Sunday, 27 May 2012

Year three!


Since setting this blog up 2 years ago today, I can say I have got a great deal out of my system about certain individuals and apart from one trying wake me up at 4am in the morning with text messages I try not to even think about them anymore.

So as promised my blog will continue ignoring the individuals.

If I have something to say I will, no holds barred, but otherwise I'll concentrate on my day to day life and hopefully this season, more fishing activity, not just barbel..

In the meantime The Barbel Show at Hinckley next weekend to deal with. The weekend after, the Barbel Society will have a stand at the Prince Albert Angling Club day beside the Ribble I shall be there. A trip to the Big Smoke to meet the ol'boys of the International Drinking Society, and a week in a cottage at Bradford on Avon, all before June is out!

Will I find time to fish ??

Thursday, 24 May 2012



Something wasn't right at 6am this morning around the nest box, it was all quiet, no sign of the parent birds, so I thought bugger we've missed them this year.

I had a venture down the garden for a listen at the box and two agitated parents turned up, they appeared to be looking around, so I assumed the youngsters must be about. No sign though and the nest box was quiet.

Regular readers will know that I looked into the box a good while back and found 8 eggs in situ. Went to France nearly a fortnight ago with plenty of feeding activity which was continuing noisily all this week.

The parents have gone now so I've opened the box, only to find just one fully fledged chick...dead!

Judging by the antics of the parent birds, they either have the other youngsters well hidden and were awaiting the last one, or,  and sadly I think this is the case, the dead bird is probably the only one that survived the original clutch.
They wouldn't tell me when I asked them !

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Bonjour, I'm back

River Vilaine Brittany France

Last month we decided to take one of our usual self catering holidays, so I did one of my searches via Google for  Riverside cottage France(and then Somerset)
The first one we chose was a chalet on the banks of the Vilaine in southern Brittany in the small village of Malon about 20 miles south of Rennes.
The second for later on, is in Bradford on Avon, so I'll be checking out the fishing in the Bristol Avon in due course, unless any reader can fill me in with some information in the meantime, as I will be taking my travel rods......just in case.

So on Friday 11th May we set off for the 4 hour drive to Portsmouth for an overnight stopover before our 9am next day fast ferry to Cherbourg.
A comfortable night in a Travelodge with a pub attached, and opposite the access to the port was a  good start.
Our ferry was not very full and we left the port about 25 minutes before scheduled time, arriving in Cherbourg 3 hours later after a comfortable but a bit bumpy ride.
We then set about the 3 hour drive to the cottage, which was pretty much uneventful as we decided to stick to the main A84 and E3 toll free roads arriving at about 4pm(French time)
The chalet was about 50 yards down from Malon Lock and beside the lock cutting.
The cutting is not one of these concrete sided efforts we find at home, but a steep sided cut, not unlike the banks of the Teme!
A two bedroomed home, with one double bedroom and one with two single beds for any kids that may tag along.
Comfortable accommodation on a single level with a good sized garden all around and an orchard.

I did fish the cut it was full of small roach, if I had hit a biggish fish the drop would have been quite dangerous down to the water, so I gave that up and moved across the lock to the island that separated both banks of the natural river from below the weir..
It looked barbelish, as you can see, but early research said that it was good for roach, bream, zander and pike.

Not wanting to rule out barbel though, I did try out normal tactics for the fish.
No barbel, but plenty of bream up to about 4lb's, probably uncaught before, because as I understand it, the French will eat anything that swims. The males were in spawning mode and very bronze coloured, cracking looking fish.
The French "anglers" appear to only be fishing for zander and pike, but each of them had 4 or 5 rods spaced along the bank all with deadbaits.  Not one sat behind their rods, but up the bank chatting with mates awaiting the take. I didn't see them land a fish all week!

Both being fresh seafood fanatics, as should be expected we ate out, choosing on most days the shellfish available. We had a surfeit of oysters,clams, crab,mussels, crevettes, langoustine, whelks and winkles.
I say we, but I still am worried about eating oysters when I have a drive ahead of me, following a very nasty experience of a duff one at a top London restaurant about 12 years ago, so I left them for to Pauline to enjoy.

