2013

Pentland Hill

I had to go up to our Deer Stalking Grounds in Scotland to move our caravan, the forestry have started working near where it is parked so we had a call saying move it or loose it Happy

625 miles round trip in the day was a bit long but we managed to get a short walk in whilst we were there.

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Ride to the Wall

Another glorious day for the 6th annual running of the “Ride to the Wall

This annual ride brings motorcyclists from near & far together to attend a memorial service on the steps of the Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum on the first Saturday in October, in order to remember those who can no longer ride by our side. The event has also highlighted the immense generosity and kindness of the wider motorcycling community, and has gone a long way to bringing together motorcyclists and members of the wider community who share similar values, and as part of this experience has broken down barriers. It has also increase awareness of the National Memorial Arboretum to a larger audience, and in doing so has allowed those that may not have already done so, the opportunity to remember those that have made the ultimate sacrifice.

It was an excellent day, where I managed to meet up with some old comrades, it is hard to believe that this bunchh of old codgers was once a lean mean fighting machine.

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My oh so subtle Harley trying to blend in with the other bikes at the Leicester Forest East starting point.

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Trust the Parachute Regiment to have the most impressive memorial in the park Happy

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and if we go back 30 odd years we have …..

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Moreton in Marsh Show

We had a great day at the Moreton in Marsh Show.

The Moreton Show is a traditional one day Agricultural and Horse Show which is held on the first Saturday in September each year. It is one of the largest one-day agricultural shows in the UK and attracts over 20,000 visitors each year.

The show is held in a parkland setting with no permanent buildings, so is built up in the traditional way with marquees and hurdle pens giving a true country atmosphere.

The standard and quality of the livestock and horses was exceptional.

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Teresa enjoying her lunch next to a small tractor Happy

14 Weeks old and training begins.

Bradaigh is now 14 weeks old and we have started doing some gentle training with him. It will all be just playing for the next few months as we work on his sit stay and recall, but he seems to know what to do with a dummy. There is a short clip of his mum, who is looking fabulous again after the litter, and finally Simon doing a little jumping.

Bradaigh Sketchley 20 08 13-HD 720p from Neil Rice on Vimeo.

Close encounters of a Strigiformes kind

I had a strange and interesting experience last night. A friend had lost 40 pheasant poults the night before when a fox had got into a pen, so I was out doing some "preventative maintenance". I set up a fox caller on top of one of the big bales that was in the field in front of the pen, then started scanning the horizon with the night-vision. After a few minutes a huge pair of eyes appeared heading directly towards the caller, the odd thing was they were about 20 feet above the ground! The owl swooped down on top of the bale, gave the plastic caller a kick, and headed off to find something that was a little more tasty.

It was a good night, saw a fabulous Roe Buck in the field, and a Muntjac when I was heading home. And Mrs Fox turned up at about 23:50

Brádaigh's first day out in the Big Wild World

At twelve weeks old and two weeks after his final jab Brádaigh was able to go out into the big wild world.

We took him to the farm and he was completely unphased by everything. He ignored the cows and the horses, he is a little too young to meet the chickens, but we shall be introducing him to them soon.


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Interesting sight on my way to Somerset

I was driving down to Somerset early on Sunday morning to do some dog training with Neil Varney of Twistmount Gundogs, as I approached Bristol there were about 30 hot air balloons drifting alongside the motorway, as I got into Bristol this one came straggling along, I had to take a quick picture of it, I was slightly disappointed as these usually come in pairs Happy

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Brádaigh at 9 weeks old

We had a couple of noisy nights after all the other pups had left but Brådaigh is now settled and fitting in well with the rest of the dogs.

Puppies should be discouraged from jumping as their skeletons are not fully formed and they need to be careful, unfortunately no one has told Brådaigh this.

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Sookie gets a well needed haircut

Sookie started dropping her coat quite badly as a result of rearing her pups, so that, and the fact that we are having a spell of really hot weather has prompted us to give her a really short clip, I am sure she is very grateful. She has started training again now so hopefully she will be fit and ready to go when the season starts.

