I heard from my parents in England that our old neighbour Pete had passed on. When I was a boyÂ he took me hunting with himÂ so often that he became an indelible part of my childhoodÂ memories. Iâ€™ll always remember clinging on for dear life toÂ a piece of ply-wood chained to the back of his land-rover as it bounced across the grass up at the Iron Age hill fort, Barbary Castle. He didn’t take us kids up there to do that again after Jill Morton, the Swan pub landlord’s daughter fell off the ply-wood and broke her arm.
I’ll always remember the times he took me beating the bushes for pheasants, orÂ working the trap for the clays. I made great pocket money from the shooters for that work. I loved it!
Heâ€™d always carry his sideÂ by side 12 gauge opened but loaded under his arm, and was incredibly fast to raise and shoot when he saw some game. We’d walk the fields alongside the hedgerows with his three dogs Sally, Jenny (the two Jack Russells) and Sue (a black Labrador), working the bushes to flush out unfortunate rabbits, Pete with his tweed hat on and wearing a green jacket. AfterÂ weâ€™d been shooting weâ€™d go off to the pub for a quickÂ half of cider and back home. Then he would clean the guns,Â gut the rabbits, and he would play his harmonica.Â
Pete was a classic Wiltshire countryman with an accent as broad as a barn. He knew the countryside in the dark, knew were to find the pheasants, when they nested, where the rabbits needed to be caught. He didn’t talk much, but he was a wonderfulÂ man, Iâ€™ll miss him.Â We were lucky to have him. I learned to love the Wiltshire countryside because of him.
Godâ€™s got him now, and I imagine heâ€™s wandering the fieldsÂ of heaven with his dogs, chasing rabbits out of the hedgerows.Â Thatâ€™s what a piece of heaven looks like to me, walking with Pete andÂ talking about the countryside and the animals.