London Calling– Again!
I have to start this post by thanking a good friend of Henry and I, called Marc. If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't have had one of the best trips we have had so far since I started this shooting journey, and I will tell you why in this blog post:
Last time I was in London, it was in February 2020– exactly 1 week before countries in Europe started to close borders due to Covid. I had another trip planned that same year, in June to be more precise, to work on a collaboration with Holland and Holland but unfortunately I had to cancel my plans because Covid was hitting Europe very hard.
2 years have passed since then and you can't imagine how much I wanted to come back to London and shoot in all these amazing grounds, so we packed our bags and flew back in March 2022 to meet our friend Marc and visit the best grounds in the UK.
I wanted to get tips from my followers on what grounds we should visit, and what was supposed to be a fun trip to shoot with friends and not posting much in social media, turned out to be a business trip because as soon as brands and grounds who knew I was visiting, they started to reach out asking us to visit them to showcase their facilities to my followers, and I am so happy it turned out this way! Now I made new friends and met some very relevant individuals who work in the industry and this really made a difference because I was able to experience and transmit to you all why England is the best country to plan a clay shooting trip to.
We flew from Madrid to London on a Monday, exactly 12 hours after I finished filming an ad for Chevalier in the north of Spain, so even though we were exhausted, we had 2 hours of extra sleep in the plane to gain the energy we needed back. We had to be at Royal Berkshire ready to participate in a shooting challenge only 6 hours after we landed in Gatwick.
Let's talk compliance– why didn't I take my guns to the UK? Since Brexit, things have become a bit more complicated when it comes to traveling with guns to the UK and you need an invitation to shoot in the UK, which takes time to process through the police and by the time we bought our flights it was too late to get one, so my advice for you all is to plan your next trip to the UK well in advance.
This meant I had a little issue: how was I going to shoot without guns? Well, I had been talking to Rob Fenwick for years through instagram and when he knew I had this issue, he was kind enough to help me out, and I was able to borrow E.J.Churchill's Hercules. The first time I saw this gun was in an article online, and when I saw the picture of the gun with its beautiful engravings I fell in love with it– and thanks to Rob, I was able to make a dream come true! I tested the gun and realised that the Hercules is not just a beauty but the gun is actually one of the best guns I have ever tried in my life. You can click on that link to leanr more about it but basically the balance is amazing and I shot very well with it, bearing in mind I haven't been training much this year due to work and the kids.
So 1 hour after we landed, we went straight to EJ Churchill to meet Rob and test the Hercules in a few stands at their shooting ground. We were very lucky to get a tour with Charlie, who showed us around and took us to their most emblematic stands such as the platform and the pitt. The latter is famous because Sir Edward–who in my opinion is a genius, decided to dig in a stand to gain height as the grounds didn't get the permit to build a higher tower. How smart is he?! It was such a shame that I couldn't meet him this time :(
I will make a separate post about each ground we went to and I will continue with a quick summary of what I did during my week in the UK.
After shooting at EJ's we visited Purdey's shooting ground: Royal Berkshire and we met their MD Jonathan Irby who is also a good friend of Giles and Beatrice, the owners of Susegården. You might actually remember Giles from a video I posted in Youtube which will soon reach 100,000 views. Giles and Beatrice had already spoken highly about Jonathan when they found out I was visiting Royal Berkshire and when I met Jonathan, I realised why.
We had a selection of Purdeys ready for us to shoot with, during the Handicap Challenge and he was kind enough to accompany us during the entire challenge, to talk about the ground, Purdey, the events they organise there, and we had such a nice time there thanks to him! He explained to us why the Handicap Challenge is so special and we loved the Grouse Butt. I have never ever experience shooting like this in any of the Swedish or Spanish grounds I have been to in the past. It was like shooting grouse but in a shooting ground–again, this deserves its own blog post with videos so I will leave this for my next blog post.
After shooting the Handicap Challenge we all went to our home for the next couple of days: Soho Farmhouse. It is such an exclusive place that you can only access if you are a member or if a member invites you.
