Thursday 22 November 2012


A glance at the weather forecast for this week highlighted Thursday promising a rare break from the rain as a  brisk north/north easterly wind kept the rain over the west side of the country for long enough for the brave to venture out.

Gusts of 50mph did not favour the graceful art of chucking fluff, but undeterred I arrived this morning at my brothers to pick him up with eager expectancy and a positive mental attitude.
The time on the journey there spent growing expectations with excited voices. Creating hope and building dreams akin to childhood journeys on worn out bicycles. A memory from long gone days that paints a smile from so many remembered pictures.

Setting up rods  at the car, I chose a floating weight forward line while my brother opted for an intermediate/ sinking line. We favored the wind on our backs and strode side by side to the waters edge where we would part. Not from sibling rivalry but out of preference. With words blown away before reaching anyway, just being in sight of each other bought companionship without a need for close quarter confinement.

I selected a weighted nymph and gently teased out a cast which lifted in the breeze and seemed to take an eternity in landing on a rippled surface. It wasn't easy to take sight of the tapered leader even with polaroids on and was retrieved before reaching a decent depth despite being in shallow water. My second cast wafted parallel to the margin about three feet out, where a shelf sloped. With slow figure of eight retrieve I teased the nymph back. As it came within eyesight a flash of silver caused me to pause, long enough to curse a missed snatch at the nymph but as more often than not gave chance of second take. This time I lifted in to a small lively rainbow who was hell bent on escape, often making for what was left of some weather beaten and sorry looking rushes. As it skated over the net, I glanced up to see if the splashing had alerted Kevin of my success. I need not have worried, the knowing shake of his head and the more determined effort in his cast proof enough. We exchanged smiles.
 A quick snap and a sort out had me feeding line again and using the wind to my advantage, opting for a similar approach as before. On stripping the last foot of line before the lift a sudden tightening saw me lift into another. A heavier fish this time taking back all of my stripped line and then some, giving me a longer fight.

Its a far more nerving playing a fish on feel alone without assistance of clutches and I think more enjoyable to some extent. Its something that is hard to teach by anything less than trial and error, a feel that is governed and dictated by the quarry. No bullying here, just take line when its given  and hang on!
 The adrenaline rush is second to none.
Two fish in three casts lifted my gaze to my sibling whose mouth silently mouthed a profanity before forming another grin.

I stopped fishing and decided to have a walk,to familiarize myself with the autumnal changes. Took the time to catalogue mental pictures to serve as postcards til I venture out again. Before the rain lashes back my adventures until the frosts come once more.

Friday 9 November 2012


The spoils of a personal war

 Had taken the week off purposefully with the intention of fishing for Grayling down south with a mate and had it cancelled last minute due to the intended stretch of water being flooded.
 My local haunts that I've visited recently all appear either unfishable or do not appeal given the appearance of the water.
 This coupled with being given a month or so by the Doc to recover my health I was scratching around for something to do.
 Not wanting the devil to take advantage of my idle hands I got my fly tying and float making boxes out the shed and dabbled with a few materials , whittling away the hours whilst the rain lashed at the few remaining leaves in the trees and the breeze whisked the windfalls around the garden.

The crux of my problem is mustering enthusiasm of late, a sense of treading water, trying to remain afloat waiting to either drift to calmer water or being yanked under by the unseen and the unexpected.
It seemed befitting then that I would seek solace and therapy from turning my attention to fashioning floats from a few simple and abundant materials from the dark recesses of my shed and the bustling chaos of the garden.
To sit still and recharge my batteries and try to concentrate on something else rather than focusing my attentions on the gloom outside quite literally and mentally, would take a small but purposeful step towards recovery.

Now I don't confess to being particularly talented or patient but this abundance of free time had to be filled and whilst I would have rather been staring at a float on the water, I did at least find that same peace and sedation from fashioning a few myself.
With a few bits of cork and elder pith and some useful tips and ideas from far more experienced and dedicated float makers I dabbled at giving it a go.
I can't say their as perfect as I would have liked but I did find comfort from it and the process of their manufacture therapeutic somewhat. Aesthetically they soothed with their handmade, somewhat rustic appearance. And offered a touch of colour and brightness to the gloom. A sort of personalized panacea if you will.
I will at least be comforted in the knowledge that they are usable and provide inspiration which has alluded me of late. Besides which, they cost  nothing but patience to make and will at least not cause any ill feeling when adorning some far reaching tree or entwined round some lily pad come calmer waters and sunnier climes.

Piscatorial Panacea. 

Wednesday 17 October 2012



As I take those first purposeful steps from my back door during Autumn, I'm often stopped dead in my tracks by the blaze of colour from a little shrub.
Its name escapes me but I know its from the sumac genus and 'sumac' traces its etymology from the medieval latin word 'sumach' which  means 'red'.
For a few seconds it can  fool your eyes with the impression of a fire and draw your gaze like those enticing log fires spent in the hearth, warming hands as a child. Inviting a peaceful mesmerizing stare into it.
Each leaf like a flickering flame of red or gold that symbolizes a uncustomary welcome of change. 
The sumac provides me with that last flurry of colour, reminding me that the gardens visual rewards are what makes those cold days scratching around with a fork during those cold wet months worthwhile. A reminder that the colour of summer has gone and the long drawn out winter awaits us. Its sometimes difficult to envisage a treasure trove of abundant colour from the wet and dirty almost barren garden during the the autumn/winter seasons.


And in that momentary lapse of reality I'm drawn to thoughts of the red fins of perch, rudd and roach which await the more weather hardy angler that makes the effort of venturing out during the more inclement seasons. The sharp contrast of each trinket of treasure rewarding the angler visually against the grey skies and the drab backdrop of the surrounding scenery.

