The local pack met for autumn hunting last Saturday in mid afternoon, which should have made life much easier: preparing ponies for the children and picking up my horse from a friend is more challenging before dawn. As we stood by fields of maize bathed in golden sun and jumped in and out of woods, the talk was of the visit to the kennels at Petworth by the Shadow Secretary of State for Defra the day before.

MP Nick Herbert supports the Repeal Committee,and has promised that his party will allow a free vote to reverse the hunting ban if they get into power. Eight-year old Honor would be pleased, as she loves hunting. Mainly because she and her friend Molly can have a really good chat (when it’s grown-ups, it’s called coffee-housing).  There was plenty of giggling when the two girls demolished a hunt jump between them. Luckily, we were on Molly’s grandfather’s farm.

At the end of the day, it seemed as if I was driving most of the night delivering ponies, children and horses back to their beds and stables. After racing through narrow lanes, I arrived at a birthday dinner just before 10pm, but thought I had a good story. Alas, a fellow hunter was also there and had arrived in good time, looking resplendent and relaxed. My excuses were repealed.