Monday, 14 August 2017

The nine o'clock chimes


As you have probably guessed, the crucian bug has got a hold of me. Who can blame me when fishing such a delightful ancient pool as this. Time just seems to disappear there. Always so much to take in from the abundant wildlife to cloud formations, church chimes and oh no! The float has gone under once more and another bite has been missed.

It was such an evening recently. I was joined by Merv who started to fish and had no idea I was actually there. I had not heard him arrive. A quiet raspberry made him look round in astonishment. We were then joined by Chris who came down for natterings only and no fishing. He departed just as the light was thinning - his parting words were "remember it will all happen at 9 o'clock, I guarantee it".  


I brewed some tea, we ate some biscuits and I heard the splashings of Merv landing a crucian - then my float dipped and I lost one...........just as the church clock chimed nine. We haven't told him he was right. We wouldn't hear the end of it. As Merv left, my float dipped and I too landed a small lump of gold - just enough to keep me going until the next time I am here again.


Friday, 28 July 2017

The Golden Vision

The wonder of modern technology amazes me - I was just settling down to my first brew of the day, the air was still and there was a quiet murmur of bird song above the increasing wind. I could be anywhere, any time. Nestled in a quiet fold of Wiltshire, just over the border from my home county of Dorset are two ancient ponds that I am coming to love very much. I had completely removed myself from the outside world.....for the time being this very place was my world.



I heard the gentle buzz of an incoming text message. It was from The Captain "where on earth are you?" - it was before seven and I had been here, staring at my quill float, before five. An unearthly hour I know, but somehow in my excitement I had forgotten to tell The Captain. All was well.  



There is not a great deal that will get me out of my bed at three thirty in the morning, but a last minute day off work and a last minute thought of fishing for crucians got me so excited to a level I had not experienced in a long while.

The journey is memorable, the day just beginning and the odd sign of creatures returning home to bed after a night on the prowl are the perfect prelim to actually arriving and casting out. I open the gate quietly and, lights off, free-wheel down the hill.

The weather has been lovely this summer, a true mix of everything and after some really hot days it was pleasant to feel the wind in my face and only the odd spot of rain.......not enough to make it unpleasant.   

The top pond was the order of the day after spotting, in the half light, fizzing, churnings and movement of the lily pads which made the water the colour of a Caramac bar.....this is where I would fish. The weather had made the fish active and hungry.



A small handfull of "secret" bread mash, some "special" bread paste on my barbless hook and cast out, just a very short distance on the edge of the lily pads and wait.

There was no dawn chorus today, it does get significantly quieter at this time of year, but just the odd gentle warble here and there. This magical place is noted for its dragonflies, but again there was no sign. The resident moorhen family kept me amused with their busy breakfast gathering and family goings on.....one of my favourite birds on a fishing trip, they exude a quiet waterside happiness.

Crucians can be notoriously difficult to catch. Clever, delicate feeders they can fiddle about with your bait driving you crazy as you miss bite after bite. This was the order of the morning coupled with quiet cursings from me, but still ever so happy to be here.





I managed to catch six lovely little bars of gold - I adore them and, as I may have posted previously, I now understand what all the fuss is about. My friends have been bewitched by crucians for some time and I kept my distance until last year when, I too, came under the spell of the golden vision. 

      

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Life in miniature



The past few fishing trips have seen me looking down more often than not. Usually, I spend most of my time looking up - I have been aware of movements on the overgrown fisherman's paths and have seen more frogs and toads this year than I have done in recent years.  This is a risky business. The last thing our friends need is a size 10 Dr Marten ruining their day. 

The other day I was conscious of some overexcited twitterings at my elbow - my elbow was resting on a helpful log. A newly fledged wren had, at that moment, left the nest and the parent was helping it on those first big steps. This is likely to be brood number two.....or possibly three. After they departed I bent down and found the most delightful Hobbit House - completely moss lined in the underside nook of the log. The years turning in miniature.  


