Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Boxing Day.

Back in the UK the day after Christmas was always traditionally the time for the annual Boxing Day meet of the local Hunt. A truly rural event where the horses and hounds would congregate in, usually, a village setting. Joined by the local supporters. Drinking a glass of 'stirrup cup' and gnawing on a lukewarm sausage roll was all part of the event..... No more.

Bowing to vociferous political pressure hunting with dogs has finally been outlawed by the Labour government, a sad day for me. I find it difficult to deal with, as I travel away from my home country watching it changing in such fundamental ways that I may never recognize the place again.

I am chuffed to see reported by the BBC this morning that some 300 Hunts will be meeting today, despite the new legislation! Maybe there is hope after all...

Although this piece of video is set in a market town, larger than the meets I am used to, it shows the wonderful community element of the event. Hounds, huntsmen, followers and supporters all enjoying the social aspect prior to the hunt setting off in pursuit of the fox. Traditionally it is a time for the youngsters to have a go and doll up their ponies with a bit of tinsel. They will have been well drilled in the etiquette of the hunting field and are probably all terrified that they might make an error, or god forbid, actually fall off!

So Christmas is over for another year. We had a great time.The potluck Christmas meal went down very well. Turkeys and hams cooked in the BBQ pit again-delicious, and contributions from all the cruisers which added a true international feel to the event. I must admit to roasting our own spuds, in goose fat! Not enough for all so we had a private pig out session on our table. There are some things that just have to be on my plate at Christmas and that is one of them! I try and play at being a suave international traveler from time to time but somehow I always fail miserably when it comes down to the line!

We took along mincepies and a couple of Christmas puddings. I was disappointed with the mincepies, the pastry most definitely not up to my usual standard, but never mind its the thought that counts right! However the puds were superb, one bought in and one homemade they were well worth the hours of steaming, just added a bit to the tropical humidity here on the boat! A number of cruisers had never tasted 'plum pudding' so it was nice to spread a bit of British tradition.

Our fellow table mates were an American couple who had lived most of their lives in Alaska. Those who know me realize that I have never been the same since watching the TV series 'Northern Exposure' , a quirky hit that was set in Cicely, Alaska. ( I was sad to find out years later that it was actually filmed in Seattle!) Anyway I had a lovely time grilling Joe and Kathy about the history of the place. I harbour fantasies of sailing there via the Pacific rim and making our approach across the Aleutian chain from Japan... Most people fall about laughing when I make this admission but you never know we may get there one of these days. I have read the Pardey's account and also the Roth's tales of sailing to Japan, now thats real adventure!

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