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A Taste of True English Tradition

In the spirit of trying new things I drove up to Cambridge on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas Day, not sure if the Americans call it the same thing) to stay with my flatmate’s family and go with them to the Boxing Day hunt. It happens in countryside villages up and down the country. And what are they hunting? Foxes. Boxing Day is the most important day of the year for fox hunting. And it’s thoroughly English.

Hunting with dogs was banned in England and Wales four years ago… but the rules are quite flexible which means the hunts can happen. The ban allows hunts to follow a scent, and to flush a fox — but not for hounds to kill it.

As a city girl, I used to be totally against fox hunting… but the more I travel to the countryside, the more I realise it’s importance. For example if rats are nibbling away at the food in your cupboards in the city, you put down rat poison. Well foxes are the rats of the countryside, they can ruin a farmer’s livelihood when they strike. So fox hunting is a way of getting rid of them, plus also being a type of sport. And…well… it’s tradition that goes back to the 16th century.

So as a non-rider, all you have to do is turn up at the village pub and watch the horses and hounds as they arrive. I’ve got no interest in horses, or hounds for that matter…. but they were really beautiful. And with the riders all dressed up in their uniforms, it kinda made you feel a part of something. Although that may have had a lot to do with the gallons of hot mulled wine we were drinking at 10am to keep warm.

So you hang around a chat with the riders, and they warm up with a glass of port. And then they’re off for four hours to take part in the hunt.   As for the spectators, you then head back to the village pub to drink more mulled wine and talk about your Christmas.

To be honest, not much really happens if you’re not on the horse…. but it’s a chance for everyone in the village to get together and catch up over a pint or two. Not something that ever really happens in the city.

So I’d say say my opinion on fox hunting has totally swung in the other direction. Next on my list of countryside things to try out is shooting pheasants. Oooh and to get myself a sexy pair of Hunter boots. Being in the countryside is so excuse for a lack of style.

—Miss London

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To get your view from across the pond, Miss London Party will be your guide. Every week, she’ll be casting her eye over the big stories happening with the Brits. From fashion to entertainment to current affairs to politics, she’s got you covered. A Londoner born and bred, she’s worked as a journalist for two of the UK’s biggest broadcasters, and is currently presenting daily TV news — so she’ll be giving you an inside view on events. In her free time, she likes sitting in the pub on a Sunday afternoon, going through the newspapers, drinking a glass (actually a bottle) of wine, and tucking into a good ol’ English roast. Cliched, but true! She plays netball, swims and is ever so slightly addicted to trashy US shows on her cable TV.

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