If there is one thing I love, it is a Great British Day Out. I am sure every person’s perception of this is different. A day out at the seaside perhaps? Or a day sightseeing in London or Edinburgh? For me it is a day at a country show. One of the outstanding memories I have of growing up is that come rain or shine, every year, we would set off for the Staffordshire County Show or the [now sadly cancelled] Royal Show at Stoneleigh. To add to the excitement, days such as these would mean a day off school – it was a lot more acceptable in the 80’s and 90’s to be granted a day off mid-term! Now I am – for want of a better term – a grown up, I still adore a day out at a show. There is nothing quite like it.
This year I was lucky enough to spend two days at one of the biggest events in the rural calendar – The Game Fair, this year held at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire. It is a three-day extravaganza of all things rural and pretty much has something for everyone, no matter what background you came from.
However, my own personal kryptonite at The Game Fair, is the shopping. There is so much there to choose from – clothes, footwear, accessories – you name it, it is sold there. You can always guarantee that I will find something that I didn’t know I needed until I have seen it. I have a particular fondness for tweed – especially tweed which has a show discount. Purchases at past Game Fairs have included a lovely tweed shooting waistcoat (because obviously I needed it – no really, I did), and a seriously bargainous tweed coat. However, this year I went with one mission and one mission only – new boots. Ok, so I may have deviated off a little when purchasing a new gillet (I didn’t have one in blue before… my excuse and I’m sticking to it!), but I am now the proud owner of a smart new pair of Dubarry Galway boots, which I have already put to good use when shooting at a Sim Day.
At both the Game Fair and the rather lovely Fenland Country Fair, held over Bank Holiday weekend near Cambridge, I had the absolute privilege of helping out on the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club stand. I have been involved in this amazing ladies shooting club for about four years now, and I can safely say I have never had as much fun shooting as I do when I’m with these ladies. I always struggled with my shooting confidence, being easily intimidated when shooting at clay grounds and always being concerned that I was holding people up. Now it doesn’t bother me in the least – all thanks to a fantastic group of girls who offer a whole load of support to everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced shot, or have never picked up a gun before. If you want more information go to: http://www.shotgunandchelseabunclub.co.uk Oh yes if you need any further encouragement – we eat cake (three are some serious bakers amongst us) and drink tea…!
Countdown has begun
Now that the Glorious 12th has passed, the inevitable countdown to our own shooting season has begun. Partridge rearing is coming along nicely and we have welcomed pheasant poults in recent weeks. The most important preparation is also underway – soup making for shoot lunches. I used to fly by the seat of my pants and make soup and sausage rolls the evening before shoots, but after our first season (and the purchase of a huge freezer), I decided that instead of giving myself heart failure every time, I would prepare ahead. Soup is a very forgiving food to freeze. Apart from defrosting slightly thicker that when it went in the freezer, it holds out exceptionally well, and can be made way in advance. When I say way in advance I mean months! I have just made a huge batch of carrot and coriander soup for our first shoot, which will be in early November. This will be retrieved from the freezer 24 hours before the shoot and then put into slow cookers on the morning of the shoot to heat up whilst we are doing the morning drives.
My carrot and coriander soup recipe is, as with most of my creations is very basic and relies on personal taste. It is simply made up of carrots, potatoes (not too many as it will make the soup go bland), red onion, ground coriander and vegetable stock. Once this is all boiled up together, I whiz it all in a blender with fresh coriander. I then decant it into large containers and, once cooled, pop it in the freezer.
So the official countdown has started!