Saturday, 28 May 2011

An occasional excerpt from my life

    Never say never: Chapter one

We don’t know what forms our life pattern will take.  I personally believe we form our own pattern by choices we make throughout life.
       That is of course apart from your birth, and perhaps until you reach the age of say, 11.
 I say 11 in my case, because that is when I recall making my very first independent decision.
 I’ll come back to that experience later.
My first non choice, but the pattern was being formed, was my birth to Frederick Robert Boney and Kathleen Ella Boney (Metcalfe) at around 6am on 24thMarch 1949 at St George’s Hospital Hammersmith  London W6.
My dad at that time was a glazier with a company called James Clark & Eaton. He joined them after the war and worked on the same gang as his father. 
They were carrying out new  glazing to big properties, glass roofs at breweries, and shop fronts in the big stores of London.
My mum was until my birth working in the West End of London making blinds. She met my dad by way of an introduction from two of his aunts Elsie & Dollie, who worked in the same workshop.
 They married in May 1947.
My dad was born in November 1921 the only son of Frederick Harry and Florence Caroline Honor Boney.  He had just one sibling, a sister Florence Beatrice May. Their home was 53 Hayles Street Southwark SE11 (The Elephant & Castle)
 My mum was born in January 1923 and was part of a huge family of 14 children to John and Clara Metcalfe. He owned a cycle repair shop trading as J Metcalfe’s Son!   It was also the family home, in Broadley Street, London NW3. (Edgware Road)
Both of my great grandmothers were Irish

My first home was with my mum’s eldest brother Ted, and was in Crondace Road Fulham, we lived there until my brother Bill arrived in May 1950.
My parents then took the opportunity, because of housing shortages in London, to move out to one of the new London County Council housing estates being built in the countryside.
The one chosen was close to Romford Essex, although I did learn later in life that my mum would have preferred the other option of Crawley Sussex.
So at 18months old with 4 month old brother Bill, we moved to the Harold Hill Estate, still within a journey of   half an hour, on a good day, back to the metropolis and the greater family.
Our terraced house in Stratton Road was to be home for about another 18 months, which included the arrival of my second brother Ted, in July 1951.
I don’t remember that house at all!
My mum had the four of us between March 1949 and September 1952, each 14 months apart.
My sister Pat was the first to be born in what was to be the permanent family home for us, and still is for my mum.
A brand new semi detached house, the first house in the cul-de-sac, it has good sized gardens, back and front.  As well as an inside bathroom it also has an outside loo and coal shed in a separate breezeblock building under a corrugated roof!
Very close by to us, in fact behind the houses in Hailsham Road, were open fields which were to form for my brothers and I a playground, and awareness for me certainly, of the natural world around us from a very early age, maybe I was 8 or 9 years old.
The fields were effectively flower meadows ,  bordered on each  side by the Payne’s Brook, the houses of Hailsham Road , by Noak Hill Road and the fourth went further onto Straight Road.
Within the fields was one shallow water filled dip which contained all of the newts, common and rare to the English country side, and a fair quota of frogs and toads. Many of which took the opportunity to visit our home as the contents of jam jars , before it sunk in, that they either escaped, perhaps with a little assistance from mum, or... died.
In another field was a proper pond, this pond was the basis for my first attempts at fishing.
Firstly for the newts and then sticklebacks with the cotton and worm approach, moving on to tiny perch and bent pins and then onto small crucian and  common carp, rudd and tench.
The tench and carp, not of any great size, perhaps a pound or so, maybe stunted because of the abundance of fish in such a small space. It wasn’t until the thawing out of the winter of 1963 that we became aware of  bit bigger fish, the mums and dads, as they were all dead, frozen in the deep ice. 
I can’t recall if it had any recovery after that , because my angling wings had grown with the aid of a bike by that time.
We had became aware of the smaller animal and insects within the pond by the use of a “dragnet”, well it was a big wicker basket,  the type green grocers  used to leave behind their shops.
Attached to rope acquired from the building sites that surrounded us, we would drag that pond pulling in all inhabitants for close inspection and decanting to the jam jar.
The fields around and beyond, as I said  became a playground, for my natural curiosity of flora and fauna, this  extended to what was common with schoolboys of that time, bird nesting!  
Mostly just me and brother Ted, Bill was not always with us though, not on our wavelength..
We  quickly became aware of the habitat  requirements of all British wildlife.
Ted was always the tree climber, and still has the scars to show it from the regular slide down the straight scots pine that were in a local parkland woods (Bedford Park). 
They always had a nest at the very top!
As a result of learning of the birds habitat, we  also became aware of the trees shrubs and flowers.
The Observer books were for me, the must never be without books of the time.
The fields closest to Hailsham Road also became our "gang" encampment.
The gang may have been around 20 all very close in age, say a four year spread.
 When we weren’t playing cricket and football in the road, there were very few cars, we were playing the usual games of knock down ginger, or walking the country roads singing at the tops of our voices, what may now be called rugby songs, but were soldiers songs .
 They were about, three german officers,   or something about we were on the bridge at midnight,  and renditions of  Hitler only had one ball!
Anyway the encampment was a step up from the camp erected inside a big bush. These were dug out squares, probably ten or fifteen feet long and wide. You could stand up in them so they were I suppose six feet deep. Steps down and a fire place.The roof construction was tree branches, and the occasional scaffold plank topped with corrugated iron “found” on the building sites, and then topped off with turf. The flooring was old lino and carpet.
Our encampment was probably 5 or 6 of these dugouts.
There were also “larders” in each dugout containing the usual tinned stuff, and spuds usually acquired from a local crop, always streaky bacon that almost disappeared when cooked, and occasionally eggs which were probably bought, or from our mum’s stock, but more likely from the little shop in Noak Hill Road.
They were smoking dens ,Weights, Woodbines or Domino's acquired through our paper boy jobs, sometimes just grass, or hollowed out conkers and acorns filled with Old Holborn or Golden Virginia. 
We very soon found out that plastic play pipes lined with silver paper were unsuitable!!
I often wonder what may have been thought of the dugouts in later years when the buried and  overgrown wreckage was come across.
Because wrecked they were, occasionally  by internal  gang wars which  found them collapsed by shear weight of numbers on the roof. 
Never ever by other gangs, we were too big a gang for opposition. Any group of lads seen within catty range were soon put on the run. There were never gang wars.
In the end they were all destroyed, mostly water filled , abandoned and overgrown.

