The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

Archive for the ‘General’ Category

I Roll

Posted by Exile on August 9, 2018

Or, if you want that in Latin: Volvo

I always wanted one, and now I have one. It isn’t new, it is a tank of a car. Big, roomy and heavy. It sits well on the road. It isn’t sporty but it is solid. I don’t drive that much any more and when I do, I take my time. Not that I don’t drive to the limit, I no longer have to reach anywhere in a hurry. I won’t be overloading the 1,8 liter engine.

It isn’t so much that I was displeased with my old car but it was getting to the point where it was showing its age and costing me a lot to maintain it. The Volvo is of similar age but it was built to last forever.  The road tax will be cheaper too. I calculate that if I can keep it running for the next six years, it will have paid for itself on taxation alone. It also has a towing hook. I may be getting a trailer soon, so that I may be the source of others frustration as I slowly drag my rubbish to the local dump.
A station car has always been my preferred mode of transport. There is room for all the family and all the accoutrements of living the life I live. In winter I carry emergency provisions in the car, plus a blanket and the unavoidable shovel and tow chain. I need to be able to transport rubbish away from the house, garden refuse and other stuff. Hard to do in a compact city car. It will be a boon during the summer camping outings.

A 1.8 liter engine drinks fuel at an almost alarming rate. I don’t mind. I enjoy having the latent power under my backside. By not running it at full throttle one can offset the MPG and get a little more out of the expensive liquid energy source. I will be noting my fuel consumption over the next few weeks. Nice to know how far one can travel per liter. I did it for the motorbike, I can do it for the car too.

So, you may ask, what is this beast? Well, it’s a 1,8 Volvo V40 Jubilee Station Wagon from 2003. Silver livery and all the mod cons. Air conditioned, traction control, ABS, plus all the other doo-dads that Volvo could think of. This was top of the line when it was produced.

Here’s a picture of the model:volvo

OK, I don’t have the carriage rails over the roof but the rest is remarkably similar to the image on the right..

I need to get it washed. The long summer has brought water restrictions with it and right now the washing of vehicles is taboo. A minor setback. I have polished all the glasswork though, Mainly because the dust had settled all over the windscreen and I do like to see where I’m pointing the thing as I hurtle down the motorway.

I did allow my good lady to sit behind the wheel. She is not large by anyone’s standards and she had a problem seeing over the dashboard. This will probably not deter her. She had the same problem with her Mazda many years ago but she drove that one to death. I will attempt to limit her access to this one though.

She has a city car of her own. This one’s mine….

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Back Yard Archery

Posted by Exile on July 18, 2018

I’ve finally found an open area in my garden where I can loose off a few arrows a day. It took me some time to figure out how but using my shed as a backstop and with a little construction work, I can now hang a foam target plate up in both high and low positions and practice all I want.

I have 3 bows to choose from. One, drawing thirty pounds, I shoot for fun with my grandson. He has his own bow and arrows.

The second, a thirty five pound draw, is going to be my indoor 3D bow. 3D is simulated hunting. I have no desire to go out and slaughter the wildlife. This bow is easy for me to use. It feels easy to draw and is comfortable in my hand. This means that I can hold it at full draw for a slightly longer period and concentrate on my aim for that tiny bit longer. I can shoot with it all day long and not feel tired.

The third is a monster. 45 pounds draw and it shoots like a rifle. Hitting anything under thirty yards is a certainty and I use that for outdoor and indoor target shooting. After a days shooting with this, I can feel my shoulder muscles complaining. It is still my favourite bow.

I have no target faces to shoot at yet. Instead, I make cardboard roundels which measure three inches in diameter. I hang them on toothpicks and concentrate on pinning them to the foam. I think of it as shooting the apple. I’m getting pretty good at hitting it at a maximum distance of around sixty feet, which is the furthest point I can get away from the target as the garden isn’t longer! I use all my bows to practice with. So far, I can get all six arrows within a five inch circle in and around the ‘apple’ regardless of which bow I use.
I enjoy this practice. I can only compete with myself and it means I don’t have to wait for others to be done with theirs before I can retrieve my arrows. Which makes practice more intense and concentrated. Plus, I can vary the range as I wish and when I wish.
This doesn’t mean that I won’t be going to the club any more, it just allows me to practice every day if I so desire.