I am sure there are many mums in the world that wish they could get their figure back like this within 8 weeks of giving birth Happy

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The CLA Game Fair - Ragley Hall

We spent a wonderful weekend with the Sporting Irish Water Spaniel Club at the CLA Game Fair at Ragly Hall. The weather was really hot which made it very hard work for both the dogs and the handlers, but we had great fun and the dogs performed well in both the arena and the breed tent.

We had all four of Sookies puppies with us, and two of them, Splash and Finn went away with their new owners from the fair.

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Just before we left we took a group picture of Sookie’s and her pups
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Finn with his new owner, Hoolie with Louise Sookie (Mum) Dexter (Dad) Bradaigh with Teresa (we are keeping him) and Splash with his new owner.

SIWSC Breed Confined Working Test - Chillington Hall

It was a gloriously hot day, that just started to get a little too hot for the Sporting Irish Water Spaniel Club Breed Confined Working Test and the annual Water Test. Once again we were able to use Chillington Hall, we are very lucky to have this venu for our working tests and field trials. It is a truly beautiful estate and Mr Giffard is a wonderful host.

Despite the hot weather the dogs ran well, and everyone had a great time. Photography was difficult as the light was harsh and everything has to be done at a distance to avoid distracting the dogs.

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The Not Forgotten Association Garden Party - Buckingham Palace

We had an excellent day at the Not Forgotten Association Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.

The Not Forgotten Association
is a unique national tri-service charity which provides entertainment, leisure and recreation for the serving wounded, injured or sick and for ex-service men and women with disabilities.

They do this through a wide and varied programme of activities including outings, concerts, holidays, events and the provision of televisions and TV licences.

Each year they help and support approximately 10,000 individuals of all ages, whenever and wherever they served.

Their events and activities are open to anyone, whether currently serving or ex-service, whose life has been affected by conflict or by subsequent injury. Many of their beneficiaries and guests have been wounded or injured since 9/11 and they are very grateful to
Help for Heroes, their biggest supporter, for their ongoing help.

Individuals who may be eligible for support should apply through one of the service benevolent charities or through their regimental/military association.

(
Buckingham Palace ask that only “small” cameras be used, so these are all taken with an EOS M P&S)

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The Not Forgotten Association Garden Party, Buckingham Palace 2nd July 2013 from Neil Rice on Vimeo.


Starlight Longbow Night Vision

I have finally got my Starlight Longbow Nightvision mounted on my .243 Sauer 202. I ordered the unit from Scott Country and they had it made and delivered in 10 days, but the mountng was a real problem, eventually I had to get a custom mount made by a gunsmith.

The beauty of the Longbow is that it has both a daylight and a nighttime ocular so you can zero the scope in daylight. I have tried many different night vision units and this one is by far the best I have used to date.

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Pups first day in the sun

It was sunny, (I know, shock horror) after the pups ate this afternoon, so we decided to introduce them to the big outside world for the first time. Started off very tentatively, crouching and looking for a corner to squish into, but after a wee while they were wandering around and exploring. They had just eaten so please forgive the fact that they are wearing quite a bit of their dinner.

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RIP Miss Pink

Thursday Morning, Miss Pink was not well, she would not eat and was very unresponsive, we took her to the vets immediately and they gave her a radiogram and an ultrasound scan but could see no real problems, she was however in a lot of pain and unwell. They worked her blood and a feces sample and other than her white blood count being very low there was no indication of any specific infection. They put her on a drip and started antibiotics. Friday morning the vet phoned us and said there was a big improvement, she was more lively and they would continue to monitor her. Friday at about 18:00 hrs they phoned and said she was a lot better, but they wanted to keep her in overnight to make sure all was well.

They have just phoned us and told us that during the night she had more problems and that she did not make it.

They do not know what the cause is, all the obvious things like Parvo have been ruled out, they think the most likely cause as an abnormality of the gut that did not really cause issues till she was on solids. She had been eating normally up to this point?

So poor little Miss Pink, the liveliest and bravest little pup is gone. We are really devastated.

