Men in waxed, green jackets and women with tweed hats drift into the village square, like tumbleweed extras in an episode of Downton Abbey.
There is a trestle table adorned with a festive cloth in the archway of the old pub. A battalion of women come in and out, bearing trays of sausage rolls and sandwiches and passing round the port and whisky mac.
There is a clattering noise from down the road as the first horses begin to arrive. They are dressed for the occasion, just like their riders.
Tiny children on tiny ponies arrive in threes. Girls are kitted out in new jodhpurs and boots. The manes and tails of their steeds are tightly plaited and coiled up like springs. A man with a sullen face, who at one time might have been quite dashing, smooths down the raven-coloured locks that sprout out from under his riding hat. He should have gone to the barber’s.
On the concrete apron in front of the old pub, a well-behaved pack of foxhounds stand to attention, ready for the off, just waiting for the flick of a whip to signal the start of their countryside adventure.
Cars struggle to get past but it’s village life, isn’t it, so they’ll just darn well have to wait. A Yodel delivery driver goes up, goes down, and then abandons his quest and drops two parcels off in the community shop instead.
And then the rain comes down and turns to sleet. It almost feels and looks like it’s going to snow.
The ground is sodden, fields turned to quagmires, so today the hunt will be following a trail laid mainly on roads and tracks.