A Successful Ladies Day Celebration

Posted on 18th Aug 2017 Categories: News

At midnight when sleep often eludes me (mainly due to the ridiculously loud snores coming from my beloved Jack Russell) I often get to thinking about what should feature in my weekly blog. Writing isn’t something that comes naturally to me therefore when I have a flash of inspiration or an idea worth consideration, I must start making notes immediately. This week’s blog topic however is an easy one – House of Cheviot’s Ladies Day. You might have noticed the endless posts on social media (I did pre-warn you and FYI there are more to come) documenting the day and the post event reaction.

As Ann and I mentioned in last week’s blog the idea came about one chilly February morning. You might be thinking ‘what’s all the fuss about, you’re not the first to host a ladies day’ and of course, you’re right but it was a first for the company therefore the pressure was on. Ann, Tracy (manager and head coach at The Roxburghe Shooting School of Excellence) and I had planned and prepared meticulously for the day; Saturday 12th August - House of Cheviot’s 15th anniversary and The Glorious Twelfth (start of the grouse shooting season).

Waking up on Saturday morning, the nerves started to kick in but I took comfort in knowing Ann would be feeling the same. As I began to get ready (my new Timothy Foxx shorts made their debut) I noticed the sun was out in force and I suddenly felt a bit more upbeat. Fast forward a couple of hours… 10am torrential rain! Typical weather in the not-so-sun-drenched haven that is the Scottish Borders.

Determined not to let it dampen spirits (pun very much intended) we all looked forward to our first event – clay pigeon shooting. As previously mentioned in my ‘Awakening my Inner She Wolf’ blog I’d never tried shooting so I was lucky to receive expert tuition from instructor Ken McKillop. Picking up the gun for the first time, I was a hazy mixture of nerves, excitement and anticipation. With my first few shots, I got extremely carried away! Instead of being patient (patience has never been my forte) and waiting for the clay target to reach the perfect position to fire, I turned into John McClane with an itchy trigger finger (I’d like to clarify I’m not nearly old enough to have witnessed the release of Die Hard, I just have good taste in films). As I settled into a rhythm I managed to hit my first clay and I was hooked. The feeling you get when you see the clay target smash into smithereens is one of euphoria! Looking around the shooting ground and seeing ladies of varying abilities, ages and backgrounds having fun and encouraging each other was exactly as Ann and I had hoped. There were some fantastic shots in attendance and us beginners watched in awe as they hit every target – something to aspire to perhaps?

Instructor Ken was patient and put me at ease even when showing me how to load and unload the gun. As beginners we needed to learn this as we’d be competing in a team flush that same morning. Tracy mixed the abilities to ensure a fair contest so Ann and I were teamed up with two very talented shots, Sadie and Angela. They told us not to worry about hitting targets but to make sure we enjoyed the moment. This was great advice because we managed to relax and hit a few targets. Alistair Ferguson (top coach and Tracy’s father-in-law to be) was loading for me. I was very privileged to spend a few frantic moments with him (he’s somewhat of a legend in shooting circles and writes for Fieldsports Magazine) and took any advice he gave me.

After all the excitement of the morning’s activities, we were ready for lunch - a mouth-watering Chez Roux BBQ in the Roxburghe Hotel conservatory. The tables were beautifully presented with elegant table cloths and chic tableware. It had a garden party-esque feel to it which suited the theme to perfection. The food – WOW! I’m renowned within the office as a food lover (Hazel had to guard the treat drawer in the run up to Saturday to ensure I fitted into my shorts) so I was in heaven. Slow cooked ribs, baked potatoes, roasted vegetables, fancy sausages, cheese burgers… The list goes on! Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their lunch and with renewed energy we set off to try the ultimate stress buster – Tomahawk Throwing!

Ann and I had been itching to try Tomahawk Throwing. A great way to release stress and anger while having fun. Ann, who is normally calm and quiet, unleashed her inner beast! I’m not sure whose face she was visualising on the target (a tip given to us by Tracy) but it certainly worked wonders. No one had tried tomahawk throwing but judging by the reaction, I think most would happily have another go. I need to applaud our very brave photographer Danny who risked life and limb by standing behind the targets to get fantastic pictures.

It was time to head back to the hotel for the prize giving and birthday cake. I’d asked local baker, Baked by Kate, to make a special House of Cheviot themed cake for our 15th anniversary. It wasn’t just special, it was a masterpiece! You have no idea how stressful it was carrying the cake through the hotel to the conservatory. I was terrified I’d drop it but the cake and I got there in one piece. It was beautifully decorated with shooting socks and cartridges – almost too good to eat. As everyone tucked into the delicious cake, Tracy started the prize giving. Top shots in each category were awarded with unique pieces of jewellery from Hanging by a Fred and team flush winners received Molton Brown gift boxes. I was most excited about awarding Best Dressed Lady. Ann and I had chosen the winner earlier in the day – not an easy decision as everyone looked gorgeous. The competition was sponsored by our brand ambassador, Emma Brown from Emma Brown Tweed. The lucky winner was to receive a tweed sporting jacket worth over £200. We couldn’t make the decision lightly. The winner had to have great taste and impeccable country style just like Emma herself. Angela McKillop has both in spades! Plus, she was wearing our very own Lady Fairisle shooting socks (bonus points for attention to detail). She seemed slightly stunned but more than happy with the prize.

Finally, it was goodie bag time. We’d spent hours sourcing the best local products and produce from Love Scottish Candles to Kelso Gin miniatures. Other gifts included upcycled (from our socks) cashmere wrist warmers made by the Woolly Pedlar, Abbot’s hand-made chocolates (tested beforehand by Ann and me), unique Gwenllan Country Crafts brooches and luxury Cheviot socks. The reaction from our guests was incredible - they were genuinely thrilled with their gifts. In fact, we loved the goodie bags so much we kept one for ourselves too!

What a day! I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish (once the nerves subsided). We were lucky enough to have a wonderful group of girls who were great company, the loveliest setting at the Shooting School and Hotel, top coaches, talented chefs and a creative and good-humoured photographer. Everyone is now asking if we’ll be hosting another event next year which is the best compliment we could receive. Although I’m still not fully recovered from this year’s event (I’m still on cloud nine) I think it’s something to seriously consider. Watch this space!

Ashley x

Ps. Tracy, you were right – I loved clay pigeon shooting and I can’t wait to try it again. I’ll see you soon for my birthday lessons!