Abigail says: One of the benefits of being married to Shotgun is an abundant supply of clay pigeon shooting tuition from my father-in-law Michael Alldis, who owns Essex Shooting School. I have to confess, I nearly dropped the gun when Michael informed me “Now, shooting is a lot like sex – you need to mount slowly and finish fast” on my first lesson. However, you can’t be an Alldis without being able to shoot (I believe it was in the marriage contract) and collected myself enough to discover that I’m rather good with a shotgun, and my grouping with a rifle is pretty darn spot on too.
I’m shooting clays with a beautiful 20bore side by side boxlock non ejector with 30 inch Damascus barrels from W Jeffery & Son of Plymouth and am finding myself quite emotionally attached to the old girl already. She was one of my wedding presents from Shotgun, which he demonstrated to me the day after our wedding while grouse shooting on the Coulter Allers estate in Scotland – made more poignant by the fact that William’s mother and father, by happy coincidence, also spent the weekend of their wedding back in 1976 grouse shooting – it seems to be coming something of a family tradition. We took my six-month old Cavalier King Charles Jasper with us and, was very pleased that, despite the amusement of the other walking guns at his presence, he stayed keen for the morning’s two drives of vertical hills, cleverly using the springy heather as a trampoline, bouncing from one patch to the next.
Taking up the country life has also, naturally, meant a whole new wardrobe and my Christmas presents this year consisted mainly of tweed, fur and stag print, which thrilled me no end. I also got off rather lightly in the cooking department on Christmas Day as the other half took care of the obligatory goose and all the trimmings, and I managed to slip into a port-induced coma in front of the fire just long enough for the washing up to be miraculously finished by the time I came to.
Drawing up my New Year’s Resolutions this evening, I’ve vowed to do more of what Shotgun refers to as my ‘homework’, but is actually reading the subscription editions of The Field he’s bought for me, cover to cover (I never remember homework being THIS enjoyable), learning how to identify the marshland birds properly, and spending less time in the office, and more time tramping the fields. All massively doable and certainly more fun than abstaining from drink, renouncing butter and slogging in a soul-less gym.