Monday 30 June 2014

Watch out Jim the postman!

I was just about to push some cards into one of my most favourite post hit me from the right, then another from the rear. Then I heard the hum and noticed a band of busy home seekers had also found this delightful VR box to their liking. I must tell Jim the postman to watch out or else they will be after him!

Friday 27 June 2014

Friday Ditty Pt 6

I love this song - not really heard much about Al Jones before, but this track certainly made me investigate and amazed to find he had links to another favourite of mine, Wizz Jones - funny how these links come to light and not just in music. Anyway, a bit of classic Wizz for you from his splendid album Right Now (1972).

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Yes. I remember Adlestrop

There is a special place in my heart for Adlestrop - not just because of dear Edward Thomas, who I admire greatly, and whose poem (below) ranks as one of my most favourite of all time, but it is ground well trodden by me and an area that has so many happy memories. Today marks 100 years since Thomas stopped at Adlestrop station en route to visit his friend, the American poet Robert Frost, at Dymock near Ledbury. He did not set foot in the village, but wrote in his notebook "..... thro the willows cd be heard a chain of blackbird songs at 12.45, and one thrush and no man seen, only a hiss of engine letting off steam.” 

I now consider myself a man of Dorset, but many moons ago I did haunt the lanes around Adlestrop, cycled to fish for carp at the delightful lake, set up home and married there. The Captain and I went back the other week. Only a whistle stop visit, but lovely all the same. It's changed a bit, but I guess most places do after a while.

I still have the cricket ball that landed by me as I fished one Summers evening - a glorious six and no-one came looking for the ball, so I took it home and it remains with me to this day - a reminder of happy days lakeside where blackbirds sang.  

Adlestrop Lake - Sunrise towards cricket pitch
Adlestrop Lake 

Monday 23 June 2014

Theatre, circus or countryside?

Theatre - Barnett Freedman (Curwen Press 1936)

Theatre - Barnett Freedman (Curwen Press 1936)

Circus - Barnett Freedman (Curwen Press 1936)

Circus - Barnett Freedman (Curwen Press 1936)

Barnett Freedman - 1936 (Curwen Press)

Thursday 19 June 2014

Early morning hush

There was no need for an alarm call.This was quite surprising considering our taste for fine ale had not wavered the night before opening day. I just knew it was the right time to be up and out - the opening day of the new season drifts, as it usually does, like a piece of flotsam over the lakes surface on the edge of the breeze. It all sort of happens.

We drifted between tea, cake, chatter, fishing and generally taking in the rich and perfumed air of the Wizard's Cauldron. It is a miracle we actually catch anything at all. The dawn chorus builds very slowly to its full crescendo by about 8am and is followed by the gentle hum of insects and soothing coo of the wood pigeons.

By this time I had been blessed by Izaak and landed four fish of mostly ancient and wild stock. The early morning hush had been and gone, punctuated by ratchet, mumbled prayers to help ease fish away from underwater tree roots and the creaking of cane.

These are perfect days - as I have mentioned in previous posts, these openings have been the only constant for nearly twenty five years with fine friends and fine memories........yet again, another season has begun.

Sunday 15 June 2014

Hells bells they're good!

Three hours and not even a nibble? Use the beans, good anglers swear by them! "HELLS BELLS" they are good. Hells Bells Hauling Beans - The better bait for anglers.

I can't fail. I have my tin of HB HB's...........wherever you fish tomorrow and whatever your quarry, may I wish you a very glorious sixteenth and may the spirit of Izaak be with you.

Saturday 14 June 2014

Hatful of hollow pt 3

The recent warm showery weather has made everything shoot up and turn a deeper shade of green overnight. Some of my favourite dark lanes in West Dorset are so infrequently trodden they are now virtually overgrown and unless you go prepared with a big stick the going is hard to tough.

No such problem here though. A perfect example of where man has "interfered" with the natural environment. A lovely old dark lane on the edge of town which has now been formalised. Tarmac has replaced this foot and cart worn route once walked by those from the village to town.

