Goodnight Columnist Tessa Waugh’s hunting diary, plus ‘The Nespresso machine’
Enticing her children to ride when the weather is grim proves tricky for Tessa Waugh — and means she has ponies eyeballing her through the kitchen window as they stand by the gate
THE ponies are getting on my nerves at the moment. They are in a field near the house and every time I look out of the kitchen window they are standing at the gate, eyeballing me, as if to say, “yoo-hoo, we’re over here, come and do something with us”. It’s intrusive. I wish they would go away and graze or something.
It is a rotten time of year for ponies. There isn’t much going on until Alec gets back from school for some hunting, and enticing Mary on board is proving difficult when it’s cold/ wet/windy/all of the above. The sheep have eaten most of the grass (very selfish animals, sheep), so I’ve been feeding the ponies hay and bringing them in when the weather is bad.
One evening, to save time, I opened the gate and let them bring themselves in. Joshy, the old boy (and only sensible one) trotted down the road and straight into his stable, followed by the new one, Rusty, who could smell food. Typically, our resident “mutton” and sex pest, Custard, sashayed (albeit slightly arthritically) in front of Jim as if to say, “fancy a ride, big boy?” before disappearing behind the muck heap with Jim on her tail. He soon came looming out of the darkness with the whites of his eyes showing and an expression that screamed, “get me away from her”.
THERE was sad news from Wiltshire this week that got me thinking about the special nature of hunting. Dave Acreman, lifelong follower of the South and West Wilts, has died after a short struggle with cancer. Dave was a perennial on the South and West Wilts scene; recognisable for a sartorial combo of flat cap and black coat, belted up with binder twine.
We weren’t exactly friends — most of our conversations didn’t go beyond “Aaaarrr Teeessss”; “Morning Dave” — but there was, certainly on my side, a deep regard borne out of our shared love of hunting. Dave was there on the last legal hunting day when the fox was caught in the twilight after a fast-paced hunt on Salisbury Plain. It was a very emotional day and everyone felt it as we packed up in the twilight. “Aaarrr Teeesss,” said Dave, and wrapped me in a big bear hug. I won’t forget that day and I won’t forget Dave.
‘He soon came looming out of the darkness with the whites of his eyes showing and an expression that screamed, “get me away from her”’