Sunday, 30 May 2010

28 days and counting

You'll no doubt notice the large amount of roadside advertising that appears during the summer months along roads in the countryside. Some are semi permanent, placed on trailers to avoid planning laws, some are very professional advising of forthcoming county fair whilst others are somewhat less professional with painting daubed on tractor tyres telling of village fetes or lay by tea stops. The latter tend to annoy the grass cutters as they interrupt the flow of the heavy machines and thus don't last long.

Near Swaton, a number of these have appeared on the A52 advising of farm shops, stables, county shows and fairs, caravan sites, burger vans, parkland homes, beds, garage and barns sales. It is, of course, important that ones own sign stand out amongst the litter that these create in order to get the intended message across. To that end Odd Job and some others connected with the Swaton Vintage Day went out earlier with a tractor, flat bed, trailer and other implements of destruction to erect the BIG signs. Odd Job, handicapped by his sore arm and a variety of pain killing drugs that make him even dimmer than normal, was unable to assist to any extent apart from stomping around looking for last years holes on the edges of the fields that the posts will fit "just nicely" into, but at least it kept him out of the way for a while.

The signs a about 6 feet square and mounted on large posts. When erected they proclaim, from the fields to approaching traffic, the essential who, what, when, where and how.

Swaton Vintage Day, Fun for all the family, (drawings of vintage vehicles) The Park, Thorpe Latimer, Sunday June 27th, 10:30, World Egg Throwing Championship. Terrier racing, bring your own dog for a race.

Ive always wondered about that last line..... as if you'd bring someone elses dog for a race?

As this team of ancient crocks were erecting the last sign they noticed the sign that "Half Finished" had erected some days earlier for a "BOOK and PIANT FAIR" at the village hall the day before. You may recall "Half Finished", he's the chap that lives across the road form WETF HQ and is named by his CEO in the same vein as "Half Done" aka "Odd Job" for the same reason.

"Hmmm" says one "What is a "book and piant fair"?"

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Beryl has returned. Odd Job was pleased to find the stop out chicken waiting on the door step the next morning. She was been advised that its not really safe to stay out all night. By her waiting by the door its presumed she didn't have a very nice time.

Swaton is a small village on the western edge of the Lincolnshire fens. Set amongst mature trees and productive farmland the 80 or so houses provide homes for about 250 people. Mostly Crown Estate, there are 5 working farms, a micro brewery, farm shop, butchers, furniture workshop and shop, livery yard, riding school and numerous other home workers all doing their bit to support the rural economy. Theres also a distinct lack of usable public transport that means you have to have your own or are pretty much restricted to working part time elsewhere. For instance, you can get to Boston and back on Wednesdays or if you take the train from the nearest station at Heckington, but you have to arrive back in time to catch the last bus from Sleaford at 4 o'clock.

However, on the plus side, Swaton is also the home of the World Egg Throwing Federation and hosts the annual World Egg Throwing Championship each June. Its now in its 5th year and hosted by the Swaton Vintage Day, in its 15th year. This show comprises of 100's of vintage vehicles set in a large medieval ridge and furrow meadow. The normal occupants of either sheep or cattle are moved out a month or so earlier, the grass cropped and baled, leaving a smooth undulating field for the games. Other entertainment includes live music, fun fair rides and terrier racing.

For those of you that haven't ever seen this there now follows a description.
6 dogs of mixed type, loosely described as terriers but in reality any dog that happens to come along and can fit in a wooden trap just about large enough to fit a Labrador, is encouraged to enter. Once 6 are in place, a fellow waves a piece of furry looking material at them to get their attention. As soon as one dog takes the bait and starts barking at this, the others invariably join in.

On the given signal the furry thing is released, to be dragged via a rope on a hand wheeled winch, to the far end of the field, as this is done the front of the traps open. All six dogs, each believing he or she is in reality a 2 year old greyhound and supreme hunter, are off. The three legged Jack Russel leading the way, followed by the overweight Patterdale, then a minute Yorkshire Terrier, 10 year old Labrador, another three legged dog but this time a whippet and then another then Jack Russell. The lead dog position changes rapidly and then back again, falls are common, squabbles break out mid stride, others join in from the side lines. The furry thing is dragged to safety into a drain pipe and the winner, plucked from the barking mob, raised into the air to be proclaimed winner and supreme champion (until the next race).

Once seen, never forgotten.

