Goodnight – Tessa Waugh’s hunting diary: They breed them tough here *H&H Plus*

  • The horses from down south are shivering, but the lockdown veg patch is flourishing, says Tessa Waugh, pondering if she should have been more honest with a friend seeking their first hound puppy

    I wonder what will stick in our minds when we look back on this year? It would be nice to think that we had used the time productively: taught a hunter to do a dressage test, established a vegetable garden, got seriously fit rather than simply “ate cake”, did more tidying and rediscovered my natural hair colour after 30 years of highlighting.

    Jim is on holiday, so the dressage hasn’t happened, but I have made a start with the veg; two courgette plants and a couple of squash have survived my ham-fisted repotting technique and erratic watering. If they produce actual vegetables I will be amazed.

    It was hot in the early part of the week and then – just in time for the farmers – rain and 10 degrees cooler. Going out to see the horses this morning, the indigenous ones were grazing without a care while the southerners who arrived more recently – Timmy, Tigger and Mikado – looked distinctly chilly and have gone back to wearing rugs.

    I notice it’s the same with people. The ones who are born here are much better at dealing with the cold. You only need go to the Quayside in Newcastle on a Saturday night to see the evidence. A girl from the south coast would perish if she had to queue in a boob tube in -5°C, but girls from “the toon” take it in their stride. Our son Jack was born up here and he’s the same – rarely wears a coat, even when everyone else is shivering.

    My phone pinged with a message from my friend Zoe’s son, who has recently succumbed to the hunting bug. “We would like to walk some hound puppies. Who should we speak to?”

    Adam rang the boy’s mother back to go through the whys and wherefores of puppy walking, feeding, whom to contact at the kennels and so forth. Within a couple of days the puppies had arrived and made their Instagram debut shortly afterwards, like everything else of note these days. They will have a wonderful time there, it’s puppy heaven; lots of children to play with, loads of outdoor space, but when we saw Zoe at the weekend, she had questions.

    “When I tell people we’ve got hound puppies, they look really concerned,” she said. “They’re very sweet, but,” and she paused, “is there something you haven’t told me?”

    I was fascinated to observe Adam’s handling of this question. I think I would have spouted forth a list of standard transgressions; washing pulled from the line, shoes that mysteriously disappear and are never seen again – but he was poker-faced. “You’ll be fine,” he said cheerfully.

    Zoe may not be speaking to us by the end of the summer.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 18 June 2020