One thing I love to see in the countryside are foxes and today I saw a few. This one was trotting by about a field away. He heard us talking about him and stopped for a couple of split seconds and stared at us. Then he trotted over to that fence in the background and leapt through it -- somehow...those holes don't hardly seem big enough for a nice healthy fox like that. He's still out there running around somewhere.
Up on the other side of the hill were about 50 horses. After a nice m
eet this morning with maybe 100 foot followers, plenty of food and delicious beverages, the huntsman and masters had the horses and hounds out for some much-needed exercise. Though I missed it (always in the wrong place) I heard that the mounted field had a good time going over a bunch of jumps over on the Jones's farm. Me? I got to see this fox and another and got to ride and walk around some beautiful countryside in the most incredible light (it looked like the sky was going to bust open just any second). At one point a horse and rider parted company and we saw the big chestnut kick up his heels and run free for a few moments while the rider, tail between his legs, sheepishly tried to catch his naughty horse. But horses like to be around other horses and they never run off far. Soon horse and rider were reunited and other than maybe a wounded ego no harm done!
Later I was driving by another Jones farm. They're known around here for serving up some mighty fine birds for Christmas dinner...they're looking mighty tasty, no? Several neighbors were gathered there on the roadside gazing up at the hill watching the horses and hounds as they leisurely made their way across having had about enough exercise for one late fall day. These are good times; this is how you keep up with local news, enjoy some fresh air and spend time in the company of pleasant people!
Later I attended the 40th birthday party for a nice woman named Mary in a nearby village. There was a fabulous band from Cardiff playing at the party - a mixture of Celtic and klezmer music, very rhythmic indeed - they were called The Bucket Band. Check 'em out. And still later I stopped up at my favorite local pub where predictably a few folks were passing the evening away chatting about this and that, downing pints of bitter and laughing about old times. There was a lovely fire in the hearth and a rosy
glow in more than a few cheeks; if those old oak pub tables could talk!
On Friday I traveled maybe 20 miles from "home" to follow a different hunt as they enjoyed a day of exercise on the hills. This was a special day for the huntsman, his 60th birthday. He's been with th
at hunt for many many seasons and is clearly loved and respected by his peers and hunt followers alike. Several o
ther huntsmen honored him by riding or foot following all day on some of the loveliest country around! And the hospitality at that particular meet was unparalleled. After a day out in the fresh air on some of the highest points around, I stopped home for a bit then headed out to the huntsman's 60th birthday party in a nearby town. There must have been 150 people or more at the "do" and we had a night of "disco" (any kind of music really, played by a DJ and too LOUD), pig baps (big soft rolls full of roast pork), dressing, roast potatoes, and in these parts people put their applesauce right ON their sandwich...just because most folks speak English in these parts doesn't mean they're just the same! I remember how shocked I was to see someone put applesauce on a pork sandwich but try it sometime, it's actually good!
When I left the party sometime around 2 am, the huntsman was still leaning up against the bar but it didn't seem like his eyes were focusing too well! More than a few of his cohorts seemed in much the same condition. But in this country folks are generally pretty carefu
l to either hire a taxi or have a friend along as the designated driver. In this country the drink driving laws are very strict indeed. And when you're out in the country losing your license pretty much puts you out of business...there's precious little public transport available.
But I digress...anyway, it was a fine weekend of horses and hounds, friends, parties, music...and snow!