I’m not famous for occupying myself other than working when in my alternative mode, so Christmas can sometimes be a daunting period for me. Especially when Sue is working, which she inevitably is at least some of the time (if not usually most of it!). This year had the potential to be even worse, as I have recently lost my Dad after nearly two years of helping my sister and his carers to look after him, and so I suddenly seem to have lots of Ÿ??spare timeŸ? on my hands at funny times of the day. I think Sue had this in mind when she asked me to go with her and some friends to watch the Pendle and Craven Hunt set off from the Village Green in Gargrave, near Skipton, on Boxing Day morning. She knows it isn’t really my type of thing, but she also knew it was important that I kept myself occupied and didn’t let the boredom blues set in. To be honest, I turned the offer down at first, but as I was also determined to try and keep cheerful, I reconsidered and decided it would at least fill in half a day. I was aware that Sue was working at 2-30 pm, so I knew it wouldn’t last all day, and she had also added further information about the trip which involved a table for 6 being booked for lunch at 12-00pm at The Tempest Arms, Elslack, Skipton, BD23 3AY ( http://www.tempestarms.co.uk ). Now food was involved, it was sounding more tempting altogether! She finally made it tempting beyond the point of refusal by adding that the rest of the girls were looking forward to going out with Paula. Paula? I had presumed that it would be Paula’s special male counterpart that would be going, not Paula herself. This trip had just moved up from tempting to not to be missed. I didn’t even think about the fact that the Pendle and Craven Hunt had probably not even heard the word transvestite, let alone met one. I just spent part of Christmas Day wondering what a girl like me would wear when attending the Hunt. I know what she should probably wear, but I also knew that I wouldn’t have that kind of attire in my wardrobe, so I had to come up with an outfit that was available the following morning. Boxing Day saw us up bright and early, with Sue of up to the horses, and me getting ready for her and her friends to pick me up at about 9-30am. I did the usual preparation work, applying all that has to be applied, and then dressed in an outfit consisting of pale blue skinny jeans, a baby pink tight fitting tee-shirt, bright red knee length Hunter wellington boots, and a black leather bomber jacket. Topped this off with a black designer handbag and a pink and black umbrella in case it rained. I knew this may differ slightly from what some of the Country Set may be wearing, but it was a case of making the best of what I had. Besides, I didn’t want to blend into the background too much did I? The collection time soon arrived, and I found myself stood outside the house waiting for my lift. At 9-30am prompt, Sue pulled up and I jumped in besides her friends Jane and Sue C., whilst Brigitte and her daughter Olivia followed on in their car behind. There was no turning back now. Thirty minutes later we were circling the village of Gargrave looking for somewhere to park. The village was packed out with 4 x 4’s, trailers, wagons, horses, and people. We eventually managed to find a couple of spaces, parked up, and jumped out, eager to follow the throngs towards the Village Green. We had to walk down the village, cross the river on the road bridge and then walk along the river bank to the Green. There were brown boots, green wellingtons, corduroy pants, moleskin trousers, green waxed cotton jackets, tweed jackets, checked trilby hats, and flat caps everywhere. And the men were also wearing similar items!! There were not many pairs of pale blue skinny jeans, or red wellingtons, or baby pink tee-shirts, or indeed black leather bomber jackets! Nor were there many umbrellas or designer hand bags. That said, I actually felt quite comfortable. Everyone was that engrossed in the Hunt (and in many cases themselves!), that I didn’t attract too much untoward attention at all. I must try harder next time! There was a general air of excitement mixed with poshness that was occupying everyone’s minds quite adequately. I was an also ran! We soon reached the Green, and noted that there was already a number of large, well turned out, horses with equally large, well turned out riders perched on top of them. Lots of hands were being shaken, and lots of people seemed to want to know lots of others. I suspect there is a lot of social ladder climbing done at events such as this. It was however, quite an atmosphere, and you couldn’t help but share and enjoy the general air of excitement that was buzzing around. It soon got even more exciting as the Hounds appeared at the far end of the village and made their way round to the Green. We became surrounded by over excited little dogs, and an equal number of over excited people. More horses arrived, and before long the Green was more of a brown colour. The apprentice huntsman was doing his best to keep the hounds in some form of order, and was particularly struggling with one errant hound called Ÿ??Ram-RodŸ?. This of course was a source of great amusement as he rushed to and fro on horseback, shouting out Ÿ??Ram-RodŸ? every few seconds. The hounds were treated to little meaty snacks that seemed to appear from under the coat of the Master of the Hunt, but I’m sure they would rather have got their teeth around something more fox-like. Lots of photographs were taken, hats were doffed, pleasantries were exchanged, and it was turning into a damn nice type of a do! And still I managed to blend in! Just after 11-00am, the Master of the Hunt made a small speech thanking everyone for attending, and making