Country mouse rails against rabbits

As with the blackbird who pecks off the maid’s nose, something has been snipping the top off our crocuses; what should be a purple carpet heralding the approaching spring is now a mini forest of anaemic stalks, like an army of bean sprouts.

I’m fantasising about wok-fried rabbit. The snowdrops are hardier and evidently less appetising to our midnight muncher. Their jaunty appearance, simple and striking, is good news for anyone with Seasonal Affective Disorder, but bad news for those who want the hunting season to go on a bit longer.

It ends at the beginning of spring, but we lost several weeks to snow and frost during the winter. Extra days have been added, but soon needle and thread for mane plaiting, hunt coats and leather riding whips will be stored away for the summer.

The meet last Saturday at Toat Monument, a lighthouse-style stone tower, is one of the best points for looking over our hunt country and we could see the point where we were planning to end the day five miles off. The owners, who have recently rebuilt their house after a devastating fire, plied us with port and ginger cake. When hounds, horses and foot followers moved off, not one crocus petal was damaged.