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Colne Valley Beagles - Summer 2007 - (These are my thoughts and not an official statement)

Admittedly the first few weeks after the closing meet has been in my experience a slightly strange and surreal period, a letting out of a deep breath, a sense of loss for the season just gone, and the revisiting of some fond memories of good hound-work, good companionship, good meets and those not so….When you feel you ought to be doing something, but can’t quite put your finger on exactly what. Saturdays lose their “specialness”, and Friday evenings have no sense of expectation of the coming day, and likewise Saturday evenings have no sense of the day well spent with hounds and friends….. No chance of that this year to speak of….

No sooner had we hung our scarlet and green coats, waistcoats and white breeks up after the closing meet then Simon Shaw’s work parties began in earnest, not that they’d ever really stopped over the season 06/07 just that the gaps between them seemed to suddenly get a lot smaller….

The main project, begun last year, to demolish and rebuild anew the little puppy lodges at the top of the kennels’ cottage garden must have cost Simon and Ruth too I suspect, a few sleepless nights. What started off as a fairly straightforward plan hit snag after snag, teams of volunteers appeared and then evaporated in an untimely fashion, and Simon soldiered on, with a look of determination in his eyes….

On top of the new puppy pen though the additional burden of organising the CVB Hound Show also weighed on his shoulders……For the first time the Show was to be combined with the 72nd Honley Show, by kind invitation of the Show’s President Donald Bamforth, following a casual remark by someone or other last year, (can’t imagine who that might have been…) that the combination could be of mutual benefit. Sadly though this meant moving the date of our show and bringing about a clash for our stalwart show organiser Meryl who was otherwise pre-engaged. Simon and a small team of dedicated helpers shouldered the burden and a very successful venture it turned out to be.

In the meantime, at the end of the season hounds aren’t simply put in a box until needed again. They are walked out (virtually) every day, and the normal kennels routine must go on. It does seem to have been a very long summer, my regular “hound-exercise” helpers have been tied up with work commitments, exams, and all sorts of other distractions, notwithstanding the many and various work-parties already alluded to. But within a month of the end of the old season, little Trespass had produced her first litter, to/by master Grayling…..the old heat-lamp was brought out of retirement, and did it’s job as ever before and Remedy, Relish, Ramone, Ranter and Reaper appeared to renew the bloodlines of the pack. Some six weeks later, or so, young Mistress Gossip said that she could do better, and promptly did, with a little bit of help from Mr Pirate it has to be said, and turned out a litter of eight, five dogs and three girls.

The second litter have been a bit late in acquiring their names it has to be said. If you have seen them then you may appreciate why that might be though, as the phrase “like peas in a pod” is somewhat apt. Both parents being predominantly black& tan their offspring are unsurprisingly perhaps…..predominantly black & tan. How on earth the staff at the Dumfriesshire Foxhounds, as it was prior to being recreated anew latterly, when their pack was exclusively black & tan, could ever distinguish their hounds has always mystified me, but, admittedly on a much smaller scale I find myself in a similar quandary. They do now have names though…..

Peregrine, Padre, Proctor, Puritan, Peerless, Purity, Poppy and Patience…Little tinkers one and all…I know I will need some to learn them all, but there’s time yet!

For one reason or another we seem to be desperately short of puppy walkers this time around, well to be frank nobody at all has stepped forward and said the magic words as yet. They are all inoculated, and micro-chipped, very healthy and happy, and would so love hogging the rug in front of your fire this winter, no really you know it’s just one of those things that you’ve been meaning to do but just haven’t quite got around to yet…….

The new puppy pen & lodge mentioned above couldn’t possibly have come at a more timely moment. With an official opening date of 7.7.7 there must have been some real luck involved too, though I suspect that one or two might think that sheer hard work played more of a part in things than luck. It’s very fitting that when it was officially opened at the Puppy Show that a plaque dedicating it to the memory of the late Neil Pogson was unveiled. I think he would have approved.

For one reason or another we (alright “I”) missed getting the entries in to Harrogate in time, but managed to have hounds at Lorton and Rydal, with plenty of success at the one and none whatsoever at the other. It was very heartening though to have chance to see the standard of hounds that are out there, the Cheshire and Black Combe in particular have some lovely youngsters coming through and we can only look forward to seeing how they turn out when doing their job out in the field. Both packs have faced their own “Waterloo” in one way or another and bounced back in a very positive fashion, not to say inspiring. The fact that the determination and belief among hunt supporters that we still have something that is so desperately valuable and worth preserving for future generations that this is so should inspire all of us. The overall standard of hounds at Rydal was as high as ever I can recall, and even though we didn’t bring home any ribbons or silverware this time I am proud to say that not for a moment did I feel that we were in any way out of our class. I for one am genuinely proud of the Colne Valley Beagles and wouldn’t dream of suggesting the Judges ought to see an optician……

Sadly we also missed taking hounds to Lowther, but that was down to being aware of the Foot & Mouth outbreak in time to make the decision not to go, rather than anything else. Many other packs attended and only found out when they got there, by which time the only sensible thing to do was to carry on. It was a shame, but sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing…

Summer carried on, the routes for walking out were restricted for a few weeks, but otherwise the FMD situation didn’t really affect kennels directly. We paraded at Harden Moss Sheepdog Trials & at Halifax Show and in a bit of a radical departure for me at least, the dust was wiped from my old bike, air pumped into the tires and we started to stretch hounds’ legs that little bit more in anticipation of the pending season….Not bad to say I haven’t even been on a push-bike for over 20 years!

Hounds are doing well, the pups are coming along nicely, and Gremlin (the cat) has her paws full for another year making sure that all is in order. She couldn’t manage her job (and more importantly nor could I) though without you and all those who have helped over the year, and especially the summer months.

A lot has been achieved, far more than I can begin to document here, trailer loads of debris (where on earth does it all come from?) has gone to the tip, layers of paint, and latterly even tiles (!), have been applied to the lodges & runs, and I’m quite sure that the management committee will have worked their way through whole acres of paperwork, letters, accounts, meetings and telephone conversations to keep the whole shebang together. Meets have been cleared, away trips organised, socials planned, and merchandise sold, and all in support of the CVB. Teamwork? What better demonstration could you ask for? This hunt is yours, and its my job to try to make sure that the hounds are a credit to the effort that you all put in. Thanks to all who have wielded a paint-brush, pushed a wheel-barrow, bashed a hammer, revved up a power-drill, brought extras for the pups & their mums, and countless other bits & bobs too many to mention. Thank you, really, thank you.

That annual time has come once more to say I look forward to seeing you out in the field, around a fire in one of our supporting pubs, or even at kennels, or wherever. On the very verge of the season 2007-2008 there’s a sense of CVB optimism in the air and I think you ought to share in it. The CVB is your hunt after all!


As a Post Script, the sense of optimism remains, but has to be bolstered now by an equal measure of patience and understanding, as our hearts go out to those farmers directly affected by the latest FMD crisis, and just as much to those indirectly so. It doesn't look much as if there will be any "hound activities" with the exception of the usual walking-out for the foreseeable future. The call for "painters and doers" remains though, kennels will always need you!

Submitted or last changed: Sat, 22 Sep 2007 ; 18:39

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