Whether or not fox hunting is over hip flasks, so beloved by sportsman all over the world, will surely continue.

I know fox hunting squires whose hip flasks are filled with Port, others with brandy, and indeed some with a mixture of the two which is a sure cure for the malady known as the "trots"!

During prohibition on the East Coast of America hip flasks were used to carry the makings of "New England Tea", a pernicious cocktail served by speakeasies in china tea cups.

French hunters out after boar or stags carry hip flasks filled with Port or Scotch whisky. In eastern Europe they prefer home made cherry brandy. This is produced by steeping fresh, stoned cherries in grape brandy with sugar in a sealed glass jar. Not too much sugar or the glass could explode like my father's alcoholic ginger beer - but that's another story.

Spectators at soccer matches used to take quick sips from their hip flasks to keep warm, but the loutish behaviour of lager-swilling blockheads has put a stop to that!

However, thank goodness, rugby is still free of those ill-behaved oafs and a flask passed around between friends helps keep out the cold.

Night fishing for carp can be made more tolerable between catches with a quick swig from the hip flask.

The traditional huntsman's stirrup-cup, and often used to fill their hip flasks, was sloe gin. Although you can buy proprietary brands, this has to be the easiest drink to make at home. Harvest ripe sloes off the hedgerows, wash and individually prick them. Half fill a spotlessly clean bottle with the fruit and pour a good two inches of granulated sugar on the top.

Top up with a full strength dry London gin, sorry but Gordon's at a meagre 37.5 per cent abv is not sufficient, you need 40 per cent to 42 per cent abv at least.

Leave in a cool place in the dark for three months. Strain into another clean bottle, adjusting the sweetness by adding more gin or sugar.

The hardest part of making sloe gin is resisting the not being to sample it too early, just to make sure that everything is all right. This only leads to there being far too little left when the time comes to bottle it!