Saturday, 20 June 2015

Bushcraft Architecture And Construction

Neat huh?
SBW

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Woodland Archery: Accuracy Is The Best Policy



The woods have seen some action since we were last there. At this time of year the Fallow are gathering into groups and had passed though our little world, flattening the Bluebells and chowing down on the bark of Beech trees.

On Friday as the skies darkened, then burst, we achieved escape velocity and were on the road. By making lateness part of the plan we set off within half an our for the allotted time and made the most rapid pace across and out of town. In all the trips we've made The Northern Monkey and myself have always failed to leave early enough and have sat in traffic most of the way across the south of England. By leaving later we arrived at the same time we usually do, but drama-lessa nd with the serenity of the intentionally late.



Our archery practice sessions are starting to bear fruit.

Things I learned about archery the time around:

1. Archery is seriously dependent on Natural Point of Aim; seeing as arrows are traveling a lot slower than bullets this should have been the bleeding' obvious, but  I guess its taken us a while to get to the bleeding' obvious.

2. On the subject of which, it turns out the shot starts before you draw the bow; by aiming with my left heel before I start to draw the bow is on target as soon as I draw it back. Consistently the pins were over the target, just had to use my hips to adjust vertically and its time to squeeze the release's trigger.


3. Arrows that are so bent they have names come into their own at longer ranges; The Northern Monkey  shoots aluminium arrows with varying degrees of bent-ness They are called things like; The Wanderer, Hook Nose, Curvy Lady and The X-Files [its out there. Somewhere]. At 10 and 20 meters they won't group for toffee, more often than not sailing into the bushes, but at the furthest extreme of our shooting lane, where we can shoot at 50 and then 60 meters, he sunk not one, but two bulls.


It was my turn to feel the pain and dismay. I started the year with 12 arrows, broke one on day one, [pallets are not as good as foam targets], lost two a couple of archery camps back. This time I went from 9 to 4 alarmingly quickly, breaking one trying to get it out of a tree,  'hiding'  3 under the leaf mould and the last a catastrophic failure.

The words of Hodgeman keep ringing in my ears “It's like rifle hunting...only more expensive, and less effective.”

More soon
your pal
SBW


Memory Collector: Hunting In Alaska



Regular readers will know that one of my favourite bloggers and to me the outdoorsman's outdoorsman is that Rifle-Sage of the north, Hodgeman. I've been reading his blog for years and if you want to read real practical advice about hunting, firearms, and kit he's your man.

Some pals of his have made this film about their mutual friend. Poignant without being folksy this is great storytelling. its a window into the way of life of a hunter-contractor who always wanted to live, work and hunt in Alaska as he hunts that symbol of the north, Barren ground Caribou. Seems like a happy and contented guy.

More soon
SBW



Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Unboxing Review: Scott Mongoose XT Bow Release


Posts on the SBW blog are like London buses you wait for ages then two come along back to back.

Sometimes the kit does make a difference, all the most accurate shots I've ever taken have been with rifles with triggers that have that sweet, crisp break, the break that's not a hair trigger and isn't scratchy either, my Parker Hale Phoenix, and the Blaser's (R93 and R8) spring to mind. 

When I bought my bow it came as a Ready To Hunt package from Hunter's Friend [who I can't recommend enough] with a Truball release [I think it's the cyclone]. It's OK, in fact it was perfect while I was getting my form together shooting in the backyard and at fifteen meters. At 25 meters I started to notice the long travel and scratchy feel which seemed to amplify with every wobble and waver I made.  

Bored with the sheer divisiveness of Archerytalk I posted to reddit.com/r/Archery/ asking for opinions on releases, only got two responses, both shouting out for Scott Releases. 

During a visit to an Archery shop I got to try out one of their thumb releases, so beloved by the target shooting crowd. Wow, so crisp, so sudden, so WOW! I was tempted, not by the price, but by the mechanics of the thing, then I had a disturbing vision of a repeat performance of the time when I dropped a round from a high-seat and it clattered off every effing rung of the effing ladder on the way down, it would also be fair to say that I don't tend to lose things that are tied-on, so that was a factor too. 

Looking online for reviews of Scott's  Mongoose XT certainly has its fans, I can see the thinking behind the single calliper concept. Don't know if it works, but I like the idea, so I pressed Buy Now. 

Fresh out of the box its in a different league to the other releases I've seen, so far I've only done the shoelace test (I'm at work) but it seems crisp, like R8 crisp.

Have I managed to spend my way to accuracy? I'll let you know after the weekend.

More soon
Your pal
SBW

Arrows And Broadheads Pt One

The 10m Range which offers limited opportunity beyond sighting in the first pin

So dear reader, or hopefully still 'readers' plural, its been all go since I last posted with, er some stuff achieved, a few observations, a bit of mudlarking in Spain and some plans to maybe make it a bit further east on the next trip.