The arrows have to be the correct weight and strength for each bow. So I have different arrows for each. I shoot wooden shafts which are a little expensive but well worth the investment. I have them made in Estonia by Falco. 30 inches long and at the relevant weight to suit each bow. It’s a bit of a science getting them right but the company is always ready to give advice and they haven’t set me wrong yet.

Here’s my 3D specs:

3D arrow specs

And here’s my target arrows:

Target arrow specs.

There are subtle differences. The most obvious being the fletchings and points.

Later this year the indoor competitions will start. I competed in two 3D events last winter and did very well for a beginner. Had I been entered in the correct class in the first event, I would have won it hands down. This year, I intend to be ready. I have a better bow, the correct arrows and a whole lot more experience under my belt. 

I’m looking for medals now.

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The Great Outdoors

Posted by Exile on July 15, 2018

I’ve been camping with my grandson. We were gone for a week. No blood was spilled and no animals were hurt during this happy interlude.

IMG_0876I wasn’t sure how he’d take being away from his mother for so long, but he managed the whole 5 days and nights without a whimper and thoroughly enjoyed himself from start to finish. He kept the tent tidy, kept track of his clothing for most of the time and generally behaved himself. All very encouraging.
So. What did we get up to? Here goes:

Day 1 was easy. We got up early, had breakfast, packed the car and set off to the island of Moen. One and a half hours later we were on the camp site. We set up the tent and generally settled in. After that I turned him loose on the playground and sat myself down in the sunshine and relaxed. He came back when he was hungry and we fixed dinner. More play in the evening for him and we finally got to bed at about 10:30 pm. An owl kept us awake for most of the night… Bugger.

Day 2 started with breakfast and then he went off to play again. He’s 7 years old and there were many others of his age. Even if they were Belgian or Dutch.. kids have a common language.
Then ‘she’ arrived. With her grandmother and uncle. They camped right beside us. A pretty little thing of 6 tender years, my grandson struck up conversation with her immediately. Chip off the old block, I thought. An eye for the ladies. Her name was Lark, which she shares with his auntie.
Suddenly the lad came and asked if he could borrow my pocket knife. Where’s yours? I asked. He’d lent it to Lark. I knew then, that this was serious. His knife is his prized possession. They sat for ages on a log, whittling sticks in the sunshine and chatting about Lord knows what. Finally he led her off to the playground and I didn’t see much of him that day.
That night we had a cloudburst directly over us. Luckily, I’d covered the old tent with a tarpaulin and we remained dry. The first rain we’d seen in over six weeks.

IMG_0855Day 3 and we left for the cliffs. The white cliffs of Moen. Dover in mini-format. It’s a long way down by stairs and it feels even longer coming back up. I needed to stop at regular intervals. We were experiencing a heat wave that day and I was suffering. He didn’t seem to mind.
My legs locked up, my heart was beating like a steam hammer. I was bathed in sweat and wheezing like a punctured accordion, I had to stop at the half way point and sit down for ten minutes.
The lad was really encouraging. Come on Grandpa, we’re nearly at the top, he said. No we weren’t, but I had to put a brave face on it…

I was glad to get back to the tranquility of the camp and relax while he took off with his new found girl friend. He took his pocket money with him and bought her ice cream and a bracelet. I spent the afternoon talking with fellow campers and looking at all the different tents. I’m looking for a new one. Mine is 26 years old and it’s had its day.
I think I’ve found one. Now I have to find out where I can purchase one. More on that later.

That night I saw something I’ve never seen before. A huge toad came past the tent. It was actively hunting insects. When they do this, they raise themselves up, legs outstretched, and move like a dog. Head down and stalking, it finally spotted a beetle and and then shot out its tongue. It’s all over in less than a half second. I watched it do this three times before it crawled off into the darkness.
The lad thought it was great.

