It can be an odd thing, this living in the countryside, particularly ’round these parts. “Country sports” – particularly hunting and shooting – play a large part in the structure of the community here, and there have been a number of social events where hunting, horses and hounds seem to be the only acceptable topic of conversation. It’s not a pastime that has ever interested me much beyond the “look at the red coats and dogs racing over the landscape, isn’t it so English”, and I don’t think Isabel has ridden to hounds since she was a teenager.
However, because we like the local Master, we agreed to let the Hunt meet at the Hall today.
Apparently it was a larger gathering than usual for a Thursday meet – we seem to be a topic of interest around here having recently moved into the main house – so there were a number of people who obviously wanted to check us out. And Isabel’s uncle, Sir Francis, never much wanted people to know about the Hall or the estate, so occasions like this would have been frowned upon in the past.
After Isabel and I handed out glasses of port, sausages and cake whilst the early flurries of snow whisked around the horses, the Huntsmen marshalled the hounds and headed off into the countryside, leaving behind a string of empty horse-boxes and a pile of glasses to wash.
It’s the first time that the Hunt has met at Hungerton for twenty plus years… whether they’re here again will be a topic for another time.