Hot Barrels! by J C Jeremy Hobson, cartoons by Bryn Parry.
Published by Quiller Publishing - 2017.
Hobson is a professional freelance writer, author and journalist whose subject matter is generally rural-based, field sports and farming related topics. Many readers will be familiar with some if not all of his previous writings: The Shoot Lunch (one of my favourites); Success with Chickens; Sporting Lodges and the very funny, The Imperfect Shot.
Bryn Parry also needs little introduction... Parry says he was always a doodler, developing his cartoon skills while serving in the army and finally deciding to turn his hobby into a living. His work will be quite familiar to anyone who shares his passion for the countryside, shooting and misbehaved dogs.
Hot Barrels! is possibly best described as a miscellany of topics, facts and “fake news” (to coin a term being bandied around of late) relating to modern British shooting and myths from long ago. Indeed, Hobson has carefully injected extracts from The Keen Countryman’s Miscellany by Peter Holt, other authors and several shooting magazines and newspapers with effect. Hobson himself describes the book as dealing with shooting facts, fallacies, myths, superstitions and general quirkiness pertaining to British shooting and in particular, to some of those who partake in this traditional country pursuit. Intertwined with a litany of details accurately describing modern shooting is the occasional tall tale, superstitious habit and hilarious postscript about the random odd individual and the quirky behaviour that are infused throughout the sport and its folklore.
Hobson’s writing is enhanced substantially by Parry’s humorous cartoons that sufficiently populate the book’s pages to keep the reader interested and entertained, yet adequately few so as not to turn it into a comic book. The balance is harmonious.
Readers will surely be enlightened by the many examples of interesting historical data contained within the nearly 200 pages of the book such as the explanation of Henry VIII’s Preservation of Grain Act of 1532 drawn up to counter the national food shortage and spread of contagious diseases thought to be spread by birds and rodents.
Hot Barrels! is actually a serious work on British shooting enhanced by Parry’s wonderfully clever cartoons. So life-like are they in a situational sense that I am most sure readers will be able to remember either himself or herself or to possibly make it easier on the mind, a chum of either gender being in very much the same predicament.
Hot Barrels! is definitely not the lighthearted, easy holiday read I was expecting when I saw the cover. It is much more than that and to do the contents justice, it needs to be read possibly a couple of times. Each visit to its pages making it very much worthwhile experience for the reader.
Possibly the most useful passage of the book to fellow male Guns is the sage advice given by the author on how to treat that much maligned but most severe condition known as “man-flu”.
Hobson writes, “the best treatment for man-flu is not bed, but fresh air and exercise – particularly that taken with dog and gun”.
Hear, Hear Sir! I heartily agree.
British Country Sports
The Dangerous Book for Granddads
Don't give Granddad socks for Christmas or yet another bottle of sherry for his birthday! Give him 'The Dangerous Book for Granddads' - the perfect present to get him leaping from the sofa in
order to get into mischief with the grandkids. Evoking memories of his own childhood with some lovely nostalgic photos, our granddad couldn't wait to teach the kids how to fish with a stick, string
and a safety pin and he spent hours looking for wood and wheels to build a go-cart. He read the book with the children and they were also enthused by all the outdoor activities that they could do
with gramps when the weather improves.
A lovely book in which the design has been carefully chosen to appeal to its target audience. The family thinks it is great - especially grandma because it keeps granddad and the grandchildren busy all day!
The Gamekeeper at Home … and Abroad is a fascinating compilation of notes and observations that detail various aspects of sporting life over the author’s most recent decade… [it] is a fascinating and quirky look at his sporting life and experiences on both sides of the English Channel. More than that, it is a sharing of knowledge and understanding gained from a lifetime’s involvement in field sports – both professionally and as an interested amateur and observer. Practical, informative and amusing; Jeremy’s most recent title is likely to prove a useful addition to the bookshelves of gamekeepers, shooting enthusiasts, followers of hunting and terriers, country-lovers, those who might be considering a possible move to France – and anyone who simply enjoys a good read.
Andrew Glenn in Countryman’s Weekly.
Like a whisky Mac after a long shoot!,5 Dec 2013
I very much enjoyed Jeremy Hobson's last offering 'The Shoot Lunch'. It had interesting social history, fun stories, good recipes and it genuinely managed to convey the most pleasant atmosphere of
a social shoot.
This one does the same without the recipes! Now, at this point I must confess that I hate stopping shooting for full meals, and would far prefer 'shooting through' with a slap-up meal at the very end. (This usually also means that any of the more obnoxious types have had to motor back to London by then, yar, yar.) To have that end of day meal in a folly, stately home, wooden hut or purpose built shooting lodge is always a joy. This book captures that pleasure in word and picture.
By the way, if you have never done the above - but, for instance, like the novels of John Buchan (or even Ian Fleming!) you will still get a real kick out of this one. The photography is excellent, and Hobson's style is as smooth as that evening Macallan. Those who are into architecture, stately homes, social history, shooting, field photography etc will all get plenty from this one.
A Five Star review!