Day 4 started with the neighbours packing up and leaving. The youngster was disappointed. She’d used his gear, eaten his sweets, spent his money and now she was leaving. A valuable life lesson. We decided to take a trip into the nearest town and do some shopping. We needed provisions and I needed cigarettes. The town was celebrating some kind of festival and was transformed into a huge market.

mikkel knifeWhile we were there the lad found a pocket knife. He’s always admired my locking folder, which I always have with me and now he’d seen one of the right  size. Excited, he dragged me off toward the shop and pointed it out. I bought it for him. So now he has two knives. A solid little Linder skinner in a sheath, which usually hangs round his neck on a leather thong, and now a Cudeman locking folder, complete with pouch, to hang on his belt just like Grandpas. One happy kid. I’ve spent two years teaching him how to use a knife properly and teaching him to respect what a knife really is.
A universal tool. Not a toy, not a weapon. Something to be used with caution and purpose and not to be taken lightly. He understands this. It is for use in the woods or on camp sites, doesn’t go with him to school and he can carry it when he’s with me. 
I know I can trust him to carry it and stick to those rules.

He practised opening and closing it for the rest of the day. We even had to oil it. Finally, he got it right. He then sat down to some serious whittling and made himself a walking stick. He did a good job of it too.

Our final day went with walking in the woods, a dip in the pool and minigolf. We packed our gear in the evening, ready for the trip home and got an early night.

We slept like logs on our cot beds…

IMG_0872

As for that new tent; I’ve found one and ordered it.

An Outwell Bear Lake 6. Google it.

It’s a tunnel tent.

It’s huge.

Can’t wait to try it out.

 

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Great White Hunter

Posted by Exile on June 23, 2018

Three long days to catch a very clever little mouse.

I knew he was in the house. I’d seen him, late one night, where he came sauntering through the living room. I wasn’t quick enough to corner or catch him.
The door to the terrace stays open during the summer allowing the dogs to come and go as they please. I suppose that works for mice as well. I figured the mouse would leave of his own accord.

But no.

The little sod moved into our kitchen. In fact, he was under the kitchen cabinets which are built in and not easily removed. He was more than happy to eat the potatoes from their container in the cupboard under the sink and he picked holes in the bottom of the rubish bag hanging on its rack. All in all, he was enjoying himself at my expense and I had to put an end to this state of affairs.

Killing him was out of the question. My dear lady wouldn’t let me, even if I had wanted to. I had to catch him alive and then release him back into the great outdoors. Easier said than done.

I bought a trap. A very humane thing built in the form of a tunnel which closes behind the mouse as he goes for the bait at the closed end. I baited it with chocolate. Strangely, mice do not prefer cheese.  Apple would also have done it. Or other fruit or peanuts.
It really made no difference though. The mouse figured out how to get in and out of the trap even though I heard it trigger two or three times. No bait left. No mouse caught.
This was getting me nowhere.


I have a suspicion that this was a great source of amusement to the long haired and lovely one. I think she was secretly cheering for the mouse.

I made my first attempt at making a bottle trap. I thought that if I could get him to climb into a bottle that was sufficiently upright that he couldn’t climb out again, I’d have him.

No. Once again, the bait was always gone and so was the mouse. I felt cheated. This was getting to be embarassing. I could hear my wife sniggering at me.
Not to mention the mouse… I’m sure he was thoroughly enjoying himself.
My respect for this hardy little adversary was growing with every failed attempt at catching him.  Clever little bugger, I thought. But I am nothing if not determined.

Something had to be done. So I went off to see if I could find an effective and foolproof  humane trap using the internet as my source of information. I found one. Home made and easy to put together.

