Long(bow) Story Short! ๐Ÿ˜

Reading time: 2 minutes...

So, with Friday here again, it’s time for our weekly Archery Lessons courtesy of Kettering Archers. For me, tonight is extra special as I’ve traded-up to a proper English Longbow! – and it came with some expert coaching from one of KA’s experienced Bowmen, Dave.

Although it’s perfectly possible to use the Longbow for target shooting, the alternative is something called ‘Clouting‘ where the objective is to land the arrow as close to the flag (the ‘clout’) as possible by shooting upwards into the air. Safe to say, that on this occasion, the flag was pretty safe from my shooting accuracy ! Anyway, this week was about technique (well, that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it!)

Mine are just out of the picture (by about a quarter of a mile!)

Because the Longbow is more powerful than the reflex/practice bow I’ve been using up until now, the distance travelled is a lot greater – at least twice as far – so I get a weekly walk as part of the deal too! ๐Ÿ˜Š. Typically, the practice bow has been anything from a 14 pounder up to around 24, whereas the English Longbow that I’m using is around a 40 pounder – as a result, it’s tough just to draw it and the correct technique is a must! Distance-wise, my arrows are now travelling around 170 yards, but I’m told that I still need to work on that all-important technique and Dave helpfully filmed me in action, providing much constructive feedback afterwards.

Be afraid, be VERY afraid!

Consequently, I’m now a complete ‘saddo’ and criticising ANY film that features a bowman – Lord of the Rings, Robin Hood, Game of Thrones to name but a few! They make it look so easy!!! “Wrong posture!”, “Incorrect drawing of the bow!”, “How do you expect to hit anything, holding the bow like that?”. I’m so critical now I know what’s what! (ish)

I am, however, (still) great fun at parties!! ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด

More of the same next week – watch out flag, I’m coming for you!!! ๐Ÿ˜

Silverstone Classic 2019 – The Cars are the Stars

Reading time: < 1 minute...

We headed over to Chris and Gill’s today, and then to this year’s Silverstone Classic.

Obviously, it’s all about the cars and so I’ll minimise the word-count in this Post and let the pictures tell the story!

A Perfect Day…

The weather was spot-on today. After the mega-heatwave of the past few days, it was just perfect! – gently warm with an occasional breeze. Being the event’s first day too (and a weekday), meant it wasn’t too busy either. ๐Ÿ˜€

The Cars are the Stars

Plenty of “old ‘uns” in fabulous condition…

…and some cutting edge modern motors too…

…and some ‘classics’…

…and some really old vehicles…

…as well as some plain weird stuff… ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Nothing like the original, but I bet MOTs are fun!

…and the best of the modern Aston Martins…

…plus some icons from ‘back in the day’ ๐Ÿ˜

It wasn’t completely about about the Cars! (not quite!). We stopped for a breather where there was superb Band playing music from the 50s. It was a family affair – ‘The Colemans’ (Mum, Dad and their two sons). The lead singer (Dad) had a really strong voice… until we heard his wife’s – we reckon she could have brought down walls with hers! Fantastic!!!! ๐Ÿ˜ More information about them HERE.

“The Class of 58”

All-in-all then, a really good day. It helps if you like cars, but if you don’t, it was still a great day out. Eventually, we called it a day, and caught the free Bus back to where we’d parked the car. We dropped into Kia on the way back to get the digital maps updated and some loose trim fixed before putting our feet up before tonight’s Archery lessons!

Film: The Lion King

Reading time: < 1 minute...

We headed over to Cineworld at Rushden Lakes this evening to catch the latest cinematic incarnation of ‘The Lion King‘.

Featuring the voice-talents of Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver and Beyoncรฉ Knowles-Carter (as well as James Earl Jones reprising his role from the original film) the movie is directed by Jon Favreau.

But more about the movie itself a little later!

And what could be better than seeing a movie in a spanking new(ish) cinema? Well, seeing it in 3D… And what could be better than seeing a movie in 3D..?
…seeing it in 4DX of course (whatever that is!).
Everyone knows that 3D is a well-worn tactic for getting people to go to the Cinema, but what about this new fangled ‘4DX’?

What is ‘4DX’ anyway?
According to Cineworld: “With stimulating effects like water, wind, scent and strobe lighting, that thrill you in your moving seat. It’s fun on your own, but better with friends โ€“ 4DX is Cineworldโ€™s most exhilarating way to watch a film”.

