Goodnight – Tessa Waugh’s hunting diary: Green shoots of normality *H&H Plus*

  • While the world continues to change, Tessa Waugh cherishes the little treats nearby that feel secret and magical – though the prospect of a socially distanced puppy show loses some of its lustre

    When we were in the grip of full lockdown, it was soothing to imagine that when we re-emerged, the world would be just as we left it. Of course this was never going to happen, and as soon as you venture out you see the changes.

    Summer is an important time for the local economy here in the Borders, with fishing on the Tweed and tourism in general, but this year, Kelso’s cafes and cashmere shops are boarded up, their shop windows unchanged since the winter, and the streets are empty. Looking along the rows of shop fronts, I expect that some will never open again.

    There is no question that country people, in the main, have had the best of it. If I had a pound for every time someone asked me to imagine living in a tower block with four kids, I’d be rich. Most people who don’t live in tower blocks have thanked their lucky stars for this fact at one point or another. If nothing else, this time has given us a greater appreciation of the basics: access to space and fresh air and all that comes with it.

    On warm days, the children clamour to go swimming in the river in the neighbouring valley. According to the friends who first introduced us to this magical place, there has been a glut of visitors recently.
    Bill, who farms there, blames Robson Green, who was filmed swimming in this spot for a programme about the area. All the same, it still feels like a secret place, hidden away beneath some rocks off a footpath. There is a mini waterfall that powers into a shallow pool in the rocks, forming a natural hot tub warmed by the sun. You can sit above on the rocks and watch the water glide by below you or step into its cool depths and emerge feeling brand new.

    Signs of optimism for the future can be found if you look closely. Boris in his hard hat and high-vis jacket – looking slightly less peaky than last month – is a good one. The horses are back in work and the sight of them heading off with Eildon for their daily hack is cheering. As is plodding around the same old routes on Jim.

    Adam is planning to start hound exercise on horses any minute and he’s been asked to judge a friend’s puppy show. There won’t be anyone there, but they plan to film it and send the film to the puppy walkers. Our puppy show will go ahead with a reduced gathering in August. Green shoots of normality to which we must cling tightly as we go onwards and upwards through the year.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 16 July 2020