Sunday, 24 February 2013

A boy's day out

Beer, glorious beer!

Had a bit of a change yesterday and joined seven other villagers from the White Hart including Mick the landlord on trip over to Derby to the CAMRA beer festival, my first ever.

Our first port of call was the pub and a breakfast made for us by Jenny, Mick's partner. This was the works, bacon egg,sausages, black pudding, beans and tomato, very good it was too.
I think also, it was the first time I've actually had a pint in a pub this early in the morning, but you have to line yourself up,well so I'm told, for a visit to a beer festival!
So fully set up, we are on our way to Lincoln in an eight seater, for the train to Derby, via Nottingham.
Having not been a train traveller for some years, I have to say what a vast improvement has been made since my commuting days.
Firstly all the trains are clean and new, they actually all ran on time there and back,  the staff were chummy and helpful,and the trains were well used. Perhaps privatisation is working!

On arriving in Derby, our first port of call after negotiating our re-entry to the station, as the festival was on the other side of the track, was to The Brunswick Inn. Just down from the station entrance and the car park.
I mention the car park because this was the scene of our first and only incident of the day.
Last year the incident of note, because the pub have been visiting the festival for the last four years, was Mick had tripped over a low metal fence on the way back to the station at the end of the day and split his nose open on pecking the ground. If you could see his nose that would give you an idea why his nose hit terra firma first!!
Anyway this years incident that occurred before the drinking had started, was to Wayne, the tallest among us at six foot three, as we approached the barriers for the way out of the car park. Wayne was given a hefty clout on the head by the descending barrier, stunned for a while he soon recovered, with much cursing and laughter from the other seven of us...well, after he had been seen to tough it out unscaved!
The pub has a great selection of ales including their own on site brewhouse beers, we had a couple of pints there and played halve it with the pub darts, which as usual with such pieces of equipment, had seen better days.


So back to the station and the successful negotiation of access without using our return tickets was managed and we entered the Roundhouse. Being a CAMRA member my entrance fee was free, but I bought, as we all did, a half pint commemorative glass..for drinking from!

The Roundhouse is a former engine shed and appears to be exactly the same as the London Roundhouse, that used to be used for concerts and can be seen from the train as you approach Euston.
Inside the perimeter walls of the interior was stacked with barrels of beer,  the interior between the pillars used for seating.

Being my first festival, and perhaps I learnt some thing from this, is that you need a plan.
The first part being don't go with a pint glass, the second is probably to go with a beer style in mind.
There is just so much to test and starting from brewery A through to Z, wasn't the way to go.
What I did notice, and I didn't expect a lot of old farts talking beer, was the variety of people in attendance, many young ladies and a wide spread of ages.
Being a fan of dark beers,porter and mild, my plan was hatched and from £1.30 to £1.90 a half, based on alcoholic strength, I had a good selection to try..and I did.
We stayed for about three hours, with only a break for some restorative cheese and biscuits, then we were off on the crawl.
Anyway to cut a long story short, we visited a few real ale pubs, drinking pints, don't ask me their names but I think I know where to find them, the penultimate pub was a Wetherspoons, the Babington Arms which was a "sprint" to get to in the town centre, in order that we could watch some of the rugby and have sustenance. Let's just say, the food filled a hole!
I did use my CAMRA Wetherspoon beer vouchers before they expire though, giving us 50p a pint off each of 10 pints.

Extreior of The AlexOn our way back to the station we called in at The Alexander Hotel mainly for further relief and a quick half before the journey back to The White Hart for about 10:30 and my first ever free pint from landlord Mick!
All in all a great day out,and  we've already booked ourselves for next year.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Just another day by the river

Decided to have another trip down to the Upper Witham to get a few hours chubbing in this afternoon.
River had gone down quite a bit and the colour had drained out in the straights, but still had a bit off the bends where the current was stirring up the sediment.

