January weather is usually cold and frosty, but this winter has been extremely mild and dry. However, the weather last Sunday for The Four Shires Bloodhounds meet here at Hoe Grange was extremely wild and windy!
The Four Shires Bloodhound Hunt is so called as it covers the shires of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and South Yorkshire. It attracts riders of all abilities and ages who enjoy cross country riding whilst tracking the scent of a human runner. Welcoming all, the hunt have a second field for novices and less confident riders who prefer to take the course gently or avoid the jumps.
Did you know that Bloodhounds have a highly developed sense of smell, up to 800 times great than other dogs? That is why they make such superb hunting animals. Bloodhounds were originally bred for hunting deer and wild boar, and since the Middle Ages for tracking people. This breed is famed for its ability to distinguish human scent over great distances, even days later.
However the forceful cross winds on Sunday meant the scent of the runners drifted and the hounds were working quite wide of the trail. Things were a little chaotic at times as the hounds couldn’t hear the huntsmen calling them either!
On the top fields of our farm it was quite difficult to stay upright on your feet – I don’t know how the riders stayed on their horses – horses tails, hounds ears, riders jackets and hat covers were flapping and flying about!
Master Huntsman Chris Kane had trouble gathering the pack together on the tops but was ably assisted by his wife Deb and the other Whipper-Ins.
The human runner or “quarry” was Paddy Wright who is a Derbyshire Cross Country Champion and fitness instructor. Being a runner over our hilly Peak District terrain is not for the faint hearted and you certainly need to be extremely fit to keep ahead of the hounds!
This year Paddy was joined by Tom Ough, a journalist from the Daily Telegraph, who drew the short straw; his editors wanted an article on what it is really liked to be chased by a pack of hounds!
Tom’s experience is to be featured in The Telegraph next Sunday – I wonder if he will mention losing his trainer – the mud in Derbyshire can be extremely sticky!
Hunting with bloodhounds is often referred to as hunting the “clean boot”, although the runners shoes are definitely far from clean by the end of the day!
Tom was nervous about being caught by the pack, but he needn’t have worried. Bloodhounds are large but very gentle-natured and despite their name the runner suffers nothing more than a few licks!
The cross country course
The course averages 12 or 15 miles and is a pre-planned route so that the hunt can avoid worrying sheep and cattle or damaging crops. The runner can also adapt the route if he spots any unforeseen dangers. The route is split up into shorter sections called lines to allow the huntsmen to collect the hounds and the runner to get ahead.
People often think that Bloodhounds started being used after the ban on fox hunting. This is certainly not the case. The Bloodhounds have been hunting across the Derbyshire countryside for many years. The famous Mitford sisters enjoyed hunting and it is only fitting that Duchess of Devonshire is the current President of the Four Shires Bloodhounds.
I didn’t ride Oliver this year as he gets over excited with so many horses and the baying hounds – hounds, horses and humans all love a good day out in the countryside as you can see from the photos on our Facebook page.
The video below explains more about the Four Shires Bloodhounds and how Ellie from Countryfile also found being the human quarry a tough job!
As the centenary anniversary of the end of World War 1 approaches I thought I would share a few fascinating facts about The Great War.
Trench warfare has always fascinated me. It’s almost impossible to imagine what it must have been like at the front line being under relentless attack, with the noise of artillery and the constant dangers of shells and gunfire.
However, World War 1 posed many other dangers such as boredom, trench foot, gang green and having to eat your ration surrounded by rats!
1. Britain’s secret weapon
One of the most effective weapons in World War One was the humble handwritten letter, which helped keep up morale among the troops!
A staggering 12 million letters were delivered to the front every week.
Today we think Amazon is speedy, but amazingly during World War 1 it only took two days for a letter from Britain to reach the front in France. Letters were sorted at a purpose-built depot in Regent’s Park before being shipped over the channel to the trenches. By the end of the war, two billion letters and 114 million parcels had been delivered.
