The Gamefair Hatfield House

Safely home from The Gamefair after an enjoyable but exhausting week. Thursday was a very difficult day, certainly the hottest day I have experienced in the UK and in getting everything ready for the show opening the following day, according to my "Fitbit", I managed to walk 17 kilometres!

The show went very well for us with the gundogs, we had over 20 different breeds of gundogs in the Sporting Dog Pavilion as well as a full three-day programme of events and demonstrations in the working dog ring.  The hot weather broke on Thursday night, and we had some terrific thunderstorms and torrential rain so a huge thankyou to Ridgeline of New Zealand for providing our waterproof clothing. The highlight of the show for me was watching Ben Potter fly his Steller’s Sea Eagle a huge and magnificent bird and it really drew the crowds.  You can see a full gallery of pictures from the show by clicking HERE.

Neil Rice
Another beautiful morning in Croxton Park

Another beautiful morning at Croxton Park, the early morning mist was starting to burn off as the sun was rising on my arrival, and the day was looking to be set fair.  We are still getting to know the land so I had an interesting and enjoyable three hour walk.  I saw so many hares that I literally lost count, I spotted one muntjac deep in the trees, it was clear to see through the thermal but the undergrowth is so dense this time of year that it was impossible to pick out through the binoculars.  I found an old high-seat above a clearing in one of the woods, it has not been maintained and it pretty much fell to pieces when I tested it.

 All the peas have now been harvested so it was clear to see the signs of deer activity, slots, scat and some very obvious lying up places where they are ether spending the night or taking their siesta. 

 All in all a great but tiring walk spoilt only by my useless Härkila Pro Hunter boots, £300+, one year old and leaking like a sieve!

Neil Rice
Croxton Park

My first morning stalk on our new lease at Croxton Park and it certainly bodes well for the future

It was a beautiful morning and the sun was already warm and shining when I arrived at 06:00, there is a broad strip of mowed grass separating a small plantation of elders and a wheat field near where I parked the car, it is about 10 meters wide and around 300 meters long and there must have been anything between 10 and 15 hares happily basking in the sunshine. Not wanting to disturb them I set off walking through the elders only to notice the rear end of a deer backing into the small ride I was walking on about 100 yards in front of me. 

I was expecting a muntjac but it turned out to be a very fine Roe Buck indeed. We have decided not to shoot the roe until we have a better idea what is on the ground so I just watched it for a minute or so through the binoculars, it had a good head not sure if it would have made a medal but it would not have been far off, eventually he spotted me and made off sharpish. 

The elevated roe-box is very spacious and comfortable but the roof is a little low, I settled down to see what was about there were squirrels everywhere and a couple of very large hares came past. At just after 08:00 I spotted some movement on the ride to my left, there is a bit of foliage that needs trimming back to give a clear view up the ride but when I was eventually able to see what it was I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was a very large muntjac buck, it was still in velvet but it looked like he had a pair of over-ripe bananas stuck on his head. Far too good a buck to be taken in velvet so he will get another day. 

An hour later there was again movement on the ride to my left, this time it was a doe, slowly making her way towards me down the ride, she turned and presented a broadside and she is now in the freezer.

Neil Rice
Falklands War 37th Anniversary Reunion

An excellent weekend in Wrexham. On this 37th Anniversary of the Falklands War Chris Hopkins has yet again organised a wonderful weekend giving us the opportunity to remember our friends and colleagues who did not return from the South Atlantic and to give thanks for those who did. Followed by an evening to pull up sandbags swap stories and catch up with one of the most rewarding and enjoyable extended families anyone could wish to belong to.

There is a full gallery of photographs from the weekend HERE

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Neil Rice
Farm Open Day

I had a very interesting and enjoyable day helping out at the “Farm Open Day” at Hill Farm Packington. I was talking to the visitors about the Deer and Bison.  It is a bit of an eye opener to see just how little people know about anything rural and agricultural.  I blame BBC Countryfile :-)

Neil Rice
The Queen's Birthday Parade

A truly excellent day at the Queen’s Birthday Parade at Horse Guards Parade in London.  The 1stBattalion of the Grenadier Guards were Trooping their Colour.  I did not take a camera so it was just a few pictures with my phone.  I was rather worried on the trip down to London on the train as it was raining all the way but my fears were groundless as the rain stopped and at time the sun even put in an appearance.  The parade was followed by an excellent lunch at the Cavalry & Guards Club followed by even more Champaign at the In & Out Club, the downside to the merriment and festivities was that I had to leave my car at the train station when I arrived back in the Midlands and take a taxi home.

