Shopping, Shooting & Sleeping

My Christmas present from the E knitter last year was a Virgin experience. That title alone conjures up various images, but no, it was indeed a shooting experience in the wilds of Oxfordshire.

I have always enjoyed air rifle shooting, but over years with gun laws etc it has become difficult to do.

In my long distant youth we would walk to the local wood, pin a target on a tree and use a simple 177 calibre air rifle, the type that would have graced the fun fair side stalls.

I own an old BSA Meteor air rifle from the 70’s that hasn’t been used for years.

I was interested in the recent upsurge of the Bell target shooting, but clubs and leagues now control it. (I’m not a club joining person)

In its heyday Bell target shooting was a very popular pub game on par with skittles, etc. It involved shooting at a target with a hole in the centre (bulls eye). Behind the hole was a bell. Simply ring the bell with the pellet for a maximum score. The rifles in those days (1930s) were the same simple fairground type. Now, even though the 177 calibre remains, the rifles are top spec with telescopic sights and laser pointers costing a small fortune. Skill?

Have you ever heard the saying shooting fish in a barrel?

Any local rifle ranges insist that you are a member of a club. I just want to turn up with my rifle pay a fee and spent an hour reliving my youth aimlessly shooting at a cardboard target.

The e knitter had been listening to my moans and groans over the months and decided to shut me up by treating me with a shooting experience.

It would be wrong not to arrange it with a camping trip.

I earmarked a stopover at the Camping and Caravan club site in Oxford.

The site is well placed just off the ring road behind the Go Outdoors shop and directly opposite the Redbridge park & ride bus service into Oxford city centre.

Because shopping trips and guns aren’t the ideal place for dogs, it meant Ruby would be missing this trip although she has recently been enjoying shopping trips I can’t see her becoming a gundog.

With the campsite booked for two nights and the shooting booked for the Sunday we were ready.

Early Friday afternoon saw us head off into the distance. On to the A44, then taking the A34, we turned on to the A432 ring road with a quick left turn we had arrived.

Although some club sites can be a little over the top with rules and regulations. The site wardens were very welcoming and humorous.

The Camping club are only given a short renewable lease to run this site on a yearly basis, so they cannot spend vast amounts of money upgrading the facilities. However the site is well run and the facilities may be old, but they are kept clean.

We were given a grass pitch and set up the camper, deciding to stay on the site for tonight we settled down for the evening. This is a different camping experience, being close to the city location. Reviews of this site have complained about the noise levels that were supposed to be quite high with the ring road and train lines close by, but we hardly noticed anything. In fact we found it quiet.

Oxford april 2015

Because Oxford was hosting a Folk festival it meant the site was full with all types of Morris dancers.

Waking on the Saturday morning, after breakfasting on Bacon baps we walked the short distance to the park and ride bus stop. The fare was £4.50 return for the two of us and dropped us at the West Gate shopping centre.

Parking a campervan in the city centre would be expensive and nigh on impossible, The Redbridge park and ride site has height restrictions on the main car parking area, but has a separate parking area for Coaches and motor homes.

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With only one day to visit and see the sights, shop and eat we have found that the large cities need to be explored using the open top sightseeing buses to be able to see as much as possible in a short space of time and Oxford is no exception. The city is famous for its universities, colleges and intellectual prowess, but it’s better known as being the location for the television series “Morse” and later “Lewis”.

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We woke early on Sunday morning, packed Puffin up and set of towards The Crazy Bear hotel at Shadhampton.

The 9am start began with breakfast provided at the venue which consisted of a sausage and bacon baps

After a Health and Safety lesson we moved to the range were we were split into groups.

We started on the air rifle range. I enjoy target shooting with an air rifle and if I could, I would like to do it more.

The rifles we used were similar to my old BSA meteor, but with better sights.

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We then moved on to the air pistol range, which we both enjoyed and after getting into the swing of it the cans and targets were dropping in all directions.

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The groups swapped over and we went to the Archery range

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The last time I tried Archery was when I was 14 at a local youth club and failed dismally.

How things have changed, the reflex bows are now so easy to use. The extreme knitter was getting into the experience and I also found the archery to be a more relaxed event than the higher octane shooting

Crossbow was next and I have never fired a crossbow before. This was the one event I thought I would find easy. I mean how hard can this be? I really failed at here. I tried it several times, but couldn’t hit the target, so I nipped back to the archery and fired some more arrows to be able to leave on a high note.