Post was important for two reasons
Receiving news and gifts from home was one of the few comforts soldiers had on the Western Front. Difficult to believe but most soldiers spent more time fighting boredom than they did the enemy. Writing letters was one of the few hobbies available to them and it was a welcome distraction from the horrors of the trenches.
Letters sent home were censored. The British Army claimed this was to prevent the enemy finding out secret information, but it also prevented bad news from reaching the home front. Letters from serving soldiers kept families informed of the well-being of their loved ones, but more importantly helped to sustain public support for the war across the home front.
2. The youngest British soldier was just 12 years old!
Hard to believe but Sidney Lewis was just 12 years old when he lied about his age and joined the army during World War One! Sadly he was just one of thousands of eager underage boys who enlisted and ended up fighting alongside their adult counterparts on the front.
It makes you wonder why they would want to go to war, but for some it was an escape from their dreary lives and dreadful conditions.
How could this happen?
Officially you had to be 18 to sign up and 19 to fight overseas. However at the time most people didn’t have a birth certificate, so it was easy to lie about your age.
Recruitment officers were paid two shillings and sixpence (about £6 in today’s money) for each new recruit and would often turn a blind eye to boy’s ages.
Some officers believed the fresh air and good army rations would benefit some of the more under-nourished lads.
Medical checks were made to make sure a potential recruit was fit enough to fight rather than if he was actually old enough.
The minimum height was just five feet, three inches, with a minimum chest size of 34 inches, so a sturdy 16 year-old was very likely to be let through.
The rule of thumb seemed to be if the volunteer wanted to fight for his country and was physically fit enough to do so, why stop him?
3. Thankful Villages – why the lack of celebration?
A Thankful Village is a community where everyone who went to fight in World War One came back alive. Bradbourne just 3 miles from Hoe Grange is one of just 54 thankful villages in England and Wales.
You would think that being a Thankful Village would be a cause for real celebration, but at the time it was actually a source of embarrassment and shame for many.
The number of men who died in World War 1 was devastating and these villages were surrounded by others where loved ones had not returned.
For the Thankful Villages, it was almost as if they had not joined in the sacrifice. They benefited from the peace after the war but felt as if they had not paid the price.
However just because everyone came back alive, didn’t mean they were unaffected by the terrible traumas of war and what they had been through. In those days Post-traumatic Stress Disorder was not a recognised condition, and many found it hard to fit back in to civilian life.
Bradbourne is one of an even more elite group of villages, one of just 15 said to be doubly thankful, as again during the Second World War all those who fought against Hitler’s Germany and its allies came back home.
Perhaps the fact that they were all farming families and enlisted together played a role in the survival of their small group?
4. WW1 sparked the invention of plastic surgery
Did you know that plastic surgery was pioneered during the First World War?
A million British soldiers died in World War One, and double that amount came home injured. For many of those lucky enough to return, the wounds they suffered in Europe would leave them permanently disfigured.
The biggest killer on the battlefield and the cause of many facial injuries was shrapnel. Unlike the straight-line wounds inflicted by bullets, the twisted metal shards of a shrapnel blast could easily rip a face off. Not only that, but the shrapnel’s shape would often drag clothing and dirt into the wound.
Improved medical care meant that more injured soldiers could be kept alive, but urgently dealing with such devastating injuries was a new challenge.
At the start of the World War 1, little consideration was given to the trauma of facial injuries. It came as something of a surprise that so many victims survived the field stations to the point of treatment.
Surgeon Harold Gillies was horrified by the injuries he saw and took on the task of helping victims, setting up a specifically-designed hospital in Sidcup. It treated 2,000 patients after the Battle of the Somme alone. Here Gillies pioneered early techniques in facial reconstruction.
Previously viewed with suspicion, facial reconstruction became an integral part of the post-war healing process. However, in a world before antibiotics, going under the knife for an experimental form of surgery posed as many risks as the trenches themselves!
