Thursday, 28 June 2012

They say it always comes in 3's!

Photo: 1956?
As they say it always comes in three's! So I hope that's the last for a long, long time.
Yesterday saw the funeral in Watford of the third of the "Metcalfe" ladies in the last 6 months, my cousin "Peggie" or Alice Doreen Crack, daughter of my Mum's eldest sister Alice.
Approaching her 84th birthday in August
 Rest in Peace Peggie    

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Still not fished!


Just back,well yesterday after a week (less one day) staying at a cottage in Bradford upon Avon.
Why did we pick on this location ? Well firstly Pauline fancied a  trip to Somerset as "we have not visited anywhere in this county"
Not quite right, but I certainly hadn't visited, the borders of Wiltshire and Somerset, despite having many desktop ventures involving the likes of  Bradford, Trowbridge, Warminster, Melksham, Cosham and Chippenham in my formative years of property management with the International Stores group.
We had shops in nearly all of the towns in this locality, mostly only addresses memorised by me during my regular brain challenging moments in the office with Ivan. It was constant competition, in an effort to out guess him, in naming the 1100 odd English grocery shop addresses in International ownership.
We would shout across the office an address or a town, and have to answer the town name or vice versa! Believe it or not we even got down to branch numbers!
A real geographic learning curve for me which held me in good stead for many a year. I can still remember most of them! So much so whenever I visit a town I have to find the ex location!

Anyway, our holiday which included the packing of a travel rod and basic gear should have included a few fishing/picnic trips to the riverside, but as most would have realised the weather certainly wasn't conducive to picnicking. So I didn't fish.
We stayed in a fantastic self catering cottage   
not cheap, but we don't look for cheap!  It's on a steep hill about half way up...or down!
We only cooked ourselves a breakfast and ate out in many of the restaurants/pubs in and around the Bradford area, so plenty of driving/site seeing even in the wet.
Our visits also included trips to Glastonbury  and Weston super Mare,as well as all the other towns including a day at Lacock.
The best pub for location beer and food being at Avoncliff. They even boasted a 14lb barbel on their menu,(not the set meal!!) Open all day and serving very good food.
So, one marked for a future holiday week perhaps, right on the river and with free fishing to guests!

We set off a day early to miss out on the forecast very wet weather, we did that also knowing that along the way most of the towns villages we were to pass through had a  fete this weekend.

This coming week

I'm hoping to have my first river session of the season on the Trent, so shall be seeing what the conditions are on Monday for either the tidal or the middle Trent.

The only other thing I really have to consider this week, is a  trip down to Watford for the funeral of cousin Peggie.
Peggie and the 3 musketeers circa 1956/7

Just a thought!

While shopping for holiday clothes, a husband and wife passed a display of bathing costumes. 
It had been at least ten years and twenty pounds since the wife had even considered buying a bathing suit, so she sought her  husband's advice.
'What do you think?' she asked. 'Should I get a bikini or an all-in-one?'
'Better get a bikini,' he replied. 'You'd never get it all in one.'
He's still in intensive care.

Friday, 15 June 2012

The ol'boys

Another meet

Ivan's birthday do was onWednesday, at the Prospect of Whitby, Wapping!

A three hour drive, leaving at 8am, to my B&B for the night in Woodford Green found us just a little late(15minutes) for the meeting at the pub in Wapping, our second International Drinking Society meet of 2012.
Sods law, the usually late boys were there early, and took their chances to rib Ivan and me for our tardiness, especially since it was my "landlords" do.
We quickly settled into the London Pride and did the usual thing, this time sitting by ol'father, reminiscing about the good ol' day's. We even met a husband and wife from Cambridge, who had parked their boat at St Katherines and were trying out the riverside pubs. £45  a night, cheap when you think of London hotel prices. Not certain the way the winds been blowing lately, I would have fancied the trip down the east coast.
They were having a disagreement over who was the black actor who starred with Rod Steiger in The heat of the night, of course we all knew, because we always have a session of general knowledge to test our minds are still working.
Having said that I don't know how many times we've asked each other the name of Hopalong Cassidy's horse!
Anyway it was Sidney Poitier, not the horse but the black actor!

We put the world to rights by about 8pm after several pints of the "Pride" and at least a bottle each of Rioja, discussing things such as wills, pensions and equity release etc etc. We're all doing pretty well for Essex boys who were around at the right time and in the right place.
The pub food weren't bad either, but it was just food.
I'm a bit concerned about Dave, he didn't look very well, like us all,once pretty fit. He was happy to confirm his,the fourth do of the year, would be around his 73rd birthday in October, in Petersfield.Brewery
The third meet with Brian will be much the same as usual, he tells us it's going to be lunch on a river boat....but he's said that for Christ knows how many years. We'll probably end up somewhere close to The Strand, and as usual eating in a Cypriot cafe, that for the life of me I can't remember the name of, but the food is good!