Here’s a picture of the contraption:


The principle is simple. The bottle is barely balanced on a wire fulcrum passing through the bottle with the bottom of the bottle being the heavy end. Leave some space under the bottle to allow it to tip. Bait goes into the bottle. The mouse gets in through the usual hole and his own weight tips the bottle down. The block in front of the bottle neck now acts as a solid barrier holding him in. All built with some bent wire, a soda pop bottle, a piece of scrap lumber and a few screws.
OK, the bottle will see-saw as he moves about inside it but every time he gets close to the bottle neck it will tip down and keep him in.
Easily made and at very little expense, this thing actually works. I caught my mouse within an hour of setting it up.

Call me “Trapper”….!

I proudly showed my prize to the dear one. She instructed me not to hurt the mouse and to release it “somewhere safe”.

I did. Albeit in the middle of the night. Far from home.

I’m keeping the trap though…

Update: 26/06/2018.

It’s a good thing that I kept the trap. Either the mouse came back or there were two of them. Potatoes kept being eaten and the rubbish bag was punctured again. Once again, I set my trap and caught a mouse. Not taking any chances this time, I drove about three miles from home and released the critter.
I left the trap overnight with no further capture, so I believe we’re mouse free. The missus thought it was all highly amusing: “The mouse came home to Daddy:” she says.
“Little bugger.” I said.

If it turns up again, I’m taking it to Sweden and releasing it there…

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Giving it some Stick

Posted by Exile on June 4, 2018

I do get out into the woods every now and then. They aren’t far away and my grandson and I go out there to look for animals and birds and get away from iPads. He is more agile than I and occasionally I need to rest for a minute or two while he runs about in the undergrowth. I decided I need a walking stick capable of holding me up. I would fashion this myself.

I had a pole. A good thick piece of rounded pine, as long as I am tall. Too long, I know, but it would make a good stick. What about a handle? I thought a piece of antler would be good, but where do I find antler? The chances of finding one in ‘our’ woods is about zero.
Luckily my son-in-law has a hunter for a father and he had a chunk. I knew the young man would make me happy sooner or later…

The best way to fix antler to a pole is to reduce the top inch and half of the pole to a dowel about three quarters of the diameter of the pole. Then drill out the antler to the appropriate size and set the whole thing fast with epoxy glue. Once the epoxy has hardened off one can chamfer the antler with a file so the joint becomes more fluid and flowing. This, I did.

IMG_0794And here’s the result. One chunk of antler fitted very securely to the top of the pole.
Obviously the stick, now assembled, is far from finished.
The cut faces of the antler must be capped by something because the centre of any antler is very porous and will disintegrate. I puzzled over this for quite some time. In the end I decided to use some Corsican briar that I had lying around in my pipe tackle drawer. Every man should have such a thing. I cut some small cubes of the material and bored some holes in the open faces of the antler to help the epoxy get a grip.

 

IMG_0800

Once they were glued into place the sanding down and finishing process can begin. I discovered that my Dremel tool was my best friend in this. The grinding attachment made short work of forming the wood into buttons.

Happy with the shape and fit that I had achieved I turned to the buffing wheel to polish the buttons up. That worked. First with a wax mixed with pumice and then a buffer with ordinary polishing wax. Antler polishes up with (believe it or not) Brasso on a rag. It comes up to a mirror shine.

Happy with the handle, I cut the stick down to a length which corresponds with the height of my elbow. It is very comfortable to walk with and tall enough to allow me to either tuck it under my armpit and lean on it or simply to cross my arms over it and do the same.
So there it is. A stick for life. Heavy enough to be used as a defensive weapon if necessary and light enough to walk with. I’m really quite pleased with the result.

IMG_0803

 

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On the Road Again

Posted by Exile on May 25, 2018

Thumper is repaired!

He’s been out of action for about nine months. My fault really because I am a bit of a duffer as far as electrics go. Thumper simply died on me and realising it was electrical, I had to involve myself in wire chasing and connections and possible short circuits. The wires and the connections are not that much of a problem, but a short circuit could be anywhere and generally where you least expect it. I dallied. Reluctant to get started on such a mission. I dallied for about nine months. Like being pregnant…
Two days ago, I got going on the problem.