This one below was an unexpected treat last year on our annual jolly to North Norfolk. I didn't expect to find such a lovely dark path in the flat lands of the east, but here it was. I loved the way the canopy enveloped the path like a tunnel. The distant sound of the sea and the call of Curlew and Oystercatcher added to its mystery. You always find such a diverse mix of flora and fauna down these little routes - trees are particularly gnarly, deformed and inviting. The deep paths always lead somewhere - this one to the lovely church at Salthouse. Perfect wildlife corridors and I have made it a must do on my Summer list to spend a night in one locally. 

In the nearby village this little route twisted and turned screened by high flint walls - I should imagine this is a much loved path by all who live here. Not so dark and deep, but enchanting all the same. 

Friday 13 June 2014

Friday Ditty Pt 4

What a gem this is! I much prefer this original version by Lesley Duncan, sounds a bit rougher round the edges. Covered by many, but this is the best one. So fragile......hope you enjoy it.

Monday 9 June 2014

Are we nearly there yet?

We are on the home's not far off now...............I am polishing things.........assembling things............making lists...............making plans..............thinking about cake..............thinking about rockets.............looking for signs.............stirrings in the margins..........currying maggots........floats inspected.........yes, we are nearly there, the waiting is nearly over!

A Fisherman's Story - Bernard Cheese (1956) 
I love all fishing, but I am of course talking about my second Christmas day of the year - The Glorious Sixteenth! Praise be to Izaak, dearest Bernard and BB!! The start of the traditional coarse fishing season on the 16th June.

Friday 6 June 2014

Friday Ditty Pt 3

I know, I know where's the music? I Couldn't let this one pass you by with the legendary Bernard Miles. Now where did I put that bottle opener?

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Dorset Art Weeks

The two week window to view artists work, usually in their own home or open studio is eagerly anticipated each year. I don't have a system of trying to get to as many as I can, but just take in what takes my fancy. The glorious guide to accompany the Dorset Art Weeks event is huge and the whole festival is so well organised, signposted and promoted you just cannot fail to see it is going on.

Merrily Harpur

I can do no better than quote from the splendid guide introduction, it really does sum it all up for me - DAW brings artists and visitors together in ways that are often remarkable and profoundly different from entering a gallery. Artists relinquish the privacy of home or workplace. To paraphrase David Hockney, this is part of the generosity of artists.

The Rookery Gate - Merrily Harpur

What mustn't be lost to the austerity economy is the importance of the handmade in our lives: the bespoke, the unique. the object that becomes treasured and acquires more meaning the longer it remains with us, or the image that challenges us to think or reflect differently each time we consider it. Innovative materials, processes and contemporary ideas are as much a part of this equation as any reference to tradition. 

Eggardon Drop - Liz Somerville

The two open studios that have given me most pleasure so far have to be those of Merrily Harpur and Liz Somerville - both of Cattistock. Liz Somerville's studio next to the village church was a perfect setting for her hand coloured linocuts. They hit the spot for me and mirror why I love some of those vistas so much. A short stroll down Duck Street to Merrily Harpur's splendid display. It was almost too much to take in as each familiar scene both local and afar were so pleasing on the eye. 

Valley of Brothers - Liz Somerville

The good news is there is another week to go! 

Monday 2 June 2014


The first FBR's (French Breakfast Radish of course) of the new growing season. They tasted very nice indeed at supper time. I have them growing everywhere such is my radish obsession. I could have left these a little longer, but I don't like them too woody and love the leaves in a salad when they are young - leave too long and they get all prickly. I've got a succession sowing system in place so I can keep on harvesting.

Everything in the garden is coming along nicely now. It's going to be a bumper year for pickling, jamming and preserving here at Straker Towers I can tell you..........the word on the street is it's going to be a bumper berry year too which suits me fine!

The Three Chubs - DJ Watkins-Pitchford (BB 1945) 
I always think of "BB" and radishes. He loved them and was partial to them at breakfast with his ham and eggs. Actually, "BB" was very partial to all sorts of food in general! If you are lucky enough to have a copy of The Fisherman's Bedside Book (Eyre & Spotiswoode 1945) then please turn to his chapter - The Fisherman's Inn - I dream of finding a hostelry such as The Three Chubs......go on, read it now, you'll be glad you did!