Back to Ivan's, no more alcohol, not a lot of chat, but somehow it was midnight, so to bed.
6am he's moving about, so as a guest I get up, some welcome coffee, checking out the news and watching the repeats of the rugby in South Africa, before heading off to pick up his car at the station and then to the local cafe where I buy  a big breakfast as "payment" for the bed!
This sets me up nicely and deals with the fuzzy head, for the 3 hour drive home, fortunately against the traffic which is piling into the city via the North Circular at 8am.
Roll on August for the next one, maybe Brian will surprise us, I don't fancy Dartford though!

It was Topper by the way.... Hopalong's horse I mean!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Latest news

Barbel School 2012

This year 21st and 22nd July


Second spotting today confirms, what I was sure was a brief spot a fortnight ago, the kite has moved up to this area of the Lincolnshire Wolds. I've not seen a kite further north than Stamford before.
Drifting on the thermals low over the house for a quick confirming id from my
1976 Reader's Digest/AA Book of British birds. It states "Forked tail identifies this extremely rare bird of prey, 20 pairs nest in Wales, where they are present all year"  
How times have changed!

The great tit's in the box now have 4 eggs. We may have a different pair though. I need to get a better view of the male, he didn't seem to have such a broad bib as the last male.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Barbel Show: A personal view

That's it, another year over. 

The MC's view

After a few trials and tribulations, including a double booking of our usual speakers room by the hotel, which saw us shifting to a new suite, this years Show is over. 
A special thanks should go to Rich Frampton, despite also being landed with a not so promising date, he managed to retain most of his hair and produce for us one, if not the best show we have ever had, in my humble opinion.
A full trade room for most of the day saw many of our invited traders already booking to be at next years show. 
First off the introduction by Steve Pope, he advised the audience that unfortunately due to ill health, both Fred Crouch and Peter Wheat would be unable to attend. Steve read a note from Fred. 
There was also mention of Dave Mason and his condition following a stroke some months ago.
All were missed and wished well by many attendees throughout the weekend.

We had some very fine presentations the first being from Phil Smith, he talked for around an hour of his exploits searching out catfish from such diverse locations as Kazakhstan, Spain and the lakes of the UK. Moving onto zander, both of course as he pointed out originally imported to the Woburn lakes in the 1800's.
Finally his latest venture the sturgeon.
Cracking photographs of some massive fish and locations covering a good few years. 

There was a good 15 minutes or so of a presentation by the MD of Pallatrax, Simon Pomeroy, not so much a hard sell, but what came across as an honest view of modern baits and his company's latest developments using dried naturals like snails and flies.
Worth a try I think, although I didn't get much chance of buying in the traderoom. 
Pallatrax have booked to come back next year.

After a break for coffee we moved on to the award winning  Avon Roach Project update, presented quite amusingly and at times movingly by Budgie Price and Trevor Harrop.
They updated the audience from the very first days of the project, right up to the release of some of their "children" into a somewhat denuded of silver fish, Hampshire Avon.  
The culprits for the damage to fish stocks is firmly placed in the beaks of the cormorant population, the non-native birds from mainland Europe  subspecies phalacrocorax carbo sinensis, a freshwater cormorant.  
Not affected by over fishing of our seas, as so many "expert" will tell you.
A long applause followed the presentation and questions, a well received presentation.
A Hugh Miles film is available to view on the project website

Lunch followed,and for me the MC, not long enough to gather my senses, but onward and upward a presentation by John Wilson due at 2o'clock.

BUT, just as I was to announce John's presentation, a surprise heavy knock, knock, knock on the fire doors adjacent to the stage, the door opened and we saw Dave Mason being wheeled into the room, just a few days after a brain operation following his earlier stroke. 
He received cheers and a long standing ovation.
What a surprise that was, and good to see he was in great form. I offered him a microphone and he said...very I can't speak !!
His appearance  was a lump in the throat moment for many in the audience I must say. 
Dave was given a surprise bucket, or should I say a surprise bucket of cash, all collected in the trade hall by Jerry Gleeson and Paddy Winfindale from members and friends alike. A tidy sum for a laptop, or something similar, so that Dave can get back into action. 

Back to John Wilson, his hour long presentation related to his mahseer fishing, some great slide show photographs over a 150 of them, and commentary of his experiences over  many years of visiting and fishing the rivers of India, it was a well received presentation and question and answer session.Probably the best received talk to the packed room from the star attraction..
I have to say John was an exceptionally good guest, he talked constantly to attendees both on the Saturday evening and all through the Sunday about his views and experiences...
So good that I was able, to talk him into, both over dinner and the next afternoon, to giving  a chapter for the proposed Barbel Society book based on barbel fishing and his use of the multiplier reel.