Meanwhile back in the woods; meaningful groups are starting to develop at 25 meters. I shoot the Easton Aftermaths with the yellow and orange vanes, The Northern Monkey is still handicapping himself with his Alloy arrows - where accuracy and durability are sacrificed on the alter of cheapness.

I wish to state for the record that The Northern Monkey has several advantages in this game. He's a lot taller and stronger than me, that draw length gives arrow speed and therefore a flatter trajectory, he also practices more than me. When he shoots straight arrows his groups are generally smaller than mine, but thanks to his ally-handicap....

While Bare-Bow is all 'art' with getting to know each arrow part of the 'fun', Compound shooting is more 'science' - once your rig is properly set up the first 10 meters are almost a gimme, sometime the repeatability of it all gets a little tedious. Un-like gloating.


Essential kit for woodland archery 101 - the metal detector

Carbon Versus Aluminium/'Aloominum'

Price - Woodland archery is often about searching for arrows, every miss is potentially eight and a half Euro you'll never see again. Focuses the mind.

Straightness - Before or after the first time the arrow strikes something hard? Alloy arrows make a wonderful noise as they bounce off a tree, morphing into scrap metal as they fly through the air.

Durability - Of my 12 Aftermath's I've smashed one, and lost two. TNM has eighteen arrows in varying degrees of bent-ness.

Findability -  I am yet to find some of mine, he is yet to find a straight arrow in his collection.

While we're on the subject of durability the lovely people at Schmeisser Archery have sent me a couple of broadheads for testing.  First impressions are they are very well balanced - at 10m there was no desirable difference in point of impact from my field points , and they're a lot easier to dig out of a tree stump than the three bladed designs. As to their claim to durability?  We'll have to see in subsequent testing, they do seem tough as old boots.



Hoping to get down there again this weekend - new toy has been ordered, if the postie does his bit we'll find out if you can really spend your way to accuracy?

More soon
Your pal
SBW

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Reasons For Buying An Air Rifle


I know you want one, you know you want one. There are a lot of great reasons to buy an air rifle, lets have a look at them.

All the best shooters got their start with pellet pushers. 
The slow recoil and low exit speeds of ‘springers’ amplify user error, when you can get it right with a spring powered gun you’ll be ahead of the game with a PCP, rim fire, or centre fire rifle. 

It’s the cheapest way to practice.
From $20 a thousand, pellets are cheap and get cheaper the more you buy, they have no use-by date and take up very little space - most sizes of shoebox will hold 100,000 which will last anywhere between a long time and a lifetime. 

They are the best introduction to shooting
Without the BANG and with negligible recoil, the air rifle is the perfect starting point. Just as many of us started shooting with pellet pushers, so we shall start a new generation of shooters. Personally I’ve introduced new shooters ages 8 to 56 they’ve all wanted to do it again.

You can shoot them where you can't shoot anything else
In many inner-city jurisdictions you cant hunt control pests with anything else. 
Making a ‘Phutt’ rather than a ‘Bang’ they are the subtle alternative to firearms, and less provocative than using your compound bow. For example in the gun-unfriendly UK you can still practice in a suburban garden, taking squirrel, parrot and pigeons for the table right outside your kitchen window.

Pellets for Pests? Gets you hunting land
When you are asking about; trying to gain permission to hunt on farmland, an air rifle for pests tends to to get a yes on first asking, more often than a centre-fire for deer and pigs. Farmers will up-grade you later when you’ve shown your safe and you’ve offered them rabbits and / or scotch!

Easy and paperwork free
In many places they are online purchases; you’re over eighteen, you makes your choice of best air rifle for your needs, and wait [impatiently] for that exiting knock on the door.

Home customisable 
There is no better (or safer) first project for the home gun-tinkerer; start with lightening the trigger, then reducing the recoil by smoothing the spring’s path, before refinishing the stock. Lot’s of fun doing the work, lots of satisfaction in the end result, and you’re creating an heirloom for pennies.

Sometimes they are the best choice
The squirrel hunters weapon of choice, a silenced PCP gives you the pellet speed you need, and is quiet enough that the bushy-tailed tree-rabbits may well stick around so you can take a second shot at one of his pals.

Low-power leads to high-skill
When you can stalk rabbits to take a lethal shot on an inch wide kill-zone at 25 yards, you are arguably more of a hunter than the fella who was escorted by a guide to shoot into the four inch circle of a game animal’s vitals at 100 yards. 


You cant buy skill with money. But you can train for it with a pellet pusher!

Go on, go on, go on, you know you want to
More soon
SBW

Monday, 4 May 2015

Hunting, And Shooting Videos


A few weeks back Phillip of The Hog Blog did a round up of some of the better efforts by American TV makers, at that most difficult of genres; The Hunting Video. It's not easy. The 'pro' efforts are sometimes less engaging than the home-grown youtube videos.