I had made up my mind to roam, and started up at the weir, having fished for about half an hour with no bites so I moved a touch down stream.
Almost immediately I hooked and lost a fish, so cast back in and got myself a chub of 4lb on the nose

Staying about an hour in that swim, but with no further action, so I decided to move again, but, still no fish even after moving and trying  two further swims.
So I decided to move to below the footbridge, into the area of a much pollarded willow and. got a take straight away and lost another fish!!
That's two fish lost, I must just be nicking them in the lips as they pull back, these are not snatch bites, just a gentle knock as the weight lifts, then a slight snatch followed by a pull.

Straight back in again and once again almost at once I hooked and landed another chub.Just a little bigger at 4lb4ozs.
The fish had a bit of a dig just in front of it's dorsal fin, not certain what could have done that, I'll have a closer look at the photo later.
Both fish were caught on the Stilton, and all my bites were on the same bait, bread failing to get much more than a knock. I'm pretty certain they are roach, but with a size 6, my guess is with many of the roach being of no more than a few ounces, they are not getting to the hook.
I hung around a bit longer and got one more take which I didn't connect with.
At around 4o'clock I moved again,this time to my last swim of the day, and to where I caught my 5lb3oz fish on Monday.
Not in luck today though for a recapture...maybe I need to leave the camera at home!
So, all in all not a bad day.
A bit of a downstream chill wind, mostly overcast with the occasional spot of hail.
Quite pleasant alround, with the occasional dog walker, and a young lady horse rider, all of whom spent a short while to pass the time for a chat.The dogs here seem to be better trained than those I meet sitting down at Sutton on Trent though. No snaffling through the bags or bait.
Our baliff Mick turned up late in the afternoon with his pike gear, and headed off down stream.
He returned later without making any contact with his lures.
We chatted for a while about the river and it's fish and their known sizes, before I packed up for home at about 5o'clock.
Next time I shall take my trotting gear and concentrate on the float and maybe the roach.Maybe even a bit of stret pegging on the inside deeps.

Arrived home with the 'addock and chips at about 6:30, it's 8o'clock and we're  off down the White Hart for the fortnightly quiz night and my run along the line of four real ales.

Another holiday!

I've just booked a week away in France beside the river Charante.
If anybody has fished it I would be interested to hear from you..not just barbel!!

Something for the pension pot.

My deluxe copy of Night Walk by Chris Yates arrived safely in yesterday's post.
A real shame a chance to meet the man and get it signed personally in Salisbury clashed with another function nearer home.

I've read the original release, which is still available, it really is a nice read.
This copy is going on the bookshelf for that rainy day, or until I get a pair of plastic gloves!

Monday, 18 February 2013

I knew they must be bigger

Quick 3 hour session

Thought I would have a short afternoon session on the Upper Witham, so after a walk up and down the stretch decided on my swim and settled down to fish at around 1:30. for a maximum of 3 hours ish.
The fishery has an off time of sunset.
One rod, my Fox 1.5 Barbel special and my Shimano 4000R.
I had hempseed, some liquidised bread some defrosted casters and fresh home baked small loaf for flake.
Bait in the first instance Stilton, fished straight through on 4lb Maxima, a quarter ounce Fox lead and a size 6 ESP barbless raptor.
My third visit this winter first outing 2 chub just over 4 and 4lb12ozs. Last outing a blank.
Cracking day no wind of any note, but that changed a bit later, river pushing through and obviously dropping fast, the colour is beginning to drop out.
Got myself settled down for the first cast of the day and  'phoned The Boss to let her know my hour journey down was uneventful, an immediate big tug.
Told the Mrs, I'll phone her back fish on, she had something to tell me.
After a brief tussle during which I had to catch the landing net as I slipped down the bank, I landed a chub.
The fish looked a shade stockier than my previous two from this stretch. Sod it, the camera is back in the office. No camera on this 'phone.
Scales zeroed with the weigh sling, the fish weighed 5lb3ozs, a new pb for this river.
A 21 inch fish with a 12.5" girth, and in  perfect order apart from a blood spot on it's lower flank.
Cast out again with my hook laden with a good size piece of Stilton, and  returned the 'phone call hoping for another quick take.
It didn't happen and apart from a few quick snatches no further fish, despite trying out flake as well.
So at 4:30 despite thinking I should have packed up early after the chub, I packed up and made the journey home, just a bit chuffed!