sure everyone knew how important it was to keep old traditions going. He also briefly explained that in order to keep within the law, they obviously wouldn’t be hunting foxes. I must admit, I wondered what they would be hunting! Then I heard the fateful words. It was to be a Drag Hunt! All this time I thought I had blended in, not only had I been spotted, but I was just about to be chased across the fields by a pack of hounds and several horses! I was mortified. Sue spotted the terror in my eyes, and very quickly explained that a Drag Hunt was named as such due to the fact that a runner is used to lay a scent about 20 minutes in advance of the hunt. A chemical crystal, mixed with water and oil, is used. The runner simply dips a cloth in the scent mixture and trails it along the ground behind him. The scent, repulsive to humans, is irresistible to hounds though bloodhounds follow the human scent of the runner. What a relief it was to hear that. So, with a toot of the Hunt Masters Horn, and a few Ÿ??Tally Ho’sŸ? they were off, and once the last horse had left the Green, we made our way back into the village where we got into our cars, and set off for our date with a spot of lunch at The Tempest Arms. Elslack was about 10 minutes from Gargrave, back in the direction of home, so by 11-50am we were sat like excited schoolgirls on the car park waiting for the door to open. Just before mid-day, the door opened, and along with several other people, we rushed into The Tempest Arms. Sue, Sue, and Jane had all been before, but to the rest of us it was all a new adventure. My Sue introduced herself to a member of staff, and within a couple of minutes we were being shown to a table in the middle of the Pub. It was imperative that things flowed smoothly and quickly, because Sue had to leave no later than 1-20pm to enable her to change and get to work at Preston for 2-30pm. I think Sue may have mentioned her predicament, so we were quickly provided with menus and offered drinks. In view of the fact that there were 6 of us, and also bearing in mind I have written enough to bore you to death already, it is probably best if I just describe what I had to eat and drink rather than give you a chapter and verse description of everyone’s meal. The menu was extremely varied Ÿ?? a sample can be seen on the website, and there was also a separate Ÿ??specialsŸ? sheet running alongside it. I do so much appreciate it when the specials are on a piece of paper Ÿ?? you get chance to study and choose far easier than when trying to focus on a blackboard 40 yards away! I started off with a Diet Coke to drink, and food wise decided that I would sample the Trio of Fish and Seafood plank which consisted of Crayfish, smoked salmon and smoked mackerel pate with dips and Melba toast. This I followed with Fillet of Salmon which was also provided with various vegetables and a bed of mashed potato. I have to say it was well presented, and extremely tasty. The rest of the Girls had a variation of different culinary delights, the only thing in common being empty plates and satisfied tummies all round. Unfortunately, Sues witching hour as soon coming round, but it was decided that to help her out, Brigitte would take the rest of us back so that Sue could simply shoot off home, change and go to work. It also meant that we now weren’t in so much of a rush. The nett result of this was that the Dessert menu could now be considered. Some had Desserts, whilst some had coffees. I’m not much of a coffee person, so I decided to try a scoop of their Jaffa Cake ice cream. Bloody lovely! We all sat chatting, and I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the company of Sue’s friends. I am so lucky in the way that so many people accept me for exactly who and what I am (or for exactly what I actually am not!) We all had starters and main courses, whilst two of us had Desserts and the rest had coffees. Some drank wine, and some drank soft dinks. Some meals were more expensive than others, but we all agreed, however, that we’d pretty much had equal value, so we decided to split the bill equally between the six of us. A quick calculation by young Olivia left us all with just over ô?22-00 each to pay, so it was unanimously agreed that we should throw ô?25-00 each into the pot, leaving a more than adequate tip. This is the moment that I felt a little less sorry for Sue having to make an early departure. My ô?25-00 suddenly became ô?50-00! It’s moments like this you realise; you’ll never equal a real woman! The Tempest Arms by this time was pretty much full to capacity, but everything seemed calm and controlled, and our service certainly left us nothing to complain about. My presence went pretty much unnoticed, and the Staff and customers alike had no apparent problem with me being there. The menu was varied and reasonably priced, and the surroundings are very much what you would expect in a country pub. All that was left for us to do now was to go home, and get changed following which I went up and fed Sues Horses so that when she finished work she could come straight home. The Girls found it quite amazing to see me again in a different mode, within an hour of dropping me off at home dolled up to the nines. What an amazing life! I know I haven’t written much about the meal side of things at The Tempest Arms, but I think you get the jist of it, and I will, of course answer the three burning questions: Is The Tempest Arms TV friendly? It certainly was on Boxing Day, and I have no reason to believe it will ever be anything different. Value for Money? ô?25-00 each? I rest my case. Would I go again? I definitely would, and suspect I definitely will be doing. Sue has been before, and I know it’s on her list of good places to go.