The Music

Many film makers seem to share the sentiment of the Anti-Hunter that hunting is a highly adrenalised activity best given musical accompaniment by what I believe may be called 'death metal'. This makes no sense to me whatsoever; I go hunting to walk around in silence, listening to birdsong. I expect you do too.

The Celebration

The whooping and back slapping is pretty tiresome. I will admit I did once snap my fingers to show my satisfaction with an uncharacteristically tight group, but I've never felt the need to whoop or high-five. Hunter X smeared deer blood all over my face, I can't help but feel it was just because he wanted to. I was once the recipient of high praise of the Scottish variety "a welcome rest-bite from sheer suburban uselessness', but usually, on this side of the pond, a firm handshake is all that's deemed necessary.

The Dialogue

Most video blogs are awful because the person speaking hasn't actually decided how to say what they want to say, and then when they slip up mid ramble instead of 'mulligan-ing' and taking the shot again, they either just repeat themselves or worse yet launch into a long-winded apology before repeating themselves. It doesn't really work for me. If I were to offer a pointer; It may help not to mention 'commitment' or 'tradition' again. I can't be the only viewer who switches off when subjected to rapid-fire cliches. I know you did this with your 'daddy' and you want to take your daughter hunting, yawn, there is more to hunting than sentimentality.

So, how to capture the moment on camera? How to show the people at home what goes on? Here are a couple of examples of how the pros do it and an example of a really inventive low tech way of telling stories on video.


First Hunt from Civilware Service Co. on Vimeo.

Meanwhile down under, where their contempt for inclement weather and glaciers is shown in the shortness of their 'Shorty-shorts' the guys from Calibre Shots show just what I'm missing not going to see my Bro.

Father & Son Tahr and Chamois hunt from caliber shots on Vimeo.

But what if you haven't got a drone, and can't hitch a ride on a helicopter? What if its just you and a camera, up close and personal? How would you tell the story, to an audience who may not speak any language you speak? You let what the camera sees tell the story.


At last a film of deer stalking in Scotland, that looks and sounds like, well, deer stalking in Scotland.

Thomas Haugland is a Hunter, Shooter and Filmmaker from Norway where; deep competency, stunning scenery, and dry wit come free with your passport. His videos never have him talking or a voice over, which in our current climate of moron-ification and pointless babbling is strangely attention grabbing.  His videos often have super deadpan descriptions

"This longrange shooting test was primarily made for Norwegians, but you are invited to try! It'll test the basic skills needed to make the bullet hit where you want (accuracy) at long range. This test is done in meters, at least 500 m range which is 547 yds."

Or the Jedi-like

"Not all days are equally successful. But there are sights to be seen and if you stay in bed, failure is guaranteed."




Enjoy, and comment if you've got any reconditions for videos that do something different with the the Hook and Bullet genre.

Picture credit goes to LikeCool and here's a list of top 10 best AR 15 scopes in case the picture put you in the mood

More soon
Your pal
SBW








Unboxing: Biolite Camp Stove Review



I've wanted one of these ever since I saw them as vapourware a few years ago. One thing lead to another and I've not ended up pressing Buy Now. But in a unprecedented turn up of events The Northern Monkey found himself inspired and ordered one. I think it was the offer of free electricity.

TNM had, in a stroke of genius, actually read the instructions before leaving the house so the Biolite had had its preliminary charge and was all ready to go. I was really exited to get this unboxing underway as my phone had already run out of juice, TNM clipped the parts together, filled it with very small sticks and sparked it up.
Once the smoke has finally cleared and its up to operating temperature the Biolite produces no smoke at all and roars with a beautiful spiral of flame which is a bugger to photograph. Phone charging was a little stop-start but did work. Next time I'd plug the stove into a battery pack which might work a bit better.

Following on from the good reception the camp stove has received  Biolite have brought out a 'Basecamp' which you feed from the bottom and takes much bigger bits of wood, this baby size suffers terribly from its small combustion chamber needing constant attention and feeding.  We were in deciduous woodland with an unlimited supply of dry-isn little-finger sized fuel, on a beach where the small bits of driftwood are often the dampest, or in a sparse-fuel environment where you'd have to cut fuel to size, the small chamber would be a major pain. We tried to burn thumb diameter pieces but the stoves efficiency was massively compromised. I hope to do some tests with dried dung [horse poop since you ask] which I have high hopes for as the stove's ideal fuel.

They say:
"Burning only wood, the CampStove creates a smokeless campfire that can cook meals and boil water in minutes. Setup is easy, fuel is free, and flames are hyperefficient with performance on par with white gas stoves."

