“ A country sports day in the heart of Suffolk, involving clay pigeon shooting, welly throwing, quoits and horse. „
skip this first bit to be able to read the review with capital letters intact. Braggons Farm is situated in Boxted, Suffolk. The farm can be reached by travelling on the A134 from Sudbury or Bury St Edmunds, passing through the village of Glemsford, and following the tiny back road to Boxted. There is no public transport available, as no bus services run on a Sunday. Braggons have stables, from which they run a very informal riding school on a Saturday and Sunday, for very reasonable prices. However, that is another story. Braggons Farm is run by David and Dorothy Laflin. Each year, in July, they hold a Country Sports Day on their premises. The event is always held on a Sunday afternoon and is very popular within the area. We have visited the event for the past seven years, and as our most recent visit was last weekend, I thought I would share the experience. Locals from Glemsford and Boxted will normally walk to the event, but there are ample car parking facilities on the field to the back of the farm, for which there is no charge. On arriving at the farm, it is mandatory to purchase a score card, in order to take part in the afternoon?s events. There are three different prices, as follows: Adult £5, Children up to 9 years £3, Children from 9-13 years £4. As there are shooting events during the course of the afternoon, young children cannot take part in these. This year I did not take part in any of the events, as I was camera person for the afternoon. The events are set out in three fields, and are all numbered. There is no need to visit them in numerical order, it is entirely at your discretion. Each event has a scorer, to whom the cards are handed, and a helper/instructor. Quoits ? this game is similar to hoopla. A wooden cross shaped board is placed on the ground. Eight wooden upright pegs are place
d on to the board. Participants stand on one of three white lines, depending on their age, and throw the rope rings at the pegs, their final score depending on how many pegs they have managed to successfully hoop with the rings. SCORES: Steve 1, Jack 1, Amber 1 Not a good start for the budding competitors, so we made our way to the next event. Basket Ball ? Each person has five attempts to score a basket. For younger children, the basket is lower to give them more of a chance. SCORES: Steve 1, Jack 1, Amber 5 Amber had a decidedly smug look on her face at this point, and in true brotherly fashion Jack was quick to point out that she did shoot in the lower basket! Putting ? A large board was laid out on the ground, with a hole in the end. Participants are provided with five golf balls and a golf club. The idea is to get as many balls in the hole as possible, by taking one shot at each ball. There are three white lines and the age of the person will determine which line they tee off from. SCORES: Steve 4, Jack 1, Amber 2 Croquet ? Five metal arches placed in the ground, in a circular formation. By standing in the middle of the arches, each participant has to try and knock a wooden ball through each arch, with the aid of a wooden implement, rather like an upside down mallet. Only one shot per arch is allowed. Before it was our turn, an elderly gentleman had a turn, and made it look so easy. However, Amber swiped at the ball at least three times before she made contact with her first shot. Consequently we were all helpless with laughter, which did not help her a lot! SCORES: Steve 5, Jack 4, Amber 4 Rifle Range ? A row of straw bales serves as the range, on which to take your shots at a target placed some feet away. Children under 9 are not allowed to take part in this event, although it is very well supervised. Because it take some time to show the children how to aim and sight th
eir rifle at the targets, there is normally a large queue for this event, and this year was no exception. Unfortunately, we did not have to compete in the rifle range this year, as we had a table booked for dinner and were running late. Score a goal - A football goal is set up on the field, and army cadets take it in turns to be the goalkeeper. Each person has five penalty shots at the goal and, as before, the age of the person will depend on which of the three lines they take their penalties from. The goals are only five a side football size, so it makes scoring slightly more difficult. Jack thought he would excel at this challenge, as football is his whole life??. SCORES: Steve 0, Jack 3, Amber 4 As you can imagine Steve was totally ripped to shreds by both myself and the children after this event, and he retorted that he always played in goal during his footballing days. What we found so funny is the fact that he is taking over the running of Jack's Under 14 football team for the coming season. Ho Hum. Jack was ecstatic that Steve had scored absolutely nothing, as it took away some of the onus of Amber scoring