Anyway after a week which also included some bird spotting,  at one time I had a blackcap perch on my rod, spotted a goldcrest collecting nesting material in the garden,and there must have been a chaffinch in every tree, we set off home finishing our first break of the year.

Back home

Another event-less journey, a channel crossing in millpond conditions,and we had another  overnight in a different, and better Travelodge in Hillsea, Portsmouth, watching Chelsea win on penalties, and drinking a few pints of Ringwood Breweries Best bitter.
We arrived home on Sunday at about 4pm, following a trip around Morrisons to stock up with provisions and time to relax before what I knew was coming first thing Monday morning.
By the way, diesel is a good deal cheaper in the French supermarkets at 1.341 euro a litre.
My old Octavia clocked up it's 140000 miles, and gave me an average of 60 mpg on the whole 1000 mile plus trip


Our perimeter fence on the road side has been held up for sometime by the hawthorn/ elder hedge in the hope that a natural hedge planted along the inside of the fence would grow sufficiently to rule out the need for an unnatural fence... it didn't.
I found a one man band qualified gardener in the next village who would put up the fence at a good price, if I assisted with the labour and paid direct for the materials.
Being naturally eager to learn from a new experience (even at 63 years old), ie fence erecting!!
I took on the challenge.
From 8:30 am, yesterday we took down the old fence, concreted in the posts and placed the Arris rails by 5pm in grey cold conditions.
This morning in very warm sunny conditions, I cleared away the old wood into his trailer whilst he started on the close boarded fence.
This afternoon at about 4pm, job done, and I have to say it looks a pretty good.
Thanks I'm sure to Pauline at least in part, for keeping us supplied with mugs of Assam at regular periods we kept going.
Christ am I knackered! 
Next time, if there is ever a next time, I'll pay for a labourer!
Now ? I need a holiday.

Great tits

Despite all the disturbance during the fencing work, although they complained quite a bit the great tit pair fed their noisy brood throughout. My guess is, judging by the noise the youngsters are making, it won't be long before they are out of the box and away.
I'll try and catch them again this year for a count after watching 8 leave the box last year on the 2nd June.

Two years

Next Sunday will be the 2nd anniversary of my Blog.
With any luck and if I have something to say, I'll try to write quite a bit more.
We shall see.


Congratulations to Chelsea FC.
Following many of my football supporter formative years, being lead by the back of the kneck by my Dad, a life long supporter, through the crowds at Stamford Bridge, it was good to see their continued successes.
What a shame Dad didn't live quite long enough to see the last few years of their successes. I'm sure he would be quite proud of them.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Barbel Show update

The Barbel Society’s annual Barbel Show is once again being held at the Hinckley Island Hotel, Hinckley, Leicestershire, LE10 3JA on Sunday 3rd June. 9am to 5pm.

Guest speakers this year are:   John Wilson  who will be joined by
Dave Harrell, Phil Smith and The Avon Roach Project.
Also on stage will be Pallatrax who will give a short presentation on the use of their products.

In addition, in the hall and trade hall throughout the day will be Fred Crouch, Peter Wheat, Steve Pope, Pete Reading, Len Arbery, Bob Buteux, Tony Miles and many other angling luminaries, too many to mention.

A trade hall will be open from 8:30am with many stands including:
Free Spirit, Stapeley Angling Centre, Pallatrax, Black Country Baits, Little Egret Press, Adcock Stanton and many more!!!

The official barbel river records will also be available to view.

Special rates for the use of the hotels leisure facilities have been negotiated for wives/partners and children at £8 and £5 for the day respectively

Tickets are available in advance for £10, wives/partners and under 18 family members free.
Through the Society’s website using PayPal.


by post to: The Barbel Society 7 Abbots Close Purbrook Hants PO7 5ET
 Cheques payable to the Barbel Society (Please include a stamped addressed envelope)

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Argggghhhhhhhhh !

Where's he been?

