Last Wednesday evening I had a telephone call from Nimrod congratulating me on the success of the Foxton badger sett protection last week. He then went on to extend an invitation from the Foxton’s for Jackie and myself to attend a drinks evening up at the Manor the following Friday night which we duly accepted.
Jackie and I had had concerns for the last couple of weeks about the Coopers spending quite a few of their evenings up at our badger sett in a tent. This was fine in the summer months but the nights were now starting to get colder and on Thursday morning we had our first notable frost here in The Cotswolds. Their nights with the badgers had got to come to an end but the problem is, how is this to be done? The forecast of this storm was almost heaven sent as to be in a tent underneath large Beech trees could almost be regarded as suicidal so I had made up my mind that Friday morning I was going to clear the area and move the tent. 8am Friday morning I arrived at Beech Wyn. I walked up through the large Beech and Ash trees, this spot was so tranquil, the branches on the trees were still, the birdsong was still in evidence but nowhere near as prolific as in April, May and June. On arriving at the sett there was the Cooper’s tent. Luckily the Coopers had already left for breakfast and so the coast was clear to start dismantling it in which I wasted no time in doing. I carried the tent back to the Land Rover and there it was to remain until I had convinced them that it was not good or safe for them to be in a tent this time of year. I grimaced at the thought of the storm I was going to receive from the Coopers once they knew their tent had been removed.
During the day’s work on Friday I didn’t give much thought to the Coopers as I was busy thinking about the drinks party at the Foxton’s that Jackie and I was to attend that evening. The day went past quickly and Jackie and I at 7:30pm were in the Land Rover driving along the country roads towards Foxton Manor. This was so different from the last time, a week ago, the feeling of trepidation and slight nervousness on the night’s work that had to be done, whereas tonight the mood was really quite jolly, however, still slightly uneasy, for this was to be the first time that I would have spoken to the Foxton’s since they threw me off their Estate for helping a fox ten years earlier. “This was going to be interesting,” I thought to myself as we drove along.
We were soon on the turning circle outside Foxton Manor. Nimrod was stood in attendance and soon was opening the passenger door to let Jackie step out of the Land Rover.
“Good Evening Nimrod,”
“Good evening Jackie, long time no see,”
“Good evening Nimrod,” I shouted as I got out the driver’s door, “How’s it going?”
“Fine thanks,” replied Nimrod, “The Foxton’s are waiting for us in their drawing room, come on, I’ll show you up.”
We both followed Nimrod up the large Cotswold stone steps to the imposing Oak front door of The Manor. Once inside we were chivvied along to the drawing room. On entering a large fire was roaring away in the grate and the Foxton’s stood alongside it waiting to greet us.
“Good evening Allan and Jackie, how nice of you to come.” Lord Foxton stretched out his arm to shake hands with us both then gestured for us to take a seat on one of the large settees in front of the roaring fire. He handed us both a glass of champagne and as I grasped the glass from his hand he looked at me and said, “I cannot thank you enough, a brilliantly executed plan.” No sooner had he finished his sentence the drawing room door swung open and it was the two children, the boy and the girl accompanied by Alexandra their mother and behind them were the Coopers. On seeing us, Alexandra’s face lit up with a beaming smile but as soon as I saw the Coopers faces I knew they had seen their tent had been removed. The conversation was full of what the small badger sett meant to the family especially Alexandra, and the Foxton’s truly believed that the draw that these creatures had invoked inside of Alexandra was the tonic that had got her walking again after her horrific riding accident. As we talked of times past it was plain for me to see that nobody knew of my badger sett. Not one word had been uttered from either myself or the Coopers about how they had been keeping watch and the amount of work that had been put into place to hide and protect my badgers from the most destructive and all powering force, Defra. And the plan that had been put into place and rehearsed, Mozart’s Magic Flute, in the eventuality of Defra getting too close.
As Alexandra wound the evening up telling us how brilliant the Coopers had been with their knowledge of badgers and the incredible way that they had started her walking again, an invitation was passed to Jackie and myself that if we should ever feel the urge or need to watch badgers then this small sett on the Foxton estate was at our disposal. Lord and Lady Foxton then added that they would like to speak with me sometime in the near future on making the sett safe.
“Can we give you a lift back?” I asked the Coopers. Mr and Mrs Cooper jumped at the idea. We said our farewells to the Foxtons and off we went. No sooner were we in the Land Rover the ear bashing commenced. The Coopers called me everything that they could lay their tongues to without swearing and in turn I thanked them for their professionalism in keeping our sett secret. By the time we had arrived at their cottage we were once again all singing from the same hymn sheet.
“Lively Coopers to our badger sett are absolutely paramount,” I explained to them. “And you can still see the badgers whenever you want but no more tents this side of April and stay inside your cottage until the advancing storm has blown itself out, stay safe.”
Jackie and I headed for home. What a pleasant evening.
The horrendous storms of 1987 marked our landscape to such a degree that even now 25 years on the scars can still be seen.