the most! Toss a Haysack ? For this event, a metal contraption rather like a high jump is set up. The idea is to toss a sack full of hay as far over the bar as you can. The trick is to stand with your back to the bar and throw the sack backwards, as this will help to throw further. Two weights of sacks are available, the smaller of the two is given to younger children. There are five white lines painted on the ground, on the other side of the structure to measure the distance thrown. When Amber took her practice turn, she managed to swing the sack and hit the bar, knocking the whole structure over. Cue Mother in hysterics trying to pretend she wasn?t mine! SCORES: Steve 5 (big head), Jack 1 (wimp), Amber 3 (pretty impressive for a girl!) Archery ? A target is set up on a large board with yellow, red, b
lack and blue rings. Each ring is designated a score. Participants are shown how to load (?) and shoot the bow with an arrow and they have five shots at the target. This is not as easy as it looks and Amber did have a bit of difficulty getting her arrow in the correct position in the bow. After the event Steve had a huge red mark on his arm where the string of the bow came back after firing, which turned into a bruise after a day. SCORES: Steve 5, Jack 2, Amber 3 Wang a Wellie ? Two large Wellington boots are provided for throwing. Five white lines are painted on the grass, and points awarded depending on which line you cross. Steve managed to nearly hit people queueing for the archery on this one as he threw it so far. SCORES: Steve 5, Jack 3, Amber 3 Fly Casting ? A large fishing rod is provided, and participants are given instruction on how to cast. Three hoops are set out on the floor and the idea is to land the end of the line into one of the hoops. As there was quite a breeze, this proved to be very difficult this year. SCORES: Steve 1, Jack 1, Amber 1 Clay shooting ? As Amber was too young for this event, only Steve and Jack had a go. Depending on the size, age and proficiency with a gun, there are a choice of guns for this event. Steve had the heaviest, Jack the lightest. Firstly, an instructor will show the basic parts of a gun, and how the safety catch works. A clay, which is a disc, is released from a machine, after the marksman shouts ?Pull? and the idea is to shoot it. Jack found this quite difficult, but he would really like to take this up as a hobby. Incidentally, his friend was behind us in the queue, who shoots regularly, and he was excellent! SCORES: Steve 2, Jack 0 After we had visited all the attractions on the score card, we made our way over to the main garden of the farm where there was a refreshment stall, a wonderful cake and pastry stall serving delicious home made war
es. As we were on our way out for a meal, we didn?t buy anything this year, but I can assure everyone, I have had some delicious items from the stall before. Alsoin the garden, there are a couple of games that have to be paid for. A treasure hunt was set up, whereby purchasing a stick with a numbered flag for 20p, there was a £20 prize. Amber duly stuck her stick into the sand, but as far as I know we haven?t won anything yet! The other game ?Bowling for a Pig? will appal any vegetarian reading this, as the prize is a whole pig, jointed for the freezer. A long wooden structure is set up on the grass, having mousehole-like holes, all differently numbered. Bowling balls must be rolled at the holes and the highest score of the day wins. For the last event of the day, we wandered over the field where horse rides take place. The fee is £1 a ride, where children are led round the field on a horse suitable for their size. As Amber can ride, and uses the stables, she is allowed a large one, and can ride on her own if she likes. The horses are a popular attraction for children young and old during the afternoon?s fun. It is a good idea to take suitable footwear for the day, as you are going to be tramping across fields and shooting footballs at a goal. My friend was taking her penalties with open toed sandals and as you can imagine, suffered bruised toes! To sum up, the Country Sports Day is a fun filled afternoon for adults and children, hilarity abounds, and for the locals, it?s a chance to meet up with friends, have a beer and a picnic on the farm and just chill. If you?re ever down Suffolk way in July, look out for the signs on the roadside! Braggons Farm Boxted Bury St Edmunds Suffolk IP29 4LL Tel: 01787 280266 As a footnote I must point out that Jack was thoroughly disgruntled with the whole afternoon as his sister beat him on almost every event! He insisted he had not got the ri
ght footwear, he was tired, or Amber was given special privileges as she was younger! I didn?t like to point out that he beat her last year, and she had special privileges then too! Photographs of the day can be seen at http://f1.pg.photos.yahoo.com/bc/perfect_peach_2001/lst?.dir=/Braggons+Farm+Sports +Day&.view=t for anyone who is interested.