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First taste of solid food today

The pups were introduced to solid food today. Skinners Puppy Mix mixed with Skinners Puppy Milk Formula and blended into a porridge. They were not phased at all and simply ate it like they had been eating solid food for ever. here is some video footage of them interacting, keep watching to see a successful escape near the end Happy

Puppy Cam III 11th June 2013 from Neil Rice on Vimeo.

GoPro Puppy Cam

Ten minutes in the life of the pups.

They are getting bigger and stronger every day, they are all walking now and looking a little less drug, they can move at quite a lick when they have a mind tool




Puppy Cam 6th June 2013 from Neil Rice on Vimeo.



The Pups get their first collars

We had an unexpected gift in the post today. Dede Selph in Annandale , Virginia who’s IWS had a litter on the same day as Sookie had sent us some coloured collars for our pups, so now we have our very own “Reservoir Dogs.

Please meet Mr Blue, Mr Green, Mr Red, Miss Yellow and Miss Pink’



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The Puppies at 2 weeks old

Sookie and the puppies are continuing to do well, their eyes are starting to open and as you can see they are trying very hard to walk, although they do look very drunk indeed.

They are continuing to put on weight, and Sookie is very relaxed around them now, but she is very conscientious
with her feeding and licking duties.

Sookie and Pups 4th June 2013 @ 2 weeks old from Neil Rice on Vimeo.

Sookies Puppies at 6 days old.

Sookie’s pups are now 6 days old.They are growing very quickly. The perceived wisdom is that new born pups sleep for 90% of their time and eat for 10%, well these seem to be doing the exact opposite!


Sookie & Pups at 6 Days Old from Neil Rice on Vimeo.

Sookie's Pups have arrived

Overnight Sookie whelped 6 pups, unfortunately that last one out was stillborn, but we now have 3 dogs and 2 bitches all of whom are a good size and doing really well. Sookie is settling down and becoming an excellent first time mum, as you can see, she looks very proud of her family.

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Sookie's whelping box is finished (almost)

With a huge amount of help from our neighbour Pete, we have finished Sookie’s whelping box, all it needs now is a removable rubber mat for the floor.

It is 48” X 48” with 24” high walls and made from best quality marine ply.

Sookie seemed quite happy with it so hopefully she should get used to it over the next week before her pups are due on the 14th May.

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Badgers, Foxes and Buzzards, all in a days work.

We have had an interesting few nights on the trail-cam. The first clip is really unwelcome, it is the first indication that we have badgers on the farm, which does not bode well for staying TB free.



Here is a very tenacious fox, it hung around a lot longer than I would have thought and kept coming back.



And finally a buzzard being mobbed by a couple of crows followed by a noisy pheasant Happy



Track Day Mallory Park

A friend of mine was taking his BMW on a track day at Mallory Park, I went along to take some pictures for him. The range of vehicles was almost as different as the levels of competence shown by some of the participants Happy

It was a fun day, Gary did well, breaking a fan belt on his first session, flat-spotting a tyre to the canvas on his second, and spinning off in the afternoon. Don’t misunderstand, he was possibly the best driver there.

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SIWSC Training Event, Moorwood Farm, Somerset

We had a wonderful Easter Weekend at the Sporting Irish Water Spaniel Club’s training event held at Moorewood Farm in Somerset.

The event ran like clockwork, and even the weather was glorious with blue skies and sunshine really making it feel like spring for the first time this year. I only had Simon with me as Sookie is hopefully now in pup and Teresa was staying at home with her and Harley.

The weekend was broken down into training sessions on Saturday and Sunday morning with a series of assessment tests on Sunday afternoon, with there being puppy, novice and open groups.

Simon was in the open group and was excellent on Saturday, doing everything that was asked of him with both power and style, I finished the day feeling very chuffed with both him and myself. Big mistake!

The first exercise on Sunday morning was a relatively simple seen retrieve in cover, shortly before the shot and the dummy being thrown a hare broke from cover and ran towards where the dummy would eventually land and then off to the left. Simon , as usual, completely ignored the hare. The shot was fired, the dummy thrown and Simon looked like he had marked it, but when he set off he followed directly the path that the hare had taken and to make things worse he did not stop on the stop whistle. W
e ran a few more exercises and he had gone right off the boil, he was like a different dog from the day before.

