Tuesday Morning


Much to my surprise I am still vertical and my game larder has a nice brace of plump partridges.  The weather was pretty miserable with a fine misty drizzle which made it feel pretty cold.  It was nice to see how a big commercial shoot is run.  We were ferried to each drive in a big wagon towed by a tractor which was just as well as no other vehicle could have managed the mud.  The seating was on straw bales which were marginally damp but there was a large bucket full of water bottles and cans of coke to keep us hydrated.


I would hazard a guess that each drive was probably no more than half a mile but over some very taxing ground either ploughed fields of mud or quite dense woodland or most difficult a cover crop of maize which is head high.  Each beater is equipped with a flag made from a stick with a white plastic sack nailed to it.  The idea is that the noise they make when flapped sends the birds into the air. Sandi kindly supplied me with a flag.   After the first two drives it was time for elevenses and we were supplied with hot soup either tomato or vegetable and a bun stuffed with a sausage and a rasher of bacon.  This was followed by slices of cake and a handful of sweets to keep us going until lunch which was after the next two drives.  The shoot was for 150 birds and by lunch time we had 130 so there was only one drive after lunch.  Lunch is not provided for beaters but there is plenty of tea and coffee and I for one was still full from the bacon butty.  The guns get a proper sit down lunch so we had to wait for them to finish which meant that we all got a bit cold sitting in the beaters hut but soon warmed up on the last drive.  Then it was back to Sandis to pick up my car and get myself home.  Fortunately I had a nice shepherds pie ready and waiting as I was not fit for much else except my bed.  I had had a lovely day despite the weather. The group of beaters were very welcoming and I felt part of the crew straight away.  They all kept an eye on me and made sure I was doing what I should and kept the beating line.  My only regret was that with all that walking I didn't have a dog with me.  Basso was pretty disgusted with me when I got home and gave me a good sniffing to see what I had been up to.  He examined the birds I had brought but was not impressed if that was the best I could do on my own no wonder I needed him!!!!  I didn't have the heart to tell him I was paid double what he gets.

This morning I am due to go swimming with James as we are hoping to get him in the water for a bit of a workout which is non weight bearing.  He needs to build up the muscle on his injured leg which had become very weak from inactivity.  The pool opens at 7.30 and we are hoping to be first in then we can come home for some breakfast.  I have ordered some fish from the fishmonger which will need to be picked up and while we are at it I will buy an extra partridge as you really need one each and I only have two.  For lunch we are going to have some smoked haddock and supper is easy it will be pasta bolognese so all nice and easy.  I have order some salmon some of which I intend to make into gravadlax if I can lay my hands on some dill.  I thought I could do the curing in a vacuum bag which should ensure that the salt and sugar penetrate the fish well.  The remaining salmon will go through the sous vide before being consigned to the freezer. then tomorrow I will tackle the birds and get them sous vide and also into the freezer and provided I get them done early I can get the rubbish out for the bin men.

I have been invited back to beat on either Friday or Saturday or both but as yet I haven't decided what to do.  The men are not too happy about it but it is nice to have a day away on my own and I feel reinvigorated so I may well do one of the days.  We will have to see how much the swimming takes out of me today.  Currently I am not stiff at all so maybe I am fitter than I think!!!!

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