As well as ensuring interludes between the monotonous humdrum of work its often peaceful too, not encountering a soul on a stretch of water. The absence of  fair weather fisherman who have hung their rods away to gather cobwebs and dust in the shed. Providing more freedom to roam and explore unhindered.
It provoked enough incentive to venture out with light trotting gear to practice my techniques and to restore some much needed tranquility. Away from  tiresome work and troublesome maladies.
Is it credible or even plausible to welcome this period of transition even though I hate change. The not knowing whats round the corner but the familiarity of the unexpected welcomed equally. 
I suspect it not the only change that beckons and anticipate more thoughts and contemplation.
The reminder also, that my own fire still burns eagerly within me with just as much enthusiasm and eagerness, but now fueled with the damp kindling of the encumberment of everyday life.


Sunday 7 October 2012


Al fresco breakfasts were made of this

Not too bad a view from our cottage garden huh!
 Ignore the dates on my photos, was using a new camera and not sure how to turn the darn date thing off.
 My good lady mentioned something about 'instruction manual' but all I heard was yadi-yadi-yada!

Knew the climb would be worth it

A weeks well earned rest and relaxation was well overdue and as I'd not been to the Lake District before we decided to book a cottage near Penrith with the River Eden running by the garden.
A chance of viewing  leaping salmon, red squirrels and all manner of flora and fauna as well as situated close to the Lakes if we fancied a venture out.
 Getting me and my brother away from the  river was going to be a challenge for somebody!

This is how we rolled :o)

Armed with light fly gear, my brother and I would be found winkling out some wild brownies from dawn til dusk most days with moderate success.

Huckleberry in his camo gear


 But like most times when fishing such idyllic  locations, it was just about being there. It was  therapeutic to pioneer a previously  unexplored  waterway together. Capturing and embracing fond memories of the past, retracing footprints left as young boys.

Best fish of the week

My rod comfort me still

I laid in bed at night listening to the feint roar as the water cascaded over rocks giving the impression of storms outside and made the warmth and coziness of the bed just that little bit more... snug.

STEAM TRAIN!!... damn missed it!

Exploring the adjacent area I was treated to some interesting sights. Opposite the cottage on the far side of the river it was possible to make out where the wheel from a mill was placed in times long gone. 

The neighbours had long gone
 Caves and carvings in the red sandstone gave you images and impressions of its history and left you in awe and wonder, limited only by your own imagination.   

A shelter from the rain

We ventured out for a trip across lake Windmere on the ferry with the masses, visited a Bird of prey centre
and got dragged around various shops at the amusingly named and well documented Cockermouth, the location of some serious flooding a few years back.

Not my camera, hence missing date!

The surrounding landscapes were a visionary feast for the eyes and made the women ooh and ahh whilst us men took it in our stride. No doubt thinking about what fly to tie once the wives need for retail therapy was exhausted and we returned to our aquatic paradise once more.

Bear right the sat nav said.

A thoroughly relaxing atmosphere where you could do as much or as little as you wanted and still enjoy it.

Rising early and taking coffee and hot buttered toast on the patio while watching a busy dipper on the other side of the river, red squirrels up real close, buzzards high above the tree tops with the back drop of the splendid river was wonderful.
 If you gazed at the small waterfall long enough you could witness the odd flash of silver of juvenile salmon leaping but it happened so fast you question whether your brain was playing tricks on your eyes for staring too long, and given my track record for spotting fish it was probably best kept to myself.

A hawk from the future? 

All in all a very enjoyable and well deserved break in idyllic and tranquil surroundings. 
Totally relaxing and nice to be out among the fishes again. 
My next venture is a crash course in Japanese just so I can translate the instructions on this bloody camera!

Thursday 27 September 2012


 This time of year brings with it happy  memories of the past.
And like the fruitful reaping of the harvest, a time to reflect back and reap the rewards to days gone by with fondness. Times of summer haze and idle days. 
During my teens I had a Jack Russell called 'Pickles'. I spent  much of my time wandering, exploring all that was to see, and have adventures together. Sometimes I would get us up to mischief and sometimes Pickles could sniff out his own. Whether it was poaching, scrumping, trespassing or hunting we were inseparable.
One such fond memory surrounds golden fields of corn.
 I remember resting on a stile whilst Pickles flushed pheasants from a wood next to a vast field of golden corn. I had the idea of carefully making my way along the tramlines left by the farmers tractor to the very center of the field and hiding from the dog.
I reached the spot and lay down on my back out of sight. I remember the warmth, the clear blue sky framed in gold by the corn and I listened.
The whisper of the corn in the gentle breeze, a skylark twittering high in a thermal. I could pick out sounds for miles and pictured images in my minds eye. A distant shotgun emptying both barrels and a tractor carting trailers of corn on the distant downs. The occasional surprise and misplaced call of monkeys, peacocks or parrots at a wildlife park  a couple of miles from where I lay. The occasional rustle of corn further down the field, no doubt a familiar canine the cause whilst he scurried after scents. A hammering of nails coming from the village, somebody obviously fixing a fence or a roof whilst the sun shone. A medley of swallows chitting as they swooped low gathering insects on the wing. A blackbirds alarm alerting all of  a crouching cat in a garden. Rooks cawing their displeasure at being disturbed  high in the trees. The rhythm rocking of a distant train passing through the valley. Occasionally an passenger plane  would leave vapour trails on my otherwise plain azure canvass framed in gold.
 A whistle, followed by bristling of ears of corn as Pickles came brushing through the field in search of me, stopping momentarily for my further whistles to pinpoint my location. His over excitement and pleasure marked by slobbering all over my face and signalling his calling of time to my sound imaging and inertia.