Heard on the radio as I made the journey, that Richard Briers had died, a true master of out time at 79 not a bad innings and he will be well remembered, I'm sure.

Rest in peace Mr Briers

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Food for thought!

I've just finished reading Terry Lampard's book First Cast published in 2005.A very good read it is too.
This is from his final chapter, and is the closing paragraph.

Last Cast
Whatever course my future angling takes, I shall endeavour to spend as many of the next forty years as I am allocated in the same irresponsible manner as the last.

Something that I've given thought to over many years of loosing close friends before their time.
I'm certainly of a view we must all take each day as it comes, nobody knows what tomorrow may bring, we may not even have forty days!.

Rest in Peace Terry Lampard 

Kenya: A pictorial view(March 2001)

So in thinking about what Terry wrote made me look back at things we've done and seen, and this was one of the first of our major life changing Experiences
This is just a few of our photo's and yes, you can get that close! I may write about this Experience but I'm sorting my Galapagos photo's from October 2000 at the moment.

Tree Tops

Thompson falls

The rift valley

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Territorial dispute

Spring is here!

After spending half the night trying to relieve a tickley cough, I got up at about 8:30 this morning and made a cup of tea. looking out of the kitchen window I could see a song thrush acting quite peculiarly,but thought it was gathering spider webs or something for a nest.

A while later I looked out again and it was still at it so I grabbed the camera moved into the utility room for a closer view and saw almost immediately what it was up to.
Bit noisy at the start, The Boss had just finished washing up and was putting the cutlery away!!

 It's still out there now fighting it's reflection!!


Cousin Joyce is recovering well, in what sounds like a cracking little NHS cottage hospital in Sussex.
Still a long way to go but very promising.

My shares are still thriving.Still awaiting ground breaking news on one in particular but my initial investment has already doubled.

The fishery, still delving but in the meantime a better stretch has been found and announced.

Holidays, apart from the Russian cruise, we've booked a weekend in Norfolk, a week on the Wye and a weekend at the Whitstable oyster festival. We've also been invited up to Scotland, working on the date but it clashes with the Barbel Show on June 9th, so a choice to be made.

Just for fun

Monday, 4 February 2013

Half cocked!


I decided to have a few hours on the Upper Witham, but in my rush to get out, left my Fox barbel special in the garage and only had my B&W compound taper Mark IV ready made up in the holdall with my Purist II, didn't find that out until I arrived at 1pm and sat myself down!
I like the Fox rod, it's very versatile and with the quiver tip section proved to be the right rod for the river when I last used it down there.
Anyway I was there, and wasn't going for the one hour drive back.

The river was running through at quite a pace, and the colour was good but it was dropping out.
What surprised me was that the pathway and banks were not as wet as expected, no doubt due to the biting drying winds over the last few days.

I decided to fish with a big bait to see if the chub would have a go at my stilton or bread flake.
I had a good bag of hempseed, some liquidized bread and a batch of dead maggots, which didn't look their best. I mixed them with the hempseed and fed regularly with the occasional ball of liquidised bread.

Sat back watched the world go by, counted the mallards,has anybody else noted that the drakes far outnumber the ducks this year ? They are mating and were squabbling all afternoon.
At one point they were disturbed by a male sparrowhawk, he swept down amongst them whilst they were all resting on the opposite bank, frightening them all back into the river. I don't think sparrowhawk take ducks, perhaps he overshot some smaller bird!

Also spotted a pair of dabchick at some distance, they wouldn't come closer,  it appears with the benefit of a long shot, they are getting their summer plumage.

As can be guessed, I didn't latch on to any chub, in fact there wasn't a sign of any fish.
So I left at 5 o'clock with a cold wind that had been biting at me all afternoon, whipping up strong again, and kicked myself all the way to the car.
Next time!!

