Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Camper Van Bicycle

I've had a bizarre idea now for about a year (one of a number, it has to be said) concerning the adaptation of a bicycle into a kind of mobile home. Obviously, this makes no sense at all: why not simply put a tent in a pannier, ride to one's destination and erect said canvas dwelling? Much more sensible. Nonetheless the idea (as bizarre ideas are wont to) persisted.

Browsing the interweb the other day I was very startled to chance upon this image:

The very thing I'd imagined! How extraordinary!

Investigation, however, revealed that this is a 'sculptural art object' fabricated by a gentleman called Kevin Cyr (more details here).

Shame! I'd really like one.

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What's for Dinner?

I was in a charity shop yesterday and I overheard the staff talking about catching and eating sea-food on a holiday one of them had taken recently:

' he was out the front of the cottage, gutting the fish...'

'Oh no! I could never kill anything, me!'

'No, no, me neither - well, of course, I'd step on a spider!'

'Well, me too, yes.'

Just then I noticed an unusual book on the shelf in front of me.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Festival of Breaking Things

I managed to crack a window in my flat a couple of days ago. I had a panel of double-glazing in one room which had filled up with condensation because the seals had broken. I decided that drilling a little hole through the glass to try and let the water vapour out might be a good idea. So, about a month back, I used a little diamond drill bit and - making sure it didn't get too hot while drilling - managed to put the hole in without any problems. The hole in place, I left it to see if the condensation would evaporate and the window return to transparency.

Weeks passed and nothing happened so I decided to enlarge the hole. Again, I did it carefully and made the hole a little bit bigger. Then I thought, 'I know, I'll get a fan heater, blow some hot air through the hole and see if I can't drive out some of the condensation that way'.

After thirty seconds of that, of course - ping! - the window cracked.

I cursed myself for foolishness and then sat around in a funk.

Soon bored with funk, I thought I'd go out and do a bit of shooting. On my way out of the flat I propped my bagged rifle up against the door frame while I grabbed my jacket and - bugger! - it promptly fell to one side, straight down onto the scope, bent the 50 millimetre end-lens housing out of true and cracked the central tube.

So, the scope's on E-bay, I'm on the look out for a nice, tasteful window sticker and I've gone back to shooting with iron sights.
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Sunday, 20 September 2009

Zeroing Air Rifles: Festival of Missing Things

I was reading a thread on an air gun forum last night about shooting with pre-charged pneumatics (here) and so I went to sleep thinking - well, among other things, sure - about accuracy in the field. The folk in the thread are discussing the pellet-on-pellet performance that can or can't be expected from an out-of-the-box Weihrauch HW100 - and in terms of what they wrote and how it compares with the sort of thing that I can produce with my old springer, well, I might just as well attempt to hone the rabbit-stopping properties of my critical thinking as attempt to match the precision of these things (I quote):

"At 30 yards once you've found the the right pellet it should be 1 single hole."

[At 30 yards] "You should be getting ragged one hole groups at that distance."

"Both me and a mate was out the other evening perfect conditions, he too shoots a HW100KT and he shot a rabbit at 51 yds bisley magnum, and I shot one at 54 yds logan penetrator. Both shots were premeasured with laser rangefinder both perfect head shots instant kills. Neither of us are annie oakley but these rifles are deadly accurate if running as they should."

The image at the top of this post is my last zeroing effort a few days ago with my, as ever, boingy old HW80k. I'd taken about three shots the day before - thirty-yard shots, all - and missed every time. So in something of a funk, since I'd zero'd about two days before this, I went and fired off the first group (top left in the photo) from an unsupported sitting position at thirty yards (with H&N field target pellets).

And yes, the group showed that I was, indeed, out. So I dialled it up two clicks and fired off another set (top right). O.K, a little too high this time, so I took it one click down and fired off the third group (bottom left).

Well, O.K. That'll do, I thought. The last group did show a little bit of a left drift, but that could just have been the wind perhaps. The first two groups weren't to the left so I didn't adjust on the basis of the last one being a bit skewiff left-wise.

I certainly do wish that I could dependably hit a rabbit at 54 yards - but it would be crazy for me to even try. Twenty to thirty is about my limit and - even then - I miss a good deal.

Sometimes, when faced with an ideal like this against which I can judge myself, I can tend to think, 'ah, gawd, I shouldn't even be out shooting if this is the best I can do'.

I suppose that what I then do is remind myself that I'm not going out shooting in order to try and win any accuracy competitions, I'm actually going out because I want to try and get my dinner.

It's also becoming clearer to me that if I think that zeroing is something I need to do every couple of weeks, say, then I'm kidding myself; I ought to be doing it more or less every time I go out hunting.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Out Hunting: Bees, the Catechism and the Oral Object

I found the papery remnants of a beehive when I was out wandering over the fields the other day. After I found it - and rather unwisely perhaps - I looked around for the place it had come from; spotting it, I stuck my head into the hedge where the rest of the hive was hidden. Perhaps I thought that there would be a few bee-free combs full of golden, glistening honey in there that I could pluck out with my bare hands? I'm sure that I had something like that in mind; I love honey, love sweet things, love anything, in fact, that I can cram into my mouth and, when it comes to getting hold of stuff with which to fill my cake-hole, I rarely let anything as trivial as moderation or common sense stand in my way.

