Thursday 29 December 2016

Christmas Surrealism

An opportunistic trip to Tate Britain to view the quite wonderful Paul Nash exhibition was the perfect adventure during the festive season. I was greeted in the foyer by Shirazeh Houshiary's stupendous upside-down Christmas tree which I could smell before it came into view. The perfect start.

I won't give too much away, but if you are a follower of Nash then it is obviously one you must go and see. The sight of his work, so much of his work, I found not only overwhelming but deeply moving. 

The amount of art that was on display from private collections and the associated ephemera will stay with me for a long time.  

Eileen Agar is also represented - I felt this really enhanced the exhibition and I was really pleased to see some of her pieces on show due to her very close Nash liaison. 

I enjoyed it so much that I fully intend to visit again before it ends in early March next year.

Eileen Agar - Ladybird (1936)

Saturday 24 December 2016

Festive Felicitations

We surrender! - Time and tide and Tunnock's Tea Cakes wait for no dog!

Thursday 22 December 2016

A Christmas Pike

The annual Christmas Pike trip is something I look forward to very much indeed. It's always memorable for many reasons and this year was even closer to Christmas which added to the enjoyment of this festive period.

The day, as you can imagine, is not just about the fish. The company is as splendid as ever. We enjoy a natter, freshly made tea, pork pie and mustard and later mince pies with cognac. This year we were also blessed with suitably chilly weather coupled with a slight north easterly which cut across the Hampshire Avon water-meadows.

The pike obliged. This one was a tad under 15lbs and the fight was full of drama and close shaves. One low double was caught twice and in the afternoon I switched my attention to chub. Trundling a lump of chopped ham and pork to try and tempt something was the order of the day until last knockings at dusk. Two fine chavender graced the net, but only just. The second and biggest of my pair was duly grabbed by a pike in clear water just at the net. It frightened the life out of me let alone the poor chub - I hung on to both fish for about five minutes until the 20lb pike decided to let go.

The startled chub recuperated in my net for a while before I let him go to hopefully dodge being a pikes dinner. The moorhen and water rail which were shyly going about their business looked slightly more nervous than usual. 

A lovely festive fishing day, Francis Francis would have been proud - raise a glass of cognac to Christmas and Christmas Pike everywhere! 

Monday 19 December 2016

Shropshire and Dorset Delight

My trip north to the River Severn last autumn was fruitful in more ways than one. I picked a bait bucket full of sloes which went straight into the freezer after my trip Severnside. I only got round to preparing them the other evening - mixed with gin of the cheapest variety and caster sugar I was extremely pleased to get three large jars out of my Shropshire sloes. What a splendid mixture and I find the colour quite comforting.

Luckily for me I always have a batch on the go, so while my Severn vintage does its thing over the next year or two it's time to crack open the Dorset Stour vintage - picked and prepared by a friend of mine from one of our favourite fishing haunts. Perfect to accompany the writing of the Christmas cards. Festive felicitations!

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Whimsical and fantastic creations

I am not sure how I found the ceramics of Prue Piper, but I think it may have been on my journey researching the photographs of her husband Edward and father in law John. Both of whom I have always had a liking, especially their images of carvings associated with churches.

I chanced upon this small selling exhibition (until January 2017) at the delightful Bruton Museum - worth a visit in its own right, but look at these delights which I must say I found most appealing.

I especially liked the mermaid jugs and two faced millennium mug looking forward and back and was not surprised to see that each of the superb Green Man plates had already sold - these are quite wonderful and oh how I would love one!

The centrepiece being a most wonderful bowl the like of which I have never seen before - quite stunning and full of folklore, charm and humour. I enjoyed it enormously.

Monday 12 December 2016

A pork pie is for life and not just for Christmas

This will probably sound odd, but I have long had a fascination with porcine products - I think it not only comes from my love of sausages, pork pies, brawn and black puddings but as a child I had a much loved Hornby Palethorpes' Sausages wagon. A fine wagon it was too - long lost now, but there was a rather lovely butchers bunch of sausages on the side and very appealing they were too. And so the spark was ignited. 

A pork pie, especially a fine artisan pie, is something I look forward to at this time of year - one to slice on Boxing Day accompanied by a home made chutney or a pickled walnut perhaps?

I hope you enjoy yours if you like such things and just to keep you going until the magic day here is a selection of goodies I have picked up over the years. Pass the knife Gramps....

Friday 9 December 2016

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Market Finds No 22

A Dorset Book Of Folk Songs - published by The English Folk Dance & Song Society in 1948 and illustrated by Joyce Davey.

I think I may have said before that some market finds are just waiting to be found. Right time, right place and maybe the right person. This is one such find. A rummage in a box of ephemera under a table and you just don't know what might turn up. The other day it was this..........."how much squire?" says I, "give us a quid" says he. Lovely. A delightful small booklet with most pleasing covers. Here is a selection of the contents and i'll bid you good health to the barley mow.

Monday 5 December 2016

How old are yew?

This mighty fine specimen of a Yew is reputed to be over 1,500 years old. I was first acquainted with it back in the late 1980's. I was fishing a lovely little pool a short walk away and decided to take a late summer stroll over to the delightful church of Much Marcle. I returned recently and not much has changed. I have not returned to the pool however. There was something always not quite right about the place - I am sure we all fish places where you occasionally keep looking over your shoulder, well, this was such a place. Two Terriers put it perfectly, you whistle loudly on your way back to the car! The atmosphere was not one of welcome, it became dark and brooding very quickly. I wasn't the only one who thought the same. The church and its environs are quite the opposite and I do hope that this Yew is still standing and observing all who come and go for another 1,500 years. Look at the last picture below - How many faces can you see on the bark inside the Yew?

Wednesday 30 November 2016

A very nice find Mr Wilkes

I wrote about a pre Storm Angus trip last week and the local rivers are only just about fishable now. I managed to squeeze a short afternoon on the Stour just before this cold and frosty snap. The weather is up and down like a you know what and recently, what with the ground as dry as a bone, the run off into the river was a sight to see. It came up as quick as anything. Don't get me started on maize crops near the river either, a real beef of mine, which has seen some of my local rivers resemble chocolate soup rather than a river in flood. 

Anyway, this short trip was fruitful - not only did I catch my first river perch of the season, but I also used a new winch. Yes, another market find and one which is very pleasing to the eye and pleasing to use as well.

Bakelite and made by Henry Wilkes & Co Ltd of Studley, Redditch, England - what a name and what an address. Hopefully Mr Wilkes had his workshops on the banks or within sight of that lovely river the Arrow? Who knows, but it spins well, looks good and is a fine match for the Hardy General. It will look even better on my 1946 Hardy General which it will be joining once I can shift myself from the fireside armchair. 

The fishing was slow to start with on trotted maggot using my old Ambidex reel. A nice bag of roach and dace were coming together and all went quiet after catching the perch. As soon as I changed to the Wilkes it was like fishing a different river - lobworm tail was the bait and anchored to the bed using a couple of swan shot resulted in roach after roach and some lovey fish needing the net as well.  

This continued as dusk gathered and the owls called - I packed up and said a hearty thank you to Mr Wilkes as I walked back to the car in an already clear and freezing landscape. Thank you very much indeed.