Thursday, 31 December 2015

Yuletide Pike

I am not a pike fisherman. I am a fisherman who occasionally fishes for pike. When I do actually go pike fishing I enjoy it so much that I tell myself that I must go more often, but I enjoy my pike fishing more so if I am with friends. My first "proper" pike trip of the season usually falls around the festive period and is what is more commonly known as the Christmas Social.

In previous years the ground under foot has been hard with frost and one year we actually had snow carpeting the ground and covering our brollies, but this was the first social where the temperature had been above ten degrees - it was fifteen degrees, mild, wet and unseasonal. 

Bumblebees were active, daffodil in flower en route to the river and for two days before the trip there had actually been a dawn chorus.......I had to pinch myself when it started but the robin was a lone voice getting it going and by the end he had everyone joining in.......what is going on? This year more than ever the weird weather has had an impact like I have not seen before.

The Christmas Social is a day for fishing close together - brewing fresh coffee, tea, eating pork pie, mince pies, Tunnocks Tea Cakes, drinking brandy and yarning about anything and everything...........oh and casting the occasional deadbait for a pike. 

It's a miracle we catch anything, but we did get some action. The old Dennis Pye pike rod did me proud and my rancid deadbait theory worked again. The company as ever was splendid and even though we didn't catch our expected amount the fisherman's calendar would be rather a sad affair without the annual Christmas Social. I just hope that it's a bit colder next year!

Thursday, 24 December 2015

The Children of Green Knowe

If, like me, The Box of Delights is a major part of your Christmas celebrations then I am sure you will enjoy The Children of Green Knowe. I loved the books as a child and also enjoyed the BBC TV series from the same stable as The Box of Delights. Haunting theme tune by the Radiophonic Workshop (Peter Howell no less of Agincourt fame) - look out for the stranded carp on the lawn in a later episode.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Walk in room, walk in

The Mummers play is something that has fascinated me since my school days - I think it does stem from doing a Punch & Judy show at a very young age and something like that, if the spark catches, can ignite a flame that keeps on going. 

This superb film, made locally in my part of West Dorset, is about the Symondsbury Mummers - made with help from the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Cecil Sharp no less!

It's quite a long film at an hour, but if there is one bit you must see it is at 29 minutes - the original vintage film made by Cecil Sharp and the EFDS - magnificent stuff. Happy Christmas!

Monday, 21 December 2015

A pleasure of parcels

Derek Hass - 1953 GPO 

I count myself very lucky indeed to still get the odd hand written letter throughout the year from friends - there is nothing better than coming home to find one waiting in the hallway. This time of year brings the added joy of parcels. Postie knocks and passes over an armful........any for me? Yes! You know who you are and you bring much Christmas Cheer - thank you one and all.

P Vinten - 1948 GPO

Friday, 11 December 2015

Friday Ditty Pt 18

Splendid new release, Fresh Water,  from Euros Childs which is released on 15 January 2016 - always had a soft spot for his music, it's good of course! And he's a fellow Pembrokeshire boy!

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Green Man

Green Man - Paul Bommer

I have long held a fascination for the mythical figure that is the Green Man. I don't know how or when it started - probably as a child poking around churches or reading the Green Knowe books of Lucy M Boston, which I still adore now. My fascination with old GM is stronger than ever and no doubt the seed was sown in those early years.

I spotted this wonderful cheeky screen print by Paul Bommer and I just had to have it! It helps that I really like Paul's work - I also like the fact he has included the two wild woodwose folk wielding their clubs like guardians of the forest. There is so much going on in and on those boughs. It is ready to hang and I like it that old GM will be watching over me. 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Dark Days Celebration

A week or two ago the trees were still heavy and laden with fruit. I picked the last of our few varieties here in Dorset before the winds came and then ventured up to Gloucestershire for what is know our annual "dark days" celebration. This is usually well after the traditional bonfire night burn up towards late November. It's more of a thank you to the orchard and offering of light ahead of the next apple season - Lord Summerisle would be proud!

There were still a great number on the trees, but really only the late Ashmead's Kernel, all the others that we hadn't got round to picking were like a sea of fallen baubles on the orchard floor. Some will be picked and others left for the birds.

The fire lit, rockets are shot up through the trees and their broken carcass to be excitedly found in daylight. This year was even more of an extravaganza as a forgotten about box of Standards finest was found hidden in the corner of the shed - let the dark days celebration begin!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Market Finds No 19

A few good finds of late - it is like fishing, the expectation, lure of the float and then it dips and we are away. You just never know what will turn up.

There are always rods and reels, but more often than not they are either overpriced, seized, cranky or just plain crap. I don't often use a Mitchell, but this 300 runs well and with plenty of change from a £10 note it will be cleaned and go into the "reel stable".

The small bait tin is delightful. Again, it will be cleaned and enter service this week. Ideal for an evening supply of lobworms. It came with some macabre looking pike tackle that will find a place in my cabinet of curiosities.  