What I found, though, when I stuck my head in the hedge was a hole in the ground filled up with more of these old comb fragments and a few disconsolate bees ambling around on top of them. Perhaps, it occurred to me at this point, there might well be a more lively hive beneath the remains of this older one? Perhaps, if there was, the inhabitants might not take kindly to my great ugly mush hovering over them? With this thought, I pulled my head out of the hedge and made off.

Then I sat under a tree for an hour waiting for pigeons and thinking - with little enthusiasm - of the vegetarian meal which awaited me at home if I didn't bag any birds. I'd taken a little book out with me so as to have something to read during these times when I'm staking out a tree in the hope of harvesting wood -pigeons. Opening it, I found myself reading these words by the Dominican friar Herbert McCabe:

We exercise the virtue of temperance in the matter of eating and drinking by, characteristically, taking and enjoying what is sufficient for our health and for the entertainment of our friends.

We may fail (in the exercise of temperateness in this area) by indifference to the enjoyments of the table; by eating and drinking that is totally divorced from either friendship or the requirements of health; by eating what is merely superficially attractive at the expense of a reasonable diet, by drug abuse and by all forms of gluttony.

After about three-quarters of an hour and two missed shots I gave up on the pigeons and went to sit under another tree in the hope of rabbits. The light was fading now and, as it did, so grew my dissatisfaction at the idea of a meatless meal. I must have meat! I thought, I must!

After another half-an-hour, and in near-full darkness by then, a rabbit hopped out from a burrow about five feet away from me and sat there with its back to me. With the scope on the rifle I had no chance of getting a shot at a target that close and so all I could do was sit there and watch it. After a few moments, still not having noticed me, it ran away up the field and kept on running until it was too far away for a shot.

In complete darkness, then, I went home and - with much satisfaction since fruitless hours in search of meat had left me with a great appetite - ate my, in truth, perfectly pleasant vegetarian supper.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Penkridge Village Market

I went along to the mid-week market at the nearby village of Penkridge today. There was an auction of local produce going on; hens, ducks and geese were to be sold and the cages with the animals inside were stacked up to form the walls of the outdoors auction room. Laid out on trestle tables all around were cardboard boxes and plastic trays all full of damsons, plums, cooking apples, tomatoes and many different types and sizes of eggs. Underneath the tables were dozens of rabbits all laid out on cattle-feed sacks or in boxes to be sold at auction as well.

Seeing all this made me happy. It was very nice to feel that the pleasure that I take in getting a rabbit for the table - or even a few damsons from a tree - are things that I could actually have in common with other human beings!

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Sunday, 13 September 2009

Makings of an Autumn Breakfast.

I sat at the base of a tree today and looked up into the branches of another one close by. There was a rise of ground in front of me and, just on the brow of the little slope ahead of me was a red-brown pile of earth that'd been thrown out by a badger expanding its underground home. I've been told by a dog-walker that knows this field that sometimes the badgers dig up bottles and push them out onto the mounds by their front doors; I'd like to come across a badger-excavated old marble-stopped pop bottle above all things, I guess.

I sat under this tree in the late afternoon with the idea that I'd take a shot at any wood-pigeon that came to rest in the branches above. I sat there for close on an hour, looking up at the sky and imagining the pleasures of a grilled pigeon for dinner - but I had no luck. There were birds flying past but non chose to land in the tree I'd picked to sit alongside. I hadn't made any great attempts to hide myself beyond being dressed in drab green and sitting beside a big clump of nettles, mind you, so perhaps the pigeons just saw a chap with a gun sitting below a tree and thought that a roost down the field a little way might just be a better bet? Who knows.

Autumn is nearly here; it'll soon be time for me to acknowledge that if I actually do want to get a rabbit then I'm going to have to start going out at dusk again. I did see one or two today, out in the slightly weak afternoon sun, but this seems like nothing compared to the dozens I'd have seen at this time of day a month or so back.

On the way home, I picked a knee-pocket full of damsons from the abandoned orchard to make a sweet purée with which to enliven tomorrow's breakfast porridge.

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Saturday, 12 September 2009

Shooting: Four shots (one miss).

I've been staying in Bristol and London for the last week.

Today, I went and sat in a field.

On my way home, I took a photograph of the nettles and the grass in the late afternoon sun.

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Thursday, 3 September 2009

L'Atelier Vert - Rabbit Recipes

Just came across these involved but rather fine looking French recipies for rabbit on the site L'Atelier Vert:

Farm rabbit cooked like game

Daube of rabbit with rosé, lavender honey and thyme blossoms

Fricasée of rabbit with glazed onions, honey, and lavender

Rabbit braised with artichokes

Rabbit with mustard sauce

The only thing I'd quibble with about any of these very tasty looking recipes is the piece of advice that's given after one of them: "If you know a rabbit farmer, make sure to patronize him or her."

Well, no; be nice to rabbit farmers, that's my suggestion.