The battery was showing 12 volts on my multimeter. So that should be OK. I had no power to the headstock though.. so one might think the main fuse was broken. So I changed that. No result.
I chased all my wiring up to the headstock No breaks, no shorts, no loose connections.
I looked for things that lie after that point. Into the headlamp, where all the main wiring is routed through a veritable birds nest of tangled wiring. No result.
And so it went on. Hopeless.

Finally, hairless and confused, I consulted a forum on the internet. Praise for my efforts but little help. Then a smart old fellah who knows Royal Enfields inside out suggested that it might be the battery after all. I was very sceptical of all of this because, as I said, the battery was showing me 12 volts.
I connected a battery charger to the system and tried the ignition. Suddenly, there was power all through the system. Lights, horn, indicators, everything seemed to work.

Scratching my head now, I could not understand this but I decided a new battery may well be the answer to all of this. I still don’t know why.

I bought a new battery. I hooked it all up yesterday. I let it charge for an hour to be sure the thing was fully charged. They seldom are ‘as bought’. Then I removed the charger and tentatively put the ignition key in.
The starting routine for a Royal Enfield Bullet 500 is as follows:
Ignition on, fuel on, set the engine to run on the cut-out switch and open the start helper on the carburettor. Decompress the engine with the valve lifter and kick the machine over two or three times. This gets fuel into the cylinder. Close the decompressor making sure the piston is just past top dead centre and then give it a kick over with the kick starter. I follow this ritual slavishly. It usually works.

And, JOY OF JOYS, he started right up. One kick!

I ran around my shed with my arms in the air, whooping with glee while Thumper barked his thunder within the confines of the iShed. My good lady heard the noise and stuck her head out of the back door to join me in my celebration dance. Well, not really, she just laughed at me… So did the dogs. They had that “Dad’s gone mad” look on their little canine faces.

I took Thumper out in glorious sunshine for a quick run around the neighbourhood. All is well again. And seeing that the weather is particularly good right now, I’m off to the coast before long.

You know you’re a happy biker when you have dead flies on your teeth…

 

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Once, Twice, Three Times Unlucky

Posted by Exile on March 10, 2018

They say bad luck comes in threes. So let’s hope it’s all over now.

This month hasn’t been good to me. In fact, it’s been positively cruel. The misery started about ten days ago on the motorway. In absolutely appalling weather, I was driving home after visiting my aged mother-in-law and had a bad puncture. The tyre deflated almost instantaneously and I had to pull over into a snow filled hard shoulder. Oh well, I thought, on with the spare. Shouldn’t take long.
But no. Not that easy. My spare is held in a frame under the rear of the car. It was rusted solid. Despite my best efforts, it would not free itself. I rang the recovery chappie. Yes, they could help, but there’s a two hour wait at the moment. (Best estimate!) And so the long cold wait began. Evenually he turned up and with a bit of help from a jack and a crowbar, we got the spare out. Minutes later I was on my way home but was late getting back. And cold.

Speaking of cold. The weather turned Siberian two weeks ago. It is still cold. Our house is kept warm by a wood burning stove. It has served us well for about 18 years. Now it decided to fall apart internally and the plate in the top of the stove simply broke and collapsed. A replacement was absolutely necessary. That isn’t difficult. They are readily available here and one was quickly found and bought. Getting them delivered in the winter weather isn’t quite that simple, apparently, and the whole project was delayed by three days. At least the driver helped me get it up the steps and into the house.
Pulling the old one out wasn’t that easy either. It weighed 80 Kg. That’s nearly as heavy as me. A lot of grunting and sweating went into that little job. I unpacked the new one, which weighs only slightly more than the old one and the grunting and sweating continued for quite some time.
The stove pipe had to be shortened too. The new stove being 8 cm taller than the old one. Off to the shed then and get busy with the hacksaw. That’s a half hour I will never get back. My arm still aches. But I succeeded and managed to install the whole thing in the run of an afternoon. It was a pleasure to fire the thing up and warm my aching body. The dogs seemed to appreciate the source of comfort too and promptly settled in directly in front of the thing.

