Country mouse goes autumn hunting

This long hot summer has extended into the autumn hunting season

The advent of early autumn has been more visual than meteorological. The driest start to September for more than 50 years has given us a summer so Indian that we need the Ganges to cool off—the warm nights have been particularly disarming. As a reminder of nature’s cycle, the maples of the Canadian Memorial plantation along the A3 on the approach to the Hindhead tunnel are being licked by garish red streaks as their leaves turn.

When I woke at 4.45am to catch the horses for an autumn hunting morning, I wasn’t expecting such darkness—my head torch made little impact through the gloomy mist and it took me a while to locate Rocky, Timmy and Warrior, the green of their eyes suddenly glinting their whereabouts.

By the time we arrived at the meet, however, those who had opted for waistcoats under their ratcatcher were already beginning to regret it.

Likewise, at the Pony Club mini championships for under 12s at the immaculate showjumping arena at Coombelands, near Pulborough, West Sussex, the children’s grandparents were happy to spectate for six hours en plein air, Panamas rather than woolly hats being donned. We can’t stop Dylan Thomas’s ‘dying of the light’, but when the temperature changes, we have no right to rage against what has been an especially long summer.

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