Jeremy Hobson is highly regarded and his name already peppers my book shelf as the author of a number of excellent books on poultry and smallholding (he has almost 30 titles published now) so I
was keen to get stuck into his latest offering to review for our hobby website.
Jeremy offers very practical advice to chicken keepers and Success with Chickens is both an enjoyable read and useful reference book for newcomers to the hobby. The more experienced poultry keeper will also learn something new though and I certainly gleaned some interesting facts that I hadn't read elsewhere.
I particularly liked one of the final chapters that is called "Fowl Facts and Fancies" which as Jeremy says he gathers "some bits and pieces which, while they may not help you to have any more success with chickens, will, add to your knowledge and enjoyment of them". He presents some rather interesting and amusing facts and figures and there are photos of the largest, smallest and tallest chickens and a number of other odd looking breeds of chicken such as the Frizzle and Transylvanian Naked Neck amongst others.
If you're looking for a good all round book on chicken keeping, Success with Chickens should definitely be on your short list!
Backyard Poultry Keeping
I have kept Chickens for about 3 year without reading any books. I bought this to get a high level overview and found it to be an interesting read. Jeremy Hobson is clearly very knowledgeable
on his subject and offers many useful insights.
If you would like to look at poultry keeping in the round then this book is to be recommended. If you have a specific interest in say chickens or ducks or turkeys then I would recommend you read this in conjunction with "specialist" literature.
If like me your flock is mainly hens then "Keeping Chickens: The Essential Guide to Enjoying and getting the Best from Chickens" by the same author is to be highly recommended.
THE SHOOT LUNCH: The Tradition, the Camaraderie and the Craic
I am a Country girl through and through and in my early years was part of the so called County Set which included hunting and shooting.
I have been a 'Gun' at Rough Shoots (a laugh a minute), organised 'Up Market' Shoots where protocol and dignity must be preserved at all times until one becomes drunk as a skunk after a hard days shooting and finally just shooting on my own and in this case it was to put poor rabbits with Mixie out of their misery. I've also been a beater at several Rough Shoots and I can tell you, it is hard work and a lot of Farmers are really tight about tipping. There are ways of getting your own back here :-)
This book is a delightful history of shooting from the upmarket type shoots to the rough shoots. It includes some really nourishing and warming recipes for both food and booze and some highly interesting anecdotes. It gives information on how to 'tip' correctly and a list of do's and dont's for the so called 'new gun' who thinks that anything that flies or runs can be shot at. This is severely frowned upon let alone dangerous. I recall a Psychiatrist being on the next 'peg' to myself and he shot at a Vole that ran past his foot thus causing the entire shoot to come to a halt, a huge crater appearing in the ground and him being told to leave the shoot immediately.
I have found that on the organised shoots I attended that the Beaters and 'Keeper' as told to us in the book, are indeed segregated from the rest of the party. They do not have the luxury of a hot meal and booze but instead bring along their own sandwiches and flasks of tea or coffee. Rough Shoots around where I live are generally a different kettle of fish and Guns and Beaters often sit together to eat.
I was not surprised when I saw the picture of a shoot lunch out in the open complete with table, silverware and Butler..........those were the hey days of the shooting fraternity. Nowadays it is more likely that the Guns will all sojourn either to a Pub for Lunch or skip it all together, shoot through until nearly dark and then after tipping the beaters and the Keeper, everyone accordingly will either head off to a Pub or in the case of Rough Shoots more likely back to the a Farmhouse for a nice filling game pie or stew.
This is a great book and would make a lovely gift for either a man or a woman. You don't necessarily have to shoot to want to own it either as it is choc a bloc full of social history and interesting titbits.
Very highly recommended.
Keeping Chickens: The Essential Guide to Enjoying and Getting the Best from Chickens
I loved this book, it's informative and while conveying the seriousness of caring for stock there's also the fun element which in my view is very important. All the main aspects are covered
from housing and cleaning to feeding and breeding and although rich in information its presented in a manner that will not intimidate the novice. The photographs are spectacular and a quick flick
through is enough to produce a smile or two ( I didn't realise it possible to have warm and fuzzy feelings about chickens, must watch that !!)
On a more sombre note, I have found myself on a quest to convince the wife of the benefits of chicken rearing and although my chances looked bleak for quite some time I think this book may tip the odds in my favour !!
Rural Living in France (Rural Living in France: A Survival Handbook)
it's a book I'd write myself. Honest, informative, couched in everyday language. Information based on experience rather than opinion. Many website addresses that for me, even after some time in
France, were a complete and delightful revelation.
Good social advice on neighbours, local services etc.
In fact all the stuff usually found out (the hard way) after years of living in France. Definitely the one book to buy.
A Practical Guide to Modern Gamekeeping: Essential Information for Part-time and Professional Gamekeepers
If you are already employed in gamekeeping, or interested in becoming involved, thinking of setting up a shoot or working gundogs,this book is for you. Every possible topic is covered in easy to read format, with personal and professional input including up to date leglislation. Every chapter is concise and informative with appropriate photographs. A great read and a great reminder of how the sporting estate, whether large or small, has contributed to the British countryside we know and love.