Friday, 1 February 2013

10 years

Friday 31st January 2003

Yesterday was our celebration of living in the Lincolnshire Wolds, we arrived 10 years ago yesterday, after an overnight in Boston which found us leaving in the early morning following a night of severe blizzard conditions, and wondering the best way to get to our new home.
We plumped for the main road route rather than the 10 miles shorter, but more direct B roads, we assumed that the A16 would be relatively clear, and our better option.
As it turned out it was, although the road was strewn with abandoned vehicles, there was a clear paassageway through the drifts.
We eventually arrived at our new home to find our removal lorry tilted at an impossible angle, it appeared that on arrival it had parked on what the driver thought to be a pavement, but in fact, disguised by the snow was a grass verge and the lorry had sunk up to it's axle in the wet mud, and was very close to balancing on our new neighbours six foot wooden boundary fence!
We had no keys to the house as one of those last minute things occured, as they do with house purchase.
So we headed off on the A631 to Louth across the Wolds, fortunately the snow ploughs had been at work and it was a relatively easy journey across.
The vendors solicitor advised us that the final monies had not arrived, but was assured that they were on their way.
So we went to Ye Olde White Swan, as you do, and waited.

We had a good lunch and rang the estate agent, the keys were now available, so we picked them up, called the removal firm driver and let him know we were on our way.
So with some trepidation made our way back over the Wolds.
On arrival, we found that one of our new neighbours Geoff, had arranged with a local  farmer to come over and pull the removal lorry off the verge.
So we were in, and in very short time our removal team were on their way back to Milton Keynes..

The last 10 years

We've had a great 10 years, we were very quickly into village life, joining the pub darts team and the Black Horse pub fishing club.
This gave us a great opportunity to meet and get along with the locals.
Having allied myself to the Black Horse, it took sometime to venture into the The White Hart across the road, but we did, and found ourselves with a real ale paradise, which after the closure of the Black Horse, the landlord selling up and going to live in Spain, became our new home from home. The Horse becoming a wannabee restaurant, alienating many of the villagers, but it's now closed and for sale again.

Later in 2003 I met for the first time Ron Clay from contact on Fishing Magic and fished the tidal Trent at Sutton with him, caught my first Trent barbel of about 4lb following his tuition, and the very next season I joined the Barbel Society because they now owned that very same stretch a water..

My Dad died in January 2004

I fished the Hazelford stretch as a guest in October 2005 and improved my personal best barbel to 9lb4ozs and in June 2006 was invited to join the syndicate and met one of the nicest blokes I've ever met Mike Osborne, there were a good few in that syndicate though, Steve Brown to name just one.
In 2005 I won a guided day and at this time was lead to believe I had achieved my first double, from the Loddon, a fish of "10lb 8ozs" I never saw the scales and have had concerns since that time that it actually was. The the usual snide sniping comments of the internet doubting the veracity of the scales, things I heard after also gave me some nagging doubts.
What do you think ?

Anyway in November 2007 I caught my next double where I actually saw the scales, this was weighed for me by the aforesaid Steve Brown, he was also there in August 2008 to weigh and confirm the size when I achieved my current personal best.
In 2008 I also became editor of Barbel Fisher, my first attempt issue number 25, and I joined the Barbel Society committee.
My next job was to rescue thousands of over ordered Barbel Fisher's dating from 2002 from a former committee man's garage in Essex.

I left the syndicate at the end of the 2009/10 season.

My Mum died in December 2011

I resigned from the Barbel Society committee early 2012, editing and assisting after resignation the new man Rob Hilton on his way, Rob's another cracking fella ( he's got a few words on the little man), to complete my final and 10th Barbel Fisher, number 34 in the Autumn of last year.

What's next ?

Yesterday, as I say we celebrated.
After my trip to Grimsby we went to lunch in what I believe to be the best restaurant pub in this area, The Ship Inn at Barnoldby le Beck and finished off in the evening in the White Hart, I'm not certain the nightcap on getting back home of two large Irish, was such a good idea though!

Well I've already highlighted what's next for us in this blog, and we've been thinking about it for a while.
Whilst our little village has everything we want at the moment, and we've many local friends, next year I'm 65 so it's time to think what may happen if I can't drive, The Boss never liked too, and hasn't since we've moved up here.
So next year we will start looking for a move on to be closer to a main railway line to London with good access to a town, maybe even in a town. We'll start at Newark and move south or west.

or get one of these!!
For The Boss