4 weeks to go, June 27th.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Preperations for the Games and Odd Job blots his copybook again

Preparations continue for the 5th World Egg Throwing Championships on June 27th.

Odd Job has been keeping a low profile, organising banners for the publicity whilst the CEO has been telling people how he failed to wake her when the fire occurred on Sunday, leaving that instead to the Fire Brigade, as he "didn't want to worry her". When he does make an appearance she casts that well practiced glare in his direction. He knows he's in trouble, he's not even whistling, but his memory is short and he'll soon forget.

Egg stocks are building despite recent losses of two of Mo's girlfriends. This evening it looks like another has gone too. At dusk only 10 Beryls reported for bed. A search of the area, including Gaston's pen, has failed to find any trace except a hole in the fence into the neighbouring field. It's hoped she will be back in the morning.

The Blue tits are not having much luck either. Their seven eggs hatched but their losses have grown. They only have 4 babies remaining.

On the PR side, interest continues to grow. Whilst no response has been received from David Cameron, nor Tyler Dixon, to the request to attend there has been two enquiries from well known British TV programmes to come along and take part. Nothing confirmed as yet but probable. There's also been interest from a Dutch and German TV again.

This evening, some friends called around the WETF HQ and Odd Job, surprisingly, declared he would prepare a meal. This is unusual as his cooking ability is worse than his whistling but clearly showed he was trying. Very trying, it turned out.

First he produces the menu for the Sunlight Takeaway, then after ordering a large meal for four, declares he might like some cash.
The CEO asks "How much would you like?"
Odd Job "£80"
CEO "That's a lot! How much is the meal?"
Guest "£36"
CEO "Why do you need £80?"
Odd Job grins "You asked me how much I wanted, not what I needed"
After cuffing him around the ear, she gives him £40.
Odd Job produces wallet and adds the CEOs cash to the wedge he has already secreted in it.
CEO "You've got loads of cash! What do you need my £40 for?"
Odd Job (as he runs out) "I never said I needed it, just that I'd like it"

As his whistling fades into the night the CEO sighs "He's got to sleep sometime. He can't run when he's asleep"

Sunday, 16 May 2010

And thats when the trouble started!

Bring, Bring went the telephone, then again, and again, Bring, Bring
The CEO, who really isn't a morning person, awoke from her slumbers aware that her Sunday morning lie in had been cut short, annoyed as this was one of her few pleasures in life and that no good waster "Half Done" hadn't got the phone before she was disturbed. Its 9:30, she was expecting tea, papers and the offer of breakfast at 11ish. Every Sunday its the same, she has a lie in, he gets the papers and at the appropriate time makes her tea and offers to cook breakfast. Tea is accepted, cooked breakfast refused. "Half Done" never half does scrambled egg, he makes rubber.
Bring, Bring. Bring, Bring.
She pulled her self from her covers and stumbled over to the phone. The conversation went something like this.
"Hello, this is the Fire and Rescue Service"
"Yes, its about your house fire"
"What? House fire?"
"The fire that we just got a call about"
"We are on fire?"
"We just got a call saying that your property was on fire"
"Is it? I didn't know"
"Oh! That is World Egg Throwing HQ isn't it?"
"In Swaton?"
"We had a call from a man saying that the house was on fire"

As she hears this the CEO opens the bedroom door onto the landing and smells smoke.
"I can smell it"
"He told us it was out. Can we speak with him?"

The CEO is acutely aware that "Half Done" has previous for claiming a job was finished when in fact its not. Somewhat concerned she hot foots it in search of the cause of the smoke she can smell and the person, no doubt, responsible for it.

Whilst doing this, she is still talking with the nice lady from the Fire Service and is informed that they had got a call some time earlier that said there had been a fire in the boiler, it was out, it was just being reported in case of insurance claims. They just wanted a few more details of the cause.

The CEO is well trained in fire safety. She knows that in case of fire you are meant to raise the alarm, make sure everyone gets out, call the fire brigade and only tackle the fire if safe to do so. She also knows that "Half Done" knows that he's meant to do this too. Where is he?

The smell gets stronger as she approaches the canteen and upon entering she finds the windows and outside doors open. The dogs and cats are in the garden but there is no sign of "Half Done".

She confirms with the Con Op that there is no sign of fire but she can smell it. "He's not here, I'll get him to call you back."

Not in the best of moods she stomps around the grounds calling for him. Not a sign to be had. She rings his mobile phone.