Friday, 21 July 2017

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Lay Down Thy Raincoat And Groove

I was amazed to find these gems of ephemera in the treasure trove that is more commonly known as our attic.

Amazed to find them, amazed they had survived and amazed to realise it was 34 years ago that The Bunnymen had played at The Royal Albert Hall for two consecutive nights in July 1983.


Aged 14 I was already aware of The Bunnymen – I had been a fan for a few years already as I started my exploration of post punk and found their music to my liking. I loved exploration, I loved field trips, archipelagos, fishing, poking around on beaches, old stuff and I dressed in camouflage……they seemed to like most of this too. It was a match made in heaven.

I can categorically say that I was the only one at our rural school who liked them – I got the school bus driver to turn up the volume as high as he dared when The Back of Love came on the radio and I got shouted at by everyone for doing so………I did the same for Tiny Children by The Teardrops knowing full well the girls liked it and they would like me too for sorting it out.


Aged 13 I had already seen The Bunnymen live. My first outing was to the wonderful WOMAD Festival in July 1982 to see them perform in the Showering Pavilion at Shepton Mallet. I remember the whole experience as being a mind blowing extravaganza on my young senses. My brother and I, after purchasing the remaining two tickets left at the gates, had literally £1 left to last us the day. This was a bummer when there were new experiences to enjoy and a huge Zoo Records merchandise stall that had delights a schoolboy could only dream of.

Later, when I had sufficient funds to purchase a Postal Order, I sent a few quid to Bunnymen HQ for some of the items I had spotted on the Zoo stall and that is when the fun started – I soon realised these guys were OK and they knew what it meant to be a teenage fan. Not many bands have had such a rapport with their young followers – I got the impression after talking to Mick Jones of The Clash when my best mate Overend Watts introduced me to him at one of the Hammersmith reunion shows that they (Mott The Hoople) had exactly the same rapport. Sneaking young fans in, giving them goodies and generally looking after them.

The Bunnymen did this – my PO was soon returned by that amazing and lovely chap Jake Brockman with a pile of freebies and asking my brother and I to make ourselves known at future gigs…….the rest is history and Jake, Will, Les and Pete were a joy to be around.
I digress….this was meant to be about the “buried treasure” find of the Albert Hall ephemera…..needless to say I was at both gigs and as was the norm at that time school was totally forgotten about and two days in London sleeping in my brothers old Renault 5 car and record buying were the order of the day. We had a ball.

The gigs to this day are still up there in my Top Ten – any gig that starts with dry ice and Mendelsshons Fingal's Cave is going to be a classic. I liked that overture then as much as I do now. The first night saw the gig being halted as panic ravaged RAH staff tried to stop the surge and get fans off the carefully laid out chairs in the hall. It was chaos and I loved it. My older brother, looking after his 14 year old younger brother, lost me and we eventually found each other at the end………and did it all again the following night.

A few years later I remember telling my friend Overend about it – his reply, “that’s nothing new Son, we did all that in July 1971 at theAlbert Hall and we got all rock gigs banned there, sort of makes the fans freakout a bit that place”……I think he’s right, but it remains a special memory and I feel somewhat freaked out myself that it was 34 years ago today.


Thursday, 13 July 2017

No gold....yet


Over the past few seasons I have tagged along with friends on the occasional trip where they have been excited, obsessed, bewitched and in an all round flummox about one particular species of fish. That fish is the most friendly of fishes and one so chubby and good looking I think of him like a teddy bear.......the crucian.

I will be honest in that this obsession had not rubbed off on me.........until now. My pals said, "you wait, it will happen, you will be just as smitten as we are, it just happens" and so it did.

My few trips last season were wonderful - lazy evenings watching a quill float for the most gentle of trembles and crucians galore were caught and admired. I thought no more of it. Then a delightful opportunity came to join my friends on two ponds which are hidden in a fold of the Wiltshire / Dorset landscape..........bang! I am hooked! I haven't caught a crucian yet this season, but the few trips so far have been a veritable feast of wildlife, perchlings (see below) enjoyment and quiet contemplation which is perfect for me.  

