Shooting, Swearing and Wild Wees…

Well that’s it, we’re into October and after worrying what the effects of Covid would be, thank god there’s actually something of the shooting season to enjoy! Yay!

After a summer consisting of at least 100 hours of training for Trigger and I, we were ready and raring with apparently nowhere to go. Then, thankfully, I got an invitation last week to pick up on a walked up day of shooting. We were on!

I put the call into work, “can I have the day off to do a bit of life admin (which, to be fair I had lots to do in the afternoon) and oh, you know, justgoandpickupsomedeadbirdswithtrigger”…if I say it quickly they don’t tend to hear it properly or question my “crazy idea” of a fun day off.

I got the green light, so it was all systems go and I crammed in a bit of last minute/emergency/“don’t make a bloody tit out of yourself now Amy” training after a couple of quiet weeks since I’d been back working in London.

Having sharpened up again, the day came and off little Triggs and I went full of joy and excitement. Obviously I spent the whole car journey telling myself “don’t f**k it up, don’t f**k it up!” We’d not done a walked up day before and as steady as my boy is, this type of shoot is a very intense day with lots going on.

So, we get started and I send Trigger after a very easy retrieve in a straight line to pick up a duck on the edge of a pen. “Boom, we’ve got this” I think to myself, so I give Trigger the command, confident as you like…we already know this isn’t going to work out well.

For some reason that I still just cannot fathom, I watched my dog in almost slow motion, out of nowhere, dart sharply off to the left, plough through a patch of nettles, charge down a bank and fling himself with utter abandon into the river below for ABSOLUTELY NO F**KING REASON WHATSOEVER!! Mortified. 🤦🏼‍♀️

For the townies reading this who don’t quite understand, this is the equivalent of Messi missing an open goal, Nadal smashing the ball over the roof of centre court on a match point, Usain Bolt actively running in the wrong direction…it’s THAT much of a ridiculous overreaction to a sporting formality. Of course I cringed, of course I swore *very* loudly, but sadly the ground did not open up and swallow me.

Once we’d had a quiet word with ourselves, an “internal monologue” (as my colleague says) if you will, we got our sh*t together and the day was going smoothly. That is until some sharp shooting tit of a gun decides to take down a partridge behind us in the next field over and I don’t have a scoobydo where this thing landed.

I stand there, close my eyes momentarily *please don’t be me, please don’t be me*…and I hear the call, “madam, that’s yours”…BALLS. It took all my might not to flip this guy the bird as I walk past all smiles, “good shot sir! Any idea where it landed?”

Of course it was the other side of a maize crop taller than me and 60 metres into a ploughed sodding field. Where else would it be?

So off we traipse, wrestling my way through the bloody maize jungle and into a rusty barbed wire fence that’s too rickety for me to climb over. So I send my boy, and (after a false start where he retrieved a partridge that looked like it had shuffled off this mortal coil a good few weeks ago) he’s off like a bullet and bringing the bird back without any assistance from me. Why are there never any witnesses when it goes well?!

So I thought to myself, “well, whilst I’m here and no-one can see me I’ll have a little wild wee” – my second ever, and something I’ve finally learnt to do in my mid-thirties thanks to my recent time in Devon.

Side note: my mother is utterly appalled by this apparently degrading act of nature. I, on the other hand, am somewhat proud of my newfound bumpkin ability to conduct my ablutions in the open air. It’s really rather liberating!

Anyway, what then ensues is the longest seven and a half minutes of my life as I manage to get not only my jacket but also the back of my trousers entangled in the barbed wire fence as the rest of the shoot disappear off into the distance.

“Right ok, don’t panic, this is easily rectified” I tell myself as I then get my hair, swiftly followed by my left sleeve equally stuck whilst trying to release my jacket, so now I’m trussed up like some ridiculous Christmas Turkey with, quite literally, nowhere to go.

