My shiny little online spot to help y'all keep track of me while I galavant around London.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Hunting Men For Fun

Ok, you can come out now. I'm done posting about N/D's trip here. Really. I swear.

Not much is new. Semester is done this wednesday, so I've got a retarded amount of work to do (hence this procrastination). I'm working, at the moment, on writing up a feature about a hunt I went on... There's a big deal here over fox hunting getting banned, so I went out and watched a foxless hunt... It's crazy, but they hunt people. I swear this is true; their slogan is: "Hunting Men For Fun."

Anyways, the hunt was in the middle of nowhere, and everything outside London is closed on Sundays, especially in the winter.It's like they all accept that no one might want to go there, and no one might want to leave--not on a Sunday, anyway. England's weird that way. There's London, this super-huge, energetic, world-famous and worldly city, and a few other cities like Liverpool, or Sheffield or Manchester or Leeds. But outside of those, it's the Country, where people live in super small towns, do nothing on Sundays, and are basically rural-folk. Maybe that seems obvious, but it's weird to go from a city that goes 24-7 to a place that has no transport links in winter weekends.

Anyways, that meant getting to Chiddingstone Hoath, the not-even-a-hamlet the hunt was meeting at, was interesting.

The nearest train took me about 6kms away. I figured I'd either call a cab or walk it, and as such, gave myself lots of time. I had one change on my rail journey, and in that one change, missed my bloody train. It was supposed to be on Platform A. So, I went and stood at the front of Platform A, but that train was going elsewhere. So I'm standing, waiting, wondering where my train is, because this one is in the way, but it's about time for my train to leave. Then, I see that half of the train I'm standing at is moving away--there were two trains parked at the same platform, something I've never seen before. So, there I am, standing at the station, watching my train roll away, feeling like a total tool.

I had to wait an hour for the next train. Caught it, and arrived a few minutes later in Penshurst. Called my cab... they could have one out in 3 hours. Huh. So walked across the road to a rather gorgeous little pub called the Brown Jug, and if you ever, for some god forsaken reason, find yourself in good ol'Penhurst, UK, stop in there. Very pretty. Asked the barstaff if they had another number for a cab company--there was not enough time to walk to Chiddingstone Hoath at this point--and they said: "No, but we'll drive you--if you know where it is." Good thing I had my Ordinance Survey Map with me, as they had not much of an idea where Chiddingstone Hoath is.

And no wonder: it's basically a pub and a house by the side of the road.

The pub--called "The Rock," which made me wonder if the cook ever yelled: "Can you smell what the Rock is cookin?"-- didn't open 'til noon, so I sat outside at a worn wooden picnic table waiting for the meet to start. A few minutes later, this old guy drives up, parks, slowly, slowly limps to the pub door. I tell him it's not open, and offer him my seat, as he looks a little like he's about to fall over. I start talking to him, and it turns out he's one of the guys who started this meet 30 years ago--which is wicked-awesome luck for writing a story. I ended up hitching a ride with him all day, which was good, as the hunt goes all over the country side.

Not so good, he got run down by a horse at one point, and I seriously thought he was going to pass out. He was sore and stiff and a bit grumpy for a while, until one of the planners gave him a Mars bar, afterwhich his mood brightened considerably.

Anyways, the sport. It's called Bloodhounding, as they use cross-bred bloodhounds. Basically, two cross-country runners, ominously called "the quarry", get a twenty minute head start, and run a set course. The hounds then get to try to track the runners, with the horses and riders following. Unlike fox hunting, the quarry is not torn to shreds at the end; the biggest danger is probably getting licked to death by the dogs.

So, while it was certainly one of the odder Sundays I've spent here, it was nice to be surrounded by horses all day, and to get into the country (which while backwards, is really pretty).


In other news, Ann's gone back home. Sucks. I already miss enough people while I'm here; I don't need to start adding to the pile, y'know?


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