SBW says:
Burning very small pieces of wood, the camp stove creates unbelievable amounts of smoke until it gets going when it burns very well, defiantly an outdoor gizmo [you would seriously regret lighting this puppy up in a tent], set up is indeed easy, fuel is free if you're in a woodland, anywhere else it'll be a lot of work to cut the pieces up small enough. "On par with white gas stoves" is pushing it.

The two must have accessories would be - bushcraft napalm [which I'll show you how to make in another post] and a pair of secateurs which would be the perfect way to keep it topped up with its preferred stick size of 6mm x 50mm aka quarter of. by two inches.

Redemption:
On the way home we have a 'petrol in a diesel' mishap and ended up by the side of the road with no phone charge, TNM fired up the stove while I walked to the nearest garage and got his phone working again, which was nice.

More soon
Your pal
SBW  




Friday, 24 April 2015

A Tale Of Two Bowtech's And Three Archery Shops

A lot has been happening while I've not been posting and we're long over due a catch up.

Regular readers will know that I gave up smoking and spent the saving on a new compound bow, choosing the Bowtech Carbon Knight. Most of my archery has been with a very old PSE that was way to big for me, both in poundage and draw length. I gave it to The Northern Monkey who stands head and shoulders taller than me. I choose Bowtech as Chad had told me that he has one he's still happy with after quite a few years and several of his pals also have good things to say about the company. I chose the Carbon Knight as its the lightest bow they make, the old PSE was very heavy so I was obsessing about something lighter although of course any modern bow would be a lot lighter.

The Carbon Knight has so far proved to be everything I hoped it would be. It quickly convinced me of its accuracy, which left me free to focus on reducing user error. I'm not a member of an archery club at the moment so coach-less, I watched a few videos on youtube, found my anchor point, and the rest is history. Its not a bow, it's a machine for launching arrows.


As you'll know when you look on the back of your 'man-card' you'll see that one of the rules is that it's not a hobby until you've managed to get at least two of your pals involved so you can have 'play days'. This is why at some companies everyone has the same hobby be it; lap dancing bars, charity fun runs, playing five-a-side football, archery, or collecting Morgan sports cars. Whatever it is you must gather a tribe around you. It's in the rules.

To get my hand in as an Archery-Mephistopheles  I chose CHJ for the first play-date as he already has a rig and had emailed in some impressive results. CHJ had recently sent his bow away for a new string and some tuning which had made his older bow very tight. We had a good day of it, shot some improving groups and only lost a few arrows. turns out its called 'field archery' for a reason - in a field you might even get your arrows back.

One hobby-buddy an archery club don't make, so the next available weekend I took The Northern Monkey with me to the woods. Planning to re-light his enthusiasm for all things toxophilic. It turned out to be pretty easy. By the end of the weekend he'd convinced himself that a new rig was essential. By the end of the following week a Bowtech Assassin RAK and some arrows were paid for and in the post to him.

I'd bought my rig from Dana of Hunter's Friend Europe which is based in Finland, The prices were good as the Euro is down against the GBP. Dana is a witty guy to email with and did everything he could to ship me my rig so I could spend the christmas break practicing - the Spanish postal service let us down, but I suspect they let everyone down. Having never bought a new bow before I didn't realise just how good at setting up archery gear he is. Right out of the box my rig has been accurate, if and when I've done my bit. The drop away rest is flawless, its all tight.
The Northern Monkey has a well deserved reputation for um, er 'fiscal propriety', it's a little known fact that copper wire was invented one afternoon when neither he or a game keeper of this parish had change of a penny.
He ordered his rig from a UK company called Aim Archery. It has not been a good experience. While Dana builds and shoots the bow you've ordered so when you pay for a Ready To Hunt package that is exactly what you get. At the other end of the performance curve; Aim Archery. It would seem they loosely assemble whatever they've got lying around. For instance the cheapo Arrow rest was over half an inch out of alignment, there is nothing 'Ready, Aim, Kill' about that. If they'd gone for Ready-Aim-Loose Arrow it would have been a fairer description.

Shooting my bow, which is dramatically too short a draw length for him, TNM could comfortably have arrows kissing each other, with his Assassin, set to his correct draw, the best he could manage was a loose coalition rather than an actual group. With the spread getting larger and more and more arrows disappearing into the woods TNM dismay was growing.
We started looking for an archery shop online. It turns out that while they are like hen's teeth in london, we were only about a half hour drive from the UK's most famous archery store.
Quicks have gained their reputation by using a strategy almost unknown in modern British retail. They are friendly AND know what they're talking about. I know! Colour me shocked too!! The chap behind the counter took a quick look at TNM's bow and sighed. The peep sight isn't attached to the bowstring, but what's losing an eye between friends? The supplied arrows got another sigh, "these are for a recurve". Quicks dude could not have been more helpful; once he'd got the bow to safe to use, he took TNM upstairs to their range and helped him to start the tuning process. Buoyed with new found confidence he bought some more arrows and we headed back to the wood.
Groups were much improved for the first hour but substandard parts soon come loose and the arrow rest lost its grip on itself and lost its position. T'was not the only loss we were to endure that afternoon. At our woodland range we hang a Delta target from a tree. We don't have an archery net, so you need to be accurate. It's fine when the difference between on-target and a miss is less than a handspan, any further deviation either results in a clean miss where the arrow disappears beneath the leaf litter on the forrest floor, or strikes the tree where the aluminium shaft absorbs the force, warping horribly before flying off at a right angle and then disappearing beneath the leaf litter on the forrest floor. Gutted.

