We got off to a rocky start going to the wrong place first but once we found it and met Chris, our instructor, he told us the basics, like stance and health and safety and things quickly got fun.
It was a private lesson for about 1 hour and with that we got 25 clay shots each and took turns in shooting targets from 5 different areas representing different types of prey found in the English countryside.
I didn’t start off much good, though of course Richard took to it rather well hitting 4/5 on the first area.
I did improve though and turns out I was quite good at hitting the clays that ran along the ground rather than air.
I thought the facilities at Garlands was very good with a well stocked shop, toilets and a small cafe.
Chris was very friendly and encouraging and always supported us in placing the gun in the right area of the shoulder (though I still woke up this morning with a stiff shoulder).
We both really enjoyed our first time shooting clays and hope to try it again very soon.
After playing around with guns in the morning in the afternoon I got some Elderberries out of the freezer to make into Apple and Elderberry mini tarts.
We picked and froze the elderberries a couple of weeks ago whilst walking around Kingsbury water park but there are plenty ripening on the trees right now.
Elderberries ripen late Summer through to Autumn and are the small purplish-black ripe berries that hang in clusters in the hedgerows that only a couple of months ago were filled with Elderflowers, which I used to make cordial.
When foraging, look up into the trees and pick the clusters with all red stalks and big, purple berries. Bring them home and strip them with your fingers or a fork then wash. Be careful of the juice, it stains.
Elderberries should be cooked to destroy toxins present in the raw berries and when cooked are actually an antioxidant able to lower cholesterol, improve vision and boost the immune system.
Not quite as floral tasting as the Elderflowers the berries are quite rich so best mixed with other autumn fruits such as apples and make great jam, tarts/pies or syrup.
One recipe that is a great way to use Elderberries is Apple and Elderberry mini tarts.
To make 12 mini tarts first make the standard shortcrust pastry by rubbing 175g plain flour, 25g caster sugar and 85g butter together to make a break crumb mixture.
Then combine the mix with about 2 tbs cold water and put the dough into a plastic bag and pop into the fridge to chill for at least 20 minutes or until needed (freeze if using later than 1 day).
When ready to use roll the dough out and use a cookie cutter to cut out circles to the correct size of a cupcake tray and put them in place ready for the filling.
Preheat the oven to 160C fan.
Then make the filling by combining approx 150g elderberries, 50g chopped apples, 1 tsp cornflour, 1.5 tbsp caster sugar.
I just put the filling straight into the pastry circles but if I did it again I would simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes first to soften the apples before putting the mix into the pastry.
Then bake in the oven for approx 15 minutes.
Be careful some of the filling juice may ooze out when baking so put a tray underneath.
This tart works well with cream or on its own and is subtle in taste but adds a nice floral twist to an apple tart perfect for the Autumn.