A bar of gold awaits.............



Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Self setters


I love finding plants or even trees that shouldn't be there - the ones blown in on the wind or seeds carried along by man, train or vehicle. I have no idea where this poppy came from. I was reminded of its existence by a similar posting by Two Terriers and here is my example. Growing out of a crack in the wall - aren't the best self setters growing out of wall cracks? Any cracks for that matter, as that is where the seed usually rests.





Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Trees be company


The Dorset magician wordsmith William Barnes was right - his poem of the same title is well worth a read before you proceed.

It never ceases to amaze me how such items of ephemera survive in this modern world of instant, throw it away and want it now. I am glad it does survive - these items, mere trifles, were saved from the rubbish bin. I have a vague recollection of playing the card game as a child - the pack is dated 1975 with artwork by Althea Braithwaite. Done at a time when the National Trust actually printed good guides / ephemera (Rena Gardiner) and didn't rip you off for a pot of tea and a slice of cake like they do now. 




The Tree Card Game has the most delightful box - so imaginative, with every bit of available space illustrated with leaves, berries and birds.



The booklets are Nature Conservancy Council (1978) and Forestry Commission (1973) and are full of interesting facts and advice......from a gentler time. A time I think some of us really crave these days?




Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Living the dream


The build up to the big day is like no other - well, maybe Christmas, for I have the same feelings and likings at both times of the year. The Glorious Sixteenth is such a day in the traditional anglers year. Plans laid down, tackle accumulated, cakes made and my dreams will hopefully become reality.

As regular readers will know, my season starts as it always has done. Same place, same friends, same old, same old - I wouldn't have it any other way. My pal Demus said many years ago on opening day "we are living the dream, enjoy it, for it may not last". I know what he meant, we were living the dream and thankfully we still are, but as always on opening day I think of those who are no longer with us and who enjoyed these days so much. Never forgotten.

Whisky toasts are made at midnight, the magnificent rocket is launched to many an ooh and aahh and we laugh like naughty school boys........living the dream.

The tools of our trade are quill floats and all home made affairs. Each one has a story and as each season passes more stories get added. Our bait is simple. Like our floats, our group grows older each year, but our love of these most special times grows ever bigger in our fisherman hearts. 









Thursday, 15 June 2017

The path east....


It's been a bit of a slog over the last few weeks. I was carving a really good groove with my walking and then disaster struck as I put my back out - the quack noticed my embarrassment as I was told another "person of your age" did the same picking up a sandwich and I have since heard an acquaintance did it playing chess. Life in the fast lane eh? I didn't have time to fib massively and say something manly like it was changing a tractor engine, building a garden shack or lifting sacks of cement - I meekly mentioned to the quack I was giving very important cuddles to one of my terriers. Oh dear.



No walking, drugged up to the gunwales and no alcohol for over three weeks with a recovery in six weeks meant taking it easy. This is hard when you have found something that makes you feel so alive and is physical requiring footfalls over rough terrain. 

After three weeks I just had to get out, so pain killers taken, walking pole in hand I tentatively set out for a short dawn walk east.

It was one of those mornings that makes you think it really was worth the effort creeping out into the mist and hush......I puffed like a grampus going up the slope, eventually above the mist and into glorious stillness. My favourite sunrise over Eggardon was the perfect tonic coupled with a cacophony of bird song.

The short walk turned into a six mile one just to satisfy my addiction - it worked, although a dull ache proved I had been pushing things. It was worth it. The views up top felt like I was on top of the world and other than a few roe deer there were no other stirrings - even the dawn chorus seemed quieter.

My route left a pioneering trail in the morning dew and on returning home I realised I was not the only one walking that route. The cocktail of fox, deer and badger piss on my trousers was just too much - a small price to pay I guess!