Tuesday 30 December 2014

casus ubique valet

....semper tibi pendeat hamus. Quo minime credas gurgite, piscis erit.

Roughly speaking means: there is scope for chance everywhere; let your hook be always ready. In the eddies where you least expect it, there will be a fish.

There is always a chance indeed. My mate Jim says that I could talk my float under, but that is just how I approach my fishing. Days have been written off before and then bang! It happens. Ever the optimist.

Not on this day though. Although I did will my sprat to be investigated on two occasions by an unseen predator on this freezing festive afternoon. All I had to accompany the scene was a flask of beef tea and the soothing sounds of the river, wind and the whispering reeds.....next time!

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Market Finds No 15

I was very pleased to come across Crystella - just keeping an eye out for wares of a piscatorial nature when this lovely box of 60's, or even earlier, baubles popped up - less than the price of a pint. No wonder these two chaps have such an expression of excitement - Happy Christmas lads!

Monday 22 December 2014

Weird Veg!

Strange one this. Either a very well endowed carrot or a dodgy three fingered hand from an MR James book..............agggghh, remember that hand in The Stalls of Barchester? Yes, me too. Even though it scares me I still won't be able to resist a little viewing on Christmas Eve. Just as long as it's not me letting the hounds out for their last sniff round the garden before bed!

Friday 19 December 2014

All Around The Town

All Around The Town - Dudley Dyer (1932)
Greetings to all Travellers - Walter E Spradbery (Curwen 1936)

Thursday 18 December 2014

Only 40 bottles to go!

We had such a glut of all the soft fruits this year. They never go to waste.  I managed to do a couple of gallons of the old Christmas cheer, nectar, winter warmer, soother, bringer of joy, linctus of happiness..........Jumbleberry Vodka!

Here you see the beginning of the operation - I haven't had a sip yet, honest. At the end of the operation the pantry (as I like to call it) or the larder (as The Captain likes to call it) will be groaning under the weight of more bottles to go alongside all the jars of chutneys, jellies, jams and...........bottles of beer!

Whilst clearing space I found a bottle of something which should really go under the buried treasure banner on this blog - a bottle of vintage strawberry vodka. Over 10 years old and I did have a little nip of that, medicinal purposes only of course........splendiferous!

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Harcork Heaven

It just wouldn't be Christmas without at least one festive trip after the wily old grayling of the River Ebble. I was lucky enough to squeeze in a short trotting trip before being struck down with the cold to end all colds....................it was below freezing as I tackled up in the church car park still shaken after witnessing an awful accident en route. Slow down!

At first bites were hard to come by, but with the sun shining, maggots plumper than a suckling pig and a Harcork float like a Christmas decoration how on earth could I be down hearted.

The little Ebble is a joy to behold in its winter cloak. Fast, clear and cold. When the first dip of the float comes it is so fierce it almost wrenches the rod from my grasp.

Seven lovely grayling came twisting and turning to the net to be admired and then returned to their winter home. The float ambled its way down the stream in the most appealing way........Harcork Heaven!

Monday 15 December 2014

The Big Fish

Fennel at The Priory tells me it is actually happening. At the tail end of the 2013 season Fennel pulled together some pals to film with the BBC Natural History Unit. We had a splendid day on the Kennet doing just what friends do - fish, mess about, eat cake and drink copious amounts of tea! At the end of the day we talked fishing and drank beer in a pub - it doesn't get much better than that.

The whole day was filmed as a show reel to eventually lead on to a new BBC2 TV series called 'The Big Fish' (http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2014/the-big-fish) - the team are now looking for contestants so get your application in here:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/beonashow/the_big_fish

Not sure there will be as much beer, tea and cake though!

Friday 12 December 2014

Market Finds No 14

I cannot claim this as a find myself. An early Christmas present from a good pal of mine. I was down to my very last Fred Crouch bait dropper. I only ever had two and they were bought in the early 1990's so it is a miracle I hadn't lost both of them years ago.

A local tackle shop found a small batch gathering dust in the store room and there they were out front and for sale like Christmas decorations.......just waiting for a passing angler to snaffle them up and let me have one too of course! What a lovely shade of green - how tackle used to be made. Simple and does what it should do, no frills. Patent pending? Happy Christmas I say! 

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Christmas Calling

Christmas Calling - Tom Eckersley (1936)
Christmas Calling - Tom Eckersley (1936)

Monday 8 December 2014

Wakey wakey!

I do like a ladybird. I haven't come across anyone that doesn't like them. Do they nip is the most common question I am sure. Of the 46 species found in the UK only 26 look like the classic brightly coloured and patterned ladybird such as 2-spot, 7-spot and 10-spot. 

The sun came out the other day to warm the windows on what was a chilly December day. On opening them I found hundreds of ladybirds in all the nooks and crannies. They were active within minutes. It was a heck of a job to close them again without damaging any of these splendid beetles. I'll leave them in peace now to enjoy Christmas and take another look when the weather warms up in the spring. 