We sack it off in favour of lunch, well I I sack it off to make lunch and TNM starts getting serious about getting his arrows back. After a while he reappears, ever the sage, taking the whole debacle in surprisingly good humour he rocks up. "Do these look familiar?" he hands me two of my arrows from the first trip a few weeks back. "I've realised, there is one very important piece of kit we didn't bring, metal detector"

More news and reviews as soon as I get the chance to write 'em up
Your pal
SBW




















Wednesday, 25 February 2015

On A Spanish Hillside


In the campo, where we've been staying since crimbo its all been a bit of a drag really Mr Proper has come to visit and he and Elfa have fallen out, she's now in an almost permanent grump, he won't stop needling her. Being a semi-pro martyr I have positioned myself between them to catch any incoming fire before it hits its intended target. But there is a silver lining to this dark cloud.....

I'm up and at it, not hunter o'clock or even builder o'clock, but early enough that I'm out of the door on my own. Down the street, cross the road, past stop off at the bar and on to the dirt road out into the campo. This is as they say where the magic happens!


This is Alicante, but not as I know it. For me Alicante is semi-dessert; gnarled olives set amongst scrub, weird ant nests (?) rabbit poo, and an erie silence where there would normally be birdsong.
I think these fascinating holes are the entrances to Ant nests, not that I've ever seen the occupants come and go.

This is Spain so my morning constitutional features a Carajillo at the bar, not the best Carajillo I've ever had, more a cafe solo with a shot of brandy so I'll leave further description to another day when we can celebrate a better example. What the bar does have that's worth a mention is this novel stove.

Hopper on the left, chimney on the right, tiny firebox connecting the two, the firebox can be that small as the flue extends to well over head height, and then runs most of the length of the room giving out a not inconsiderable whack of heat.
I was wondering about the stove and its relatively small hopper, I have a cousin who has a woodturner that is run on pellets, but I can't see the campisino's  paying to have wood ground up. It turns out they are fuelled by Almond shells. 

Out of the back of the bar, and wending my way up the hill I pass several small terraced olive groves. Here the hills roll away to rocky crags, and its green. Grass grows between the olive trees, caca di conejo lies around in fuel-source quantities and wonder of wonders a wild Perdiz (partridge) whirrs past. Elfa's dad has it that there aren't any more wild partridge due to the desertification, but this is a green Alicante. Its so green you could have a lawn if you were so inclined.

On one of the terraces I stumbled upon this wonderful specimen


At the base it must have been 20ft in circumference, I'm guessing 300+ years old, hopefully a more educated reader will be along to let us know if I'm in the right ballpark?

The next find is one I wasn't expecting, Acorns. But not as I know them, I feel sure I've seen this species before somewhere. So I snaffle a kilo or so just in case.
When I get back to WIFI (which in Spain is pronounced 'wiffy' ) it turns out I have seen them before, and having brought them home to Blighty I even have a plan for what to do with them.

I could bore you with further tales of spousal bickering, but I'm boring myself so we'll fast forward to other adventures that have taken place since we made it home and made up.

More soon
Your pal
SBW

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

It's Here! SBW 2.0 Can Commence!!

I wanted you to be the first to know. This morning, just as we were having our morning warm-up argument, the door bell rang the post and I had a confusing conversation with the Postie, my guess is that my pronunciation has improved, as people seem disappointed when my understanding hits the brickwall, in retrospect I think he was complaining that the floor number hadn't been included in the address.

Hostility's ceased for the grand opening, and a box full of new toys were revealed. Woo Hooo!!!

More news and the Unboxing review to follow, my breakfast is getting cold.
Festive wishes from your much happier pal
SBW


Monday, 29 December 2014

Christmas, Bow-Less, In Spain


Happy Crimbo blog people, sorry for the dearth of posts lately I've been - er, waiting for the postman.
Let me explain: After an intensive period of putting a shift in at The Goblin King's place I was all set to spend Crimbo with my kids and fly out to Spain for the NewYear and Kings Day.
Oh the schemes I cooked up, the plans I had! It was all going SO well. 

"If you want to make the hunting goddess laugh - post your plans online"
Ancient Spanish Proverb

"What are you doing for Crimbo SBW?" 
"I shall be practicing archery by day, and writing my memoirs by night"
"Really where?"
"Elfa has borrowed a house in the sierra, its going to be great, might even be some Conejo"
"Is that a euphemism?"
"With a bit of luck"

It was all going so well: Gave up smoking and after a year had saved a small fortune, Made peace with Ex Mrs SBW so spending crimbo with her and the kids. With some of the money saved I ordered a hopefullly badass compound bow, sorted shipping in plenty of time for the bow to be delivered to Elfa in Spain before I even get there. So far so excellent!

He said.

Ex Mrs SBW's brother dumps his girlfriend, again, but keeps her and her kids tickets, so Ex Mrs SBW gets a free Christmas skiing holiday for her and our kids. 
Christmas Day, all watching Doctor Who together, now cancelled.

I book a much more expensive flight but agree to travel to airport with Ex and Kids-some money recouped. Fail to check temperature in Spain before packing and in doing so inadvertantly provoke the mockery of the gods. 

I set off to meet the kids feeling pretty sure all the grief is behind me. On arrival Bushwacker Jnr announces he feels tricked and is very concerned that a 'proper' christmas lunch won't be available. The Littlest Bushwacker hates her mum, but ever the pragmatist, will put that to one side for skiing. The Ex Mrs SBW has gone to bed in a huff. So far so Christmasy.

At the airport I see the amusing sight of my former brother-in-law with his moody sister on one side,  his moody now on-again girlfriend on the other side and assorted offspring standing around awkwardly. "Cheerio! Have Fun!!"

It's bloody freezing in Spain, I'm totally inappropriately dressed for it. Elfa's plan to order furniture and have it assembled by her brothers has come to nowt. We must go to Ikea NOW. We have traditional massive row in Ikea's carpark. Much to the amusement of smirking Spanish brother in-law.
I don't know if you know this, it came as a surprise to me, but ikea's furniture is perishable. Exactly who knew! So it has to be assembled, as soon as its through the door. The very second. Still I keep telling myself, my bow will arrive in the morning and I'll be free to play with it.

Get up and check tracking. Finland's rigorously efficient postal service email me to announce my box left their jurisdiction slightly ahead of schedule. Defending silence from the Spanish postal service. Lots more furniture assembly later. More defending silence from the Spanish postal service and no sign of the postie. 

Elfa's family home is a converted office block, it was built as a showroom and office space in a hot country. No insulation, no central heating. Acres of tiles, cold hard tiles. Half of the floor is fully decorated, furnished and quite warm. We live in the other bit. We huddle around a propane fire. Me, forlornly checking my email, Elfa keeping up a running commentary of things that may or may not have happened to my bow in the post.

The Spanish posties have stolen your bow, with this Crisis they are so desperate they wanna hunt christmas lunch with it, then when they found out how early you get up, they sold it for a few drinks

Drinks, Food, more Drinks. Spain can often seem like a never ending meal. Even their junk food is delicious. Drinks are about 30% of the prices in London. We stagger from bar to relatives house to bar. Since I gave up Elfa is now smoking for two so we sit outside, patio heaters are apparently illegal in Spain, its freezing. There is no sign of my bow.

Christmas morning dawns; the post won't come today, there is nothing more I can do. I give Elfa her prezzie, she tells me she didn't get me one. A relative has given us Christmas Night in a Luxury 4 Star hotel. Elfa briefly tries to claim its a present to me from her. Happy Christmas.

We set off for the four star resort. The drive takes us a few hundred meters closer to sea level, its a bit warmer. The Crisis means there are lots of abandoned building sites where half finished hotels are crumbling. We see one that looks open or at least recently open, we rock up and its our place. Four Stars mi culo! This is the last resort.  It's terrible and even colder than the house/office block, the bed is like a box of rocks and the bed's covers are for a Mediterranean summer's night. There is very little hot water. The promised 'Fine Dining' is available only at the vending machine. In fact 'things' in general are only available at the vending machine.  Wifi is sporadic at best. I keep checking the tracking. There is no sign of my bow. 

Back at the casa I'm now reduced to plaintive emailing. The fella I bought the bow from in Finland is willing enough but unable to do anything to help. No tracking information is available, its really cold. We walk to the post office - to warm up as much as anything - its shut, not just for the day but forever. There is no sign of my bow. We've still not left for the house in the sierra, I seem to have gained an enormous amount of weight, or so Elfa persists in telling me. Her mockery the only thing punctuating the deafening silence from the Spanish postal service. Did I mention There is no sign of my bow. 

Don't worry, I'd be laughing if this were happening to you. I hope you're all warm and well fed and that at least the present you bought yourself was delivered and as you'd want it. 

Your Pal
SBW











Sunday, 7 December 2014

For The Daydreamers



Can anyone guess what your pal SBW has been thinking about this week? Its been paid for but it won't arrive for a couple of weeks....