Tuesday 25 September 2012


To quote the Hitchikers Guide To The Galaxy... "Million to 1 chances happen 9 times out of 10".

The following story I witnessed first hand during the Paralympic Games and involves a close friend of mine.

Dave Taylor and I have been best friends for the best part of 25 years, we have history, we have shared laughter together and helped each other through difficult times. We had daughters within 5 months of each other who have grown together from babies to young women and are also best friends. We both work together driving buses.
Dave and I were selected to drive buses at the Paralympic Games and this is where the amazing story unfolds.

The highlight for the first week for us two was taking  the Brazilian athletes in from Heathrow to the Olympic Village. These included the football teams, track and field athletes and swimmers.

During the second week we drove athletes from a multitude of countries to and fro the village to various arenas and locations within the park. Dave worked different shifts but we met up for a meal most evenings and related our duties, stories and observations.
Dave was getting frustrated at only having to hang around spare and not pick any athletes up for 3 days when he was asked to attend the Aquacentre in case he was needed. He parked in the loading area outside and was dismayed to see 2 buses ahead of him fill up and empty the centre. He was then asked to pull up immediately outside as there was 1 remaining athlete to pick up.
From the pool entrance emerged a swimmer from Barbados and boarded Dave's bus.
He was a very warm and friendly chap who spoke excellent English and he exchanged pleasantries and greetings and on alighting the bus presented Dave with a Barbados pin badge as a momento.
At last Dave felt useful and was pleased to have played a part and not sat around twiddling his thumbs.

The following day, Dave had a day off and traveled home to his family, his own armchair and bed.
During the evening he enjoyed a Chinese meal and watched the opening ceremony of the Paralympics which he prerecorded on Sky+.
As he tucked into his chow mien the ceremony was at the part where the various countries athletes paraded the stadium waving their national flags etc. The commentator was adding various facts and trivia concerning each country. It was then he announced the introduction of the Barbados team which made Dave pay attention. The team consisted of just one such athlete, the only man representing his country, for swimming, ......Dave Taylor!
The very same sole athlete that had shook his hand, presented him with a pin badge and alighted Dave's bus the day previous. Neither had noticed  each others names on their accreditation passes whilst they exchanged pleasantries and Dave would not have noticed their shared names if he hadn't gone home and watched the ceremony.
The odds of them meeting was staggering. The more I think about the unfolding of a chain of events that led to that moment occurring beggars belief.
It really is a small world.

Friday 14 September 2012


During my recent secondment to the paralympics I was put up at student digs in the Mile End road between Whitechapel and Stepney Green. This being my first time in the 'big smoke' as my dad calls it, gave me an insight to the east end. Coupled with a need to feed, I wandered  around looking for a place for an meal most evenings and explored with and without a few mates on occasion.
 The majority of meals were taken at the Half Moon close to Stepney Green our nearest Wetherspoons catering for the majority of our needs. But once or twice the need for change tempted me to venture to other eateries.
The first thing I noticed is the amount of Fried Chicken outlets there are. I'm not kidding when I say out of a row of forty buildings at least fifteen would be selling fried poultry and the majority of these would be Halal to cater for the high population of our ethnic, supposedly minority groups.
One of the flame grill establishments advertised 'Cow Meat' on the window and was suitably steered clear of. Using the iphone to search for places to eat near us, unveiled the infamous 'Blind Beggar' at Whitechapel.
Of course I had heard of this pub and knew of the Kray twins macabre history surrounding it and thought it would be good to sample one or two if only for my ego, to say that I've been in there.
I was never expecting to see Buster Merryfield tinkling on the ol' joanna whilst pearly kings and queens sang 'knees up mother brown. Nor was I expecting a hush to descend upon entry whilst 'shifty looking geezers' with a right 'moody face' looked us up and down in case we were 'the filth', or some large 'andy looking thug with fists like cooked hams offered to rearrange our faces with a few sovereign rings threaded onto his sausage fingers just for asking for a shandy. I was shocked by what I saw tho. Let's just say it was more Crayfish than Kray twins, more Public school than Public house! The Toffs had taken over with their sweaters draped over their shoulders and half a salad in their drinks. On inquiring about the possibility of food, we were told that 'we are rather busy'  but 'we are doing a special on a bottle of wine and a cheese board for £18' if you'd care for it? I think not me ol' china!
After a swift pint we 'had it away on our toes' to a ethnic looking curry house over the road for a blindin' ruby which advertised 'All you can eat buffet £8'. Much more befitting to a bunch of tight fisted oiks like us, so in we strolled. All the familiar looking suspects to eat plus a vast selection of authentic cuisine that, on the assumption that if you can't tell what it is leave alone, offered more than enough for 4 lads to eat their fill. The lads groaned about the restaurant not serving alcohol but we could find a rub-a dub after, no worries.
I quite liked the look of the Lamb Rogan Josh, as my weak constitution would not act kindly to anything too hot. Besides, I like to taste what I'm eating. Another mistake. It wasn't Lamb. It wasn't even mutton. I'm pretty sure it wasn't goat either having had that before. We'll leave it there I think, lest I start hurling again!
On the other occasion we ventured forth into the unknown, we frequented a chinese restaurant in Holborn. A short bus trip found a very respectable place just full of Chinese people. A good sign and we were not disappointed. They couldn't do enough for us. Blindin' bit o' grub. But most of the time we ended up in the 'spoons with the old familiar good old english tucker. It was better than the alternative of what only can be described as prison food on paper plates, served by Russians and Polish chaps in our very own canteen.
I once pointed to a tray of slop and  asked what it was, the guy actually said, I kid you not, "It is nice fresh Italian chilli-con-carne!".  Really? Italian? Erm,.. No thanks Vladimir.

Tuesday 11 September 2012


THE WORLDS GREATEST - by Richard Cleaver

The world sent forth it's warriors,
Scarred from their own battle,
Here to please the Gods, the crowds,
Paraded out like cattle.

They give their all and battle hard,
To prove themselves once more,
Not to be judged by sight alone,
But by what's inside the core.

They took to fields in chariots,
To tracks with carbon limb,
The crowds were stunned when they revealed,
Their mettle from within.

They taught us not to give up hope,
Surge on without a care,
I marvelled at their bravery,
And proud that 'I was there'.

Monday 10 September 2012


I have just returned from my secondment at the Olympics/Paralympics transporting athletes on 
a coach to and fro venues in the Olympic park, North Greenwich Arena (02) and Excel. 

Spent a lot of time parked at the transport hub at Eaton Manor awaiting duties and a good deal of that time observing the Lea from the bridge that links Eaton Manor transport hub to Hackney Marsh.

I have heard and read reports prior to my secondment regarding the state of the Lea which included a comment that it was so polluted you could develop film in it.

I am aware that the powers that be (LOCOG) would do its utmost to whitewash such an eyesore prior to hosting the Olympics and no doubt spent a fortune clearing the area up. This was my first time in the area and was interested to see it myself.

During my time observing I have witnessed aquatic birds including Kingfishers, Coots, Herons, Cormorants and Mallard ducks as well as amphibious newts,frogs and a seemingly healthy stock of fish. As normal, when without a rod, I have seen large Carp, huge chub and vast shoals of smaller fry and minnows inhabiting the river leading me to the assumption that this seemingly miraculous transformation has come about a good deal longer than any clean up operation in preparation to the games.

I imagine that this is the result of continual work of many years by conservationists and the local angling club and wish to pass on my praise. The river here looks stunning and natural and was teasingly inviting and I hope that maintenance continues now the Olympics have finished.

As an aside, due to the ungodly hour which I started work I witnessed several dawn awakenings and spotted vast numbers of parakeets in the trees. Not just one or two but several dozen! Was I dreaming or had I unknowingly imbibed on hallucinogenic drugs administered by LOCOG via the bottled water supply to affect my observations? Perhaps someone living near or familiar with Hackney Marsh/Leyton area can shed some light on this tropical ornithological invasion! 

Saturday 28 July 2012


There are some of us that were raised in the countryside and feel familiar and safe in this slower pace and relaxed lifestyle.
Those that begrudgingly commutes to the towns and cities. They silently pine like 'a dog in an outhouse' at the scenery that they leave behind viewed either from the window of a train or car as they go to work. Watching how far too quickly the serene arable fields and trees become harsh contrasting blankets of concrete and glass.
It is in that journey that they let go or release a part of who they really are, but they can't forget what is left behind.
I am one such person. I stand in a town for a while and I survey the people, the buildings and I listen. Before long I feel very alone, that I'm not there, not part of this hustle and bustle. I watch people hurrying along to banks, to shops or to catch that ever so important bus often oblivious to the traffic or the risks. I hear snippets of conversations either as they walk by me or on the bus. It might just be one sentence I catch. It sounds so petty or of no relevance to me but the tones and audibility or volume that is portrayed either to another person next to them or down a mobile phone to a friend, it is obviously important to them. Other sounds of traffic, the sirens, the horns, the thunderous roar...plays like a monotonous drone continuously looped on a tape cassette. It quickens the heartbeat and governs the speed of people's lives and I hate it.
Visually the lights do nothing to soften the pace. Neon lights advertising shop displays provoking minds with words like 'offer', 'discount' or 'free'. Subliminal and optical  messages telling us where, how and when to 'go', what to wear, what to eat or how to look. Traffic and brake lights telling us to wait, stop or go. Horns hooted to remind us that we are not moving fast enough or not conforming to urban pace. I would love to click my fingers and stop everything just for a second. Just to shout "WHY?!"

I guess its why I am good at my job. My town of work is notoriously known as "God's waiting room" subject to the fact that the population of pensioners that inhabit it far outnumber any other. But I take time to smile, to allow time for them and to talk. I like pensioners. To me, they are like books. Each one a story that cannot be judged by their frail and sometimes damaged covers. They move at a pace more realistic to the speed of my  rural demeanor. They are calmer, more resilient than we give them credit for if only let down by their frail bodies. 

I was often subject to teasing from school tutors and pupils about being brought up in the sticks and names like 'carrot cruncher' and 'farmer Giles' would echo in classrooms and halls not to mention my head and this in time only fueled such feelings of not belonging or not wanting to be accepted by the urban community.
I'm not saying I was a loner but I grew up with a feeling deep inside that I didn't conform to this way of life, that I didn't want to.
I remember having a friend home from school one Saturday, and took  him around my stomp, to give him a glimpse of what I did when not at school, to show what's great about living 'in the sticks'.
On his arrival I had chores to attend and he couldn't believe I was allowed to use an axe. I think we spent an hour splitting  logs and transporting them in a barrow to the wood shed. He took delight at this, to me anyway, menial task. Afterwards we took the dog out for a run and I showed him around. The farm, the woods and later the river. We climbed haystacks and trees, made dutch arrows and fired an old bb air pistol at matches on a post for a while before journeying to the lock for a swim in the river. We lit a fire to dry ourselves and made a wigwam in the wood, before heading back for supper. 
Afterwards I walked him across the field to the bus stop and waited with him til it came.
I remember him asking me, "What else do you do?" 
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Well" he said "I've really enjoyed today but is there anything else?"
"That's the thing about the countryside" I replied, "there's nothing to do and plenty of room to do it in".
"Eh? I don't understand what you mean" he said.
"Never mind, your bus is here, catch you Monday at school".
He never asked to come back unfortunately but I guess it must be in your blood and you either love it or hate it. 
Anyway, I guess I'd better get ready for another day in the urban jungle. A place where all the seasons seem the same throughout the year.

Sunday 8 July 2012


The weeks diary of two novice barbel fishers on a very experienced River Wye.

 The journey to Hereford was meticulously planned and organised, but then I am a professional. Ha!
Arriving at Oxford services in 2 hours for breakfast at the respectable time of 9.30. The unfortunate 'others' including my 15 week old grandson, had a rather more arduous trip.
We arrived in Hereford at the supermarket in four and a half hours to get the weeks supplies and after arriving at our cottage, unpacked in good time for our somewhat tardy and exhausted guests. Still no sympathy was shown as they only had themselves to blame!

My second visit this year to the majestic Wye had not quite the same explosive start as that first trip, preferring to merely whimper as opposed to BANG!!
The conditions here at the beginning of July may have provided an insight as way of explanation and reasonable excuse. Scattered showers and overcast the first few days with a stiff intermittent south westerly breeze. There were some sunny, somewhat short lived spells but by an large mostly torrential downpours. Most of the brighter weather enjoyed by the early riser but only the fool hardy would venture out for a walk without a coat. Or brolly. And waterproof trousers. And boots.
And perhaps a rope tethered to a dog spike! But more of that later.

The following account is written from my journal which the weeks events were logged. It pulls no punches, its embarrassing at times, funny but true account of one novice barbel angler (piscator 2) and an experienced carp angler but barbel virgin (piscator 1). 

Saturday (pm)
Saturday evening found the 2 piscators exploring their beat and introducing a little free offerings to encourage the fish to a few accessible swims. One or two promising looking spots were picked out as likely to produce results for the following day. Swim '4' preferred as piscator 1's choice as he witnessed a couple of fish on approach.
Dawn on Sunday greeted us with a bright sunny start and we both left the cottage with enthusiasm and much gusto. On arrival at the swim we were delighted to see a large barbel visible in the 'head down' position obviously hoovering up our previous evenings freebies. A good omen perhaps? More feed was introduced and rods were not lowered into position until a visible sighting of our large whiskered friend returning. He was very quick to come back, obviously eager to hoover up feed before chevin and fellow genus arrived and offered competition.
One or two chevin bites inviting both piscators to 'strike at thin air' as they notoriously mouthed our hookbaits in typical fashion.
Every once in a while our 'leviathan' would incite eager beaming smiles and improve our dwindling enthusiasm. 
After three hours stalking this beast in the now wet and gloomy weather, our piscators started raising questions.
Was it perhaps a pike? Is it a fish at all? How deep was our swim? I wonder what's for lunch?
The shadow would appear infrequently at sporadic intervals but more or less in the same position, preferring the edge of the crease facing upstream in the flow
headlong. In the third hour and after exhausting our efforts and limited knowledge, No.1dropped his bait in the middle of the flow of the current and wound back to retrieve it over the position of our sightings. As he leveled with the Willow on the edge of the crease he promptly foul hooked our quarry, a seven foot piece of plastic from a straw bale encrusted with weed.
As far as any previous catches of foreign objects were concerned, both piscators concluded that it was by far the most 'fin perfect' piece of plastic we have ever stalked! 
"Not a complete loss" was to become somewhat of a catchphrase in those first few sessions as things that were likely to go wrong, invariably did its upmost not to disappoint. Both positive minded piscators tried, by way of post trip analysis, to find something good to come from each session. It was to be a challenge in itself sometimes. "Not a  complete loss tho, at least we were fishing"!
Day two continued in the conventional manner we were fast becoming accustomed. The more persistent rain arrived a day or two earlier than expected and tried its upmost to dampen everything but failed with our spirit and eagerness. I arose around 5am and decided to travel light and have a go at rolling some cheese paste around with plasticine to try and locate some fish in some deep gulleys that I noticed from the bridge the previous day. Having put on suitable wet weather attire, I set up the rod at the cottage took out my paste from the fridge and donned my boots. I arrived a little damp to the area where I could access the gulleys and flick a bait in the flow with the centrepin. It was about this time I remembered the cheese paste still adorned the draining board some half mile back at the cottage! 
I took the arduous trek back and consoled myself with a coffee and cholesterol breakfast. No.1 piscator had surfaced and was immediately put in jovial mood by relating ones misfortunes, such was his whim.
He went to his own adventures ahead whilst I contemplated the remainder of the day and rethought a plan of action.
I later found him, although sodden, quite happy and contented with news of his pb chevin of just over 3.8lb. This was also added to with a smaller one both on meat baits.
I trudged and trundled through the rain and squelched through the mud with much hope to locate another swim where I could enjoy similar encounters. 
The bank, having been made somewhat treacherous by the persistent rainfall, limited passage to only 2 swims I could safely negotiate. The first was situated in front of two fellow piscators on the opposite bank huddled under a brolly and I would prefer not to disturb their fishing.
The second swim was fishable but if per chance I hooked a fish I wouldn't be able to get close enough to land it.
Having had a second soaking and a heavy laden walk that morning I decided to venture back to the cottage to pester the ladies 'quiet time' and pamper my 15 week old grandson (piscator 3..?) 
I had not been in long when No.1 piscator arrived back half drowned but by no means disheartened and related news of his success.
We made plans to venture into Hereford to seek the tackle shop with a view of purchasing a couple of brollys for an evening session.
Monday (pm)
The evening session was planned and prepared for, our chosen swim was just perfect by way of features and room enough for the two piscators to fish side by side in the comfort of our chairs and under our new brolleys. We fastened isotopes to rod tips and set off pleased that we were fishing together. No.1 introduced half a dozen bait droppers of freebies to a pool that looked 'fishy'.
On cue,having waited for our levels of expectation to reach its peak, disaster chose to rear its ugly head again. No.1's sixth dropper of bait caught in an underwater snag and bade its farewell on its speedy journey in the vicinity of Chepstow.
Unperturbed, No.1 put his first cast over his free offerings only to snag the same unforgiving sunken trap and relieve him of his terminal tackle. Failure to foresee such an occurrence brought closure to his fishing after just one cast, having no gear to replace it with on him. How I laughed.
Any mickey taking and general ribbing was short lived as my own cast put my bait in the flow with insufficient weight was washed into the same snag and parted with my line. 
"Not a complete loss"... there was less mud on the bank when we left!
Tuesday (pm)
Two sorrowful piscators left for the supermarket with the grandson in tow and bought some essentials and enough gastronomic delights to woo our wives and clock up some brownie points. We were more or less ordered bankside to get a couple of hours in as the weather at last had broke. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the evenings company from No.1 and the air show laid on by bats snatching moths and insects mid air. One such strike happened not six inches from my face!
I had a few bites using meat and No.1 landed a very lean and long 4lb chevin.
We were escorted back under a full moonlit walk by the bats.
Barbel remained somewhat elusive still but our neighbour took great delight in landing a 10lb barbel and incited us further. I fancy that before long one will put in an appearance.
Wednesday (am)
What a difference a day makes!
The overnight rain gave the river a flush through and added a further foot of floodwater. The breeze has gone and the morning was bright and sunny. 
We had a 4-5 hour session at our "plastic" swim. Fishing p.v.a bags and extra weight proved most productive. A chevin of 4lb 2oz and a pb barbel of 7lb 14oz for No.2 and a couple of chevins for No.1 just under 4lb.
The rain did resume normal service just as we retreated to keep the peacewith our respective wives and we took them shopping at Oakchurch.
Suddenly the world seems a better place now we have been blessed with a few fish. The wet grass smells sweeter, the trees seem more elegant and the birdsong more melodious. Despite the deluge of the past few days, the Wye seems slightly more majestic with every fleeting visit.