5. Accidents on the Home Front and Yellow peril
Injuries didn’t just happen on the front line, for those left behind The Home Front could be equally dangerous.
To fill the gap left by a generation of fighting men, more than a million women took the opportunity to join the workforce between 1914 and 1918. They worked across the entire economy – from tram drivers and train cleaners, to postal workers, police patrols, engineers and farmers.
Why did so many accidents occur?
Ammunition workers in particular worked long hours, often in poor conditions and with dangerous chemicals.
Productivity was all that mattered, there was no work/life balance on offer.
To keep pace with demand from the front line, 12 hour shifts were common and some women worked 13 days without a break.
As a result accidents were common, but the figures were often suppressed to keep morale high. For example an explosion at a TNT plant in Silvertown, East London, killed 73 people and destroyed hundreds of nearby homes in January 1917.
Dangerous chemicals health problems that would outlast the war itself. TNT, for instance, gave workers toxic jaundice turning their skin yellow – the so-called yellow ‘canaries’ of the arms factories.
6. Feeding the nation – producing enough oats for everyone!
Just as important as the troops at the front line were the British farmers who played a crucial role in producing food for the nation during the Great War. In 1915 German U-Boats cut off trade routes, and the government turned to British farmers to feed the nation during a time of crisis.
With over 170,000 farmers fighting in the trenches and up to half a million farm horses requisitioned by the War Office farmers had to adapt the way they worked to meet the food production challenge.
By 1917 over 98,000 extra women were recruited into the Women’s Land Army to fill the labour gap. A further 66,000 soldiers returned from the frontline to help with the harvest. Without the heavy horses tractors began to do the work of many hands.
By 1918, there were 6,000 tractors in operation in Britain. The ‘Ploughing Up’ campaign of 1917 saw an extra 2.5 million acres of land used for growing cereals.
By the end of World War 1, an extra 915,000 tonnes of oats, 1.7 million tonnes of potatoes and 830,000 tonnes of wheat were grown. With the sheer hard work of British farmers and growers, and the Woman’s Land Army, Britain avoided being starved into submission. Find out more about the few that fed the many.
7. A thousand horses per day were shipped from overseas
In 1914 the British Army owned just 80 motor vehicles so horses were desperately needed for transporting supplies.
Also conditions on the Western Front were so appalling that motor vehicles were totally unsuitable.
Over eight million horses and countless mules and donkeys died in the First World War. At the start of World War 1 in 1914 the British army owned just 25,000. The War Office had the urgent task of sourcing half a million more, so inevitably the British countryside was virtually emptied of horses, from the heavy draft horses such as the Shire through to the lighter riding ponies.
My shire cross Oliver would definitely have been needed – I can’t imagine how awful it must have been, especially for farmers who needed their horses for heavy work.
To meet the demand over 1,000 horses a week were shipped from North America, where there was a plentiful supply of half-wild horses on the open plains.
Many of the men, grooms, infantrymen, cavalrymen formed close bonds with the horses in their charge, but they could do little to prevent the appallingly high death rate due to shelling, front-line charges, lack of feed and exhaustion. This tragic story of the suffering of horses in World War 1 is immortalised by Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse.
100 years on – I hope you found these facts about World War 1 interesting and will pause a while on Remembrance Sunday 11th November to reflect on the sacrifices that our forefathers made to ensure the safety and peace of our nation.
Autumn is in full-swing here in the Derbyshire Peak District; our trees are full of glittering golds and beautiful browns and the nights are drawing in… which means it’s pumpkin carving time!
Pumpkins (or Jack-o’-lanterns as they are also known) are traditionally made at Halloween by slicing off the top (to form a lid), scooping out the flesh and then making marks into the orange outer skin, or cutting through the pumpkin skin (caution using sharp tools!) to reveal a flickering candle light inside… very effective and beautiful at night time.
