There was no time set, so Ille and I arrived at The Shooting Box, Wrackleford (Thomas Hardy's Higher Crowstairs) at noon for what may well turn out to be the party of the year. The property, reputed to be the best 'shoot' in Dorset is set in rolling countryside just north of the county town of Dorchester, and is owned by brewery magnet Oliver Pope (Eldridge Pope & Co).
The Shooting Box
The view from the back windows, looking south towards Hardy's (Nelson's Sea Captain, not the bard) Monument.
John Stockley (Sooty to you and me) is my longest standing friend in Dorset, having met when I was a tender 13 year old and he one year my senior. Strange thing about the 'immediate' Stockley family is that most birthdays occur within a few days of each other. Apt then, close to daughter Leah's 18th, Sooty's 65th and son James' 40th, that a get together of such magnitude should be held at this tranquil spot.
Real friends stand on no ceremony, so I was quick to do the honours when the 'bubbly' needed dishing out.The Minstral in the Gallery (Jethro Tull) a shot of the dining table from the gallery.
With Ille and fellow 'birder' Ashley (Fred) Watts as dinner is served.
Ille eying the 'crumpet, Russell Edwards (brother of Bowie) left and Fred again.
Some fantastic Blues, plus a little Boogie Woogie was presented by Stompin' Dave and his Electric Band. Stompin', foreground (keyboard & lead guitar), Graham Bundy (drums) and legendary Dave Saunders (bass guitar) of The Producers fame.
I can tell you, Ille and I spent little time sat down once this lot flashed up!
A Quiet Nook.
A Fine Pair (Pink Floyd).
and another, only the bloke on the left is 'finer'.
The immediate Stockley Clan just about complete.
Now here are a couple of lads who could chat all day!
Dave Saunders in full swing.
On the way off the property, both Ashley and I added Red-legged Partridge to our GB Year List.