Sunday, 24 June 2012

Hatful of hollow

I've always had a mild obsession with hollow lanes, deep lanes, dark lanes or whatever you want to call them - ever since I had to walk on foot to a rather lovely carp pool in my youth they have never been far away from my mind. The return walk used to terrify me as I invariably packed up just into dark. My father was on strict instructions to be waiting with car headlights on and torch in hand ready to drive me home.

They seem to be rather in vogue at present what with the rather glorious writing of Roger Deakin and Robert Macfarlane, but you can't help but come across them in this part of West Dorset.

A period of intense rain brought us down with a severe case of cabin fever so we decided to go on an adventure to a particular favourite - the excitement of three children between the ages of two and eight was a joy to behold. Between them they have an interest in Bill Badger, hedgehogs, Harry Potter and BB's gnomes so you can imagine the conversation as we dropped into and onto this ancient route.

Their inquisitive and investigative nature had them peering up, down, into cavernous badger setts, forks and holes in trees wondering what creatures may live there and what passed along this track the night before. We heard a raven overhead and then came upon a buzzard devouring a slow worm - i'm not sure who was more surprised.

The most excellent antiquarian Alfred Watkins thought that some were etched in prehistoric times as notches to give sight lines to and from fords and hill passes. The atmosphere certainly reflects the generations of foot, hoof and cart wheel that have carved each of the hollow lanes................................two of my children agreed to return with me at dusk in the holidays, we shall wait and see.................I fear the memory of the carp pool deep lane is still too fresh in my mind.


Cool Dude!

Julius Drewe of Castle Drogo, Devon at Faskally 1902

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The Glorious Sixteenth

I'm getting twitchy. I always do around this time as the excitement mounts, eventually hitting boiling point at midnight tomorrow. At that hour the coarse fisherman's Christmas Day will have arrived - the glorious sixteenth will see the traditional coarse fisherman's season begin.

I will be fishing for carp, possibly wild carp with the same friends, at the same mist shrouded pool, same time, same rockets, beer and traditions as I always have done - in this ever busy world I'm so pleased it is the one constant in my life - it never changes and may that always be the case. 

The only fly in the ointment are the fish! They may or may not want to say hello and be admired by us.........that's the fun of it, the expectation - will it be an ancient uncaught monster or a dry net! It doesn't matter. Just being there is enough.

I usually think of BB (DJ Watkins-Pitchford) at the start of the coarse fishing season (especially when carp are the quarry) and will raise my pint glass at some stage to him in appreciation. That's him pictured below with his carp rod and reel - BB was the grandfather of carp fishing in this country.......not as hard nosed as those who came after him, he liked to smell the roses along the way. It was reading his 1950 masterpiece "Confessions of a Carp Fisher" in the school library that got me really hooked on Carp - I doubt the book is still there, but I have BB, Bernard Venables and Oliver Kite all to thank for sending me on a journey of discovery that still excites me today.

If you, like me, will be doing something similar for the glorious sixteenth then I hope your dreams come true and the sun shines on you and that your cane rod creaks with happiness.


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Market Finds No 2

I have a liking for ephemera. If it's railway related even better, so you can imagine my excitement with this little lot of paper all for less than a couple of pounds. Many of the stations are long gone, but certainly not forgotten.

Those which stood on the iconic Somerset & Dorset line have a fascination as I often walk what remains of the line when fishing the Dorset Stour ......... the atmosphere at night is most pleasing. After a misty autumn day on the river I often dream of ending the day with a pint in the Silent Whistle with the sound of steam and the "Pines Express" rattling by.