There are vague memories of going to Bosworth infants’ school, moving onto the junior’s at the same location off Hilldene Avenue.
 I can recall some of the teachers names and those of classmates, but had no further contact with many of them after leaving for Senior School in 1960 at the age of eleven. 
Our house came within the boundary of Quarles Secondary modern school, a mile away on the other side of the estate.

And so, the next phase of my life begins.

One year old

That's it, already a year has flown by since I started this Blog.
My original reason for starting remains sound.
The internet trolls have been driven off the forums and are having a go at blogs, but from reading most of them it's only their sycophant entourages comments that encourage them to carry on.
For me the year hasn't been brilliant, not been fishing as much as I would have liked to but family and friends will always come first in my book.So not much to say.

Dealing with two publications this last couple of months has taken it's toll on my right arm and wrist,so the rest from here and elsewhere will do me good for a while.
It's either tennis elbow or a trapped nerve that's giving me gip, or that other thing, repetitive strain injury!
Too much pain to hold a rod in fact, so even if I felt inclined to I couldn't.
Next weekend is the Barbel Show followed by a Romford hospital trip, and the weekend after a table at the Prince Albert show at Ribchester will be the nearest to fishing I'll get.
In fact a week on lake Garda, booked this last week will mean my fishing may only start in July with a Teme weekend at Dave Mason's fishery, followed by a Marsh Farm trip with the guys from Fishing Magic.
We shall see.
In the meantime thanks to all those of have viewed this Blog.

Too the daily viewer from this space, it's coming soon.

Only one team on the park, Manchester Utd totally outclassed.
I hope the managers of this country looked closely at the football played by Barcelona, the ball hardly left the playing surface and they were in control.The long hopefull ball won't work against this level of opposition

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Barbel Society: Research and Conservation Report

Just to let you know how the funds get spent 

Firstly, I must give thanks all who have donated in one way or another to the Fund, and this includes many members who just add on an extra bit of cash to their subscriptions, not just major contributors to the fundraising events.
Without this income, we could not have the effect we certainly do have in research and conservation of barbel and barbel rivers.
A heartfelt thank you to you all, it is very much appreciated, not least, I hope by the barbel!

We raised over seven thousand pounds in all, with a tremendous result from both the online auction and the Avon Fundraiser in partnership with the Roach Club; take a look at Trevor and Budgies website, by the way! AVON ROACH PROJECT

The first part of the report is an historic announcement in many ways, because we are involved in a major piece of research work that we are funding in partnership with Bournemouth University.
It will involve three main aspects; firstly, the development of the first archive of all barbel-related research work in the UK, which will pull together all current published work on barbel and barbel rivers, and the result will be a database of national importance.
Secondly, our current scale collection project will be extended, and the existing scale archive from the Hampshire Avon will be extended to as many other rivers as we can manage.
The EA are currently reading and analysing the scales, but the University has the expertise to continue with this and will contribute to a data set that is again unique, and of tremendous value to the pool of knowledge about barbel ages and growth rates.
Finally, the University will be carrying out some tank experiments to compare growth rates with temperature and food supply, to get a better picture of growth rates.
It is expected that the project will continue over time, but our contribution of four thousand pounds will ensure the first two years is funded.
More details in the Press and on the website in due course.