So, we’ve had a look for some designs that may inspire you to carve your own, based on animals that are commonly found here in the Peak District… we have three beautiful owls, a traditional cat design, a sheep from our farm, a cunning fox and a horse carousel.
Three owl pumpkins
Did you know there are about 200 species of owls? These three won’t make those wonderful twit-t woos that you can here at Hoe Grange Holidays, that’s for sure. My mum loves these especially as she used to be a Brown Owl in The Girl Guides – what a hoot! Designs by womansday.com.
Creative cat pumpkin
Spooky! This very beautiful feline friend is sitting on a branch, up a tree, possible looking out for a wicked witch on a broomstick. It was made by craft-your-home.com
Baaa.. sheep pumpkin
As “ewe” know, we have plenty of sheep scattered in fields around the holiday cabins and glamping pods, so we just had to find a sheep design for a pumpkin. Photo added by Sarah Grantham to Pinterest.com
Fantastic Fox pumpkin
If you don’t want to actually carve a pumpkin, why not stick items to it with a glue gun, like felt, card and googly eyes? Also use a marker pen to draw on missing elements. A much simpler way for small children to take part in the pumpkin celebrations and very effective. Image courtesy of simpleasthatblog.com
Horsing around with pumpkins
How could we leave out a horse design when we invite guests to bring horses on holiday? These are pretty tricky to carve into pumpkins, and this design took 5 hours to create! We love the beautifully intricate design and the fact that you can look right through it, by Brandi Korte on Flickr.
When you’ve completed your design and carved your pumpkin, display on your front porch at Halloween to welcome Trick or Treaters! Any leftovers needn’t go to waste, why not make some tasty pumpkin soup, such as Delia’s roasted pumpkin soup with melted cheese?
One of our Farm Stay members has been very creative this year and cleverly carved out the Farm Stay logo, which looks very effective. If you are looking for a countryside holiday don’t forget to check out the many fabulous farmhouse B&B’s and country self-catering cottages available through Farm Stay UK.
We hope you all have some family fun whilst carving your pumpkins for Halloween.
Don’t forget we’d love you to share your pumpkin photos with us, just tag us into your Tweets (@HoeGrange) and we’ll RT them for you!
It may have been Sunday afternoon, but that means nothing if there is hay to move!
We were luck to snatch a good crop of hay in the few fine days this week to top up the barn ready for our equine guests this winter, It smells really nice, so why not book in to bring your horse on a holiday knowing he’ll have plenty to eat.
The whole family, even Felicity, gets roped in to such jobs but is soon found sitting down having a little rest!!
Any one short of hay for the winter, I could be persuaded to sell a few bales!!
Sunday was a clear dry day for the 4 Shires Bloodhounds meet here at Hoe Grange in the spectacular Peak District countryside.
We often have horses staying on holiday, but thankfully not quite so many at one time – it was a little chaotic in our yard as everyone was saddling up ready for the off and slurping the port.
Hunting the clean boot refers to the hounds working the natural scent of a human runner over a 12 to 20 mile course. This differs from a drag hunt where a very strong scent is laid which often means the hounds tend to race along at great speed. When following a human scent the hounds have to work the scent to distinguish it from other smells and are therefore slower. Once they get the scent they start singing – it’s an amazing sound to hear them in full cry.
The other advantage is that because the route is preplanned the hunt can avoid livestock, newly seeded fields or crops and the runner can adapt the route if he spots any unforeseen dangers.
The Four Shires Bloodhound Hunt covers the shires of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and South Yorkshire. It attracts riders of all abilities and ages and there is a second field for novices and less confident riders who prefer to take the course gently or avoid the jumps.
It really is a magnificent sight to watch with the horses, beautifully turned out, galloping across the farm after these large Bloodhounds in full cry as they pick up the scent of the human quarry. This year they brought out 17 couples (34 hounds) so as you can imagine The Master Huntsman, Chris Kane, had his hands full trying to keep them all in order!