A break for tea and straight into a presentation by Dave Harrell, champion match fisher.
Dave talked through his methods and the equipment used to float fish for barbel.
Before his talk hardly a mention of barbel fishing, which I suppose when you think about it, most has been said.
This presentation would I am sure have been something new to many of the audience, float fishing with lines from 6lb to 12lb bs on the Wye and the Severn.
 It certainly opened my eyes, I can picture the perfect swim on the Society's Sutton on Trent fishery to try his method out.
I had to cut the questions just a bit short, as time was running out and we had the Gordon Scott Award to deal with, I'll leave that for the "official" review of the Show. But I'm sure word has got round already of the worthy recipients name.
Time to close, thanks were given to all the audience on what was a special family weekend with the Royal Jubilee celebrations, the speakers, the traders, the light and sound people and especially to Rich,  well done mate.

Then to the raffle, clearing up and home.

From my angle I think it ran, nervously at times but  pretty smoothly!


Monday, 4 June 2012

Time moves on

The Barbel Show

Cracking turnout for The Show, traderoom and speakers rooms packed to the brim at times with people still turning up to pay on the door at lunchtime.Great weekend alround, apart from the rain which stopped the Wallis casting demonstrations being as popular as previous years.

One of the highlights was Dave Mason turning up just  a few days after an operation on his brain, following his earlier stroke. What a welcome he got.

I now have another method to try out on the Trent, Dave Harrell showed the way he float fishes for barbel,  I never thought you could float fish with up to 12lb bs mono. Learning all the time in this game

Great tits

Checked the new nest today when they weren't about, two eggs!

Cow parsley field

Electric fence in place, awaiting first sight of my dinner to arrive!

Last but no means least

I learned this morning that my cousin Peggie died last night following a fall, heart attack and complications.
Fond memories of one of my oldest cousins. Rest in peace Peggie
Peggie with the hooligans some time in the mid 50's

Friday, 1 June 2012

They're back!

Tit bits

I cleaned out the nest box of the dead fledgling and nesting material and guess what, the pair are back building another nest, and I assume ready to produce another clutch.
Last year they didn't do that after the successful fledging of eight youngsters.
I looked it up in my reference books and there are no mentions of second clutches, so there must be some inbuilt instinct that  pushes them on to create a new generation. If at first.... .
Believe it or not I get quite excited about my little families in the garden.
Our blackbird pair has created a fourth nest after abandoning yet another, this time with four eggs for no obvious reason. I can only put it down to the bloody cats!
A noticeable increase in finches generally with good numbers of linnet  and goldfinch, the chaffinches have disappeared but I can still hear a male a few gardens down.
That bloody song thrush though, as soon as there is any sign of light he's off, with that same old song which is going on all day long.
Reading Chris Yates  Night Walk reminded me so much of those times
Not too many years ago I used him as an alarm, to get up and go down to the local farmers reservoir for a few hours before breakfast.
The inclination is just not there now, and his one pound and a bit crucians must have put on a bit of weight by now. Perhaps when this Show is out of the way, or the holiday, or..........!
A great read by the way, and a change from Mr Yates usual fishing  tales. He can put his thoughts and experiences over very well.Another book read and not put down until finished.

The field next door

Just before we left for our Brittany break, there was some activity in our cow parsley field.
A general clearing up of perimeters and the removal of old plastic bags of what I assume to be stable sweepings.
A couple of years ago a young couple rented the field for a while and kept two horses, which I think were ex racing stock. Anyway soon after the mare produced a foal, and very soon after that the "stable" building they erected disappeared. They had done a runner !
So going back to the activity, I got talking to the lady, a bit younger than us and they were going to put in sheep in the field for fattening. They were going to electro fence the perimeter and move the sheep on soon. I quickly put in my whole lamb order, which was accepted.
Anyway, just before we went away I heard that the brother of the new "shepherd", a guy I fished with from our old village pub team had died suddenly aged 42, from an arthritis related disease that affects the arteries.
I went to his funeral service yesterday, the village church had not seen so many folk for a long time.
Too many young acquaintance/friends are dying. I am glad I retired when I did, so much to do so little time.
No sign of the sheep yet and the cow parsley is now getting on for five feet high again!

Our neighbour

June from next door, I've mentioned her before, is out of hospital after 14 months, the last twelve of which have been in Nottingham.
She's very frail, twice a day visits from the community nurses to change her bandages, don't help especially when it's almost a new team every evening. No continuity in today's health service..
It's her 80th next Monday, lets hope we can find a way of brightening her up a bit.
Ray, her old man, he's just turned 82 himself a week or two ago, and has been brilliant. But it's taking its toll on him too, staying in the hospital hostel for most of that time has been quite a drag on him.

I  need to get him out to fish I think, and soon.