This was our first experience of this technology to augment a film, and we roped-in good friends Jo and Janet to share the experience! Ahh! that’s what friends are for! ๐Ÿ˜

And after our now familiar routine of plugging-in ‘Robert‘ for some free ‘leccy’, courtesy of Pod-Point, we headed for the special ‘4DX Screen’. Given the promised reality of this ground-breaking multi-sensory experience, I noted they don’t provide sick-bags! ๐Ÿคฎ

But what about the Film?

Much has already been written about this new release – and it’s only been out for a few days! After all, it was as recent as 1994 that Disney released ‘the all new The Lion King Animated Movie’. So, is the world ready for another remake so soon? Well, if they can do it with SpiderMan, and pull in new audiences, surely something as cuddly as a lion-cub is going to be easy! With visuals touted as ‘hyper-real‘ and ‘photorealistic‘, we’re going into this with high expectations! ๐Ÿคฉ

And we weren’t to be disappointed! With those two particular adjectives ringing in our ears, and just when you think animation can’t get any more real, along comes this movie, that blurs the lines between ‘real’ and CGI.

OK, I think everyone knows the story, so I won’t re-tell it here. Instead, let me concentrate how it all felt...
Breathtaking is an under-statement – and that would have been our view without the addition of 4DX. With every hair of the lions clearly possessing a life of their own, you have to wonder what the next big jump in screen animation will be like. At times it really was impossible to tell that none of these animals were actually real (apart from the fact they talked!) With the addition of the 4DX effects (strobe lighting, vibrating and pivoting chairs, scents and smoke), it made a brilliant movie totally unforgettable!

Go see! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘

PS…

Even if the movie doesn’t break records, the weather is heading that way! Up here in Northamptonshire we’ve got it cooler (relatively) than those in the south-east, and across Europe, where temperatures are promising to hit the high 30s! ๐Ÿฅต

Coolio! (relatively)

90 – Over and (not) Out!

Reading time: 2 minutes...

It was Denis’s 90th Birthday today!

As part of his Birthday treat, and in keeping with Dad’s RAF experience, we took him to the IBCC (International Bomber Command Centre) in nearby Canwick Hill, Lincoln.

Opened in 2011, the aim of the IBCC is to tell the personal stories of service men and women of RAF Bomber Command, ground crews and civilians impacted by the bombing campaigns on both sides of the conflict during the Second World War.

It’s an impressive building inside and out, so there’s lots to see. But before all of that, like the Planes themselves, we needed re-fuelling. And the Restaurant turned out to be as comprehensive as the Museum itself!

The restaurant was busy and that meant a slightly longer wait than we would have liked – but it was worth it! Omelettes for Ann and her Dad (large and fluffy! – the eggs, not the eaters!) whilst I wrestled with the themed ‘Bomber Breakfast‘ – a monster of a full-English where the Toast would have doubled as the wings on a Lancaster! Yummy ๐Ÿ˜‹

Click on the image for a downloadable larger version
Click on the image for a downloadable larger version

The Museum itself consists of two floors where everything to do with Bomber Command’s activities was explained in great detail. It was difficult to take photos inside, but take it from us, it’s worth a visit even if you just have a passing interest in WWII history.

The best part was probably the gigantic screen that showed a detailed map of Europe. On the left hand side, a rolling timeline of WWII, month-by-month, year-by-year – and on the map itself, a ‘dot’ to show every bomb that was dropped. Fascinating stuff, especially once the Americans entered the War – as this had a direct impact on the quantity of bombs dispatched (especially on Germany!).

With both floors covered, it was outside to take the short walk to the Memorial to all those who died. This was an eye-catching piece fashioned in the shape of an aircraft wing. It was complemented by commemorative stones to the left of the path listing many who paid the ultimate sacrifice…

…and once we’d arrived at the Memorial, there were multiple panels commemorating everyone who had died during bombing raids – not just WWII. We also got a superb view of Lincoln itself…

All-in-all, it turned out to be an excellent trip. Denis had enjoyed himself (these days, it’s one of his rare days out), and we’d learned a lot more about the whole ‘Bomber Harris’ debate and the wider impact of bombing raids in general.

Happy Birthday Denis! ๐ŸŽ‚

Pheasantly Spicy

Reading time: < 1 minute...

The first outing for my XKR this Summer as we took the short drive to The Pheasant in Keyston.

It was a beautiful evening – a very warm 23 degrees. Pity then, the car decided that this was the moment for the AC to fail! We may have looked cool in a classic Jaaaag! but with its five-litre beating heart, the interior was a lot warmer than it was outside! ๐Ÿ˜ฐ๐Ÿ˜ฐ Phew!

