Miss Jorrocks writes: Hounds met at Herstmonceux on 24th October, the guests of long standing supporter Miss Caroline Richardson.
 
This was our Opening Meet and the enormous field turned out in full hunting fig for our first full day of the season.
 
The country at Herstmonceux is undulating and leads down on to the flat land of the Pevensey Levels.  The country is open and the fences solid, well constructed, and inviting.
 
Despite the buzz of excitement passing through the mounted followers, and no small number of foot followers, hounds were business like in their approach  and set off in orderly fashion.
 
The first line proved challenging for the mounted field, many of whom were mounted on very excited horses enjoying their first run of the season.  The line took us mostly around fields of what appeared to be winter wheat.  The crops here took up every inch of space, leaving the narrowest of headlands for the mounted field. Miss Jorrocks' research indicates that 2011 forward prices for wheat are promising and therefore concludes that our farmers are making hay while the sun shines, if you will pardon the mixed metaphor.  In any event we tried our very best to stay on the headlands and hopefully just the odd, accidental, hoof print marked our passing.  Hounds were quick over the crop, providing good galloping for the mounted field as it tried to stay in touch.
 
The second line proved more challenging for hounds.  The night before having been cold scenting conditions should have been good, particularly across the field of rape that started the line.  Hounds started well, but then turned and started hunting heel (the way the Quarry had come, and not the way they had gone).  Quite why remains unexplained.  Possibly our Quarry, amongst some of the most experienced we have, put in a loop that became confused or perhaps, unbeknown to us, a bunch of ramblers had been through and crossed the line.  The Whippers-in were quick to react, getting in front of hounds, lifting their heads, and sending them back to the Huntsman. Often experienced hounds will be scolded for hunting "heel" however our Huntsman, mindful of the young entry, chose to foster their enthusiasm.  He gathered them up without fuss and laid them on again in the next field. This was not the easiest of options for hounds as the field contained beef cattle, whose dung and odour would have foiled the line causing them to work very hard indeed.  Cheerful, and in good voice, hounds gave a workmanlike account of themselves hunting accurately through the cattle along the banks of the Mill and Iron streams and the River Yotham before catching their Quarry in a field containing  Mr Gribble's mixed flock of Suffolk and Mule (Swaledale cross Blue Faced Leicesters) sheep, who looked on in cautious astonishment. It is no small achievement that even our youngest and most novice of hounds is steady enough to be hunted through stock, and a testament to the long hours of work that goes on at Kennels to turn out such a fine and trustworthy pack.  It is also easy to forget, as we sit on our horses enjoying the countryside, that we are galloping around on other peoples' workplaces.  Many people, who are likely strangers to us, will have got up early to move stock and open gateways, and will finish late putting it all back again.  We are indeed very privileged!
 
At the end of the second line 1 1/2 couple of young hounds were deemed tired and taken out of the pack before they became disheartened, and one hound was taken out for lameness likely due to a thorn in its pad.  Rest assured the lame hound will have been thoroughly inspected and treated on arrival home at the Kennels.
 
The third and fourth lines took us gradually back off the marsh and back on to the arable again, before the Huntsman blew for home and we hacked back along the lanes to the boxes.  All tidied away, a delicious Tea awaited us in the farmhouse where treats on offer included a melting beef casserole, which Miss Jorrocks suspects was home reared and a rare treat.
 
Duly fortified we trundled off, leaving poor Caroline with a mountain of washing up!
 
Vital statistics: Hounds - 14 1/2 couple. Quarry - 3. Staff - 4. Mounted field - 50!  Miles as Quarry ran - 10.  Miles as hounds ran - 13. Miles as field ran - 15. Scenting conditions - good, challenging through stock. Going - good. Best hound of the day - Barrister (sponsored by Master Sally Mack).

Miss Jorrocks writes:

Hounds met at Beckley on Sunday 17th October, a day not without high drama!  To begin with the Huntsman had two tyres blow out on his way to the meet and the Miles had to take their lorry to rescue him.  Our Chairman, James Ramus, took a heavy and painful tumble early on in the day when his horse spooked on the flat.  And an unfortunate lady and her grey mare suffered at the hand of fate and found themselves suddenly in a deep and water filled ditch.  The rider emerged wet and bruised and the horse was subsequently extracted by the fire brigade and their specialist lifting gear.  I am reliably informed that although wet, shocked, and justifiably upset, the mare was largely unscathed and went home to bed.  With all the excitement it is amazing we hunted at all.  However, being quintessentially British, we kept calm and carried on! 

The country at Beckley is undulating and given over to arable.  The fields are large, with generous grassy headlands. Now, that the young entry are advancing in their education the puzzles set for them are becoming more difficult and the day included some challenging work and hunting in woodland.
 
For the most part hounds hunted at terrific speed, and in full cry.  We did get to watch them work with determined and surprisingly quiet concentration through some newly planted rape before they turned on to a hop field, where the tensioning wires on the bines at ground level posed quite a hazard.  Once in the hops they spoke more confidently and by the time they hit the grass they were convinced they were right, which they were, and in full cry.
 
Scenting conditions on the grass were excellent and we were hard pressed to keep up. We were grateful for our experienced Quarry's simple checks -designed to slow hounds but not discourage the youngsters.
 
We also crossed some freshly sprayed fields, which had the experienced hounds working their noses very hard and the younger, more novice, hounds looking to their elders for guidance.
 
As the young hounds' education is nearing completion the day included some sharp turns and stretches of woodland.  Woodland changes the physical shape of the pack and magnifies its cry.  We were lucky to be close by and able to watch each hound hunting as an individual before they tumbled out of the wood and galloped across the grassland once more.  In the glorious Autumn sunshine there can hardly have been a better sight.
 

Vital statistics: Hounds - 14 couple. Staff - 3. Quarry - 2. Mounted field - variable!  Miles as Quarry ran - 6. Miles as Hounds ran - 8. Miles as the field ran - 9 to 10.  Scenting conditions - excellent on grass, challenging where freshly sprayed. Best Hound - American bred Lulu as "most improved" on the day (sponsored by Sophia and Christina Foster aged 6 and 8 years). 

Miss Jorrocks writes:

Hounds met on Sunday afternoon, 3rd October at Little Horsted.  The day was put on by Kieran and his partner, Sue, who was an admirable and concerned Field Master.  We crossed several properties and are grateful to our landowners for letting us go after such heavy rain.

The country was open, flat, and well fenced with just a short stretch of woodland accessed by a small water filled ditch, which caused no end of problems but eventually we all got over. Apart from this Kieran had thoughtfully provided open gateways and routes for any who did not want to jump.
 
Hounds hunted with a brilliant cry and were in view most of the day thanks to the open landscape.  They started in exuberant fashion but soon settled to their work.  There was some consternation when they lost the line as the Quarry had opted not to plunge across a freshly drilled field but to take the headland instead.  Some astute casting by the Huntsman soon had the lead hounds confirming the line and away they went again making a most wonderful noise.
 
The weather smiled on us, the rain stopped as we mounted and did not resume until we were all boxed up at around 7.00 p.m. Despite finishing the day in the dusk and drinking tea in the dark a good time was had by all.
 
Vital statistics:  Hounds: 13 1/2 couple. Mounted field:17, Staff: 3, Quarry: 2. Miles as Quarry ran 6. Miles as hounds ran with checks and casts: 8. Miles as field ran: 8. Scenting conditions: good (wet and warm). Going: good but slippery in places. Best hound of the day: Barrister.