The hounds are bred for their agility, stamina and their “nose” and the term Bloodhound refers to their bloodlines not their taste for blood! When the hounds catch up with the runner he suffers nothing more than a few licks! However his boots are far from clean at the end of the day!
With our hilly terrain and a route of 15 miles or so the runner has to be extremely fit to dash up such steep hills and down dales to avoid getting caught by the hounds in hot pursuit – no boring trips to the gym needed for him!
A good day was had by all and you can see more photos on our Facebook page.
It doesn’t seem like it, but in a few weeks time it will be 10 years since we welcomed our first ever guests. I can well remember two very nervous hosts showing in our first visitors Mr and Mrs Clews and their friends Mr and Mrs Fox, who brought 2 horses with them.
A couple of weeks later we welcomed Mr and Mrs Fosby, who was a our first wheelchair using guest. Little did we know how large a part both of these type of guests would play in shaping the business we have today.
We have met some extraordinary people over the past 10 years, many who have become good friends and appear at astonishingly regular intervals. Our most regular guests being Neville, Val, Bob and Thelma who have been nearly 30 times and have another 3 holidays booked for 2016!
Animals have played a huge part in our success. Our dogs, Twix, Crunchie and Fudge get more mentions in the guest book than we do, also the horses, chickens, sheep and even the odd (very odd!) calf “Austin”.
We have welcomed 100’s of horses over the years, and even a cat or two, but what has impressed us the most are the fantastic assistance dogs we see on a regular basis. These superbly trained dogs make difficult lives that little bit better, and at the same time provide comfort and companionship like no other!
We want to celebrate our 10 years by doing something special, so we have decided to raise enough money to buy and train a Canine Partners assistance puppy! Our target is £5000 over the next 12 months and we have some exciting plans to make this happen.
When booking online you can choose to donate £5 or more by selecting the drop down menu and there are collecting tins in the cabins for your loose change.
We took part in a photo shoot for a charity calendar in association with Molten Rock the manufacturers of the magnificent Boma 7 off-road wheelchair with 1/12th of the proceeds going to our fund. Order your copy here!
In February we are holding a charity cinema evening showing my favorite film “Hot fuzz” where guests will dress appropriately and join in with the film, we will of course be selling Cornettos that night!
On Friday 11th March we have an open day from 11am to 3pm to celebrate Disabled Access Day – come and join us for a cup of tea and a slice of cake.
On Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th April we have invited owners of Boma 7’s from across the country to get together for a fun off-road challenge across our farm fields, followed by an afternoon coutnryside walk/Boma trek.
On Friday May 6th our neighbour, super star Vicki Lambert, has kindly agreed to sing for her supper as Dusty Springfield – she has an amazing voice and I guarantee she will make it a fun evening and get you all dancing and singing along.
For the more active in July we will be hosting a cream tea walk for the Erewash Ramblers and there will be a reindeer walk nearer Christmas. Who knows what else we will get up to?
We would love for you all to be involved with as many of the activities as possible and help us to achieve our target, and help change someone’s life. Maybe you would benefit from an assistance dog? Find out what a Canine Partners assistance dog could do for you and how to apply.
We will be keeping you up to date with our progress here on the blog and on our Facebook page – watch this space!
Perfect weather here in the Peak District for the Four Shires Bloodhounds meet at Hoe Grange. A sharp frost followed by glorious winter sunshine meant that the going was perfect for both the human “quarry” (very fit runners) and the horses.
This year Felicity bravely followed the bloodhounds riding Oliver, who was very excitied by the whole event, the number of horses turning up in his yard, the baying cry of the hounds and the sound of the huntsman’s horn as everyone set off. Despite not being as fit as all the other horses Oliver was keen to keep up over the 10 mile trail and even came trotting back into the yard at the end of the day.