Teme at BransfordWe have planned a programme of works to make further small scale improvements to some of the thick willow trees by the Railway Bridge, and the coppicing of some dying or diseased alders which will be brought back to life. The cuttings from the willows will be used to further reinforce the bank, when planted at water level, and strategic planting of willows will produce the valuable low level cover that both provides cover for fish and prevents undue erosion.
There are many smaller willows that are to be felled, but will remain alive as in stream cover.
This work has been consented by the landowner, the EA, and Natural England, who have been so impressed with the work that the fishery is used by them to show trainees examples of “good practice”
The extra light that the pollarding of the larger willows allowed to reach the water has increased low level bankside growth, and will be increasing the productivity of the stretch.
The further work at Bransford this year was paid for by the Severn Rivers Trust ( from original BS funding) who are backing similar work elsewhere on the Teme, and also use Bransford as an example of “good practice"

Dorset Stour ProjectThe first stocking of small barbel, three years ago, and the most recent stocking has been a success, in that fish of the right sizes have been spotted and caught in small numbers close to the stocking points.
The bigger fish are now three of four pounds, and although they have been seen, none have been positively identified as stockies yet, but it is early days.
The recent turmoil in the EA, facing 30% staff cuts and 25% funding cuts, means that slow progress has been made on the habitat works, but we retain the committed funding and maintain contact with local clubs and fisheries officers.
Fry bays, trees dropped into the river and other repairs to the recovering Stour are all on the cards.

Arborfield on the LoddonBy the time you read this, the extra gravel that the Society is paying for to enhance this project should have gone into the river as part of the reinstatement project, and I am sure Ian Watson will deliver a detailed article in the next issue of Barbel Fisher.

St Patricks Stream, TwyfordWe have agreed to contribute a significant sum to the habitat improvement work suggested in the survey that we paid for on this distributary of the Thames, and would expect work to take place shortly.
The work will involve excavation of shallow fry bays, proven to be used by baby barbel as well as other species, and some gravel reinstatement.

The sort of work that can be carried out on our smaller rivers can be done relatively cheaply and can have tremendous benefits, and although the pruning of large old trees, and digging out of material can look rather drastic and unsightly at first, the eventual plus points far outweigh the apparent destruction!
Placing trees in the water deliberately, rather than relying on good luck to drop one in the right place, is a positive boon to a fishery, and avoids action by flood defence operatives more concerned with allowing water to flow away, and preventing erosion.

Scale surveyThe results of the scale readings on the samples we provided to the EA are in the process of being analysed, and a sample of fifty odd fish gave data that was extremely valuable, and showed that some fish are much older than we think.
The bigger fish were, as expected, over twenty years old, but some smaller fish of only six pounds were found to be as old as fifteen. They grow fast in the Hampshire Avon, but not all will reach double figures.
87% of the fish were over ten years old, but there was evidence of strong year classes that should provide a sustainable population for the future.
I would like to extend the survey next season to the Teme, Trent and Swale, so those of you that are interested need to contact me in order to receive training and advice on how to remove and send in the scales.
The removal of scales is of no harm to the fish, and is less than will occur naturally.
Similarly, all permit holders will be asked to send in catch returns using the standard form as supplied in this newsletter and permit, and available soon on the website. This information tells us how well our fisheries are doing, and provides crucial information on trends over time.

Spawning surveyWe will continue with this spring, and hope that all anglers, not just members, will contribute. The information received last year was welcomed by the EA on one stretch of the Cherwell, and helped with planning habitat improvements, but also alerts them to spawning areas and affords them some protection.

Pete Reading, Research and Conservation Chair

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Some of this and some of that!



 I didn't get the opportunity to fish the Lincoln estate lake, needs pre-booking and staff holiday stopped me in my tracks.

So off to Clattercote yesterday with the Fishing Magic crew, all 21 of us.
Most of us met up in the Brasenose Arms in Cropredy village for a 7:30 a fry up before moving on to the fishery for the draw.

We fished from 10:15 until 16:15.
 I decided because of reputation I would float fish for roach, as did one or two others, most fished for the carp, with the method,bagging waggler,and something to do with a helicopter rig???

Top weights as expected from those fishing for carp, with Graham Marsden fishing the Method winning it with about 35lb of carp.
I drew next to Mark Wintle and saw him land just over 25lb of very fine roach to over a l lb, waggler fishing and catching on the drop.
 The male roach  were in full breeding turbercules which made them have the feel of perch instead of their usual slimy feel.
A small net of roach ,bream and hybrids for me.
Back to the pub for a pint of Pedigree and sausage and chips.
A great day out with great company as usual.