No mobile phones allowed in some areas and you can't just film while you are inside because privacy is the number 1 priority there, so I can't really talk much about our stay there, but just to give you an idea, the likes or Sir Beckham and Victoria spend a lot of time there, so you can imagine how nice and special the place is.
On day 2 we went to a local shooting ground quite close to Soho Farmhouse, called Oxfordshire Shooting School, where I met the lovely Lucy. Again, this is a highlight not just because of how nice she is and how well she took care of us, but also due to the fact that the ground is managed by a woman!! This is the second ground I have been to this year which is managed by a woman and I loved how cozy it was. Some of their targets were really challenging too, so if you are planning on a shooting trip to the UK, I would also recommend you to pop by and say hi to Lucy and shoot a few stands there at least!
On day 3 we went back to EJ Churchill and had a small competition amongst friends, where again I shot with the Hercules. We were also lucky enough to get a tour and visit the West Wycombe Estate and I can only say that if you ever plan on arranging or attending a simulated game or a hunting day with friends in London...this is the place to go.
As you can see in the images and video above, the place and the view is breathtaking– now I understand why EJ CHurchill hosts around 300 corporate events, they are just the best you can find if you need a shooting/team building event. Just like I said before, this also deserves its own blog post so I will write more about it soon, especially for those interested in attending any of EJ Churchill's events there.
Our next stop was Holland and Holland and I have to admit that after visiting EJ Churchill & Royal Berkshire I really thought it would be very difficult for me to keep up with the good content I was generating. Like, how better could it get? Well... it was very easy because Holland and Holland was the icing on the cake this time. I just have no words to describe what I saw, felt and experienced there, and here is why:
2 years ago I spoke to their previous MD, while the group was owned by Chanel. And in 2 years so many things have happened for the gun makers. Holland and Holland was purchased by Beretta Group, so finally they are owned by a gun company and not a retailer, which to me it is a more natural business set up. A gun maker should be owned by a gun maker. The team is completely new and since they found out I was coming the day before I arrived, I must admit I was very impressed by how, with such short notice, their new MD Nigel and the staff there, pulled together as a team to organise a full Holland and Holland experience: they provided us with a lunch there and we had the honour of meeting their head chef Joshua and they also took us on a shooting tour which also included a visit to their spectacular cinema. I really am so grateful for everything they did.
I love shooting, and I love sharing my experiences with my followers from all over the world, so I was able to transmit the heritage and how special Holland and Holland is thanks to the great content I was able to produce while I was there... especially because they had a little surprise for me: I shot with a 500 caliber in their rifle shooting cinema downstairs. That was life changing for me and I will never forget how my heart almost left my body the moment I pulled the trigger. I still haven't posted the full video on instagram because I am saving it for the day I make the blog post about it, and I have no doubts it will go viral because I got so much adrenaline from that shot that I had to sit down in a chair immediately after pulling the trigger of that express H&H rifle.
On our last day, we had the opportunity to shoot at Atkin Grant where I met a great instructor, Julian, who gave me a lesson on how to shoot Grouse, and that was very special to me as I learnt how to close my gun properly in a grouse butt and avoid accidents or harming and scratching the barrels with the stones. I shot with a Perazzi MX 5 this day and I had a little challenge against Henry's uncle, which was really fun until Julian took us to the high tower where I missed pretty much all of the birds–too bad!.
Before leaving London we stopped by West London and said hi to a few friends, and yet destiny had another surprise for me as while having a cup of tea, I saw George Digweed getting ready to start a lesson and I obviously had to say hello and meet the man— the legend, in person!
I hope you guys enjoyed this blog post, and stay tuned for the next one where I will be giving you all details about one of these beautiful shooting grounds!
If you are interested in coming with me to my next trip to London to go on an organised tour to all the grounds I mentioned, send me an email and I will be happy to arrange everything for you and your friends! You can find my contact details in "contact" up in the menu of my website.
And finally, thank you Marc, Toni, Rob, Jonathan, Nigel, Joshua, Charlie, Victoria, Luke, Clive, Julian, Alan, Katie, Lucy for treating us so well– Henry and I will never forget this trip thanks to you all!