Wednesday (pm)
I would love to be able to relate a fabulous recount of bumper catches, double figure fish, a gloriously calm and care free session.
 I would love to, but unfortunately this is supposed to be a warts and all, pull no punches account of what really happened, So here goes.
To start with we had no option but to make the arduous trek to the furthest swim individually as the grandson was having teething troubles. He decided to make his parents evening a little harder by reminding them that young parents plans and routines are not always followed by the youngest members of the family. And if he was suffering then so should they.
I made the lone trek to the chosen swim to be joined later by No.1 piscator. I met with a friend bankside who bailiffs some of this river and we discussed our fortunes and further plans for this session until No.1 arrived.
Due , I would like to say, to a communication breakdown, a very important bag containing important items of tackle was left behind. Each thinking the other had brought it. A little petty squabbling ensued before No.1 returned to the cottage for the bag having the younger leg. I believe his mutterings were heard all the way back but of no consequence to me, I was happily sat under a brolly in a comfy chair taking in the scenery.
On his return, normal service resumed and some level of concentration and order ensued.
Unfortunately for us, the enjoyment of winkling out a few fish to restore faith that we had at last worked a successful method earlier was not adopted by the fish. In fact, suffice to say they never had the decency to show up, unlike the rain!
I have to confess to not being over familiar with night sessions and I relied heavily on No.1's experience. Although he had still not caught his first river prince, when it comes to modern carp fishing with all its gadgets and wizardry, his expertise would ensure I had a reliable assistant to be comfortable and enjoy the experience.
We tried similar tactics to the morning, tried locating fish in other areas of our swim, took on a little water and had a few bites...from mosquito's I hasten to add.
We had fished well into the eleventh hour without any success when I decided to unleash a secret weapon.
Three months ago I cubed up a tin of meat and laced it with garlic oil and a whole pot of garlic salt and placed it in my bait freezer. I, with the foresight to remember the bait on this occasion, filled my feeder with a mixture of groundbait to plug the feeder and a large quantity of mashed garlic meat inside it. I fished with the remainder, a 2" cube on the hook.
By way of last chance, offered my very smelly bait plum centre of a deep glide. Once I was happy that rod and line was positioned correctly I set about ridding my hands of the stench of garlic goo. Necessity being inventions mother I decided to grab a handful of the wet himalayan balsam leaves. Unbeknown to me because it was dark, I also grabbed a few stinging nettles in the mix also and proceeded to administer stings to the backs of both of my hands. 
Whilst frantically slipping about foraging for dock leaves to null the irritation, several expletives filled the night air but were marred by rather ungentlemanly and unsympathetic guffaws from No.1 piscator.
It was not with that painful experience that the evening was to conclude. Having given up we faced the daunting prospect of scrambling up the treacherous bank with all our gear.
What ensued can only be described as 'slaptick comedy' and consequently ended up with me using two banksticks as pitons, hauling myself up a greasy muddy slope on my front, resembling a rather muddy and extremely wet Chris Bonnington!
After yet another arduous trek home, including some spectacular spills and several stumbles arrived utterly exhausted, and completely beaten by the elements.
Thursday (am)
D.N.F- I am afraid to report that the weather persisted in doing its uppermost to saturate everything further including our spirits. Coupled with last nights 'comedy of errors' fresh in my mind and the lashing of rain on the windows this morning, I could just as easily go home now! This kept the two disheveled piscators  inside this morning licking their wounds bites and stings. I'm unsure whether our current lull in mood or indeed the weather will improve but for this mornings entry I announce we Did Not Fish.
No.1 stepped up to the plate after lunch to fly solo and try his luck as for a brief moment the sun came out. Fortunes favour the brave or rather the persistant  piscator. I am very pleased to announce that No.1 returned full of folly having at last been initiated into the barbel catching fraternity- hurrah! He was very pleased to report catching two chub
to 3lb and followed up with a river prince at an impressive 7lb 10oz. His first ever. 
I am overjoyed for him and offered congratulations before gathering my gear and hot footing it down to the river. After all,there is only 4oz between our pb's. A little narrow for comfort!

I arrived in the vicarage swim in glorious sunshine and set up quickly as the sky read as changeable. Once I was comfortable and had everything to hand to minimalise movement
as I was precariously perched above a pool formed by a back eddy and fish could be just below me. Last nights and indeed the mornings rain still lay on the grass and boggy mud still adorned the bank laying a trap for the unwary angler to land on his rear and no doubt slide into the river collecting bramble thorns and stings from nettles before a cold treacherous bath in the Wye.
After a little feed was introduced I sat back and dared to slip my jacket off under my brolly which was at the time used as a parasol and took in the surroundings.

I took a couple of chub around the 2-3lb stamp and a 3lb barbel. All jolly nice, if a little small, but pleasant to sit  in the sun and to catch at all. It was nice to feel close to nature and not be battling against it. Among the usual flora and fauna, I witnessed my first sightings of a blackcap and a gang of seven goosanders that were startled by my presence and had the decency to swim past my position without spooking away the fish. The only mishap was a forgotten rod rest. This I soon remedied, fashioning one from a young oak sapling. This innovation later inspired me to adapt the saying "from little acorns grow mighty oaks" and add my own "from little oaks come handy banksticks".

 Thursday (pm)

Both No.1 and myself chose to fish seperately this afternoon, No.1 picking the vicarage swim and myself undecided at this time. I fancy a trek to nose around further downstream. Will have to see. The showers broke and produced a sunny break in the weather. It was very well received by all but the fish. I chose to walk without a rod and armed myself instead with a camera. I wandered down to visit No.1 who was basking under the shade of his umbrella.
He had not yet caught but whilst I was there we were treated to a visit from No.3 piscator, my 15 week old grandson. After a photo shoot I strolled back for lunch leaving No.1 to fish in peace.
After refreshments, I took No.1 a snack and received his catch report of a small but welcome chevin. I sat along side him and was invited to fish the small pool below. I fished with a slug on a size 6 hook and quietly lowered it into the ten foot deep pool.
Fish inactivity allowed both piscators to survey our surroundings. Although now somewhat familiar we saw things differently now the sun was shining at last.
I pointed out to No.1 what I believed to be a young otter making a break across the river, and on mention of it to No.1 to alert him it spooked on hearing my voice and disappeared into the depths never to be seen again.There then began a humorous debate over what it actually was as it was to brief glimpse to be sure and here is our findings.
No.1 reckoned he was 65% sure it was an otter. No.2 more certain having a longer sighting and was 75% sure of its identification. I knew that daylight sightings were rare but because of its size, behaviour and colour could rule out mink, rat and vole. Both piscators a little sceptical and afraid to commit themselves down to our previous sighting and stalking of a plastic fish! In surmising generally tho,it was lovely to see whatever it was and our amusing debate deflected the disappointment of not catching and kept our spirits high.
We both planned to fish all day tomorrow as it was our last day so packed up mid afternoon and decided on a curry, DVD and much needed early night.
It is sad that its our last day and we planned to get the most from it and so made a few groundbait balls with a heavy pellet crush and large heavy pellets to remain after dissolving the cloud.

Friday (the last day)
I gave No.1 an alarm call at 5.30. We talked over the problem of any alarm waking the grandson who shared a room naturally with his parents and No.1 came up with the idea of giving me 2 pairs of rolled up socks to gently toss at him from the door to rouse him from slumber the previous evening.
I silently turned the handle and eased the door agape giving me just enough  room to stealthily peer into the gloom. I could just make out human forms in the dark and was suprised to see No.1's arm raised to alert me that he was awake without need for the sock bombardment. I however was unlikely to pass the opportunity of 2 free shots and let him have both regardless. Well, you would wouldn't you? I retreated downstairs stiffling guffaws and left No.1 shaking his head somewhat bemused to make a brew.
The weather was very gloomy with a persistent rain yet again but we arrived with positive hope and expectations despite the Wye having risen again and resembling gravy.
We introduced our frozen groundbait and continued a steady flow of freebies to build the swim. I was yet again reminded of the majestic Wye and humbled by its power.
The rain fell in stair rods all morning turning our bank into yet another quagmire for us to negotiate. Felled branches motored down in the current. We have really struggled with the elements this week as if the river itself not enough to contend with.
Quite befitting really to have us wet, muddy and tired feeling soaked and disheartened. The Wye reminding us it was king and that fruits of our labours should be even more appreciated. We ended the week with 3 barbel to 7lb 14oz and 9 chub to 4lb 3oz.
Weeks summary
 Our synopsis would concur that it was difficult considering the total hours spent bankside but by no means unenjoyable. This weeks piscatorial jolly has given us both more than just a few fish. Its been a valuable teaching which adds to our learning and understanding of both the Wye and nature. At times we have learned much of ourselves and its been a pleasure to fish a whole week with Peter. Glimpses of unseen natural beauty has at times taken our breath away and in times of adversity No.1  and myself have laughed with and at each other. We have enjoyed rare exclusive access to our own bit of the Wye to relax and enjoy peaceful fishing. We felt on the whole the trip a success.
Yes the weather could have been better, the water levels lower and the clarity clearer allowing us to perhaps learn more from watercraft. But isn't it all part and parcel of nature? Wild and unreliable.
I'm sure we will return in the future together and maybe next time there will be Piscator No.3 accompanying us fishing.



