the riders.
The day moved on swiftly with three hunts on the same estate. The turf was ancient, sheep grazed and springy, and the countryside beautiful to behold. Our farming host had moved sheep, opened gates, and had clearly made every effort to ensure that a cohort of complete strangers enjoyed a glorious morning out galloping around his office. No doubt, as we trundled off in time for lunch, he was busy putting them back and closing gates. A generosity of spirit indeed!
Master Blagg was on usual form tormenting poor Miss Jorrocks and attempting to give her the vapours. As we approached the end of the second hunt he instructed we spread out and give room at the big hedge, which loomed large just one field ahead. Miss Jorrocks gathered her charges about her and took them a safe distance away only to watch Master Blagg and his "jumpers" walk through the gateway. Well really! Poor Miss Jorrocks - she doesn't need any assistance to look an idiot she can do that all on her own!
The third hunt finished just a few yards from where we began and we had cause to be very pleased with the puppies all of whom had hunted carefully and accurately despite the distractions of Sunday morning walkers on the many footpaths thereabouts and the many deer in the woods several of which Miss Jorrocks passed on the roadside homeward looking surprised but otherwise undisrupted.
It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning and Miss Jorrocks hopes we will be permitted to return in the future.
Miss Jorrocks enjoys Puppy Hunting at Hever
On Sunday 12th October hounds met at Pigdown Farm, Hever - the guests of Ms Jan Biddle.
The day dawned misty and really quite Autumnal and Miss Jorrocks was in jolly hunting mood as she set off for the meet.
A field of about 50 assembled and there was a general air of anticipation for the season ahead. Master Blagg gave the usual parish notices and Miss Jorrocks was once again appointed non jumping monitor – a role she considers she discharges with an air of quiet authority although doubtless her little flock would beg to differ on this score. However, on this occasion she managed not to get them down a jumping lane and didn’t lose anyone – well not that she can remember anyway.
Hounds were in good voice and hunting now like professionals behind two quarry captained by Garth. The day had been set up to give the field good views of hounds at work and we saw them spread out like a tapestry on a beautiful green background, it really was a timeless sight. We were fortunate indeed that Ms Biddle had allowed us to come, after some quite considerable rain, and had moved her stock to facilitate the flow of the day. Miss Jorrocks always marvels at the generosity of such hosts who work hard before and after we arrive and receive just a simple acknowledgement and a token gift in recognition of their efforts.
Miss Jorrocks was delighted to see some of our farming hosts from other meets in the field, and took a little time out to discuss the state of dairy farming with our host from Chiddingstone, Stephen Gribble. Miss Jorrocks considers this gives her a rural air when she returns to the city in pursuit of her daytime occupation. It also makes her aware that we are fortunate to gallop about leaving hoof prints all over carefully maintained farmland on a regular basis and she resolved to pay careful attention to not cutting the corners on headlands this season.
Miss Jorrocks was also delighted to see the careful attention paid to green and red ribbons in various horses’ tails and to observe a proper hunting gentleman trotting down the road with an open palm facing outwards held behind his back. This alerted Miss Jorrocks to the risk his mount may fly buck as hounds went away and she steered a cautious path to give him room. Such simple hand signals are so useful and Miss Jorrocks would love to see them in more regular usage.
Four hunts made up the day and the Huntsman blew for home around noon. We were soon boxed up and enjoying sausage and bacon rolls and hot drinks kindly provided by Tom Halpin. These baguettes were of such enormous proportions that Miss Jorrocks felt like a little reptile on the way home and considered she may not need to eat again for a least a week. An approach her mare would doubtless fully endorse!
Miss Jorrocks will be hard at work preparing for the opening meet in the coming days and looks forward with great enthusiasm to the season ahead.
Miss Jorrocks reminder on Kennel Cough
Miss Jorrocks is so looking forward to the season and is very sorry she cannot join the Puppy hunt today. Sadly she has to pedal her hamster wheel in order to generate funds to keep her mare and Collie dog in luxury.
Miss Jorrocks was very alarmed to learn that Kennel Cough is once again rampant in her area with our colleagues, the Old Surrey and Burstow West Kent, expressing grave concern about the risk.
Miss Jorrocks, being a naturally simple minded creature, once cheerfully informed our Huntsman that she had no worries about letting her cur dog near the hounds because he was fully vaccinated and wouldn't catch anything. "It's not YOUR dog I'm worried about", came the swift riposte.
So please, please don't be a Miss Jorrocks - keep all cur dogs (that is the correct term for any dog that is not a hound - Miss Jorrocks is so proper!) WELL AWAY from the hounds. After all you wouldn't want to catch something - like a ticking off from the Master!
Happy hunting! See you Sunday.