Skull Gang Foraging Club: Foraging Firearms From France
So, we went to France. The plan was to cycle to Paris. Then we heard about Den. Den is from Middlesbrough. He is Terry’s dad, he occasionally fed the children their pets, and most importantly he owns a smallholding in Brittany. With goats and chickens and all that. Obviously we went there instead. And we took the car.
Early morning starts always seem like a good idea when you book the cheapest Eurostar tickets. They suck after pre-holiday celebrations. Mags can’t remember a thing until five hours into the trip. Customs police had checked to make sure we weren’t transporting his dead body. They all looked fucking dead. Dead comfortable, asleep in their moo moos and two-piece party suits. Being the driver sucks too.
I’m not sure if you have driven in France, but there are a lot of tolls. Unbelievable amounts. We got charged twice just to turn around, once for each 90 degrees. Honestly.
It may just be in the mind, but French countryside is way nicer than ours. Every cottage/converted barn/medieval farmhouse has chickens and ducks and fuck-off veggie gardens, with poly tunnels and everything. The men driving aesthetically pleasing rust spotted tractors wear striped shirts and smoke little cigars. Wheat field’s stretch golden into the distance, scarecrows wave at you, and small cats emerge from the underbrush to play. Even the cows are more relaxed in France. I think we only saw two on their feet. The rest were lying in the lactose rich paddocks as the milk curdled and turned to Camembert in their udders.
Den told us he lived near Dinan. And he does, kind of, but not when you speak zero French, can’t read the signs, and are way too cheap to pay for roaming on the phone just to use Maps. Den lives a good half an hour from Dinan, down dirt roads and wrong way roundabouts. He lives in the middle of no-where. It took us a while to find him. But wasn’t it grand when we did. The weather was beautiful, nay, perfect. The farmhouse was exactly what none of us had dared hope for, the chooks had just hatched chicks, the rabbits were due, and the goats were drinking each others’ piss in some summer fertility ritual in the back paddock. There was even a gypsy caravan. And twenty-seven bottles of wine. France is Radical.
Den is such a dude. He is almost hairless, has a northern accent, and has snake daggers tattooed on his forearms. His hobbies include fishing for carp, and fishing for foreign women on his favourite website, plentyoffish.com. He had just returned from a romance in Rio, was meeting a French babe down the sea when we left, and had a flight booked for Thailand to go ‘cat-fishing’. Not even really sure what that means. He was incredibly welcoming. There was cured meat, cheese, and farmhouse cider waiting, he had decked out the attic bedroom, and he gave us hugs. We gave him chilli powder, and some sliced wholemeal bread, cause he was sick of that ‘cheap French shit’.
The next day we went to the beach, swam in the crystal clear (cold) water, and found a cave. There was a French car-boot sale on the hills overlooking the ocean. French car-boots are kind of like English ones, except you want the shit they are selling, the wine is good, and you’re the gross ones. We bought a cast iron pot, and a cheval (horse) medallion for the Lurch. She loves horses. Then we drank all twenty-seven bottles of wine, and bought a gun.
It’s an air rifle really. Den sold it to us for 70 Euros. It looks like a proper gun though, with a scope and everything. And it kills rabbits, or any other small edible mammal you could think of. To celebrate we all dressed in Den’s camouflage gear, (he has an inordinate amount of camo, enough to dress all of us. Too much camo to be honest. What’s he need it all for?) and posed with our new shooter. Then we shot a scarecrow and drank alcohol free beer in Den’s gypsy caravan.
Foraging the gun back to England was going to be a problem. Den assured us it was fine, but we were pretty sure transporting firearms over international borders wasn’t really the done thing. We thought about putting it in the spare wheel well in the boot, or under the back seat, but decided against it on the grounds that it might look too much like we were trying to smuggle it if it was found. At the same time we couldn’t just drive through customs with it on our laps. In the end we just threw our bags over it, and plugged the holes with cheese.
They found it.
We were told to stand separately, and not to talk to each other. There were loads of French police, and real guns. To be fair, it looked pretty wild when they pulled it out of the boot. I think it was the scope that did it. The lady with the dog looked disgusted after searching the rest of the car. She came out with a frown and wrinkled nose, and muttered something to her colleague about fromage. Probably something along the lines of, “These English-scum gun runners smell of cheese and arse”.
Somehow we got the gun back. They were going to fine us 15000 pounds for a concealed weapon, but I think it would have been too difficult to explain with our non-existent French. And it was probably a subtle fuck you to the UK letting the cheese-stench rifle maniacs in. The gun was taken off us during the ferry trip, and returned on British soil. We never told them about the ammo though. So technically that makes us gun smugglers. And after we kill a rabbit illegally in Epping Forest, we will become poachers. I will cook it in our French pot, like this -
Smugglers poached rabbit stew
Joint one or two rabbits, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and fry in the French pot until nice and browned on all sides.
Add 3 spring onions and 4 cloves of garlic. Sweat.
Add some small potatoes, halved.
Get one of those tops 3 Euro bottles of red wine from Super U, then use a third of it.
Add two tins of tomatoes. If the liquid doesn’t cover your meat, top up with water.
Throw in half a jar of kalamata olives, a chicken stock cube, and a good bunch of rosemary, stalks on.
Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for a minimum of an hour, but the longer the better.
Sprinkle with fresh Thyme, and serve with dumplings, or mash, or whatever the fuck you want really. Cause you’re outside the law.