Bubble’s First Grouse

We camped out on the moor the night before – imagine 5 girls and a dog (Alfie) in a tent, all filled with excitement and anticipation for Glorious Twelfth the next day! We cooked lobster for dinner over the camp fire and told stories, all kept toasty warm by wearing Mistamina (obviously!)

The team were woken up by Craig Dickman, head keeper at Burn Castle, to the most beautiful clear morning. The sun was shining and, although we had had very little sleep, we were all in very high spirits.

Missy and I were the only ones shooting that day. I had had a lesson with Craig the day before, but I was still very much a novice having never been on a grouse moor before, let alone having the opportunity to shoot a grouse. I had got a few pheasants in my time but that was it.

I walked up the hill with Craig by my side. He was an amazing support, constantly reassuring me and giving me tips and advice. Missy was close by, also giving me so much encouragement and making sure that every bird that got up I had first dibs on (like the amazing host and best friend that she is!)

I had experienced a couple of misses, and, having been there for about 2 hours or so, I was beginning to feel a little disheartened. It had been a lifelong dream of mine to shoot a grouse. Not only that, but having the opportunity to do so on the glorious 12th was something very few people ever get the chance to do.

I could see the Land Rovers looming and thought that was that. Suddenly, a lone grouse flew up directly in front of me, and rather a fat one at that. Craig was cool as a cucumber and said, “this is it, this one is yours”. I remember my whole body coursing with adrenalin as I took aim and held my breath. I saw it fall and knew I’d got it!

I then burst into tears. I felt so incredibly lucky and to have a dream such as that come true surrounded by your best friends was something extremely special. Missy and Craig were both jumping for joy, as were the other girls, who had been a couple of hundred metres behind.

I was then blooded and proudly went off to claim my grouse. To top the whole experience off, Missy had the grouse I shot beautifully mounted, and gave this to me as a present. It now sits pride of place in my flat in Notting Hill and I smile every time I get home and see it!