With thanks to our hosts, Mrs Watts of Frankham Manor, Joe and Norman Gingel and families of Earlye Farm and Mrs Minchin and family.
We had a great day at Frankham Farm, with a good field out enjoying the hedges and timber jumping. The ground was very wet after heavy rainfall the day before, but the ground was deep but not holding. Hounds hunted at a great pace all day, without a single deer diversion, and the field had a job keeping up.
The first hunt included a variety of hedges, and the second took us over Mrs Minchin's hedges and on up to Earlye Farm, where the Gingel family treated us to port in preparation for some of the more challenging hedges of the day. Highlight of the stop was young Ellie Gingel making her appearance, and the sight of Norman and his wife giving Nigel Budd a lift on the quad bike. Luckily Mrs Gingel knew to hold Nigel on, as he famously shot off the back one time when the quad moved off!
The hunt then gave the spectators some great viewing as they jumped out over the big drop holly hedge, headed at speed down the hill to take a sharp left over another hedge and then on for another big holly hedge.
Here things got a little confusing. Huntsman Nic and the whips jumped a rough bit of part trimmed hedge further down the hill, whilst field master Ruth led the majority of the field over at the right place, which had been expertly trimmed by Martin a couple of days before. I was turning to head up to that section when Martin appeared beside me yelling that we jumped it where Nic had gone. This seemed a little strange as the take off side was littered with trimmings, but he should know, as he had trimmed it! Wrong. As we landed on the other side, he suddenly realised that he had made a mistake!
We hunted on and then had to check as hounds worked out the scent, which proved fortuitous, as it gave Norman and his loaded quad bike time to get into position to watch us jump another big drop hedge - Nigel was apparently over joyed to see it!
We hunted on, but unfortunately the canny hounds cut out one large loop as they picked up the scent of the quarry who has run back down on the other side of a stream. Nic hunted them home, whilst the field took in the wood, jumping out over a rail and on down to an Elephant Trap put in by the former owners - a jump that Joe Gingel says has never been attempted - well - it has now!
We then turned uphill, to jump another three hedges, and this proved tiring for the horses in the wet. Bill made his entry into the Fallers Club on this stretch, but remounted to turn at the top, with a flat section that allowed the horses to get their breath before jumping the last, and one of the biggest, hedge of the day to finish.
It was an excellent day, with thanks to all the landowners and to our hunting vet, Howard Newitt, who was able to help the one major faller early in the day.