Sunday, 9 October 2016

Trip South For a Couple of Days

My wife and I went down South to visit my brother and Sister and to also visit the Mary Rose museum. I'd seen the artefacts and handled the bows but not seen the ship.
There was a bit of a queue to get in, but we got chatting to a local woman in the queue, she told us how there had been filming going on round there for a film about Dunkirk and how she'd seen a Spitfire  and Messershmidt having a dogfight over the Solent!
The museum was excellent, but the lighting was a bit dim for photography. The over-riding impression of the bows was how slim they were at the tips, mind it was hard to judge the actual size because there was no measure along side them, and those that were vertically displayed didn't have the lower end at floor level. The ship itself was a little bigger than I expected and it gave a good feel for it's size. Most impressive was the leather and woodwork which was still in very good condition and the small personally items that had survived.
Top pic illustrates nicely how a medieval master bowyer deals with a bulge on the back of a bow.

That evening we'd planned to meet some old school chums of mine but unfortunately they'd been delayed in France visiting their family and grand children. I couldn't resist going to the pub where we had planned to meet as it was...
The Hampshire Bowman !
It was a good country pub with a few bows up in the beams, I took one down to look and it was just a simple board bow mass produced in about the 50s as a "bow and arrow set" to go with the croquet set to "play" on the lawn. I was about to dismiss the other bows when I noticed one which looked odd.
I took it down (yes, I was getting some odd looks from the patrons!), what I'd taken to be a huge set, turned out to be reflex... then I wiped the dust off it to reveal an orange/red finish, paint? plastic? tape? lacquer? The ridges across the back felt like maybe it was bamboo. Then the penny started to drop, I balanced the bow on my finger and sure enough, the grip was way off centre. It had to be some sort of Japanese Yumi bow, but it was only about as tall as me (5'10"). Maybe a ladies or child's bow?
I held the tips and flexed it against my belly pulling out most of the reflex, It felt fairly stiff as if it would have a decent draw weight if strung.
Very interesting indeed. How did it get there? The barmaid knew nothing about it and no one else offered any opinion. It dawned on me that it could have easily been brought back by a naval officer who'd been out to the far East.
 It was too dim up in the roof beams to get a decent picture and I didn't want to take the bow down again. A couple of people in the pub chatted to me a bit about bows, and I felt I'd already embarrassed my wife sufficiently!
If I visit again I'll take one of my old patched Yew longbows and see if they fancy a swap. I'd like to see if that little Yumi is shootable, or at least get some decent pics of it.
Our southerly sojourn was rounded off by picking up a length of yew from a friend who I'd give a bow some years back, it's a bit scruffy but may have a small primitive in it.
The trip was tinged with some sadness as the old family home had finally been sold, we stopped off there to leave a card wishing the new owners happiness in their new home and enclosing my old key.
There were workmen there already refurbishing the place which I found very cheering as it seemed the house was getting some rather overdue attention ready to look after a new family. maybe a bit sentimental, but better than than feeling sad and down about it.
BTW. The last pic is for you to play "Guess the name of the ship" ;-)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. hmmm..stupid google..
    anyway what I said was....
    Damn it Del, you were only half a mile away from me at the Hampshire Bowman!
    Were any of the Merdon Bowman out on the field behind the pub?

    1. I hope not, it was pitch black!
      Shame I couldn't give some notice of my travels, but obviously one doesn't publish when one is going away online!