Lindsay Waddell has been faced with much weather in his time as headkeeper at Upper Teesdale Estate. The simple hoodie saw him through
Lindsay Waddell, recently retired headkeeper at Upper Teesdale Estate and former chair of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, chooses his favourite bit of kit. Extreme weather can call for all kinds of expensive equipment and technical clothing but for Lindsay Waddell, the simple hoodie sufficed.
Find out what The Field’s Sporting Dog columnist couldn’t be without in the field. Read my favourite bit of kit: David Tomlinson.
MY FAVOURITE BIT OF KIT
It’s the word used to strike terror into the hearts of most law-abiding citizens, especially those of a rather more nervous disposition. No, it’s not “the tax man” but the simple “hoodie”.
Quite why it became the must-wear garment of the grumbling teens of the inner cities, I’m not sure. It would seem that, even in that environment, it may have had its day. It is rather more common today to see it on the bodies of those who strive to gain the perfect shape through exercise.
The reason that the hoodie fell out of favour with those troublesome teens is that they are now so unconcerned about whether or not someone may recognise them they don’t even bother to wear a hoodie to hide their faces.
To those who do not know me, I must confess I have just passed those troublesome years when a hoodie would have been de rigueur – well, in truth, more than just passed. But, nevertheless, when I was given a free-standing hood, without the jacket bit, I was flattered. Now, I have lived – nay, survived – in Teesdale for more than 40 years and it is not without its days of weather that are not for the faint hearted. In short, it can be diabolical.
My hoodie appears from its retreat in late summer, if we have one at all, and it stays with me until well after the first swallow has dared to stray this far north. Often, it makes an appearance on the back-end grouse days, when the wind is coming straight in from the east coast, a lazy wind that does not trouble itself by going around you, just straight through.
Why I did it I’m still not sure but, as a last thought, I even dropped mine into my case the other year as I packed for a trip to the land of ice, Iceland, to do a spot of sea-char fishing.
To be fair, we were on the north coast, where, on the odd occasion, a polar bear will drift in on the ice, but it was the middle of July, summer you would think, and one day it did make it to around five degrees Celsius.
I am sure to this day my hoodie saved my life as the combination of rain and wind penetrated to the bone. However, I lived to tell the tale, with my hoodie tucked around my head and a silver char or two into the bargain.
A day or two later, when the sun popped its head out for a rare look around, every fly for a thousand miles rose from the ground and buzzed round our heads. They made west coast Scottish midges look like wimps. A good pull on the drawstrings and the hole around your eyes shrinks to less than your glasses can cover and you are in the clear – except, of course, you can’t see for flies trying to gain access to your head.
Regardless of the all-too-numerous days in Teesdale when it has saved me from rain, sleet, snow and biting winds, that one week alone was more than enough to cement my hoodie into my “must have everywhere I go bag”, and go again it did this year when I repeated the Iceland trip.
Although I have yet to see one, if a cammo version appears anywhere then it definitely will be added to my kit bag, for as an aid to stalking – along with all its other attributes – it will be indispensable. I can highly recommend one to both the young – and the slightly longer lived.
Lindsay Waddell, recently retired headkeeper at Upper Teesdale Estate, is the former chair of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation.