Wednesday, 28 December 2016

...some of this and some of that


This may well be my last blog,
I've only written 16 this year, including this one. 
I've not really felt the urge or inclination to sit at the keyboard like I used to.
I have one fan though, who signs in everyday, according to my live traffic feed, from Wilmington, Delaware in the US, my guess is it's Google. Having said that, I'm registered as signing on from Newcastle upon Tyne, so gone are the days when I could almost pinpoint the viewer from Maidenhead!

What a year it's been though for the man with the scythe!
Although I suppose, the longer one is on this Earth, the more names one comes across, so for somebody of my age(68 next March) that's anybody who was famous, or known to me from the 1950's onwards.

It does of course relate to family, friends and acquaintances, and I've lost a few of those this year, only this last two months three funerals,my cousin Joyce, my uncle Reg, both of whom have been mentioned in the past, and old Bern around the corner.
Rest in Peace

So, on to other things.
 I've fished a good few times, but nothing to write home about fish wise, I've even taken my notebook for those quiet moments, and it's stayed in the bag. The chub are calling though.

Our house didn't sell!
There were not many viewings, we can count them on two hands, not certain of the reason, although living in the sticks with no facilities, apart from the pub and the village hall probably doesn't give great appeal.

We've decided to stay on now though, having discussed again the reasons we decided a move and they are not insurmountable problems. 
We'll probably take the equity out of the house, update and rejig here and there, and have more long haul holidays....who knows how long we have left? 

We're both in agreement that we don't want to leave inheritances!

Talking of holidays, this year saw us floating across to, and up the Amazon, We have learnt from this, 42 days at sea probably isn't the best way to spend our hard earned gains, and that with 1200 folk on board a boat, no self respecting jaguar, or come to that bird, is going to be posing for a photograph when the hoards off load!
Which was really what we wanted from that cruise.

As a result of being too far from the wildlife, I've upgraded my lens on the Nikon D3200 to a 55-300mm, so may well be hunting out the bird life a bit more.
First test on our Mr & Mrs sparra!

The Amazon trip took care of most of January and half of February. We visited Plocton in March, picking up our resident Scot's (Stirling) friends on the way up. A beautiful spot and pub, to stay in and wander the hills.
In May we had a few days in London by the river, seeing the sites, eating good food, and generally soaking up the big smoke. Pauline having not been in the "Big Smoke" for almost 30 years was somewhat overwhelmed by the changes
July found us wandering the Lake District for 10 days.
Our trip to Portugal failed as reported, and was replaced somewhat by pub 3 day stopovers, in Poole, Leyburn and Thorpe Market.
We've been at home since November, but 2017 so far, will take us to Torremolinos for some long winter warming,  a long weekend in a foodie pub near Newbury, around my birthday in late March, and a luxury long weekend in Dubrovnik at the end of April.

The International Drinking Society has lived on, as have the six remaining participants, with 5 trips throughout the year to London pub venues of good repute.
My turn to find a new venue in March.

So, as I've mentioned, this may be the last blog entry, then again it may not be. It will depend how the mood, and my delve into photography takes me.
A great 2017 to look forward to, especially the signing off of our EU membership. 
The referendum was the first vote in my life, and I always vote, that I felt would really make a difference,we shall see!
Thanks to my readers, have a great 2017, with good health and tight lines for my fellow anglers.

Friday, 11 November 2016

It's been a while

Fishing and thoughts
I've been down the Trent a few times since my last blog and I''d like to say it has been a productive time, but it hasn't been worth putting pen to paper.
Having said that, the last time out, I took a note book with me I've, never done it before, but thought I'd see if I was getting inspiration to write whilst awaiting that three foot twitch.
So, this is how it went, and as written.

The idea is that if I get any inspiration or thoughts whilst I fish two rods into the middle Trent perhaps I should jot them down.

I can't say that I normally have inspirational thoughts, so having sat here for an hour without movement from my rods, accompanied only by the occasional passing boat, an annoyed wren, and a vole at my feet having a fleeting dash out of cover towards my spilled hempseed, I've taken up my pen.
A skein of geese pass before me in their usual V shaped formation, for identification purposes they too far away for my eyesight, and my lens.
Probably pink footed

Over my shoulder is the mewing of a buzzard, generally though it's all quiet.
There are three other cars along the stretch, not near enough to chat to. The wren still wants to though, and there's a kingfisher close by betrayed by her call but, not by a fly by.
It's 2pm, very little movement from the fish, but that is not unusual on this stretch, as surface movement usually starts as the sun goes down.
A chap named David A from Oakham has turned up at this time, and we chat for some while before he settles down to tackle up in the swim just upstream from me. 
He fishes solely for barbel and uses an apple corer chunk of spam as his main bait, he feels it picks out the bigger fish.

It's now 4pm, just a couple of knocks, if I was negative I would have put down to leaf debris!
A good size flock of fieldfare pass overhead chattering individually to each other.
David pops over again, he's bite-less too, but he's just had a four horse accumulator come in, and goes on to tell me a few tales about what is his favourite and well studied hobby of horse racing, and betting.
I'm getting desperate now, only two hours to go to dusk at around 6.30, other anglers have passed by on their way home, all reporting a bad day with no bites.
So, I've poured myself a cup of coffee, and have a pee in
the hope, as so often happens, a fish is induced to bite....well.... that failed!
David pops along for a further chat (he's obviously getting bored). This time he tells me of his business woes, a total loss of his premises due to a fire in his chimney's last May. 
It then occurs to me just who he is, so we continue chatting about the insurance claim, and how it affected his staff.

I'll not go into the detail of our chat here, as it is still an ongoing matter.

Once again I'm on my own it's 5.30pm, I continue in hope.
At last, a few nudges on my quarter tin of garlic spam, time to put the other rod away.
The nudges continue and finish with a big tug stripping line from my baitrunner...and that was it. 
Big spam gone!
I think the eels come out at night, as I've experienced this before. Maybe I'll have a go for them sometime. It's reported four pounders have been taken accidentally .
The session ends with just one last cast, as always, in
the hope of that three foot twitch.

I'll be taking my notebook with me again


I mentioned last time that my 10 day trip was  cancelled.
It's subject to an insurance claim, but basically our flight out of Humberside to Amsterdam was delayed four hours due to a  gauge failure. 
A four hour delay would find us arriving in Amsterdam just as our fight to Oporto was leaving.
So we removed our luggage from the hold, and made our disappointed way home after checking if a later flight was available to Oporto. 
There wasn't.
As it happened the four hour delay eventually turned into a cancellation,so we are entitled to compensation of around £200 each plus the tickets cost to Amsterdam. Leaving us with an insurance claim for the air tickets to Oporto and back home, plus the lost deposit for the holiday.
So far the insurers have denied any liability, but the fight will go on.

Short breaks

We've had two since I last blogged.
Our first to our favourite inn in Norfolk, the Gunton Arms at Thorpe Market, a three night stay that lived up to all expectations in this deer park location. 
If anybody is interested, I last reported on this inn here. Gunton

Our next trip, just last week was to Poole in Dorset, the weather was at it's best, a final fling,18-20c after the morning mists.
We stayed in The Antelope Inn which was alright, and had a few pub crawls along to quay over three days.
A trip out to Brownsea Island was probably the highlight. 
A very natural place almost untouched by the National Trust.
We sighted our first non captive red squirrel which started off a three hour walk around the island. 

A magical place

Life on a big tree stump

Until the next time.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Still here again!!


Four hour flight delay at Humberside totally cocks up holiday,so still at home.
I will give the full story when I get my kick off claim response from KLM.

In the mean time.....

Avon Roach Project


Thursday, 29 September 2016

Still here, but not for long

As are the swallows.
Hoards of gulls following the plough's today, there must be a thousand of them wheeling their way back to the roost over this part of the Lincolnshire Wolds.
I've not been fishing since my last blog, it's tidy up time in the garden as we're off to soon.

Another holiday
We're heading to the North of Portugal close to the town of Ponte-da-Barca and into the National Park of Peneda-Geres.
Our last visit to the North must have been getting on for 35 years ago, we were probably there for our wedding anniversary as we will be this time for the 43rd year!
Our stay last time was in the coastal town of Viana do Costelo, it has many fond memories for us, we hope the in between years haven't changed the location too much, although there is now a motorway off the coastal route that didn't exist before, so we shall see.
I'm taking some of my fishing gear with me as we are on the banks of the River Lima. I shall probably be fishing barbel style, much the same as the Trent, and see how it goes.
My guess is that the internet, if any, will not be that brilliant,so I may well keep a log and report on our return.
I already have a "Travel Experiences" blog page set up from our Brazil trip, so I'll add it to that when possible.

House Sale
It's now a year since we've put the house on the market. We have got through two High Street agencies, the latest since April.
What we can't make out is the lack of viewings, although it does seem to me that High Street estate agents are a thing of the past, folk now check out the likes of Rightmove, and no longer look in the agents window.
So we've challenged the agent to produce a new marketing strategy for our return from Portugal.
My guess is that we will take the house off the market, and start again with a different outlook on our life here on the Wolds, or perhaps Purple Bricks!