You can see more pictures from the day HERE

Neil Rice
New Website & Blog Launch

I finally decided that it was time to revamp my web presence. I am still not sure if this is a great idea or simply a vanity project on a grand scale. I guess if you are reading this you have found your way here so hopefully you will enjoy your visit.

Neil Rice
A visit to "The Isle" Edward Tate's farm in Shrewsbury

An excellent day with Edward Tate on his farm in Shrewsbury, He explained how he is using ‘Enhanced Ecological Management Project’ and ‘Social Programs’ which have gradually evolved over the last ten years. In simple terms he is attempting to reduce his reliance on bagged fertiliser, improve soil health and benefit the natural environment whilst helping local and visiting communities enjoy the health, recreational and educational benefits of a rural setting. Currently all his activities are self-funded with no external fiscal contribution. As with everything these days The Isle has its own mission statement:

“To sustainably farm for the future”. (Sustainability incorporates continual evolution and dissemination of financial, environmental and social practices).

As I was leaving one of the peacocks was putting on a display for a gathering of peahens, this would have been all the more impressive had it not been taking place on a pile of horse manure.

Neil RiceThe Isle
A Golden" evening with the dogs

They call it the “Golden Hour “for a reason, we had the dogs out on the farm for a run around and a bit of training. Poor Brady is carrying way too much coat but this will all be coming off in a couple of days. Basil the Springer puppy is coming on well.

Neil Rice
Sporting Irish Water Spaniel Training Day with Dorothy Walls-Duffin

The Sporting Irish Water Spaniel Club held a training weekend with Dorothy Walls-Duffin at her beautiful training ground in Fillongley, Warwickshire. A good mixture if novice and experienced handlers being put through there paces by the as ever patient Dorothy.

You can see a full gallery of the pictures from the day by clicking HERE

Neil Rice
I found a couple of pictures.

I was doing some housekeeping on the MacBook to free up some space and found a couple of pictures that I had taken of Teresa a long time ago. I can’t remember when I took them, in fact I can’t remember taking them at all but I think they deserve an airing now.

Neil Rice
Precision Range & Hunting Social Day

Another great day at Andrew’s social day for members of his PR&H FaceBook Group. A number of steel targets out to around 600 yards as well as a number of closer targets for the rimfire rifles. As ever, even though the shooting was good the most enjoyable thing about the day was the crack and catching up with good friends. One small downside was that in the few days between Andrew putting the targets out the crop had grown so much that many of the targets were quite hard to see, in true stiff upper lip spirit this was simply considered an added element of difficulty.

Neil Rice
Combrink Family Pictures

I had the pleasure of shooting some family pictures for Andrew. The studio is being refurbished so we had to do these in a pop up.

Neil Rice
Welsh Guards Homecoming Parade, Cardiff

To mark the safe return of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards from a very successful operational tour in Kabul, Afghanistan the city of Cardiff gave them a Welcome Home Parade with a form up and review in Cardiff Castle a march trough the streets of the city and a reception at Cardiff Arms Park.

You can see a full gallery of the pictures from the day HERE

Neil Rice
Saint David's Day, Brecon

After the disappointment of last years St David’s Day parade due to “The Beast from the East” this year the regiment returned to Brecon for an excellent day. A moving service at Brecon Cathedral followed by a parade to the centre of town for the distribution of leeks before enjoying a a reception at the Theatr Brycheiniog.

You can see a full gallery of pictures from the day HERE.

Neil Rice
Welsh Guards Black Sunday

In the afternoon of the 11th November after the National Remembrance ceremonies have finished the Officers and Association members of the Welsh Guards have their own Remembrance Service and Parade to honour and remember the members of the Regiment that have made the ultimate sacrifice.

You can see a full gallery of pictures from the day HERE

Neil Rice