"Where are you?"
"I'm getting the Sunday papers"
"The Fire Brigade have called"
"Oh, they didn't send a fire engine did they"
"No, they rang, they want to talk with you"
"Oh, good, I didn't want a fire engine"
"You didn't wake me to tell me the house was on fire"
"I didn't want to worry you"

And that's when the trouble started.

Post script. The WETF HQ is a long, very high ceiling, barn conversion. It is fitted with appropriate smoke or heat detectors in each room and circulation space. The fire was in the 14 month old oil boiler that is outside the property. "Half Done" noticed the smoke before it set off the detection, as it peculated through the service duct. He isolated the boiler, made sure it was out, ventilated the fumes, organised a repair man, rang Fire Brigade to report and get an incident number. Debbie from the Fire Service was wonderful and dealt with the CEO perfectly.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The French cause trouble again

All is quiet, the wood was patrolled at first light by the two dogs and Odd Job. Nothing was found.

Mo is dealing with his recent loss well, doing his best to keep his remaining girlfriend and wives spirits up in in own inimitable fashion. He knows that they will soon forget the others, as its hard to remember a lot when your brains slightly smaller than your eye.

However, some chickens don't forget. Over the back wall, Gaston the French cockerel has been plotting. You may recall the jealous Gaston. Whilst he's much larger, he only has three paramours and he's not as good looking nor as brave as Mo. He still stands on his coop roof hurling insults at Mo and Mo crows back, keeping a close watch on the frustrated frenchie.

At the moment, of course, Mo is keeping clear of the wood that separates the two harems so Gaston is able enter unseen. Gaston sees his chance to sneak over when Madge leaves a bucket upside down too close to the wall.

Gaston appears by Mo's coop, on the edge of the wood, and starts to entice the Beryls with smooth Gaelic charm. This is quiet difficult for him though as his short legs, under his massive body, make him waddle as he parades up and down, crooning his tale of love.

Mo is extremely annoyed but aware of the danger of the wood, so he calls for Odd Job.

As he appears the Beryls, TC and Mo all congregate around the fence line in anticipation of the bucket of wild bird food that is usually proffered. Gaston slinks back into the wood. He doesn't like Odd Job as Odd Job chases him and ruffles what little dignity he has.

Odd Job doesn't like Gaston as Gaston is big, has sharp claws and a nasty beak. The last time he had to "assist" Gaston over the wall Odd Job suffered several deep scratches as the lothario fought to break free. But he has a cunning plan for the next "assist".

He spots the cockerel slinking and fetches his "Gaston shifter". This is a large keep net, normally used for fishing but in this case for Gastoning. The chase is on.

Now, despite his short legs Gaston can put on a fair turn of speed when pursued by a human bearing a large net. He legs it to the wall, jumps, falls back, hangs a left and is off down the wall side towards the CEO's greenhouse. Odd Job blusters through the wood, getting tangled, freeing himself and is after Gaston down the side of the structure. He knows he got him now, its a dead end, about 12 feet wide and 20 deep.

As Gaston breaks in the enclosure he's running hell for leather and looking over his shoulder. Odd Job is right behind him, net stretched out to ensnare........ a flash of red to his right catches his eye and he glances right to see a small vixen staring back at him at the bottom of the wall.

The fox heads off, at speed, watching Odd Job over its shoulder. It collides with the end fence, does a left and piles into the wire compound fence, just ahead of Gaston who is running directly at the fox but still watching Odd Job over his shoulder. The fox turns and retreats back the way he came. Odd Job considers the options. Net Gaston, net fox, net Gaston, net fox, FOX! He make a wild swing and misses it by a fraction of a brush.

This was a fortunate miss as Odd Job had really only half done the working out on the consequences of such a move. What on earth would he have done with a live, scared, angry vixen in a fishing net? More to the point what would a live, angry and scared fox have done to the fishing net and the person holding the other end of it?

Gaston is snared, turned upside down and deposited with little ceremony back over the wall. The fox is nowhere to be seen. Lets hope the sight of a large human hunting foxes with a Gaston net is enough to put her off visiting again.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Life and Death in the Countryside

Those that read this blog will recall that Mo lives with his eleven wives and three girl friends. The wives are all called Beryl, the girl friends are/were TC, Goldie and Choo Choo. The girls only visit, sleeping in the wood, up trees, except when broody when they take up coop residence for a few days. They could be seen at sunrise stalking around the wood and orchard, waiting for the pop hole to be opened so they could do their dailies.

