On Sunday, in the middle of the English winter, some time before Christmas, we went clay pigeon shooting. Clay pigeons are plastic (not really) plates made of clay (now it makes sense), those aren’t real pigeons, so I didn’t actually shoot anyone or anything. This wasn’t a spontaneous decision, my (then) boyfriend’s parents couldn’t use this voucher for a romantic day out, so they offered it to us. That is how we turned out to be out in the shooting range, I think that’s what it’s called anyway but don’t quote me on that.
We woke up at 7 am, and at 8:50 am we were in Woking, Surrey in the National Rifle Association Shooting Club, specifically Bisley Shooting Ground. We were walking into the glass looking building with, seemingly rich people around us.
I felt like someone was going to give us some Hunter boots and those expensive looking green coloured jackets, because everyone seemed to wear them. We would fit in for sure. They were the luxury tweed kind, something Dr Watson would wear, with woven tweeds and wools, that you can find in a special department at Harrods in Knightsbridge, by appointment only. Dr Watson could probably be able to afford these coats and jackets after Sherlock and him were paid for all the solved crimes in the world.
So as I was missing the Hunter boots and a Scottish tweed jackets in which I would look absolutely fabulous (see what I did there?) getting out of my non-existent Jaguar, I looked around and saw those people were also wearing special belts around their thighs, that held spare cartridges (that I called bullets of course). That’s how I knew they weren’t here on a Red Letter Days activity, they were here constantly. There were lots of people, walking around. I was genuinely surprised to see so many people at 9 am on a Sunday. Each of us had fifty cartridges. Usually I believe you get one hundred cartridges. I was given a light shorter rifle, as I was a lady, which some might find insulting, but hey, they even have Ladies Days there, so I am not surprised. Okay, let’s not talk about feminism right now. You can ask for a regular rifle if you want, but honestly, I was okay with my lighter one.
You get hearing protection and you get a special place in the shooting range, where you are by yourself. There were three of us there, obviously. First we were shooting in the clays flying in front of us, directed right at us, which were orange coloured. Then we were shooting flying from the right to the left, and were black. Then it was time to shoot orange and black clays flying in their respective directions at the same time.
I was good with getting the black clays, although it seemed that orange bigger clays would be easier to hit. I was wrong. In the end, we had lots of fun, felt very English, including my boyfriend. My royal elitist (does this thing even exist?) alter ego was shining through, but then it was 10 am, we’ve run out of cartridges, my hands got cold and we went inside for some scones and jam with tea. English much? I eventually started dreaming of a dark green tweed jacket that would go nicely with my diamond tiara.
English Country Living Continues
Then we de decided to pay a visit to my boyfriend’s older brother, previously phoning him after our scones. He lives near Woking, so we just had to see him and his wife.
Upon entering the house, I remembered once again, that English people don’t really like to use heating in winters, or ever, but for us they switched on a heating fan, once we’ve arrived. It was really lovely of them, and we didn’t even ask them for this. I have recently read an article in the Glamour magazine, where it specifically said “when visiting people for Christmas, bring a jumper or a cardigan with you, but don’t ask your hosts to turn up the heating”. The English even have etiquette rules for winter months, I am officially in awe. In Russia we just open windows when it’s minus 20, because it’s so hot in the building, as we can’t control central heating.
In about one hour, the room we were in, got warmer and it was lunch time. The hosts surprised us with a cooked guinea fowl. I suddenly remembered Notting Hill movie with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, and I knew I was in for a treat. I don’t think I was as excited about birds as I was that day. Neither my boyfriend, nor I have tasted guinea fowl before, so we gladly started our meal.
Everything was delicious, and as a side we had roast vegetables: potatoes, parsnips and something else. For the dessert we had hot Christmas pudding, that was poured over with brandy and set on fire! This is the traditional way of enjoying the Christmas pudding. I was given a good slice of it, and was told to pour some white brandy sauce over it, for which you can find a recipe here.
To be honest, I’m not a big fan of a traditional Christmas pudding, but I always buy it for my family at Fortnum & Mason’s, they are absolutely in love with this country delicacy. I had a few bites and said I was full, while pushing the plate to my boyfriend with a guilty look. I knew this coming Christmas I had to visit their family for holidays and potentially eat a home-made one in front of everyone. I was dreading the day. I so didn’t want to upset anyone. It would be impolite if I said no to anything offered by people who welcomed me in their house.
I liked it today. After pudding, meaning dessert and pudding, we played a few board games, while drinking tea, and the boys were drinking port wine. I looked out of the window and saw the grey sky, and couldn’t believe my life. For a second I felt fear for an unknown reason. I smiled and asked for more tea.
*Originally posted in early 2012.
** Bisley Shooting Ground is located at Bisley Camp, Brookwood