Friday 15 June 2012

IS IT ME? (Oh my life!)

I was stranded far from the depot recently awaiting mechanics to venture out to repair my bus. I was advised to grab a coffee somewhere.
Not being over familiar with the town in question, I was resorted to frequenting a company that I abhor with vengence.
I can't bring myself to resort to even mention their name but you know the one....begins with M, fronted by a ridiculous clown....No not Microsoft, the other one!
Pleased to say I am not a regular visitor but being breakfast time was a little parched and in need of a coffee so where's the harm.

Me: Just a regular coffee please.
Cashier: Would you like latte?
Me: No just a regular coffee.
Cashier: What type of coffee?
Me: I've said, twice now, just regular please.
Cashier: Regular is the size.
Me: Oh I see, normal regular coffee then. Is that acceptable? (do you know sarcasm? ha)
Cashier: So one normal regular coffee, any breakfast sir?
Me: Erm, no thanks.
Cashier: We do muffins, hash browns, breakfast wraps. Bagels.
Me: Still no. Just coffee thanks...Bagels? Did you say Bagels?...

I have not had bagels for years, not since traveling to watch the spurs with my mates too many years ago.
I used to religiously imbibe on a Bagel stuffed full with salt beef to help soak up some of the over indulged beverages and line the stomach for further flooding throughout the day. I always went to the same place close to the ground and being a Jewish based club it was strictly 'kosher'.

I have to say I was a little impressed with Mmmm....No still can't say it. Catering to all nationalities, how very    2012. And I was tempted too, until...

Cashier: Yes sir, breakfast bagels. Can I tempt you?
Me: Possibly, what are the choice of fillings?
Cashier: Sausage or Bacon.
Me: HA! Your joking!
Cashier: Whats funny?
Me: Bacon in a Bagel! Its not kosher is it!
Cashier: Kosher?
Me: The sausages...pork are they?
Cashier: I think so...want me to check?
Me: No, just the coffee thanks.
See bus driver walking away shaking head.

Incidently, later that day I passed an Asda supermarket advertising the slogan...Everything you need for Ramadan!..... I'm not even going to go there!
So I revert to my original question....Is it me?

Friday 25 May 2012


Thought it was time to update blog. Thanks for the hints guys. Subtle.
A little rusty. Where to start.
I guess a title is a good a place as any. I settled on "I'm still here...just".
Others in contention were, The penny's dropping, Out and about, and So long and thanks for lack of fish!

So much has happened in these last 2 months, it has whooshed past and left me with a feeling that I have fallen behind. So easy just to drift with the flow.
There has been a family wedding, the birth of our first grandchild, news on another, the last fledgling has left the nest, ups and downs behind the wheel of my bus, holidays to plan, elderly relatives to discuss, my good lady to pack off to Italy and futures to think about.
It all looks very grown up stuff to me, a realisation that time still ticks on, regardless.

Confessions of a Bus Driver (part two)
I have been chosen to drive athletes and press members at the London Games this summer. No medals, no glory but boy, what an opportunity. Excited? - yes, Worried? - a little, Happy? well yeah..except that its smack bang in the middle of the new fishing season. A time when I should be up to my elbows in slime, mud, nettle stings, mosquito bites and tender sunburn. And loving every minute!
 Instead I will be hot, bothered, stressed up to the eyeballs, stuck in London traffic, miles from home for three and a half weeks, missing my wife, my family (oh god my grandson!)
I guess their all be there when I get back.

I was coming to the end of a shift on the home straight, Eyes strained from the sun, tired from the long hours.
So close to the end, thoughts of relaxation, rest, shade and long cool drinks....
BANG! The breaking of glass, the crunch of bone, the smear of blood, the screams, the cries from children, the sirens, the questions, the accusations, the looks. The buzzing in my head , the fear, the dread and the horror!
It could have ended like that but for the grace of God.
A young mum crossing the road to pick her child from school, talking on her mobile walks across the road without looking...steps out right in front of me!
I don't know how I stopped. It must have been instinct, built in training, professionalism even but for the grace of God gets my vote.
Something about the speed of her gait, an acknowledgement of expecting the worse, but it happened so quickly. The woman lifted one leg up as to brace for impact it was that close.
My bus stopped three inches from her shoulder. She was smack in the middle of my screen.
The gasps from my passengers signifying that they too feared the worse.
The woman, carried on chatting on the phone and continued walking across the road as if nothing was wrong!
All passengers alighting on that final stretch made comments, all praiseworthy, most derogatory of the woman and some concerned of my welfare.
 If the worse had happened, every one of them would testify for me that I wasn't to blame.
 But what of my nightmares, the motherless child, the angry grieving family, the newspapers, the unjustified guilt, the difficult task of getting behind the wheel of the bus again or not!
All part and parcel of the job. I do my best and pray.

Message ends.