We were hoping, with no real belief, that the the sudden disappearance of Goldie could be put down to the cock pheasant that was parading up and down the field edge on the other side of the fence. He'd been there for a week or so, pacing the line, calling out for a mate, and that's when Goldie disappeared. Then Choo Choo went missing as well, as did the pheasant. We noticed that TC rejected the wood during the day and took to loitering under the table by the gate, only venturing out when Mo and the Beryls were in force.

The village has a few foxes but you rarely see them close to the houses during the day. They stalk about on the periphery taking what they can, but this time of year they have youngsters to feed and young cubs need lots of food. The first evidence of this was the sighting of a tiny cub at the side of the road, about a mile outside the village. This pretty little thing was about the size of a small cat, probably 6 or so weeks old, looking as healthy and cute as could be, but also quite dead, struck by a vehicle as it explored its new surroundings.

The foxes have visited before at this time of year and previous Beryls have fallen victim to their need for food. Last time, it was mid morning when the staff were alerted by the frantic calls of Mo. Rushing outside they were met by the sight of a fox chasing around then into the pond a Beryl, Mo stood his ground, shrieking alarm. The fox ran off when he saw help coming, leaving three dead hens.

Theres not a lot to be done about foxes, we cant erect an electric fox proof fence or otherwise secure the grounds. All we can do is take the dogs, Ollie and Ticker, out around the perimeter and through the wood in order to discourage the day time visits. It might work but if not the two patterdales enjoy the experience.

Meanwhile, Odd Job is being kept amused by "Tit TV". All around the grounds are various nesting sites for wild birds. In the cart shed there are pigeons, robins and swallows. In the wood doves, tits and wrens. The walled garden ivy has wrens as well and the front hedge several sparrows and black birds. On the east wall of HQ is a bird box with a camera which relays video of the occupants directly into the canteen. There it can be seen that the occupying blue tits have laid 7 eggs and are caring for them very well, surrounded by their nest of grass, horse hair and a few white downy Mo feathers. One sits most of the time, the other returns often and feeds the sitter. Not enough it would seems as she leaves periodically get more food. She seems to have her own "half done".

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Britains Got Talent Star to attend World Championships

The WETF is pleased to confirm that Joel Hicks will again be attending the World Championships in June. Joel is known to many for a variety of reasons: his stunning body (the CEO has a picture of him as a screen saver), being the World Gravy Wrestling Champion and perhaps most importantly for raising thousands of pounds for a children's hospice in Leicestershire. He's a good egg.

For the last two events he has been integral to the Egg Throwing With Accuracy Challenge, when he appeared as the target.

In this the target stands 24 feet from the throw line.
3 Eggs are acquired, in exchange for a small fee.
After an appropriate, and acknowledged, warning these are then hurled at Joel.
Points are awarded for strikes to each area, if the egg breaks.
Head Shot. Nil points.
Arm or leg. 1 point
Body shot. 2 points
Groin shot. 3 points.

For scoring accuracy reasons Joel he declines to wear protection in that important area and so these hits are clearly identifiable.

Last year two players scored maximum points and a throw off was required to establish the World Champion.

If Ive got this right you can see Joel and his team on BGT here....

You can see the serious side here via

Finally, for those that attempted to guess what it was that Mo was worrying about.
It was a hedgehog.

More updates as soon as possible, including news on Goldie and the pheasant over the fence.

Running order for Word Egg Throwing Championships

As news of this years events spread the WETF is starting to get calls from all over the world asking for time details.

Sunday June 27th

1000 Gates open to Swaton Vintage Day Show.

1100 Registration starts for Russian Egg Roulette and Egg Throwing events.

1200 World Trebuchet Egg Challenge. All Trebuchets to be on start line.
Egg Throwing with accuracy commences and continues through day whilst target is uninjured or not taking part in other games.

1300 World Russian Egg Roulette opening heats.

1500 World Egg Throwing Championships commence. These include all comers and "Under 13" events.

1545 World Egg Throwing Static Relay.

1600 Finals of Russian Egg Roulette and All comers Egg Throwing.

1630 Awards.

Entrance to the Show is as follows:
Adults £4
Children of school age £2
Concessions £3
Under school age children FREE
Family ticket £10

Car parking FREE

World Egg Throwing Championship entry costs:
No charge, except egg throwing with accuracy which is £2 for 3 eggs.

Pre registration is not normally required but a we would ask that you express an interest before hand to assist with planning.