In the meantime here's a very stylish video by Donnie Vincent if it doesn't fire your dreams, can I suggest something a little more sedate?

Keep well peeps, I've not forgotten you or abandoned the blog, just been busy
Your pal
SBW

Monday, 13 October 2014

Small Bore Rifles An Underground Sport


Chad is right its high time I told you another story or at least started writing again. So here's a tale from a little while ago, a few details have been changed, but not enough to disguise the facts from an inquisitive reader.

After myself and the Ex Mrs SBW called it a day I found myself with a whole lot more time on my hands. So I started looking around for something to do in the evenings other than internet dating and drinking with wannabe homesteaders.

I'd tried inner-city foraging; and freeganism, failed to join an archery club, renewed my distaste for the gym,  cut down on girlfriends and given up smoking. I'd been able to set up an air rifle range at home and its been a great help, HunterY had given me some very good pointers at HunterX's range in the country where I'd put 'two though one hole' and wanted to do it again, so the lure of the rifle range was wailing its siren call - which in case you're wondering sounds a lot like Kate Bush's 'Running up that hill' played by an orchestra of rifle bolts.

In accordance with that rule of the internet I found a sub broadband site which told the fascinating tale of a small bore rifle club not too far from mi casa. I pinged them an email and was invited to an open evening.  The venue turned out to be an industrial site entrance under a bridge.

You know those gated doors under bridges and beside train lines ? A galvanised gate over a concealed stairway, the kind of space where longterm contractors keep a giant collection of road-cones or use as an improvised tea-room. Where those of you with a fertile imagination would have seen a hidden base where Blofeld toys with world domination and bikini'd hoochie-coochies use Sebenza's to spoon caviar into the mouths of captured spooks. Or possibly where feral children gnaw on the bones of commuters unlucky enough to have tried to take a surreptitious doorway-piss on their way betwixt pub and station.

There were a growing number of of other loiterers at the doorway so I figured it must be the right place. I ignored Pretty Girl and struck up an conversation with Sales Newbie. Who predictably had just arrived in old london town fresh from uni, and was in the first few weeks of his first sales job. We do a quick round of the 'sales culture conversation' and move on to 'strange museums you've not heard of yet'. Pretty Girl eavesdrops, clearly dismayed that she's not been invited to be the centre of attention.

A man in an 'I work in IT' tie rocks up to open the gate [I'll leave you to imagine the full horror]; that tablet PC an almost borg-like extension of his being, the comedy tie stretched over the yawning chasm where his personality should have been. He's a helpful sort and welcomes us to the club. During his preamble I keep zoning-out and imaging life at his breakfast table where his wife keeps interrupting his impending announcement of his candidacy as the Lib-Dem candidate for Frinton-West with a further iteration of her long-held concern with the size of chunks in a jar of marmalade sent to her by cousins for whom she holds little affection.

Meanwhile back in the room: the chairman saunters in and sets out his stall. A veteran of many a committe meeting, in both professional and recreational settings, he tells us a potted history of the club: it's aims, affiliations, and traditions. Now warmed to his subject he tells us how to get the most from the tuition available and generously offers the observation how women will be especially able to benefit from the wisdom as 'they' are more able to listen and are in the habit of 'doing what they are told'. There is a slight shift in the room's gravity as Pretty Girl adds a mark to some inner scorecard.

The club specialises in a school of small bore (.22LR) shooting where the shot wears what looks like a straight jacket, opticians glasses and strange lopsided orthopaedic shoes. Lying on the floor the shooters squint though pin-hole sights at a page of targets 25m away. One chap seems tormented by some inner angst, huffing and puffing himself further and further from his 'settle'. At the other end of the performance curve a woman who'd arrived at the same time as us, is lying on the floor clacking ten rounds down range with an air of detached precision. As soon as the tenth hits the card she gets up and puts away her kit. I can't help but wonder if the place really is the gateway to some 007 facility.
As you do I get talking to a member who is packing away one of those tacticool Sig Sauer 22's he tells me its a scaled version of the Sig he uses in his anti-piracy work. Its all a bit 'conversations in gun shops', but he doesn't seem as strange as "the Bear'

We take a walking tour of the facility, sadly the little electric train driven by eurasian hotties in air hostess uniforms isn't working that week and the shark tank has been drained for maintenance. The guy who runs the 10m air pistol range is quite a wag, and has us all chortling away with a vivid description of the fiendish physics involved. If he'd been my teacher I'd be a physicist now. He invites us to have a go. Strangely; several people who are there, I can only assume, to join a gun club turn down his offer. The first fella to take up arms is on the paper but a way off the printed bit, I'm within the circle I console myself,  Pretty Girl is a finger off the centre. I tell her "It looks like you're the champion". Playfully she hits me and conspiratorially tells me "that's because I'm a woman and we do do what we're told'.