Hunting is a very old English tradition and it really is a magnificent sight to watch with the horses, beautifully turned out, galloping across the farm after these large Bloodhounds in full cry as they pick up the scent of the human quarry.
With our hilly terrain and a route of 10 or so miles the runners have to be extremely fit to dash up the steep Derbyshire hills and down dales to avoid getting caught by the hounds in hot pursuit – no boring trips to the gym needed !
Hunting with Bloodhounds is known as hunting the clean boot. Unlike a drag hunt which uses a pre-laid scent the Bloodhounds work the scent of a human quarry or runner over the fields. Bloodhound refers to the bloodlines not their taste for blood, so fortunately when the hounds find the runners (or anyone else for that matter), they are more likely to be licked than savaged by these friendly dogs !
As you can see by Oliver’s mud splattered face a good day was had by all. I am sure I shall be a little stiff in the morning!
Sunshine, blue skies and sparkling snow – the Peak District looks spectacular when covered in a delicate dusting of snow. This week Hoe Grange has been transformed into a winter wonderland.
There’s s”no”w excuse for sitting inside by the fire. Why not wrap up warm, get your hat, gloves and scarf on and head out with the family for some festive fun? There’s plenty of snow here in the Derbyshire hills, so here’s some fun ideas of things to do in the snow over the Christmas holidays.
10 Family fun things to do in the snow! 1. Build a snowman – find some twigs for arms and stones for eyes and a carrot for the nose, which the horses can then eat once the snowman has melted! A favourite with all ages. 2. Make snow angels – Caroline’s favourite – little bit chilly if you’re not properly wrapped up as snow gets up your sleeves, down your neck and fills your wellies!
3. Sledging and snowball fights – good old fashioned – Michael and Elliot’s favourite. 4. Build an igloo – not as easy as you think – David’s sister’s favourite – Sheila even had a for sale sign sticking out the top, (her husband is an estate agent) but be warned you might get less than you bargained for! 5. Frolicking fun! It may be too slippy to go riding, but you can still exercise the horses by running with them in the snow – they love it!
6. Follow the animal tracks – who made the footprints in the snow – who came along, and where did they go? Fudge’s favourite – she just follows her nose!
7. Feed the birds – when snow covers the ground the wild birds need a little extra help – don’t forget some water too – Felicity’s favourite
8. S”no”w excuse not to BBQ – treat yourself to a fire pit experience – toast marshmallows and warm up with some delicious homemade mulled wine or a mug of hot chocolate – our Norwegian friends do it all the time! 9. Roll in the snow! Be brave – take a roll in the snow after a dip in our authentic Swedish hot tub, brrrr… extremely exhilarating I believe!
10.Get the snowplough out to clear the drive for guests – David’s favourite – you know what men are like with their machines!
Sunday was a fabulous clear day with plenty of sunshine for the 4 Shires Bloodhounds meet here at Hoe Grange in the spectacular Peak District countryside.
We often have horses staying on holiday, but thankfully not quite so many at one time – it was a little chaotic in our yard as everyone was saddling up ready for the off and slurping the port.
It really is a magnificent sight to watch with the horses, beautifully turned out, galloping across the farm after these large Bloodhounds in full cry as they pick up the scent of the human quarry.
keen & waiting for the signal from the huntsman
Hunting with Bloodhounds is known as hunting the clean boot. Unlike a drag hunt which uses a pre-laid scent the Bloodhounds work the scent of a human quarry or runner over the fields. Bloodhound refers to the bloodlines not their taste for blood, so fortunately when the hounds find the runner he is more likely to be licked than savaged by these friendly dogs !
With our hilly terrain and a route of 15 or so miles the runner has to be extremely fit to dash up such steep hills and down dales to avoid getting caught by the hounds in hot pursuit – no boring trips to the gym needed for him!
Judging by the amount of mud splattered over both riders and horses on their return to our yard a good day was had by all!