Monday, 16 November 2015


This is the last basket of our Sunset apples - they are so sweet. Some are quite small and others no bigger than a tennis ball. I can see about four hangers on that I missed on the tree and the windfalls are doing their bit for our garden bird population. They have become a firm favourite and are now up there alongside the Ashmead's Kernel in my Top 5. The family orchard in Gloucestershire is laden with many varieties - the majority on the orchard floor for the birds, but some still on the tree with only just about ready to be picked. We are into the dark season - dark days, dark nights full of fireside warmth. The days of pike and perch and garden explosions. My favourite time of year.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Friday Ditty Pt 17

I like this very much. I like the video very, very much! I don't know a huge amount about Stealing Sheep, what I have caught up with previously has been good, but how can they do any wrong with a video like this? Great stuff, keep your eyes peeled on the edges of the film for some favourite folklore folk. Some great filming here - splendid!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

The General

The Stour calls me at this time of year. I tend to give it a wide berth before due to it just being too much hassle battling through undergrowth, getting stung, tangled, sweating like a pig trying to get anywhere near the river and then bitten to bits for my efforts - positive stuff eh?

Nature does what it does and now I can actually creep in to my old haunts and settle down to some quiet moments watching the float wend its way. Lately I have been making my fishing more interesting. I tend to use the same rod, reel, floats and associated guff for each trip but have been changing for the sake of it. I now use rods I haven't used for years, same with reels and floats too.

This short trip was a first outing in years for my Hardy General rod. Not used for about ten years or so. In fact the last time was at Pitt Pond, made famous by Llewelyn Powys, where I caught one of the last carp there. Coupled with a pyschedelic looking Ambidex the Harcork float and giant lobworm completed my outfit. 

The falling leaves create perchy looking rafts of cover which give you hope that a big old stripey sergeant might be lurking in the depths - not this time. As the roach rolled at dusk I had a 3lb Jack Pike for my efforts. You would have seen a picture of him, but he flipped off my seat just as I was about to click the camera................the bats were out and the calling owls signalled the end of my trip. Just as I got back to the car and drained the last of the tea from my flask the heavens opened. 

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Weir Pool Magic

Over the last week the landscape has changed considerably. Leaves fall like confetti and even though the temperature has been fairly high in the day it drops swiftly at night, but not quite cold enough for a warming fire. As I have said in a previous post the rods have been getting a number of outings of late. The photo above was just before the leaves turned and only a week or so ago - I was in shirtsleeves and mighty glad of my wide brimmed hat - as per usual the chub obliged to the mighty lob.

It then got colder, wind from the NE and the river as clear as gin. The fishing much harder, but still the chub obliged. I never tire of them - some Avon anglers don't give them the time of day, but for me they are one of the Avons blessings. 

The weir pool was a good shout as it had depth, but still so clear. I love the weir pool and have a secret nook that hardly gets fished - I sit on my log, gnome like, drinking tea in quiet contemplation. It's one of those spots you can happily stay in all day which is rare for me as normally I am a roving angler. Would the barbel be holed up in the oxygenated water? That would have been a bonus, but what brought me the most pleasure was a fish I was secretly hoping I would catch. Again, not high on the Avon anglers list of "loved" specimens but one who also loves the lob. The bream flashed like a golden dustbin lid once hooked and then made use of the weir pool flow and his depth to move like an aquatic kite. Me in thick coat, hat and scarf........but at over 6lbs that would have been enough to warm me on such a day.   

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Big brew

Just about to do what I call a big brew. This will keep me, family and friends going over Christmas and into the New Year.......then I will be dry for a month or so. A big batch of home brew is very welcome to compliment the bottles of artisan ales in the larder. The days of grim beer kits are over by the way. There is a huge choice out there and most of it very good.

First stage is to clean the bottles and what a collection. One pint, two pint heavy dark and brown with Bakelite screw stoppers. Some came from the old Whitbread Brewery in Cheltenham when it closed and others from Stroud, Worcester and Bridport. Let the brewing commence.      

Monday, 26 October 2015

Pink Moon

I occasionally have a little breather from the blog, so apologies for the paucity of posts........I have been fishing constantly over the past few weeks. It has been sort of all consuming in the loveliest way.

It all started with that amazing supermoon a few weeks ago. I went to bed listening to the superb world premiere of Max Richter's Sleep. An eight hour lullaby that was to be the soundtrack of my day. I awoke and it was still there, trundling like me as I gathered my tackle and travelled north to Shropshire. I arrived at the river as the low applause signalled its end - lovely.

The Upper Severn, this particular beat of the Severn, has a special place in my heart. Many happy memories and days with good friends many moons ago and my first visit in thirteen years or so. I just needed to come back to close the chapter as it hadn't happened back then.

The day was a joy - barbel and chub the quarry with my good friend Rocket Wrudd of Wigan (official supplier of fireworks to the Golden Scale Club). 

I left the river as the moon came up over the wood down river. Like Richter's Sleep it stayed with me all the way to Dorset and I viewed the climax at the best place in the world -  Eggardon. Wrapped in a duck down coat I felt like the only man alive.