Nothing going on fishing wise, well quite a bit of work in pre Barbel Show(3rd June) terms, trying my best to get the word out.
Mainly I'm suffering with a back ache, which is now in it' s second week. I don't know if I did it shifting compost,or sitting in this bloody chair with a bad posture whilst typing and editing!
Have I told you were are working on producing a Barbel Society book? If not, I'll fill you in when the members have their chance to see what we have in mind.Quite exciting really to be involved front end with book production. I tell you what though, I wish I could write!

Compost !

After what has been a second devastating winter, finishing off those plants that just about survived the previous deep freeze, I have been as active as I can be revitalising the garden.
First job was to really cut back the roadside hawthorn and elder hedge, something we have relied on the local farmer to do, as he trimmed his in the field adjacent, and got away with paying for it.
He uses one of those chopper/grinder fitments off the side of the tractor. Really rips into the hedge, one of the problems though is the gappy teeth left in the top of the now 15 year old, past it's sell by, close boarded fence.
We planted, two years ago an inner hedge of beech, blackthorn,whitebeam,hawthorn etc etc, in the hope we could take our the fence completely and create an impenetrable, for security, a double hedge.
 It hasn't worked, the combination of dry winters and too much shade from the roadside hedge, has somewhat stunted the growth.
So in a couple of weeks, we replace the fence like for like. Not certain what to do with the inner hedge yet.
Back to compost, we've recreated a couple of vegetable patches using old bricks, to give a bit of height, sort of raised beds.
Already lost, through lack of thought, and shutting up the cold frames, the tomatoes and french beans.But trying out broad beans ,celeriac and bulb fennel, all of which survived, just for the crack.
Potatoes have been planted in big plastic boxes,we are trying out pink fir apple and charlotte, looking for some ratte for one more box. Not many plants but enough to get the flavour.
Onion sets in a few varieties are now poking through, despite efforts by the local bird population to pull them out.
Flower wise we've planted a couple of tree peonies and some more hebe, along with rhododendrons from Mum's garden pots, which are now in terra firma.
The fruit trees are full of blossom, much the same as this time last year, I just hope we don't get another air frost like last years which left us with just a couple of apples from,  a plum,, pear and the eater and cooker trees.   Gooseberries are looking abundant, and the early shoots on the other berries are looking fine. Rhubarb which we had a go at forcing, has now been eaten!

Talking of birds.

As it's been peeing down quite a bit this last month, I've been window gazing and for the first time ever studied the sparras.
We have hoards of them, but having never bothered to identify tree sparrows before, I now find there is a distinct difference between the two species. Not only that, the male and female tree sparrow are much the same colour wise, both have the tan crown.

House sparrow males have a greyish crown, the female doesn't have any distinctive crown colour.

Our great tit pair are using the nest box despite an early move off the soon to be replaced fence,whilst they were inspecting.
I waited for them to go off yesterday, 8 eggs!
The blackbirds have nested twice, the first abandoned with two eggs. Cat's I think,one of which was found flattened in the road. I'll say no more on that subject.
I think I destroyed an early chaffinch nest shifting the "dead" clematis, the pair are still around. Greenfinches, linnets and goldfinches are active, as are the dunnocks, robins and song thrushes.

What next ?

Holidays, life is just one big one!
We've booked a week in France in a chalet beside the river Villaine, so the travel rods are at the ready, not certain if there are barbel in the river, we shall see, not bothered really. Also a week in a cottage at Bradford on Avon, again the rods will be packed, but I haven't checked out the fishing........yet.
Later on in the year, around our wedding anniversary we will be doing one of those Sunday suppliment river cruises from Basle to Amsterdam.

Finally..I think

I've decided to take my other pension, still two years before the Government one comes in, mainly to take advantage before changes in legislation bite and the equalisation of male and female pensions.
That'll give me an addition to the pot, more holiday funds, still places to see, before  we can't.
Also, probably close to being a necessity a new motor to replace the ever faithful Octavia which needs, before long, some expenditure!
See you when I see you.

Not quite

14 river challenge  and for the snidey comment folk, no names no pack drill, that's why it's called a CHALLENGE !