Friday, 29 April 2016

Quattro Stagioni

Impressive snow flurries on Thursday
Ah, the 'Four Seasons' - but not those well known four concerti by Vivaldi. I was actually remembering my favourite choice of pizza topping from my youth when (I can't remember why or with whom) we'd head off en-masse to a chain pizza restaurant in Maidstone. The internet now tells me that a Quattro Stagioni pizza "traditionally" featured ham, artichoke, mushrooms and olives to represent the four seasons though I swear I can remember pine-apple for summer. Ah well. That was Kent and decades ago, so maybe they are not the right kind of 'traditional'.

That is just the ancient memory. The up to date use is a comment on the wry Irish take on the weird weather that we have had this week - that you get all four seasons in the same day - rain, hail and snow, drizzle and then bright sunshine with blue skies and puffy cumulus cloud. The coat, hat and gloves you put on to counter the 'winter' are suddenly way too warm as the sun comes out and the wind dies away, until the next squall. I managed to capture a couple of pics of snow, but snow is notoriously tricky to do justice to falling. You have to try to force the flash to go off to illuminate the nearby flakes, but it was so bright, my various auto settings refused to do that. I had to crop in on bits of dark - an open barn doorway or a grey concrete block wall.

Nugget, Goldie's daughter, is still free range and we are letting
her be so. She does not seem to be doing any damage. 
We are mindful, of course, that somewhere out there in all this wintriness is poor Barbara, our turkey hen. At least, we hope so. We hope she is hidden up well in a hedge somewhere and that her instincts have made her choose a place under cover and out of the wind. Maybe there will also be the fast-growing cow parsley (Queen Anne's Lace) around her so that she will be more and more protected as time goes by and Brer Fox will not happen upon her (or his mink and pine-marten cousins). We will never know if she is taken by a fox, of course; we will only know she hasn't if she wanders back in here with or without some chicks. Fingers crossed. Barbara!

Two lovely things happened to me this week - Liz came home and my archery stuff arrived on the courier (EXPD) from the UK. Liz had thoroughly enjoyed catching up with all the cousins on that side of the family - they are all Irish and at one stage all came to squeeze into Liz's family home when she was 8-ish prior to emigrating (back) to Swindon.

Pointy end and nock ends of my new arrows. €10 a pop. 
'Little-Liz' loved having all these wonderful new play-mates descend upon her, sharing bedrooms and toys etc like one huge family. She gravitated particularly to Cathy as she was closest in age and stayed in Ireland longest and they have been great friends ever since. Returning from the funeral it seemed to be a decent sized cup of tea that she missed most about home. No problem. Get the kettle on,

My archery stuff arrived while she was still away, coming from Quick's Archery of Portsmouth (UK) and delivered by the courier EXPD. I was sure I'd not heard of the latter but the guy, when he rocked up, told me he had not needed to ask directions because he "knew us". Anyway, I can heartily recommend both these firms if you are ever in the bow and arrow buying business. It was all nice and safely packaged and arrived intact, safe and sound and complete and within days of being ordered.

A handy kit bag for the gear. Not sure If the dozen
29 inch arrows will fit in it, mind.
Of course, like a kid at Christmas, I had to unpack it all and see what I had there. I had to assemble the bow, don the glove and wanted to lash off a trial arrow just to make sure it all worked. But what to use as a target? Anything solid and wooden, the arrow would surely sink in an inch or so and be a pain to extract. The arrows are €10 each, and have thin-ish wooden shafts, so you'd not want to break one trying to wiggle it out. Stones and rocks in any mud-banks would just shatter the arrow on impact. Maybe that big pile of shredded (felled) tree would stop it. What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

Apple blossom nearly open.
Well, I nearly lost the arrow. The shredded wood pile was so fluffy and loose that the arrow almost disappeared. All 29 inches bar about an eighth of an inch of 'nock' (back end) zoomed in and it was only that I saw the puff of the dry surface shavings jump, leaving a small darker patch of the inside bits in the middle of which was my yellow, plastic nock, or I would have been dismantling the pile to find my arrow. That was enough of an explore. I will try again when I have dreamt up a denser target; maybe more of those wood shavings rammed hard down into a big feed- or coal-sack.

Pear blossom.
I am in a strange kind of limbo on archery now - midway between my beginner training course and my onward practise, between using the club 28 lb pull bow and my beefier 35-40 lb pull own bow and between the indoor, badminton court training sessions and the club's summer outdoor archery. Rather than have me loosing off arrows out of doors as a first introduction to my new bow, the instructor has allowed me to come and 'play' outside with my familiar club bow.

Our local bridge with the river running very low. 
But that is all to come. Sunday's job is for a gang of us to head round to his farm and help set up the outdoor course including the marquee we will use for coffee breaks. I am told the guy tries to set up quite an interesting course as near as possible to the kind of 'field archery' course you would meet in a competition; varied targets including the 3D animal models marked with heart/lungs they use as well as normal targets, all at a variety of ranges and some uphill and downhill by means of the 'tee' position or the target being up on pallets or mounds. Sounds like fun. I will be able to tell you more after Sunday (weather permitting)

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