There’s only one thing for it…I’m going to have to just unfree myself from the jacket, wriggle out and it will all be fine. Tell me something, have you ever tried unzipping a jacket one handed whilst a barbed wire fence is mere millimetres from piercing your bare backside? No? Didn’t think so, and I don’t expect there are many others who have equally found themselves in the same precarious position, but here we are.

Luckily I managed to channel my inner Houdini but all I could think to myself was “they’re going to think it took me f’ing forever to find this bloody bird,” that I’m now unceremoniously stuffing in my pocket, “it better be bloody worth it”, as Trigger proudly trots alongside me and we make a mad dash to rejoin the line, hoping no-one had noticed how long I’d been.

Apart from one remark that I looked like I’d been dragged through a hedge backwards (if only they knew!!) thankfully no one muttered a word and Trigger was praised for his wonderful work. I, on the other hand, spent the rest of the day looking like the wild woman of Borneo whilst trying to surreptitiously check the seams of my trousers for any holes that had gone unnoticed during my endeavours.

But never mind, we move on and we live to fight another day, or another inanimate object it appears, either one.

Until next time…!

@CitygirlCountrylife_

Ginger Makes Everything Better

How? How could I have gotten almost two years into this blog and not written a post dedicated to the most important man in my life?! I know, I’m disgusted with myself too.

For those of you unfamiliar with him, he has the most heart melting (different coloured) brown eyes, beautiful auburn hair, soft ears, a wet nose and four legs…and goes by the name of Trigger. Or Ginge. Or Doofus.

So let me tell you how he came to enter my life a little over four years ago. I started my love affair with fox red Labradors when I was at Burghley Horse Trials in the September of 2015 and bumped into a lady called Ali with a gorgeous bitch called Finch. We started talking and before she could leave I already had my name down for one of her pups that Finch was hopefully having the following year.

Fast forward to the 2nd April 2016 and along came my 30th birthday present…one of seven adorable fox red slugs, I mean puppies 🧡

I was extremely fortunate to have pick of the litter and eventually, after much deliberation, chose Trigger. I tell a lie, he actually picked me – as every good doggo does. I couldn’t decide between him and one of his brothers, but when I held him in front of my face, this little ginger bundle licked my nose and I was sold. BFF’s forever.

I know everyone likes to tell you how amazing their dog is, but my god was that puppy an arsehole. A cute one, but an arsehole nonetheless.

He chewed EVERYTHING. I was constantly getting pictures from his dog walker of the devastation the little sh*t had wreaked in the small matter of hours he’d been left to his own devices. I can’t tell you the amount of dog beds/blankets/toys/bowls he got through in the first year of his life. But look at him!!

A year in and he was almost 30kg of overly-familiar canine who loved to greet everybody somewhat enthusiastically, whether they liked it or not. Having aced puppy classes I figured it was about time we took it up a notch and went to gun dog training to try and gain some sort of control over the unruly sod.

Needless to say, all the instinct was there for Trigger to become a cracking gun dog and I was the one that required most of the training. Twelve months down the line, we had progressed from a lazy, good for nothing Labrador with an absolutely useless handler, to a decent enough team to start working on a shoot.

This is where I might loose one or two of the townies amongst you so I’ll gloss over the whole pheasant shooting thing to avoid another “who are you picking up?” debacle. But what you can all relate to is just how much a single ginger doggo can change your life for the better.

This soppy, adorable, love sponge of a Labrador entered my world at a time when I was trying to settle into a new life in the countryside and, in retrospect, felt incredibly lonely. He’s since wiped away my tears – sometimes willingly, other times unknowingly – on countless occasions and I honestly don’t think I would have had the strength to get up and carry on going on certain tough days if it weren’t for him.

But the tears of sadness have also been counterbalanced by tears of sheer laughter at my beautiful boy. From carrying around his favourite pair of socks (including insistently joining me for a pee with them), to flinging himself with utter abandon into any form of water source or trying to stuff as many cuddly toys into his gob as possible when he greets me – even if I only stepped outside to put the bin out.