Another great day out
Looking forward very much to The Barbel Show on June 6th at Hinckley, great guest speakers lined up and a good trade hall arranged

 If you're down by the river

The Barbel Society is spearheading a national survey of barbel spawning sites on UK rivers. The purpose of the survey is to gather data on the dates and times of barbel spawning activity, and to build a central national register of barbel spawning sites in order to improve our understanding of barbel recruitment factors, as well as to enable better protection of those sites.
The survey will continue in the long term, and provide data to indicate any patterns or changes in spawning behaviour.
Historical and anecdotal information is also valuable, as long as a reliable estimate of date can be supplied.
Please click here and provide us with the following information in the e-mail, or fill in the form below.
 Your contact details; name/ tel/ address (CONFIDENTIAL)
 Name of river
 Name of stretch/nearest town
 Brief description of site; eg 100 metres upstream of weir, left bank
 Grid reference
 Controlling club/riparian owner
 River conditions, high/low/clear/coloured etc.
 Sizes and numbers of fish observed
 Duration of activity
 Any other comments

Angling clubs, riparian owners and individual anglers are invited to contribute to the survey. Anglers should ensure they have permission from controlling clubs/landowners to be present on the river bank.

The information received will remain confidential to the BS and EA, especially specific locations, but the general conclusions will eventually be shared as much as possible.

Please ensure your observations of spawning fish do not disturb them in anyway.

Sparra's and tits

First fledgeling sparrows of the year being fed in the garden and great tit feeding young in the box a fortnight earlier than last year..

For the "Cardinal "

Beware poachers, those that were entrusted, and the one I know we couldn't trust!!

Say no more!!

Guess who?

A clue a lifetime ban on FM

Monday, 9 May 2011

Onward and upward

What a week!!

One job out the way, a six hour round  trip to Worcester for a very constructive meeting.
Also had a look for the first time at our fishery at Bransford.What a great looking stretch of the Teme and it looks like the giant weed has received some treatment!

Time to concentrate on the  magazine.

Still no time for fishing, although I  am awaiting an approval to fish an estate lake near Lincoln tomorrow.
I'm going somewhere anyway whatever a first light session.The local song thrush wakes me earlier enough!!

Harold Hill trip later in the week for  a few days.


Thank you Sir Alan Sugar, for a new word he uses to describe those that are always bitching but do nothing themselves. I have met a few of those Knucker's, no names no pack drill!!

Frosty garden

A big wack from the frost early this week has set the garden back.
The great deal of growth on the grape vines...gone! The maples showing brilliant colour from their new leaf growth gone, well now all tinged with brown edges. The beech hedge planted last year also had all the new leaves singed
Cast not a clout until May is out is about right. That north easterly wind was bitter and cutting and deflected around my garden hitting most plants at well above ground level.

The great tit's are active, looking back to my first ever blog (it's almost a year), it appears that the young were hatched somewhere near the end of the month, they may be a bit earlier this year.
Two blackbirds seen building new nests in the front and back gardens yesterday, leads me to think that earlier nests may have failed as a result of the cold snap.

Two water butts refilled, salad seeds sown, grass needs cutting and the field next door has once again a great crop of cow parsley and stinging nettle.

Friday, 6 May 2011

A date for your diary

For anybody who knows....

Wildlife artist and eccentric barbel-fisher Maurice ‘Mole’ Pledger has at last completed his long-awaited angling autobiography.
While My Float’s Still Cocked: the ramblings of an artist-angler is a beautifully illustrated volume and will be available in a signed hardbound Collector’s Edition as well as a Standard Edition, a high-quality paperback with flaps. There will also be a very limited De Luxe Edition, but details of this are being kept secret until closer to the launch-date!
It is being published by Paul Morgan of Coch-y-Bonddu Books and will be launched at the CLA Game Fair at Blenheim Palace on 22nd July. Maurice will be setting up his easel on Paul’s stand for all three days of the fair, and will be found there, painting fish, signing books, drinking tea and telling lies about big barbel.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Our 'Enry

Lost broadband on Sunday,so unable to put this up until today!


At a time when boxing seemed to mean quite a bit to me I had two heroes, Billy Walker who I had watched since his amateur days, and Londoner Henry Cooper.
Today the death of Our ’Enry has been reported at the age of 76, to me he is the last legend of British boxing, no other has come anywhere near his ability since his day.
He lost, all be it controversially, after his delivering his left hook  ‘ammer  against the all time greatest  Cassius Clay in the 1963 non-title fight. 3 years  later loosing again as he was beginning to go past his peak.
A lightweight heavyweight, who typically English, didn’t quite make the greatest as was expected, but was truly respected and much loved by the nation.

Rest in Peace Sir Henry.