We had to go right back to basics, heel work, stop whistle, sit stays etc. We went for lunch with me feeling far from confident.

There were three tests in the evaluation session in the afternoon, a very long seen retrieve, where the dummy throwers were about 150 yards sown a ride and the dummy was thrown into the cover at the side of the ride, followed by a blind retrieve about 60 yards into heavy cover, and lastly a walkup with a seen to the front and a blind to the rear.

Simon was almost back to his Saturday form and ran well in all the tests, his walkup was pretty much perfect. We were placed first.

A huge thanks to the trainers and judges : Mr Neil Varney of Twistmount Gundogs, Mrs Celia Norris and Mr Colin Selwood

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When its spring again ……..

Its Palm Sunday, almost Easter and the end of the first week of spring, well try telling the weather that!

My brother in law asked me to take a few pictures of one of his bulls as another farmer wants to see him with a view to using him, sort of Bovine Internet Dating (possible business venture for the future Happy)

Anyway check out the handsome bull and the glorious spring weather that surrounds him.

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Sookie Mating

I took our Irish Water Spaniel bitch to be mated on the 18th and 20th March. It was a pretty traumatic experience for me, so I guess it must have been worse for her. Fingers crossed all went well. It is really hard to find a good working dog to use as there are so few about that finding one that is not related is very hard. We eventually settled on using Holbain Devil Dexter, Dexter is not a working dog, he is however a very fine looking IWS, with excellent hip scores, he has been to some of the Sporting Irish Water Spaniel Club training days and is mad keen to retrieve. He has also been used on a number of working bitches recently and whilst it is still too early to tell, the pups from these matings are showing great promise. The breeding coefficient of this mating is a very low 4 which is excellent.


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First real sun for a while

To mark the beginning of March the sun came out, it made everyone smile, including the dogs Happy

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Catton Rifle Sport

The first day of blue skies and sunshine that I can remember for a very long time, so it was really fortunate that we had arranged to go to Catton Rifle Sports for the day.

Andrew, Oliver and I had a great day shooting covering everything from a simulated woodland stalk to hitting metal bunnies at 400 yards.

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Andrew and Oliver “playing” with their vintage 22 centre fires.

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Andrew with a real rifle Happy

The funeral of RSM William Eurwyn Evans (Sledge)

A very sad day indeed. When I joined the Prince of Wales Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards in Berlin in 1975 the first person I had any real interaction with was CQMS Bill Evans, who I later discovered was known pretty much universally within the regiment as “Sledge”.

He was a remarkable man, every inch a Guardsman and an exceptionally good No8 in his playing days and coach when he was getting a little older. In everything he did he was the epitome of the term “Hard but Fair”.

He was equally at home on the drill square as well as in the field, he was a frightening figure in South Armagh in 1979/80 as he was out on patrol with his non regulation body armour, his SLR on his arm and a very non regulation magnum pistol on his hip. He led the machine gunners in the Falkland Conflict in 1982.

He left the army with the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major.

Even though the funeral was a sad occasion, it showed some measure of the man that a very large number of people were there, it was good to catch up with many old faces, many I had not seen since the early 80s. Everyone had their own “Sledge” anecdote but all had one thing in common, he was a man that had influenced their lives for the better, and whether that had been as a result of his strict discipline, his genuine (but often well hidden) care or his sparkling sense of humour all agreed that we were better for having known him and that he will not be forgotten.

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A weekend on the Deer in Plymouth

A weekend stalking in the glorious countryside just outside Plymouth, Andrew, Neil, Daren and I headed down on Friday afternoon with great anticipation of many large Fallow Bucks and the occasional Roe Doe to fill our freezers. We arrived at the hotel and were joined by Ben and Fraser for dinner. An early night as we were up at 05:00 hrs to get ourselves out and about way before sunrise. The weather really has been bad these last few months and all the ground was well and truly waterlogged so it was a bit of a struggle crossing the fields in the dark, as the mud built up on my boots I could feel myself getting taller with every step, eventually I found the tree that had a standing high platform and afforded a 360 degree view of some large fields with woodland surrounding them on all sides, ideal dear country. I made myself comfortable and prepared for a long wait. It was a long wait, until just before 09:30 I caught some movement breaking out of the tree-line on my left and working its way up the hedgerow, I immediately got the binoculars onto it and saw that it was a very nice 6 point Roe Buck in velvet. Sods law being well and truly at work here as a Roe Buck is the only deer that is currently out of season, and therefore cannot be shot. I am sure he knew this as he quietly made his way up the hedge passing within 40 yards of me. By the end of the morning Neil had shot 2 fallow does and that was it.