I certainly never thought my soulmate would come in the form of a canine, but boy, do I thank god every day that he did 🧡

Until next time, follow me on Instagram at @Citygirlcountrylife_

It’s All Gone A Little Too Far Now

So we’re 2 weeks into lockdown and to be quite frank, this sh*t isn’t funny anymore…Mum is baking a lemon drizzle cake every fourth hour, dad is swearing at the constant drivel on the telly and there isn’t nearly enough alcohol for me to get through living with my parents again!

I jest, in reality I am actually SO relieved and grateful that my amazing parents invited me to hot-foot it down to Devon to live with them during the apocalypse. Not least because living in a flat without a garden would have been less than ideal for a certain ginger labrador who would have ended up eating the walls by week three.

I’m still doing my day job, working in my parents office/small spare room whilst the Irish genes are coming into full effect in my mother and she checks whether I need a drink or something to eat roughly every 23 minutes in between baking cakes. If I come out of this only 2 stone heavier, I’ll be doing f**king well.

Now, I know I should be grateful, and I am happy to have job security and all that. But I’m not sure I’ve entirely got the best deal here when a lot of my colleagues are on furlough being paid to sit on their arses, whilst I’m working away like a woman possessed in order to get sh*t done. I know I’d moan of boredom before a week was through, but I’d at least like the chance to try and prove myself wrong!

Anyway, on my days off I’m volunteering at the farm next door to my parents’ house. Ever the realist, I am more than happy to admit that, yes, they really must be scraping the barrel for ‘skilled workers’ if they are reduced to accepting help from a townie who lived on a farm for a bit, whilst their usual staff are self isolating. Either way, I’m having an absolute blast!

For any of you that have read about Dotty pig, this is where she lives now and I am DELIGHTED to be seeing her so frequently again. Plus…and you won’t believe this…I actually went into a field full – and I mean FULL – of at least 100 chickens.

So proud, I managed to resist every urge to drop kick the things and run in the other direction but, good news, I didn’t sh*t myself (that could have been awkward) or scream once! Video evidence below, because I know you won’t believe me.

Other jobs have included: rescuing a goose from my stupid dog who thought it needed picking up, prizing my fingers from a micro-pig’s jaws, weeding an enclosure for a raccoon (WTF?!), convincing a Shetland pony who I have renamed Bastard (actually called Custard, but I misheard this) that he can walk through a wide open gate, and fitting a harness to a slinky rat, otherwise known as a ferret – you can take the girl out of the town…

Mika, my beautiful quarantine buddy

Speaking of the stupid mutt, he is proving to be equally as much of a townie as his mother and can’t possibly run in front of the Gator like a real dog, he has to ride in it and embarrass me in front of the farm people and their proper dogs…*facepalm*

Luckily, the farm people (aka Tim and Tina) seem to tolerate us well enough, even when I do look for the date stamp on a fresh egg 🙈 (see reference regarding extracting townie from girl above). They didn’t even mind when Trigger took a running jump into the duck pond or tried to hump their poor 4 year old son, Jake (who we managed to convince that Trigger just wanted a piggyback from).

Speaking of their adorable children, Annabelle drew me a portrait today complete with my green wellies, black gloves, red jacket and brown hair with a blonde ponytail…! Evidently others are starting to notice my appalling roots* and I feel that a trip to Tesco for a box of hair dye would most definitely now be considered essential…

The incriminating portrait…

*read as: half my head

Until next time, I hope you are all keeping well and safe x

I’ve Got A Confession…

So it’s been longer than I’d like (as per usual) since I last wrote a blog post but in my defence, I’ve been wrestling with a moral dilemma about whether or not I should share something with you.

I’d feel like I was living a lie if I didn’t confess it, but it’s so embarrassing that I’m afraid you’ll judge me if I did. But I’ve decided to be brave, so, here it goes…

My name is Amy and I’m afraid of chickens.

