I’m growing up, and funnily enough I’m doing it for the first time. Despite a childhood in suburban Greater London, and once considering myself a city – or at least a town – girl, not too long ago I caught a glimpse into a different lifestyle, with ups and downs of its own and rather more mud than the one I’d known before, and I decided I wanted to know more.
A little more detail…
Born and bred in Twickenham, I had minimal contact with the Country World growing up. However, my parents and grandparents are all keen cooks; every meal began with an onion and home-made cakes, bread and jam were familiar friends. As a child I grew peas and tomatoes in a terracotta plant pot, and tried to grow sweetcorn in a corner of the rockery (the yield was three slightly limp cobs, and I remain proud of that achievement to this day). We had quince, rhubarb and two apple trees all growing in the back garden, so the making of crumbles, chutneys, apple cakes and juice was order of the day come Autumn. My mother now sells rhubarb, crab apples and quince marmalades and chutneys under the label Twickenham Preserves (to continue the hobby now she has two fewer hungry mouths in the house) and biased as I may be they are very tasty, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re wandering around Twickenham. Whether through Mum and Dad or school visits to city-based farms, I’ve always had an understanding that the cute lambs and chicks we drew pictures of at Easter became the yummy lamb and roast chicken on my plate at dinner. It was, by all accounts, an unusual city upbringing, though while I’ve never not owned a pair of wellies, apparently my current ones are still sufficiently shiny to make me stand out amongst the country folk as City Girl.
Leaving London for almost the first time, I spent three years living in amongst the ducks (and other students) at the University of York. I joined the clay pigeon shooting society, and at the start of my third year we secured sponsorship with Park Lodge Shooting School, and were able to increase the frequency of shoots as well as the volume of clays shot. Park Lodge arranged for a local freelance instructor to come and offer us a free session. Andrew Watson has many years of experience under his belt and is a full-member of the APSI, but more importantly to us has experience coaching women, and knew how to adjust the guns to fit the range of shapes and sizes within the women’s team. He generously volunteered to coach us every week without charging a penny. Shortly after meeting him (when he showed me exactly how to hold a gun) I scraped 18/100 in a competition, without a clue as to how I broke the ones I did or why I missed the rest. Just a couple of months later, fitting in coaching sessions with him when I could in and around my finals, I won Top Female at Roses 2011 with 49/100 and I would have happily shot another hundred straight after. This was, I firmly believe, entirely down to him! Park Lodge are just now completing a very impressive build of a new clubhouse, and while I’ve not yet seen the finished article, reports from my customers tell of an impressive sight to behold. If you’re interested in finding out more about Park Lodge, please visit their website. If you’re interested in lesson with Andrew Watson, please let me know and I can provide you contact details. Alternatively you can contact him via Park Lodge. With no small thanks to Andrew, everyone at Park Lodge, my friends, seminar leaders and lecturers, I left university last year with first class degree and a passion for shooting. I couldn’t have done it without them.
Upon leaving university, I started work with William Powell, a family-owned company that has been making beautiful shotguns since 1802. While I no longer work there, it was in the William Powell era of my life that this blog began, and if you have the patience to read back to the beginning, it will be there that the story begins.
If you’d like to learn more about me, you can follow me on Twitter @TheFirstFrost.