Debbie played much of the second half for the Kimbolton School Girls XII IInd team

A busy outdoor day; co missioning my new high-powered air rifle to go shooting and then watching Debbie play hockey and England Rugby team beat the Springboks later.

Having introduced them to the sport, my daughters had been playing frantically away at my computer games and it is now difficult to get them away.

I was determined to use my new air-rifle in earnest this morning and so I awoke before dawn and wrapped up ready to go down to the riverside gardens. I had remained awake for much of the night; both in anticipation and because Diana had heated my bed up with the electric blanket. It was very cold and frosty when I got down there and, the game being delayed, I practised with the targets setting up the telescopic sights and found that I could get them quite accurate at up to 30 yards but over 40 yards they had already dropped around three inches as they lost speed. I forewent my intended hide and sat just inside my shed to wait for game and the first was a collared dove arriving on a nearby Hawthorne tree barely 15 yards away with a purring coo.

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I raised the rifle gently for fear of being seen and struck it with a single shot. It tried to turn and fly but did not manage it to the sycamore tree before collapsing in a heap. I missed another high one through a poor aim and then, a little time later, shot another one high in the oak tree from beneath. It fluttered over the house but the sprinkle of feathers made me knew I had hit it and I walked quickly round, soon finding it on our drive. I had one more chance - this time at a wood pigeon in the same position as the first bird - but I rushed the shot and, though hitting it, it recovered and glided up the river, looking from its state to have died in seconds but this was a few too many when you do not have a dog to get it for you. I winged a seagull that had dive-bombed our lawn but could not recover that either.

I learnt that, working in a confined space, it is important to hit the bird on the shoulder, just like dear stalking, but this time to ensure that the wing is part of the damage. Pigeons take seconds to stop flapping and can be hundreds of yards away in that moment, witness the memory I had as a small boy when a lorry run over a pidgeon’s head, completely crushing it, and it was a distance away flying before it seemed to realise and crashed down dead! Diana had taken Della into St Neots to do some Christmas Shopping and I plucked the two small birds and then dressed them and put them in the refrigerator before she came back. She was not too pleased, and I had to grill them for my own tea later; Debbie enjoying them as well and saying that she thought they were her favourite meat!

I joined Diana and Della for lunch at The Little Chef and then we spent the afternoon at Kimbolton School Hockey Field where Debbie played much of the second half for the Girls XII IInd team. She played all right and to instructions as Wing Half but her defence could never clear the ball and they lost 3-1. I had recorded the historic England vs South Africa Rugby match at Twickenham to see the Springboks hold England in the first half but then become overwhelmed in the second so that England ran out good winners in the end.

I tried shooting for an hour at dusk this evening but to no avail until the end when I killed a Moorhen under the far bank having learnt what allowance to make for drop and fade. My daughters had been playing frantically away at my computer games and it is now difficult to get them away. My journal, a little paperwork, and then to get ready for an early night as I have it in mind to get some duck and wood pigeons tomorrow.