Monday, 29 September 2014

Barbus blank!

The river has held its own since the worst of the winter weather. High groundwater levels have meant we have had higher flows on the Avon than we ordinarily see over the summer months. It has only really been these last few weeks that river levels are starting to look like they could do with a top up. The temperatures have been unseasonably high too making the scene positively balmy. Not like autumn at all. Real Indian summer conditions.

My first forays of the autumn after Barbus barbus have seen me in shirt sleeves and packing bottles of water rather than a Thermos - if only the Barbel would oblige. They are there, but only come out at dusk from the shelter and cover of the Ranunculus beds for a tentative nose around, but as the old saying goes there is always a chance.

I thought my luck was in the other evening. Two huge fish were spotted nosing around my carpet of free offerings (spam, hemp and sweetcorn). The sort of sight that almost makes you hope they don't take the bait! A fine and handsome Avon Chub was first on the scene. He had a liking for my huge lump of Spam and was most welcome. They don't hang about with their greedy bully boy tactics. 

Then at dusk the rod thumped over.......for the first few seconds I thought I was going to catch my first barbus of the season. It's not only Chub & Barbel that have a liking for the meat - a fine Pike of around 7lbs decided on a meat rather than a fish supper. True, there is always a chance, but it will have to wait until next time. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Dim parcio

The recent trip to Sussex was filled with delights - not just the visit to the the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne and a visit to Furlongs (more of this another time), but an idle interlude exploring the exquisite village of Firle which is nestled in the heart of the Sussex Downs did not disappoint.

The days events were pretty much in the hands of my good friend Demus and I am pleased he knew I would appreciate this delightful village. Not just for the Ravilious and Charleston connections, but just the sheer simplicity and attractiveness of the place.

A very fine lunch in The Ram Inn with a couple of pints of Harveys finest Lewes ales was just the ticket before a gentle stroll around the village and extremities of Firle Place estate. I was more than interested to hear about the Gage family who own the estate as Sir Thomas Gage (1781-1820) was a horticulturalist who introduced the greengage plum to the British Isles. The labels on the trees he brought back from the monks at Chartreuse were lost and the fruit was subsequently named greengage after Thomas.

The 13th Century St Peter's Church which is surrounded by east Anglianesque flinted walls contains a large stained glass window by John Piper depicting Blake's Tree of Life.

After filling our pockets with conkers it was time to wend our way, but I have a feeling I will return..........there is much to explore in this lovely fold of the Sussex Downs.  

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The perfect lunch

The perfect fisherman's lunch. I am easily pleased. Cheese rolls with home made rhubarb chutney, home grown tommies, Discovery apple, Dorset apple cake and a bottle of light ale to wash it all down........if only the fish would oblige!

Friday, 19 September 2014

The sweet curl of the Downs

Peggy Angus - The Three Bears, Furlongs 1945

I don't need to be persuaded to go on an adventure. Especially with good friend Demus to lovely East & West Sussex. The main item on our agenda was to visit the wonderful Towner Gallery in Eastbourne. It has been on my list to visit for a while and it was truly superb. All the better as the wonderful Peggy Angus exhibition was on - it is running until this Sunday, so not long left if you want to go.    

Peggy Angus - Carters of Poole tile

The Towner building was an architectural joy in itself - light, bright and roomy with an altogether good feel about the place. I could have spent all afternoon enjoying the view and wonderful weather from the art gallery cafe balcony, but we had much to fill our day. 

Peggy Angus - Carters of Poole tiles

I have written before of my liking for Peggy Angus - it all started with me getting to know the links that all my favourite artists had with each other (Ravilious, Bawden, Olive Cook, Edwin Smith) and finding an article some years ago that Olive Cook wrote in World of Interiors magazine on the house Peggy lived in called Furlongs. This, of course, was the house below Beddingham Hill on the South Downs so famously painted by Ravilious.

Peggy Angus - Carters of Poole tiles

I am lucky enough to own some of Peggy's tiles that she designed for Carters of Poole and use them every day, which I am sure she would approve of, as pot stands and the like. The one thing that struck me in the exhibition and those paintings on display in the Eric Ravilious room at The Towner was how frequently the same chairs (see Three Bears, above) feature in all the paintings. Whatever happened to them? They are slightly iconic in their own weird way - anyone know?  

Peggy Angus - Cuckmere Coast Guard Cottages 1947

Furlongs - Edwin Smith
I'll leave you with a quite wonderful bit of footage showing Peggy Angus singing in her house, Furlongs, filmed some years ago - I wonder what she would have made of all this attention relating to her work now?


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Time and tide.....

These beach groynes looked pretty ordinary when they went in a few years ago. They are now things of beauty and sit quite comfortably in the coastal landscape. Tide warn and smoothed by all nature has thrown at them. The grain has been brought out in the wood and they harbour all manner of treasures.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Everything's gone green

I love the fruit harvest at this time of year. Locally there appears to be a glut of greengage. I am more than happy with this as it is a firm favourite. I haven't made greengage jam for years and had great plans, but they never seem to make it to that stage......far too tempting. The blackberry harvest is already in full swing and I have great difficulty in saving them for jam, crumbles and pies as they too get scoffed - must show some restraint!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Any more for the Skylark?

Here are a few pics of a delightful boat that was at the Stock Gaylard Oak Fair. If I had a boat I would call it Skylark, Titmouse, Whispering Reed or such like.

 If I had any idea how to sail, which I don’t, it would be in a vessel like this – how can you not appreciate its beauty. I spent quite a long time running my hand all over it....the sail, tiller, rudder, stitching and riveting. In fact I had to be physically dragged away from it.  

Other boats I like can be found here: Rescue Wooden Boats – Conserving maritime heritage