After a barbecue lunch of venison burgers and sausages we set out again to stalk till sunset, I saw nothing but andrew managed to get a Roe Doe.

Up again at 05:00 on sunday to torrential rain that had been falling all night, i managed to get into a covered highseat/roebox. I was protected from the worst of the elements, again a long morning looking out over quite an expanse of land and again at around 09:30 a deer appeared out of the hedge on my left, it was a reasonably sized fallow pricket. It made its way up the hedge line but I was unable to take a shot as immediately behind that hedge was a golf club car park, but I was confident that once he got to the top of the field he would follow the tracks and head in towards me. He didn’t, the bugger jumped back over the hedge into the car park.

The afternoon was spent in a very exposed high-seat in the sleet and rain which was far from fun so after about 3 hours and many cell phone calls to each other, none actually wanting to be the whip that suggested calling it a day I decided to bite the bullet and call the whole thing off.

So all 6 guns and several hours of stalking had to show for their efforts was 3 deer and a huge steaming pile of wet and muddy clothes, however, a great time was had by all.

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My view from the covered high-seat on Sunday morning

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Lunch on Saturday was a genteel refined affair Happy

Last shoot of the season

We had a terrific day picking up on a shoot at Fontmell Parva, where our good friend Steve male (aka Mellors) is the keeper.


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I put a GoPro camera on my head for a few drives so you could see Simon and I working, well Simon working, me just hanging around.



A few dummies in the snow

Took the dogs to the farm for a bit of work/exercise. This is really dry snow that does not seem to stick together but sticks to everything else, especially Sookie, the poor thing had icicles hanging from her by the time we had finished.

Before we left I took a picture of our BMW that has had an interesting bodywork modification thanks to the snow and wind Happy

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I can’t look at this picture without laughing, I call it
“Happiness is a set of chilled nuts”

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So here is the K9 family doing their thing in the snow.


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An elusive Mr Renard is sorted.

Alan, my brother in law has a 6,000 bird free range egg unit on his farm. I guess it acts as a bit of a Fox Magnet for the local Charlie population and so I have been doing my best to keep the numbers down. A few nights ago a fox was seen actually in the shed, so it was game on to get him. I finally saw him yesterday evening, but I could not entice him out of the hedge and get him into a safe place to shoot, very frustrating, so tonight I tried a different tactic, I got myself in place at just after 16:00 hrs and prepared for a long wait in the -3 degree cold. We have had a bit of snow over the past few days so even when it was dark the visibility was quite good, given that this old boy had already proved to be lamp shy I did not want to use it. At about 18:40 he shot out of the hedgerow about 120 yards in front of me and started running full tilt across the field, he was very clear against the snowy backdrop so a single shot did the trick. He really was a fine old boy, very fat, no mange and a lovely rich red coat.

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SIWSC Novice Field Trial - Chillington Hall

Up early to get to Chillington for the Sporting Irish Water Spaniel Club’s Novice Field Trial. Ideally I would have liked to enter Simon for the event, but as his previous owner was one of the judges, I was unable to do so under the KK rules. It was a good day, the weather was excellent (for the time of year) the guns performed well and there were plenty of good birds for the dogs.

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Happy New Year

Well I guess the days of going out and partying are over, we spent New Years Eve at home, we watched the first half of Lawrece of Arabia, followed by Graham Norton’s chat show, followed by the Fireworks from London, we then watched John Bishop. We kept the dogs indoors till just after 01:00 hrs and then took them out to the kennels and we went to bed, then some complete dickheads started their fireworks at 01:45 !

This is Teresa at midnight sending the obligatory texts …..

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