Goodnight — Tessa Waugh’s hunting diary *H&H Plus*

  • Life in one of Britain’s most sparsely populated counties is always an exercise in social isolation, but Tessa Waugh comes to terms with the ongoing effects of the global health crisis

    What a difference a week can make. This time two weeks ago, coronavirus was still something happening out there in the wider world. Watching our neighbours in Italy and Spain, it was clear that big changes were imminent at home too, but life was carrying on as normal. Now, everything has been cancelled, and we are trying our best to stay at home.

    “Life as normal for you lot,” quipped one of the builders, who are still working away on the house next door. And of course, he has a point. Living on a farm, in one of Britain’s most sparsely populated counties, we are better off than most when it comes to space away from other human beings. But we will all be affected by this in one way or another and no one knows how long it will continue.

    If we stay here with limited access to other humans, what’s to stop us going completely feral and emerging in a year’s time with matted hair, bones through our noses and animal pelts as clothing? Adam has already gone into hunter-gatherer mode: going out to forage for items which can’t be found at the supermarkets. He comes into the house holding aloft firelighters, flour – it’s fantastic.

    I hope that some of the smaller shops are benefitting from the empty supermarket shelves and getting more customers as a result. There must be some good to come of this.

    A pop-up restaurant

    Last weekend, my friend Frances and I were supposed to be putting on a pop-up restaurant to raise money for the hunt. Frances is a portrait artist and she had given up her studio for the occasion. Fifty people had signed up to come and eat some Italian-themed food cooked by us: candlelight, pasta, paintings on the walls, plenty of wine. It seemed like a winning combo.

    Ten days before the event, the first messages came through from an older couple who felt it was best they didn’t circulate, another couple who were on their way back from skiing and thought they might be a health hazard to the other guests. A day later, some friends rang to say they had colds and probably shouldn’t darken the door either.

    It was pretty clear even if we bashed on in an irresponsible, non-civic way we’d be lucky to get more than six people there. I imagined us serving up the venison ragu, wearing blue gloves to guests in masks and body suits. I now have my own bodyweight of ragu and several orange cakes in the freezer and can open a soup kitchen if we’re called upon. Keep safe all, and best of luck for the weeks ahead.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 2 April 2020