Finally (I hope) I had a bit of an accident this morning. I should have been at an archery tournament. I was up in good time, had breakfast, made tea, sent the dogs out for a morning pee and was dressed and ready to go by 9:00 am.
I got in the car and drove off, confident that I would arrive in good time for the practice round before the serious archery got under way.
But no. Again. After 100 meters of motoring there was an almighty bang under the car and the steering went haywire. The coiled spring on the drivers side had shattered, pushing on the wheel and turning me to the left. The spring had a good solid contact with the tyre. Luckily, it wasn’t on the motorway. There was no way to drive the car further.
I have tools at home but no electrical supply in the car. I went to the nearest house and asked if I could ‘borrow’ some electricity to power an angle grinder. Yep, no problem. So, walk home, grab the grinder and a huge extension lead and walk back to the injured car. I had to remove the wheel and cut the spring. That didn’t take long and within minutes I had the wheel back on and limped the car home on the shock absorber. I can’t help but wonder what the repair will cost. But that will have to wait until monday. Right now I’m sitting in my warm house and I’m determined not to leave it unless absolutely necessary.

We’ll see how that goes….

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Hunting for Trolls..

Posted by Exile on November 20, 2017

This is not an internet exercise.

It was my first archery event. The Troll Hunt.

About 50 of us were entered and the competition was held indoors on a variable range. The targets were a mixture of animal figures and “trolls”. The trolls have to be either hit or avoided according to the rules and restrictions that are placed on the range. Distances to targets vary considerably from around ten to thirty five meters. There are ten targets per round and one shoots three rounds. Two arrows per target. Sixty six arrows in total including six for bonus targets. Targets are repositioned after each round. One target did not move. At the extreme end of the hall at maximum range, a bear figure and a troll bearing three post-it stickers. The idea was to put two arrows into the bear and then hit a yellow post-it on the troll. A post-it sticker measures about six by six centimeters. At thirty odd metres there is not much to aim at. I did hit one… for a bonus of 25 points.
Lucky punch? I don’t know. I took aim and hoped for the best.
Scoring is easy. There is a “kill zone” marked on the animal figures. Hit the heart area, 10 points. There is a very small inner ring in this area. Hit that and you get 11 points. Outside the heart area is the lung area. Hit that for 8 points. Hitting the animal outside that brings 5 points. Hitting a troll gives either plus or minus as designated by the range officer.
Obstacles included christmas trees, hanging camouflage nets and animal figures and other devices that simply get in the way of a clean shot at a designated target. Hitting an obstacle is akin to a miss. I hit one of them and it broke one of my arrows. Double punishment.

One is thrown in with a mixed group of combatants. Different ages, class of contestant, nationalities and, obviously, both sexes. I was entered in the mens senior longbow class. This was a mistake. I should have been in the mens longbow master bracket because of my advancing years. Had I been in that class, I would have come home with a first place.
There are also classes for bare bow and compound bows.

Note: Bare bows are anything but bare as they have all sorts of sighting arrangements, balancing bars and other crap attached to the bow. Compound bows are a work of engineering akin to a crane with a spring and telescopic sights. Hard to miss with such a contraption.

Despite the fact that one is in competition with everybody else, there was no lack of support or encourgement from others in my group. A very gentlemanly affair. Sympathy for the inevitable miss, congratulations on a well placed arrow.

For the sake of brevity I will cut to the chase concerning my final placement in all of this. I scored a very respectable 430 points on the day. I recieved no prizes but I was definitely in the good end of the rankings. Not as good as some, but better than most. At the time of writing, the full results have not yet been published but of the five contestants from our club I came bang in the middle with a third place behind two of the club stars. I am well pleased with myself.

I will mention my friend, Ove. Of all the people in the competition, he was the only man to turn up with a home made longbow and shot his own home made arrows. I tip my hat to the man. He gave a good account of himself.

