Picking up birds and boys in Devon…

I feel like my paws have barely touched the ground of late! From stays with my Fairy Dog-Father, to trips up to Newcastle, it’s almost a relief to be back in Mayfair, although the girls aren’t half taking up a lot of room on my favourite desk chairs.

Anyway I’ve managed to squeeze on with Kelly to do a little bit of writing, (I don’t know why she seems to think it’s her desk!) as our trip down to Devon last week deserves a lot of attention. Shooting and staying in a luxury hotel, it’s the dream! I’m still pining for all the lovely friends I made, there’s nothing like getting down and dirty in the Exmoor mud to help you bond.

We made an early start, travelling down in comfort in a very shiny Range Rover Sport – this was made all the better by the fact that Kelly was wearing the most snuggly Pip Howeson cashmere coat that I couldn’t help jumping up for a cuddle. Claire and Kelly chatted business the whole way down, while I conserved energy, and before long we pulled into Hall House just in time to meet the pickers up just before the last drive. Boy did it smell amazing down here – although the scent of shot, sloe gin and feathers was certainly in the air, as well as the smell of some new friends. Whilst Claire and Kelly caught up with Jeremy, I was busy getting to know Hugo and Arnie by the fire, a couple of very handsome flat coat retrievers belonging to Jeremy and his son. I’m not shy about it, but I was particularly fond of Hugo, and it seemed to be reciprocated, it must’ve been down to my fantastically glossy coat!

Up on a pedestal with Hugo and Arnie

Up on a pedestal with Hugo and Arnie

Hugo keeping watch at Hall

Hugo keeping watch at Hall

Ahhhh peace, Claire and Kelly headed off to drinks and supper with Harry from The Gentleman’s Journal and Martin from Shooting Gazette, and I was left to relax. I knew a big day of shooting lay ahead, so I got some good rest to make sure I was on top retrieving form. Can’t have the other dogs getting ahead… They certainly make the beds at Highbullen Hotel comfortable!

What followed were two spectacular days of shooting, Claire and Kelly shared a peg to ensure that Martin and Harry were well looked after and everyone was having a great time. I even got treated at elevenses, sausages are the best! At Affeton the ground was very wet, not that it bothered me, I had the best time with the other dogs, in and out of streams, up and down banks, and through the undergrowth. It was a gun dogs paradise!

Great bird

Great bird!

Kelly, Harry from The Gentleman's Journal and myself

Kelly, Harry from The Gentleman’s Journal and myself

Hugo and Arnie were out too, so we had a wild time together, although I did pick up another admirer in the form of Odin the Schnauzer who belonged to dashing Howard! Odin was indeed very handsome, but a little bit young for me. The birds really flew at Affeton which meant that there was never a shortage of pickings – I don’t like to fight for my retrieves, although naturally I will if necessary.

Happy Hugo

Happy Hugo

Handsome Odin

Handsome Odin

Hall was a slightly different experience. The wind was blowing a-hooley, which meant that the birds were absolutely mad – high, fast and curling in every direction. When they plummeted to the ground it was all I could do to stay on my lead! The terrain was slightly different as well, instead we were treated to sweeping valleys and vast grassy fields. Another great chance to get muddy and have a ball getting to know the other dogs, again no shortage of birds that day, and I even heard Claire whoop that she had got her bird of the season.

Waiting patiently for the end of the drive

Waiting patiently for the end of the drive

Guns crossing the bridge

Guns crossing the bridge

By the time we got in the car to head back to London, I was pooped but sad to leave behind such a lovely group. We made such an impression that Hugo chased us down the drive to say goodbye!

I think the last of the mud has finally gone from my coat now, but I can’t wait for my next trip to the field!

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