Tuesday 21 February 2017

A 50-Pound Pull

Nothing to do with us - just a superb Birthday Cake picture
posted to Twitter, made for a lad called Jake who is 6. I'm not
100% comfortable with encouraging the love of chainsaws
by 6-year olds but they probably have it under control. 
Rain, rain and more rain. It has not stopped all day. Everything is dripping including the coat I wore to walk the dogs at lunchtime (dog towels for them and a complete change of clothes and a shower for me!). Everywhere depressed has puddles and everywhere else the ground under foot has that sloppy, spongy first half inch. Deep joy. The ducks, ducklings and geese are, of course, loving it while all the other birds are happy to cower indoors in the various sheds, car-port and the wood store. It drains away fast enough as soon as it stops raining but it's a nuisance while it is so wet.

We have re-started archery after our February 'recess'. No, not some political 'holiday', but the owners of our hall/venue ("The Hub" in Castlerea) take the whole complex back for 3 weeks while the town's Am-Drams stage an elaborate musical and make a pot of money. This year it is the famous show "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" and the players need 2 weeks to construct the set and rehearse on the proper stage and then a week to perform it.

Fly true you arrows
We got the venue back in time for our 19th Feb session. The session included dragging all the gear (big target butts, straw roundels etc) back out of the hidey hole we had put it in for the 'Scoundrels'. That may have contributed but, Boy! how I ached across the chest and shoulders that night. It is quite vigorous stuff, this archery and my bow is a '50-pound' draw.

I got one in the right place, anyway!
Centre-bull, 10 points!
With your right arm (in my case) extended out straight holding the bow, you then pull the string back to level with your mouth with a force of 50 lbs. We lash off 3 arrows at each of 12 targets per round and 2 rounds in the 2 hours. It's not breathlessly exhausting in any kind of 'aerobic' way but it warms up all those muscle blocks and tones you up really well - you know you've been there and over the weeks you build up some power. I shouldn't have been surprised that I went so 'rusty' on the three weeks off but I did and I was. Ah well, back to it now weekly to get all that tone back.

If you are impressed by the 50 lb draw thing, then don't be too in awe. Back in Medieval times everyone in the village would have been obliged to practise their archery every Sunday and the elite long-bow men who did such a good job at, e.g. Agincourt would have been pulling 120 lbs+ (historians think up towards 200 lbs) - those guys had a range (all be it not hugely accurate) getting up towards a mile and would have 2 more arrows in the air by the time the first hail of arrows was falling on the enemy ranks. Archaeologists have found skeletal remains on some of these battle sites where the chests and shoulders of the men seemed all deformed and non-symmetrical. Archers, of course, doing it every week of their lives since they were about 6 years old and developing a frame to cope with the massive forces. Makes our 50 lb pull and lashing arrows 60 feet down a Badminton hall seem quite puny!

A nice change yesterday in the supper menu as Liz took us back to her youth and the time spent in France, doing au-pair to a size-able family down by Toulouse. "I just fancied a bit of boiled fowl" she opined and re-created a trad French 'Pot-au-Feu' supper from one of our frozen Hubbard birds. This would have been standard family filling food belov├ęd of the thrifty housewife and I could see why. In brief it is a single-pot, chicken 'stew' where the whole carcass, intact, gets slow-cooked in stock and veg for several hours. It would have been some tough old rooster back in the day and all they could afford. You serve it, though, as a three course meal. First comes the 'soup' - the stock eaten as a soup with a chunk of crusty bread and cheese floated in it to mop up the delicious 'grease'. This would have used up the last of that day's bread, bread being bought fresh daily in those parts. Next you would get a plate full of the vegetables and finally the meat would be brought to the table so that you could (easily) pull off a thigh or what ever and a dollop of home-made mayonnaise. Three very satisfying courses from one pot and one chicken. Bon appetite!

My only other news concerns a social visit to our small holdering friends, Sue and Rob. My plan was just to meet up, catch up on the gossip, admire their new-born goat kids and maybe scrounge a cup of coffee and a slice of fruit cake. S+R had other ideas. Sue seems to have a decent sized incubator running right round the year so always has "too many" chickens and geese. At the moment, there are a gazillion roosters running about the place so she tried to ply me with one but Friends of the Blog will know that we have our own issues with roosters just now so I had to decline. Not to be denied, she then tempted me with some nice young poults who (if they are female) will make splendid replacements for our fox-losses. I came home with 6. She also gave me half a dozen unfertilized duck eggs in exchange for fertilized ones not yet laid by our birds (yes, for the incubator, of course!). Thanks so much for those, Sue and Rob and for the rest of the hospitality and farm-tour. You are salt of the earth.

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