I will be doing this again next year. In the correct class, with a more powerful,  better built bow and a further year in which to practice, I’ll be hunting medals…

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You Are What You Eat

Posted by Exile on October 17, 2017

I do so hope that isn’t true.

Generally, I enjoy my wife’s cooking. She is good at it. Better than me. Occasionally though, she decides to test my palate with some strange or exotic concoction drawn from the pages of unknown gastronomy and the book of kitchen fantasy. I don’t know why I have to be subjected to this but I do know when these seldom occasions are iminent because experience has taught me to recognise the signs of the oncoming assault on my digestion.
I get two or three days of really good old-fashioned man food with all the trimmings. No expense spared, no lack of effort, all lovingly prepared and presented. Steaks, chops, mashed spuds, brown gravy. You know. All the good stuff.

And then it happens.

Today was the day. Something ‘different’ arrived on the dinner table. I call this the strange food. Something conjured up in a moments madness. Probably because she read something in a magazine or had one of those conversations with her mates about food or found some wierd new sauce in the local supermarket.
I have no idea what I have eaten today.
It was wrapped in an egg based pancake decorated with what appeared to be grass cuttings. There was some sort of marinade on the meat. Which could have been ferret or weasel for all I know. There was some potato and I think I saw bits of onion in there too. The whole thing was covered in grated cheese. There was salad. I avoided that.

I know better than to complain. To do that would be ungrateful. But, for the love of god, when she can turn out the greatest meals a man ever had the good fortune to eat, why should this be necessary?

Some questions, it appears, are not to be asked. Hopefully, we’ll be back to normal service tomorrow.

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Robin Who?

Posted by Exile on September 2, 2017

Inspiration can hit you when you least expect it. It did earlier on this year while camping with my grandson. He was thoroughly bored on the campsite as we were there in the early part of the season and there simply weren’t that many kids of his age to play with. Taking a walk in the woods with him. I found a hazel tree and thought it might be an idea to cut a stick and make a crude longbow and arrows for him to play with as I did as a child in rural South West England. It was a great success. It got me thinking. This could be a new hobby.

I haven’t used a bow since I was about twelve or thirteen. That’s a half century ago. Not sure how to start, I contacted a local archery club and went to try it out. Not as easy as I remembered it was, I had a bit of a hard time hitting a target but decided to give it a try. Some equipment is necessary. A bow, arrows, a quiver to hold said arrows, a wrist protector and a leather finger guard to prevent ones finger tips from being torn off by the bow string. I found all these things locally, close to the club, and so it was, that I enrolled in the club as a beginner.

Not being the fit young man I once was, I elected to buy a longbow with a 30 pound draw. That’s about one fifth of an English warbow, but back in the days of longbow fame, i.e. the medieval era, men trained with the longbow from the age of seven years. They developed all the muscles necessary to use such a weapon. It even changed their skeletons. I don’t have those advantages. For now, my bow is powerful enough but I will need a more powerful bow at some later date as my muscles develop and my technique improves. The principles involved are, however, the same. Draw, aim, release.

With regard to improvement; this is a game one cannot win. Like golf. One can only improve. There is no ‘winning’ involved, unless one competes at tournament level against fellow archers. One strives to beat ones own high score at ever increasing distances from the target.
An old soldier, I am used to firing a rifle, wrapping my shoulders around it and holding it firmly into my right shoulder and leaning slightly forward to fire it accurately. The longbow is a different weapon. One stands erect, bow thrust forward and the right arm drawn back pulling on a string. Back straight and feet planted about a eighteen inches apart in the direction of fire. Weight evenly distributed. My ‘stance’ needed work from day one. It still isn’t perfect, but it is improving and with every arrow I send off I am becoming more adept and accurate.

I realise, at this stage, that I would not have been of much use at Crecy or Agincourt, but I find great inspiriation in history. Every time I hit the bullseye I count another dead Frenchie.

God for Harry, England and St. George….

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