Well, do they nip? I remember as a child feeling the nip of a ladybird and the Harlequin, which is now common on these shores, has been known to take a bite. They really only have a nibble when it is very dry and the plants can't provide the water they need - watch out if we have a drought next year!

Tuesday 2 December 2014

A different kind of thud!

The apple harvest at my folks orchard has not been as good this year - it goes like that sometimes and all the usual guff about warm springs, wet springs, cold springs and that is before we even get on to blossom sort of makes sense, but at the end of the day I think it just gives the apple grower something to talk about.

I was pleased that we did manage a decent crop of my personal favourite the Ashmead's Kernel. I search each year for new apples to try and think one day that a variety which is new to me will beat the Kernel, but it hasn't yet. Some have come close, but the AK is still top of the charts.

This Gloucestershire variety is picked in late October / early November and eaten from now until February.

They make a tremendous thud as they hit the ground and I am pleased that the Fieldfares and Redwings have not yet arrived as it would be a race to see who got to them first - they love them just as much as me.

This bowl full is no more - part of the five a day alongside a pile of cheese, chutney and crackers! Worry not though - a few more are stored and ready to take their place to get me through the next few weeks.

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Thursday 20 November 2014

So vane!

We like a nice weather vane or weathercock here at Straker Towers - this is a corker. Somewhere along the North Norfolk coast. Any ideas? No prizes I am afraid, you can just bask in the glory that you are a clever clogs and noticer of such treasures!

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Glimmering Dusk

Ivor Gurney Memorial Windows - Gloucester Cathedral, Lady Chapel by Tom Denny

Friday 7 November 2014


In this digital age it must be hard for the magazine publisher to make ends meet. I have a guilty secret - a love of curling up with a good magazine - it gives me that quick fix that a book cannot. The flicking through, pictures, snippets and adverts.

Up until recently I had only one that met all of the above criteria and that is the mighty fine World of Interiors - I know it has arrived as the thud is a loud one as postie shoves it through our letterbox. My obsession with this lovely mag came as a result of finding some back issues a few years ago that contained articles and photography by Olive Cook and Edwin Smith. Much to my delight I found it was still being published and still just as good.

I thought that WOI would be enough to satisfy my mag habit, but three more have made a welcome thud through the box of late........thankfully they are irregular which gives me more time to enjoy them. You cannot rush a good mag.

The rather splendid Random Spectacular is published as and when. Akin to a cabinet of curiosities it would always be a winner for me. A delightful "dip into" mag. I was too slow with the first issue a couple of years ago and regretted not acting sooner. I didn't get a copy and have been unable to find one since. The latest issue has a splendid piece on the house that was the setting for one of my favourite children's books The Children of Green Knowe (1954) . It was unexpected and delightfully illustrated by Mark Hearld. The publishers are St Judes and if you are quick you can grab yourself one of the last copies.

Hole & Corner is another recent find and my goodness what a super read it is too. I came across it by chance whilst reading up on Ivor Gurney and the latest issue has a wonderfully laid out article on stained glass window artist Tom Denny who lives in the Vale of Blackmore. His Gurney window at Gloucester Cathedral is on my list to visit.......Charleston House also features, again complimented by really super illustration. Looking forward to the next issue already.

I thought that would be it and then another corker comes to my attention. They all arrive by post which I prefer - Fallon's Angler is a bizarre and magnificent read. I haven't bought a fishing magazine for years. The reason being is that they are all shite! Grinning baffoons holding obese carp, trout anglers dripping in Orvis and looking like Christmas trees, who has caught the biggest and most - just not my cup of tea.

Fallon's Angler was just what I needed - quirky, silly, obsessive and just plain brilliant. Reminded me of the music fanzines/magazines I used to love in my teens - that is a compliment by the way, it's just up my street. These guys get it - contributions from real angling characters and I do so hope it's a success. I didn't think I would enjoy an angling magazine again, but how lovely to be proved wrong. I am still dipping into it now, so I won't spoil it for you, just buy a copy!

Wednesday 5 November 2014

From this...........to this

After basking in temperatures late last week of nearly 22C on the North Norfolk coast it was a shock to the system this week to be hovering around the 7C mark in the day back home in West Dorset. Lighting fires and hunkering down with a glass of something pleasant are now the order of the day. We are now entering the season of slow cooked stews, pot roasts and pike and perch on the river. Pass the port Gramps!

From this....

To this

Monday 3 November 2014

The Man From Nowhere

Seeing as we are in the spooky season I thought you would like this little bit of children's trickery from 1976. I can imagine this giving younger children the collywobbles but back in the day we were made of sterner stuff..........I don't like the look of him in the hat though. I must ask The Captain not to ask me to let the dogs out for their last sniff round the garden before bed tonight.

Thursday 23 October 2014

Market Finds No 13

Who could resist? Hidden in a box of house clearance and general tat on a market stall just waiting to be found and admired once more. Six delightful flies sold in a box of packaging once considered the norm. I could not resist.

Wednesday 22 October 2014