Margot tries the good life - November 2013


- Credit: Archant

With her mind full of guns, Guys and gin - Margot embraces her first autumn in the countryside

Nothing fills me with greater joy than seeing curls of smoke wafting from chimneys as I wander through the village and towards the woods with Monty, our pup (well, perhaps a large gin and tonic might just pip it to the post..). Autumn has taken on a new guise as the smell of bonfires pervades the air and gunshot can be heard echoing all around our little patch of rural Hampshire. Plump little partridges and pheasants have started to peep out from every hedgerow and take their chances, playing ‘chicken’ with cars along the lanes. All these sightings of free-range game, dear Reader, have given me such an urge to dress myself in tweed from head to toe and take up shooting. After all, I do own a gundog….surely I am already halfway to stepping out in gun stockings?

At numerous cosy kitchen suppers, Jerry has fielded the question “Do you shoot?” with aplomb. The answer “No, but my wife is very keen to take it up”, received a number of sideways glances and pauses as everyone took a sip of wine before resuming conversation. Anyone would think that Jerry had suggested that his beloved was joining a burlesque dance club.

For a newly-fledged bumpkin like me, there is such an awful lot to learn about the countryside, never mind shooting etiquette and birds. I must remember to get out my little black book and call the dear girls at the Chelsea Bun Club, a ladies’ shooting club with clays and cake, for a crash course. For the moment though, I seem to spend most of my time trying not to get into trouble with gamekeepers, which is surprisingly difficult when you have a spaniel puppy keen to flush out all manner of game that reveal themselves on the footpath. Gamekeepers too, on the whole, are not quite as I had imagined them to be – reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover as a young lady has a lot to answer for on that score.

Talking of loud bangs, preparations for the village fireworks evening threw me into a complete panic as Primrose, our eldest, was desperate to enter a Guy. Hand on heart, I admit that I suffer from chronic craftlexia which affects my ability to make, paint, sew or create anything. I nearly wept when one of the church wardens asked if I was any good at flower arranging. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it hadn’t been on the curriculum when I was at boarding school, more’s the pity. So, one can imagine, dear Reader, that the prospect of having to produce a straw figure that would be on show for all to see (and ridicule) was the cause of much anxiety and had me reaching for a little something to steady the nerves.

One very artistic mother at Primrose’s school told tales of adopting a rather inventive Dick Turpin take on the traditional Guy. Her children relished telling all in the playground about their highwayman Guy, complete with noose, displayed outside the house for their village’s bonfire night. Poor Primrose! I will be lucky if I manage to create one with her that looks any better than the farmer’s scarecrow. Maybe a Worzel Gummidge style Guy could catch on?

Thank goodness, my culinary talents seem to be proving more fruitful. Inky skinned sloes picked, prickled and pickled with gin and sugar have been laid to rest in bottles, ready to be next year’s bonfire night tipple. If I can wait that long, dear Reader…