You’re not from around here…


Fresh from another weekend in Wiltshire, where my dad seems to be thinking up ever more yokelly treats to tempt me out of London (note: it works). Thus a couple of weeks ago we went apple scrumping. For the last few years it wasn’t scrumping, it was just picking up windfalls from a sadly neglected quartet of apple trees, which we’d happened upon while on a walk past the [REDACTED] in the picturesque village of [REDACTED] near [REDACTED]. This year they’d been all spruced up – pruned and, well, yes, technically, fenced in. Over we hopped, not quite acknowledging wrongdoing, but nevertheless working fast and in silence. A minute or two in, we were stricken by a loud voice just beside us on the other side of the hedge, whose owner had apparently not detected our pilferage. How PG Wodehouse can you get? So we made like Wooster and scarpered.

Last weekend there was a gathering of the clans for my mother’s birthday, but my dad thought to gild the lily by telling me it was the rut and that we should go out early to the woods on Sunday morning. Unclear? The rut is deer-mating season, so I was being cued up, in effect, for a Sabbath of trying to catch animals having sex, in the company of my dad. That’s Wiltshire for you. We duly headed out on Sunday morning, to a hilltop estate featuring woodland and I’d wager the most beautiful golf course in England, looking for deer in flagrante. After half an hour or so of nothing but resolutely un-rutting golfers, we encountered another dog walker (we had borrowed a particularly adorable hound to lend the expedition an air of legitimacy) and my father asked him pleasantly if he had seen any deer. He replied in the affirmative, that they were a common sight, although none in evidence today. My dad then asked if he had heard anything unusual, because it’s the rut and they make lots of noise etc. The bloke was two syllables into explaining that no he hadn’t as far as he was aware, when my dad, standing a scant three feet from him, cupped his hands and bellowed Rutting Stag into his face, not once but twice. The bloke retracted his chin somewhat, but retained an admirable sangfroid, while I stared into the distance and pretended I hadn’t noticed anything amiss.

So, in case you’re wondering, you are NEVER too old to mortify your children. And you’ll NEVER be bored in Wiltshire.


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