Monday, 9 August 2010

A typical Exmoor weekend

Heck what a weekend. It started off with the Riphay Scuffle. This is a particularly Exmoor affair – totally mystifying to most but a seminal part of the summer. We walked up over the hills (if you park at the Scuffle you run the risk of never seeing your car again – in one piece). It’s peaceful and beautiful – idyllic Somerset countryside.  Then you hear it: the growling and groaning of engines in pain. Next  comes the smell – of burning diesel. Finally you crest the hill and the full madness becomes clear – 4x4s charging around a sort of circuit, plunging through rivers, churning through mud, dodging trees, shunting one another, being towed out by tractors. It’s Mad Max Armageddon – total insanity.


Adrian hates it. I am mesmerised by it and James, of course, loves it. Every year is supposedly the last but every August it lurches back. Every year we roll our eyes and say this will be the year that someone gets seriously hurt or killed. Why? Because several hundred souped-up bangers being driven by bevvied youngsters is kind of a natural recipe for disaster.
I’m torn. Part of me loves the anarchy – that in this world where health and safety strangleholds all fun and freedom, there is a place for total foolhardy recklessness. But as a mother I wince.
And this year we nearly came a cropper. As we were sipping our drinks on the hillside, a 4x4 came careering through, caught the wire and stake fencing and whipped it out behind it. The fencing snaked across the field and slapped a guy sitting on the floor near us right around the throat. He was shocked but okay but someone further down wasn’t so lucky – and was taken to hospital in the air ambulance.


That evening we had kitchen supper with friends up in the hills. The boys played volleyball in the fading light and then slunk off to watch Family Guy while we adults chewed the fat and had a good laugh. I found myself talking to an ex paratrooper turned head hunter (possibly literally) who had walked solo across Iceland. I expressed awe and he shook his head firmly. ‘Anyone could do it with the right training and commonsense.’ The image of me marching with my tent across ice fields made me snort into my curry. Yup, right.
As we left the night sky was just littered with stars while a platoon of dogs wound themselves around us, a silent wolf pack guiding us to the car.


Surprisingly and blissfully I wasn’t too badly hungover the next day which was fortunate as it was Hound Racing. Another uniquely Exmoor occurrence and a particular favourite. There are various hound races – from the big lollopy staghounds to the small sparky beagles. But our focus was the dog show. Unfortunately we missed the puppy class but James entered the SP for the terrier class (well, he is half-terrier) and for the child handler class. They didn’t win either but got a lurid orange rosette anyhow. James wasn’t impressed. ‘It doesn’t count ‘cos everyone got one,’ he said, disgruntled. See, prizes for everyone doesn’t quite cut it after a certain age.

‘Never mind,’ said I, laughing my head off at the sight of a very small little girl being towed across the ring by a very large retriever. ‘Another week, another dog show. It’s the terrier show next week.'

‘Hmm, maybe we should take Asbo,’ said Adrian.  We laughed weakly but hey....you know what – I think we just might.


Don't you love this picture - the SP's tail and ears wagging so fast they've turned into a blur....

16 comments:

Sessha Batto said...

I think we need a little anarchy in our lives now and then, if only to properly bring into focus just how good life really is. As for trekking across Iceland - you could do it, just keep picturing hot food and a flush toilet at the end and you'd find yourself speeding toward civilization like a rocket ;)

Cait O'Connor said...

As for the trekker, I am a bit dubious - the number of ex paras I've met.........
Love the doggy pic....

Exmoorjane said...

Sessha: yup, I'm with the anarchy but nooooo.....hadn't thought about the bathroom angle!

Cait: isn't that pic just SO cute?

GoldenGirl said...

Just love reading your blog

Great doggy pics!

Fennie said...

It's nice to know what goes on on the other side of that very slim bit of water, which is I fancy still wide enough to keep those rampaging 4 x 4s where they belong - or rather don't belong for I confess I hate to hear the peace of the countryside shattered by infernal combustion engines. I wouldn't be surprised to find that they had been invented by William Burges and not Otto Benz - if indeed it was he - they are all pretty much of the same era and all pretty much at one in their horribleness. You are welcome to them. ):

JOHNSON, Cotswold Hills, England. said...

A great post and glad to see that little bits of Exmoor can still be churned up by the locals!

When I lived on Exmoor a hundred years ago we longed for the annual motorbike scramble - I think it was because of the incredible amount of noise in what is usually a silent landscape.

As for trekking across Iceland - of course, you can do it! I did (well, a bit of it and it did involve wading chest deep across an extremely cold river), but that also was a hundred years ago when I was a mere 19 year old. Give it a go!!

Johnson

Tattie Weasle said...

Of course you could yomp across Iceland, or even to the Magnetic North Pole I've done it really truly and I am not exactly built for it! I promiswe the thought of baths and proper loos is very very motivating as is teh thought of a foot massage...hope you take Asbo to the show. He's gorgeous and bound to excel at something even if it is only anarchy!

Mud in the City said...

I think I want to move to Exmoor!

Exmoorjane said...

GG: THANK YOU!!!! *big smile*

Fennie: Ah, I know....but it's once in a blue moon so I can live with that!

Johnson: thank you. Been over to your blog and wow, fabulous. Love that you love Exmoor.

Tattie: I'm not fit enough to get upstairs right now! Yup, think we will take Asbo - he can enter the terrier racing(aka fighting) if nothing else!

Mud: Come on down! We'd love to have you. Now then, a certain Mail on Sunday journo has just put her 'hovel' (aka 1.9million quid palace) up for sale just down the road....tempting??

Edward said...

I'm with Adrian - the 4x4 race sounds ghastly.

I found myself talking to an ex paratrooper turned head hunter (possibly literally) who had walked solo across Iceland. I expressed awe and he shook his head firmly. ‘Anyone could do it with the right training and commonsense.’

Surely you would need an absence of common sense, since common sense would dictate that you stay in the warm with some cocoa?

Milla said...

scrap the dog: blurry fur, bleurgh. but that supper table looks fun.

Milla said...

scrap the dog: blurry fur, bleurgh. but that supper table looks fun.
(word verif is awsigh - fear the computer is getting eversoslightly tired of my sniping at dogs.)

Rob-bear said...

What an "interesting" time.

That's perhaps the one form of anarchy I could condone. God preserve us if we take too much of life too seriously.

And do take ASBO to the Terrier Show. He'll be fun, if nothing else!

Nic's Notebook said...

Lol... love the blurry photo - this always happens to me when I try to get pics of Chester! He doesn't really understand: "Sit still while I take a pic, will you"...! Oh yes, I think the dogs would love it there - plenty of muck!

iggy said...

it looks a great weekend,something ive never actually thought of,i may look into it for next summer,if we have 1,lol.

Ma.Ste. said...

Time flies... :o)
(word verification: throut)