Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Willy Poole Column

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Willy Poole Column

Article excerpt

Byline: By Willy Poole

The forest was at its autumn best with shades of brown, green and gold, with the November sunshine slanting through the branches.

I pedalled the trike over a carpet of fallen leaves.

Although it was the end of November, there were yellow butterflies fluttering and dragonflies flittering between the great oaks.

I said a rude French word; the yellow butterfly is regarded as a sign of bad hunting conditions and I was pedalling on to a meet of the staghounds who are very nearly my next door neighbours.

But before La Chasse, I had been bidden to break bread with Jean-Paul, the piqueur (huntsman, more or less). You may be thinking tea and toast, but no, it was a plate of assorted cold meat, then a vast sirloin steak with beans, cheeses and several bottles of the Beaujolais Nouveau: sets a chap up for a long day in the forest.

This was Sunday last and would be my fourth day's hunting for the week: two at the boar, one at the stag and one at the fox. Hunting on Sunday? And why not? In fact you can hunt 7/7 in this part of France.

It was not a great day's hunting on the Sunday. The butterflies and the gossamer webs had been right. It was too hot and dry, and there was very little scent.

It was a small comfort to think that wherever the Border Hounds are meeting this week, they are unlikely to be plagued by swarms of yellow butterflies, not if my experience of the Cheviots in November is to be relied upon.

I ENJOYED my day with the foxhounds. It was very different to England. Several of the followers said that they were sorry to hear foxhunting had been stopped in England:

"Oh has it?" I said. "But isn't there a law?" "Yes and what do you French do with bad laws?" "Ahha! We ignore them!" "Exactement!" I said.

The facts are that Parliament was reputed to have spent 700 hours banning hunting as opposed to seven hours on Blair's nice little war in Iraq. …

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