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June 23, 2011 / ccollinsonjones1

Country pursuits

Fancy pumps and firearms

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be part of an excellent hen party trip to the Cotswolds. In such a beautiful setting you can’t just sit around necking wine and talking about penises so we got stuck in to some activities. We went for things that are normally the preserve of the country gent with a bit of time on his hands.

First up, clay pigeon shooting. Sporting some level-3 hangovers, waterproofs and, in one case, a pair of entirely unsuitable but very pretty Ted Baker pumps, we made our way to the top of Bredon Hill in the back of a trailer.

Some might question the wisdom of letting a hangover fire a gun, but we did relatively well, considering. Our instructor was a lovely grandadly chap of inexhaustible patience. He showed us how to hold the gun so it didn’t bruise our shoulders. He showed us that we must aim in front of the moving target. He advised us that it was probably best to keep at least one eye open.

I’m actually not a bad shot normally but I’ve not had much experience with a moving target. Many an unharmed ‘pigeon’ sailed over while I got the hang of things, but I eventually managed to hit a few.

We didn’t shame ourselves, though none of us will be headhunted for sniper school any time soon. The sheep looked unimpressed by our efforts, but sheep are always a tough crowd.

The next day we had a go at some croquet. This was a regular summer activity in my household growing up. If you’ve got a flat bit of lawn (or even park) it’s a great activity for all the family. Best played with a big jug of pimms and a long, sunny afternoon.

We didn’t have long to play before our train back to London so, whilst we started out following the rules and the order of the hoops, it quickly descended in to a game of whack-miss-cackle-retrieve instead. That’s the hen version of the game.

I’m not sure you’d call either of these things exercise. I did get a little extra workout on the way home from the shooting though: I got out to open a gate and the trailer drove off without me so I had to run about half a mile in flapping wellies before I could jump back in.

Mostly though, this is exercise from an era when exercise was something the staff did while the gentlemen shot at things and the ladies sat around waving lacy hankies and occasionally fainting.

Formal croquet attire


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