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

Thursday 16 October 2014

Indian Summer

I am always nervous about taking someone fishing to a stretch of river or a lake they have never fished before - I am desperate for them to like a place as much as me, especially when it is somewhere so dear to my heart. I needn't have worried the other day. Even though my guest had paid hard £'s in an Avon Roach Project auction to spend a pampered day on the Golden Scale Club stretch of the Dorset Stour. He enjoyed it from the off!  

Keith from River Reads in Devon was splendid company and it's not every day I get up extra early to go fishing, but Keith had supported a mighty fine cause and I actually arrived early in readiness to show him the river which is unheard of. Ferneyhough Yates would be joining us too, but I knew from experience that we would have the river to ourselves until he turned up in the afternoon. Especially as I knew he would not have got home after his night ramble in the countryside until at least 2am.

The early morning mist was soon burnt off by a warm of the last, I fear, of this perfect Indian summer. The spicy aroma of autumn and hint of wood smoke in the air gave a sense of cooler days ahead. The Swallows were grouping in huge numbers and feeding over the meadows and river to prepare for the journey ahead - I thought they had already left, so it was a real bonus to share one last day with them. The river did not disappoint - a wonderful bag of roach, dace, gudgeon, perch, chub and even a couple of jack pike to make Keith think he had hooked a monster was enough to make this day memorable. After a splendid lunch and more dipping of floats we three ended up fishing on either side of the river to enjoy the last rays of the day in the most wonderful of landscapes and in splendid company - real boys fishing as Keith put it and I could not disagree.

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Before and after

The last of the Pink Fir Apple spuds have been dug up from the veggie patch - lovely gnarly looking spuds, with a few examples of rude veg to boot. Washed and cooked they are lovely with a knob of butter or in a frittata where these little wonders are destined..............the season of plenty is petering out......slowly.

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Roach Rule OK!

I often get asked by angling friends and also by those who have never fished what my favourite fish is - it's easy. The roach of course. It has taken me a few years to realise that this is the case mind you. In the 80's and 90's when I would drive the length and breadth of the country at all hours of the day and night to get my fix of barbus I would have answered differently. I am as chilled out now as I will ever be with my fishing and get more chance to contemplate and reflect. The roach has given me the most pleasure - as a boy, teenager and adult. The red letter days in my diary are usually associated with the fish of red fins. 

The annual bash and fund raiser of the Avon Roach Project is eagerly awaited each year. It is a chance to support those splendid fellows who do so much to preserve an iconic species on an iconic river that I love so much. I have written before of their work which I find totally inspirational. A change of venue this year and very lovely it was too. I had to check my diary when I got home, but I hadn't fished this particular stretch of river since 1992 and whilst contemplating my surroundings over a bankside cuppa I realised I had fished this glide before......there had been a stile here on my last visit some twenty odd years ago and with a sense of melancholy I found the flood warn remnants of the stile post (see picture above). The memories came flooding back of trips with friends, some no longer around, and carefree days when fishing was the be all and end all. 

It was fitting that I should use one of my more recent purchases in the rod department. A lovely late 1940's Sowerbutts Roach Master (151 Commercial St, London E1). More of a general coarse rod than a roach rod, but a lovely thing nonetheless. Found by master tackle sorcerer Jason White - he knew that I would be unable to resist. Lovely agate rings, stamped handle collar and named rod bag - I could not resist!  

A delightful day - I have never seen so many grass snakes, wild bees, hornets and even a very late hatch of mayfly in temperatures more suited to August. No roach today though. Just a net full of chub, dace and grayling and on the last cast a pike that took my chubling............I'll be back! I won't leave it twenty two years next time.

Thursday 2 October 2014

Kite flying is dangerous!

The last rays and warmth of sunshine are still, only just clinging on. Last year at the mighty fine Eggardon Kite Festival there were storms and so much wind it was cancelled. The year before that no wind at all.......this year was just right. Perfect in fact. A warm wind and sunshine.

The atmosphere at this small and eagerly awaited local event is one of chilled out pleasantness. A great way to idle a day by flying your favourite kite on a site of antiquity overlooking the Jurassic Coast with the sound of distant bagpipes over the ramparts.

Be careful though, I am told kite flying can be dangerous!

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Do you like them?

A bit like Marmite I guess - you either love them or hate them. I adore a pickled egg. I have done many variations over the years. Tried different eggs, spices and vinegars and do you know what? I love every variation.

It would be a sad day in the Straker household if the larder did not contain a jar or two. Not sure The Captain feels the same way if you know what I mean. 

The trickle of home produce being preserved trundles on. Runner bean chutney has been the order of the day lately. You can't let a glut go to waste! The very simple Mrs Watkins runner bean chutney recipe from the banker cookery book that is Prue's New Country Kitchen (by Prue Coats - Merlin Unwin 1997).

I love Marmite too by the way!