Utterly petrified in fact, to the point where I tried to climb up a fully grown adult (sorry Fiona) in the petting farm at London Zoo because they were loose and one “cock-a-doodle-do’d” at me. Full on nearly crapped my pants. *Classy*

It’s caused no end of troubles in my life, I’m even questioning my status as a “true country girl” as I speak.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat the buggers, that’s my revenge! But all the money in the world couldn’t convince me to keep live ones at home. My excuse is that the Labradors would likely try and constantly pick the damn things up and bring them to me, and that’s just animal cruelty. In truth, I find the concept completely horrifying!

“Where did this phobia come from?” I here you ask. Well, interesting story, let me share it with you. I was at a BBQ at a stables where a number of friends kept their horses and on the yard was this, frankly hideous, giant chicken (some rare breed apparently) called Kellogg. Put me off the cereal for life.

Anyway, this thing had the evilest beady eyes and scaly dinosaur legs that, quite honestly, totally freaked me out. I stupidly aired this concern amongst my piers and a certain someone who shall remain nameless (Tim Taylor) decided to PICK the damn thing up and SIT it on my shoulder when I had my head turned.

I s**t you not, I covered that yard in about four and a half strides at a pace that would have made Linford Christie (1990’s Usain Bolt to you millennials) proud, I tell you.

And thus, scarred for life! So you can imagine the joy I felt when I moved my horse up to Wiltshire and found only after we’d settled into the yard that they had a flock of chickens…f**king smashing!

The little bastards then naturally chose to roost in my stable, obviously. They can sense the fear I’m sure. But I did eventually get brave enough to pick them up with a shavings fork (mucking out tool for you townies) and tip them out the door.

At least the eggs tasted nice, I coined them “little butt nugget peace offerings.”

I’m not sure that I really feel like I’ve got a load off my chest, but at least I no longer feel like I’m deceiving you all into thinking I’ve fully embraced this country life lark and forgotten my true city roots.

Anyway, judge away…just try to be a little sympathetic!

Until next time!

Who’re You Picking Up?!

So it’s been a long enough time since my last blog that it’s now got a little bit awkward and I figured it was time enough I just bit the bullet and got back into it, but I just couldn’t think of what to write…

Then thanks to the joys of “bumpkin language” once again providing a suitable sized opportunity for misinterpretation, I found the inspiration once more.

Stuck waiting round the coffee machine in the office, I decided to break that typical awkward silence with one of my less familiar colleagues and we defaulted to the usual back up convo of weekend plans.

Forgetting I was talking to an utter townie who has little to no background knowledge of my lifestyle, when he asked “what are you up to then?” I simply said, “oh just the usual now it’s winter, picking up on Saturday and mucking out the pig on Sunday.”

Queue the bemused look illuminate his face as he tried to work out a diplomatic way of asking if I was either into casual swinging or openly cheating on my husband…”Erm, aren’t you married?” He asked.

“Yeah but we don’t always spend the whole weekend together and he’s working both days anyway”, I said, blissfully unaware of the even larger hole I was digging myself.

“Riiiight, ok. I mean it’s great that you have such an open relationship, but that’s not the conventional type of activity I’d expected from a farmers wife, I have to say.”

Now queue the bemused look slowly creep over my face. “What on earth are you going on about?!” The penny suddenly dropped…”ohhhh you thought I meant picking up men!! Good god no, I’m not a tramp!”

My colleague looked visibly relieved that I hadn’t just massively over-shared to break an awkward coffee silence with a guy I barely knew. But the bemusement quickly appeared again, “so, sorry, but what do you mean then?”

Suddenly I found myself having to break down the set up of a day’s pheasant shooting and then got into the equally awkward conversation about what I have to do with the birds that are still alive when Trigger brings them back to me after picking them up.

He looked so appalled at the thought of me bopping a half dead pheasant on the head that, quite frankly, I’d rather have continued the conversation about extra-marital coital activities! At least he’d have stopped staring at me as if I was a murderous lunatic that he needed to hide both sharp and blunt objects from immediately.