Since I last blogged about it back in August 2015, this well-known award-winning Pub/Restaurant looks like it’s changed hands (again!) and they’ve now (re)introduced ‘themed evenings’. Tonight was their Thursday Curry Night – and it didn’t disappoint! At ยฃ16.95 for Mains, it was good value too!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Curry Night Menu - The Pheasant (July 2019)

And clearly, many others felt the same, as by the time we left, the place was packed! What a great way to spend a Summer evening!

The Black Country Living Museum

Reading time: 2 minutes...

Our very first visit to The Black Country Living Museum!

9.30am: We picked-up David and Valerie and headed by car for ‘the smoke’.

Located in Dudley, the journey took us a lot longer than we planned, (due to some serious congestion on the A14 in the direction of the M6). So, after some inspired diversionary tactics courtesy of David (with only a tiny bit of help from Robert‘s Sat-Nav), we were soon back to normal motorway cruising speed!

Click here for directions (around an hour-and-a-half for us)

11.45am: In spite of the early hold-up, we arrived just before noon and we were soon queuing for tickets. Ooo, that’s a bonus, a single purchase grants you unlimited visits on that ticket for a whole year – and they’re only ยฃ18.45 each! I’m liking this place already! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Looking at the car-park, this was clearly a popular destination, and once we’d got inside, we could see why! After a short AV presentation about the history of Black Country, we were on the Bus soaking up the VERY authentic atmosphere. It was busy everywhere – a really good sign surely!?

12.05pm: All that realism made us hungry, so we headed for the ‘local’ Fish and Chip shop – Hobbs & Son. initially, it looked like everyone else had the same idea as there was quite a queue sprawling out into the street.

The Menu was simple… Fish & Chips or Fish or Chips – and the Chips were cooked in beef dripping (surely the best only way!). No Pies, no Kebabs, no oversized bottles of fizz, just traditional fare!

…and it tasted all the better for it. We took advantage of the excellent weather and pitched-up on a grassy bank nearby. Val and I went back for extra salt and vinegar, which was somehow all the more appropriate, as I had to assist Ann with her volume of Chips!

Now all that was left to do was to soak up the authenticity of our surroundings – and they’d done a fantastic job here… Shops, a Chapel, a Pub, various Dwellings, a Mine, lots of old vehicles …and of course, plenty of coal on show! Any disappointments? Just one – the Cider served in the Pub. Called Rosie’s Pig, and it tasted like a home-brew gone wrong, and then watered down. Yuk! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

It was really like travelling back in time…

…and with Actors on-hand in period dress, it all added to a very immersive experience!

By 2pm, after a cuppa, we called it a day. It had been nothing short of a fantastic experience. It’s another one of those attractions where it’s impossible to ‘take it all in’ in one visit – so I’m sure we’ll be back.

We concluded our trip with a brief visit to the Gift Shop. Plenty there to temp us, with some very unique mementos for sale.

2.45pm: Into the car-park and back to 2019 with a bump! A quick check of the traffic showed some heavy congestion on our planned route. David and Ann compared notes and decided to head in the opposite direction on the M5, then the M42, then the M6, and finally, the A14. It worked well, and we were home by 4.30.

A Long Time with a Longbow!

Reading time: < 1 minute...

Friday is with us again and that means it’s our weekly lessons, courtesy of Kettering Archers!

For me this time, there was a deliberate change of equipment! After spending last week and the week before dabbling with the Longbow, tonight, I decided to spend the whole evening with this more authentic Bow. Remember, it has no arrow-guide, no sights – so it’s just sheer strength, and a bit of luck and judgement, attempting to send it to the target – I must have looked like an extra from a familiar Cider advert and perhaps I’d have had more success aiming at CANS as I was NOT on form at all tonight!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฒ๐Ÿ‘

Whilst Ann continued to refine her technique with her Practice Bow, I was introduced to the Longbow Group – and I spent the rest of the evening with them! A very nice group of chaps, offering what Kettering Archers do best: plenty of guidance – both literally and figuratively. With these ‘merrie men’ I immediately sensed an extra element of fun, as I spotted that many of them had a small beer tankard attached to their waistband. When I asked the inevitable question, I was told that after practice, it was for ‘the Mead’ (well, obviously!) ๐Ÿ˜‰ Wow! I’m going to like it here!!! They also carry the highly decorated pink arrow – awarded to the Archer who ‘screws-up’ their shots in the most imaginative way! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ At last, I’m an instant winner!

Slightly disappointingly, my current Longbow, compared to theirs, only had the poundage to send my arrows half the required distance. So, roll-on next week, when I’m dispensing with my 30-pounder and ‘trading-up’ to something much heavier. I’m learning that this fun hobby is also giving me a good upper-body work-out…

…and that’s not just trying to get the top off the bottle of Mead!!! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