More soon, well sooner I hope
SBW

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Stuart Mitchell's Muntjac


While at Andy's he showed me this sweet little stalking knife by Stuart Mitchell of Shefield.
Mr Mitchell is a legend on this side of the pond, I've coveted his work since I first saw some pix on BCUK years ago. This model, his smallest and most every-day-carry, is named after the smallest deer in the UK, which is also the species you can hunt 365 days a year.


Standing 20in/500mm tall these little deer are pretty cute, at a distance. A bit closer its a different story, they have FANGS, yep fangs! Long enough and sharp enough to pose a significant risk to everything more loveable than a pit bull. They are also extremely territorial and indeed aggressive.
Introduced by the Duke of Bedford around 1900 they've spread a long way in the last 100 years, even 'swimming' the Irish sea. I've hunted them unsuccessfully a couple of times, and eaten them very successfully a few more times.

To mention the price of commisioning an SM in the presence of wives past and present is to elicit shrieks of dismay. I think his prices are very reasonable when you consider his 30+ years of practice, and workshop full of machines, especially when you set them against the prices of some production knives.

So what's it like in the hand? In a word, Ergonomic.
In a few more; fit and finish are so flawless as to be almost other-worldly.
Double want one.

Elfa "Think of the huntings you can do for that money"
SBW "Exactly, you've never eaten Muntjac have you? You're gonna love it"
And people wonder why I put up with her!

More soon, your pal
SBW

Some pix of his work HERE
Website, Facebook ect 

The Bushwacker Had Lost His Considering Cap

Old, unfashionable, weather-beaten like its been left outside in the rain, some would even say fit only for 'the bin'. But to me Andy is an old friend and he got me my favourite hat back! With a little help from Mr Rebus.
SBW


Another Safari In Scotland

Been a while since I've been north of the border: Elfa wanted to go, the kids are on holiday with their mum, we are as usual snagged on freeholder connect at the job site, and sentimentalist that I am, I've had an Andy Richardson shaped hole in my life since the last visit. So this missive comes to you from the rolling fields, and sand dunes of Fife.

As is so often said, holidaying brings out  the worst in people. We've served each other with divorce papers several times before we make it on to the train.  One drama leads to another but eventually we're off and I fall into a fitful sleep as the train shudders northwards. Somewhere nearer to London than Edinburgh, and nearer to sleep than wakefulness, I was idly daydreaming of the great days of steam when I realised the huffing and puffing was intact the Evil Elfa still expressing her displeasure. Reluctantly, I open my eyes to find that she actually had a valid reason this time, her face is swelling up. She looks like she's saving a gobstopper for later. I am ,by nature, quite a caring person. Annoyingly Elfa, by nature, is the worst feckin' patient ever! Really, you know those stories where the nurse went mental and shoved the hospital trolly, patient and all, into a laundry cupboard and left them there over the weekend? It turns out there is a limit to human endurance, I can now see why nursey would. [But not why nursey would come back after the weekend]. Within the hour the gobstopper is the size of half a golfball.

One for the Tackle Tarts

Andy has it that we should investigate the mouth of the Eden, and armed with lures so secret they shall not be photographed and the obligatory over-priced slices of Mackerel we leave the truck in the golfers car park and walk down the dunes to the estuary. For some reason Elfa has elected to follow that rule of fieldsports observers - she has waterproof boots [bought for the trip] but wears trainers. WTF?
Flounder tactics are the same up here; tiny strips of sushi [sorry bait the price confused me], small hooks and barrel-shaped weights that roll along the bottom. Cast into the tide and allowed to bounce their way across the sandy bottom.

 The score at half time: we did see some one very impressive Sea Trout jump and several smaller splashes, I landed a couple more Flounder. Next time I fish this mark I'll bring a crab rig as my bait got chewed a few times by little fellas.

More soon
your pal
SBW
PS For Me and Andy's adventure with the TV people click HERE










Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Unboxing Heavy Cover's Titanium Canteen

I have wanted one of these since the first day I saw one mentioned on BB. So here it is in all it's 'Tec-tro' loveliness. Hmmmmm Titaniummmmmmm.
Full review to follow shortly
SBW

Monday, 14 April 2014

Johnie's Passion For Deer

My old mate Johnny McGee has been has been up to his old tricks, shooting shooting in the UK. Johnny's films and photography are really top notch, with incredible attention to detail and a colour balance that shows the difference between the pro's and video-lummoxes like me. He's just posted Part 1 of A Passion For Deer where he accompanies Shavegreen Shooting Services stalking in the New Forest. This is just what woodland Deer Stalking in the south of the UK looks like. Minus the inane banter and bickering. Still with parts 2 to 6 still to come I'm sure that can be addressed.
More soon
Your pal
SBW