I admit, only 3 years ago I myself balked at the idea of “people shooting something in the face for fun”, but it’s been an engrained part of culture in the farming community for over a hundred years, forming and renewing friendships that have been neglected over a busy summer & harvest and traditionally supplying them with a source of food over the leaner months, and learning more about it has given me a better understanding.

I like to uphold this tradition of using the birds for consumption as my attempt to justify the sport to myself (still unsure how successful this ploy is) and will always make sure to take home any birds my husband shoots, offering them to friends and colleagues who wouldn’t necessarily otherwise have access to eating pheasant.

So basically, what I’m getting at is, unless you want to be fed game bird and possibly chow down on a piece of lead, I’d advise not coming round to mine for dinner from now until about April…but if you don’t mind giving yourself an expensive dentist bill then come on over, there’s plenty to go round!

Until next time…

Profile of a Murderer

  • Piercing black eyes
  • Short blonde hair
  • Ears slightly too big for their head
  • Always looks like they’re plotting their next move
  • Visibly pleased with their devastating actions
  • 60cm high
  • Wet black nose…

Mugshot

Yes, that’s right. There is a murderer in our midst. Rusty the one year old Labrador (who, coincidently isn’t rusty coloured at all, even though we thought we were buying a fox-red lab. But that’s another story altogether).

So far this cold blooded murderer has killed a hare, a mole (although eye witnesses can neither confirm nor deny the health status of the mole before she delivered it to them, we have our suspicions), countless flies & spiders and now worst of all…her brother Trigger’s favourite toy, Doggie.

Trigger is the chalk to Rusty’s cheese – couldn’t hurt a fly even if he wanted to as he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, let’s say. They aren’t coined Dick and Dork without reason, after all.

So when my darling ginger dork (who is very rusty coloured, by the way) was presented with Doggie as a birthday present in April, he was utterly delighted – paraded him around for all to see, laid resting his chin on his faithful friend during the day and slept with him at night. Just too cute for words.

So one quiet Wednesday evening I had a friend round for dinner and as we were chatting, I suddenly noticed it had gone extremely quiet and neither Labrador was hovering around my ankles in the kitchen as I prepared dinner. Like children, the ominous combination of silence and labradors is a foreboding prospect, especially when food is present.

Prompted by this suspicious circumstance, I started to wander into the sitting room, “what are you two up – OH.MY.GOD!!” Doggie was dead. Not just dead, ruthlessly decapitated and disembowelled with his innards strewn across the floor.

Trigger, lying there holding Doggie’s limp, lifeless body came running to me with a look of pleading to save his most favourite toy. Whimpering, begging me to help his bestest friend.

The suspect tried to flee from the scene but was swiftly apprehended by Giovanna and upon questioning, quickly confessed. Her lack of guilt was evident, a look of delight convinced me that only a psychopath could possibly have committed such a heinous crime.

Poor Trigger was inconsolable, I tried to prize the tattered, floppy Doggie from his mouth but he clung to him, desperately trying to protect his buddy from any further harm.

After a thorough post-mortem, it was evident that there was no bringing Doggie back from the dead. The murderer was temporarily imprisoned in her crate whilst I tried to comfort Trigger and break the news that Doggie was indeed deceased. RIP Doggie.

I must admit, his grieving process was rather quicker than I had anticipated. It only took a couple of days in fact before he seemed to have processed the traumatic experience and moved on. Aided, of course, by the fact that Grandma had scoured the shops of Seaton to find Doggie Mark II for her favourite boy and successfully found a replacement.

Not quite the same model, I admit, but Trigger clearly relates to Doggie Mark II’s Orange body and look, beauty is in the eye of the beholder anyway, right?

He certainly looks pleased at least and I can confirm that no lasting psychological damage has been identified – in him at least, not quite sure I can say the same for “Rusty the Shredder”…

Until next time!