The shooting experience finished at 11.30am and we popped into the Crazy Bear farm shop on the way out for some sausages.

Oxford

 

I thought we could visit a couple of quirky sights before we set off towards home.

The first sight was the Headington Shark at 2 New High Street, Headington.

The Headington Shark

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The work of artist John Buckley and commissioned by Bill Heine. It appeared overnight on the 9th August 1986. Oxford council tried to get it removed on planning grounds, but failed. Its still there having earned its place in Oxford’s history.

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The Rollright Stones are just off the A3400 that runs from Oxford to Stratford on Avon. Legend has it that if you count the stones twice you will never get the same number. Of course with a great big legend as a challenge I presume everyone that visits the stones has to try and disprove it. Would I even consider such a pointless exercise as counting a load of old stones, you bet I would.

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I was a little unnerved about visiting an ancient stone circle since the Extreme knitter watched the Outlander series. The main character was transported back in time after touching a stone.

The Rollright Stones

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The stones were a disappointment. I didn’t count the stones because a couple of stone huggers were there with divining sticks searching for lay lines or some sort of magical force field.

A hectic weekend, but thoroughly enjoyable.

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Dash cam, Seat covers and Curtains

Technology has been the bain of my life, but I am being dragged kicking and screaming into a gadget related future.

The recent purchase of a Mobius camera to use as a dash cam has been a fairly easy and logical move towards

Its obvious use is to video any motoring misdemeanours or recording accidents in front of you as they happen or to you for that matter.

Russian drivers use them all the time as can be seen on the numerous video uploads on you tube.

The reviews on the Mobius have been good as can be seen here

Techmoan

The Mobius can be carried around to take video or photographs of trips with a battery life of 2 hours.

The video quality is good for a camera the size of a tic tac mint box. The images are stored on a 32gig Micro SD card giving approximately 4 hrs recording time and it is set to record on a loop.

An incident last year whilst driving through the road works on the M1 motorway made me realise that I needed to take steps to protect us from idiots.

We were tailgated by an Eddie Stobart lorry to the point that it was only 2 feet away from our rear door at times.

Having driven trucks myself I knew that there was no way he could see our standard brake lights when he was that close.

Puffin is a 19-year-old VW that was built long before the advent of the high level brake lights as seen mounted in the top of the rear tailgates of later vehicles.

To make us more visible to other road user I decided to retro fit a high level brake light.

I used a Durite LED high-level brake light that adheres to the inside of the rear window. Being LED it gave a bright light and doesn’t add any extra overload to the existing brake light circuit.

Purely from a comfort and a looking cool point of view I have carried out some changes in Puffin.

I came across a sew on leather steering wheel cover on E bay and after a little research decided that fitting one to Puffin would not only tidy up a worn steering wheel, but also be more comfortable.

Although there are plenty of suppliers out there I purchased a black with grey stitching cover from Mr Steering Wheel.

Although the first cover supplied was incorrect being for a later model VW T4 they quickly replaced it with a perfect fitting cover.

(note) The wheel size on pre mid 1996 steering wheels without an airbag are 113.8cm overall circumference and the circumference of the wheel grip is 9.2cm

Now I’m no sewing expert, but after watching the fitting video I felt I could conquer this project.

Before

Before

Before

 

And after

After

After

 

We decided that we couldn’t afford to have Puffin totally reupholstered, as we had wanted. We have however had new curtains made by Careavan at Rubery, as the chintz pattern was just too much to live with.

Old Curtains

Old curtain (1320 x 990)

New Curtains

New curtains (2) (1320 x 990)

The two front cab seats were covered in a 1990’s pattern cut moquette fabric and it was like driving whilst sitting on your granny’s sofa. Something had to be done, so I ordered a pair of tailored seat covers from J C Covers.   Seat Covers

Old pattern

VW t4 Transporter seat (990 x 1320)

We went for a plain grey cover with a subtle grey patterned fabric insert to tone it down. The quality and fit are excellent, more importantly they were significantly cheaper than having the seats reupholstered.

New Covers

New seat cover (990 x 1320)

The rock & roll bed is still the 90’s moquette fabric, but we cover it with various throws.

We have unfortunately had to cancel our trip to Poland as the costs were spiralling and we would have needed more than the planned 10 days to make the trip feasible.

We have plenty of trips planned around the UK, perhaps even a visit to the Scottish Highlands again.