On my return I shall be heading for the Trent and the Upper Witham, too see how I fair through the Autumn for barbel, chub and perhaps roach.
I've also gained a local contact for some sea fishing on a boat out of Grimsby, and have a couple of the villagers who are interested in joining me. So again, we shall see.

That's all for now, I'll be back

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

More this and that

Around and about the garden

I'm sitting in the garden this afternoon,lapping up what may be perhaps a few days of summer's final blast, with temperatures currently at 5pm around 77f
I've been noticing for the last few days that the acrobatic swallow and martin's had been replaced by the local small flock of starling, and our resident house sparrows in the stalling flight insect hunt they are both very good at. 
BUT, only just this minute I am hearing the twitter of a small group of swallows telling me that they haven't all made the trip down south yet. 
The swifts departed probably three or four weeks ago.
All in all it's been a good year in the garden for birdlife.
We've been inundated with linnet's, nesting in our hedges, they all seem to have left the surrounding gardens now, maybe the harvest is calling them to more abundant food sources.
The robin's are currently singing their quiet plaintive call in several locations nearby. Our own, I assume a male having the brightest of red breasts I've seen for some while. 
That may be due to reflective light, but he certainly looks in good full colour. 
Generally, the other birds have not fared quite so well, blackbird and song thrush although having a good number of broods, have been noticeably restricted in the end to one or two fledglings, with the odd three showing earlier on in the spring. 
The woodies only appear to have one per brood surviving , but they have been rampant all year. Flimsy nests cropping up all over our higher hedges
Other than that, we've had dunnock, wren and house sparrow producing one clutch successfully, but not other birds.
Our annual great tit  nestbox was squatted by house sparrow for the first time since we've lived here again just one brood although there has been great success around as we often have up to 30 around our pond.
Our two apple and pear trees have been quite successful this year  the victoria plum however, has for the last two years after an excellent harvest failed, and we had a great deal of rust spots on the leaves. 

I've cut it down now, before leaf fall, on the basis that I think it's diseased, and don't want to chance an infection of the rest of our trees. 
Other than that we didn't plant a great deal of salad/vegetable crop on the basis that we may be moving.
Alas that hasn't come to pass yet. 
We did have enough for tasting at least, of raspberry and blueberry. No gooseberries this year though, and as for the grape vines, not enough to even trouble the blackbird.

I was going to venture down to the Trent again tonight, but decided too many beers on the patio probably made it not such a good idea.
I did go down yesterday and fished for four hours up to dusk.
Only one take just after 6pm, and that turned out to be a very angry barbel of about eight and a half pound. He gave a cracking tussle for his quarter tin of garlic spam. 
I think you can see where it ended up!

My hook knot tying method appears to be improved, lack of care beforehand I think.
The mojo is definitely back, this stretch of the Trent isn't easy, but I'm winkling them out slowly but surely. A challenge gratefully accepted.
I thought the two barbel reported in last weeks blog were different fish, so thanks for those of my readers who responded to confirm my thoughts
Unlikely to go out again until Friday at the earliest, unless I get the dawn call.

In the meantime off out to the patio with a bottle of wine...... or two

Thursday, 8 September 2016

I think I've got it back

My mojo for fishing that is.
I've been on Trent a few times since last reporting, most of it small stuff and a lot of blanks.
This week I've been out twice, two days on the trot! I maybe even having a trip down tomorrow (Friday)
The Trent is painfully low, but I've persevered with the maggots and hemp approach, fishing the chunk of meat on the inside line, and a mix on the main rod.
All of my smaller stuff has been caught on dendrobaena worms, with not so much of a sniff on maggots.

On Tuesday I met Flyfisherman Richard for an afternoon session on the middle, did my usual stuff and after about two hours I got some action on the meat rod and landed my second barbel of the season, again at 9lb 8ozs. 
I'm hoping it's not the same fish as my first day fish!
Other than that once again maggots failed, but I took some same chub and perch on the worm.
Richard was unable to buy a bite.

Anyway last night I grabbed my cane rod, my Purist II and some bits, and decided that a session on meat only would be worth a test,
I thought that perhaps a bit of weight on the line would suit better
having noted yesterday, and indeed firstly on this session, that I was loosing a lot of meat on the anti erosion rocks.
So after about an hour of setting up, and with the weight on the line, I was into my first fish. 
A chub of about 3lb, it had snaffled my quarter tin of garlic spam without any trouble.

So out again, I waited, as you do with big meat and, was just tidying up, and having a pee, before the off, when the reel gave me the alarm again. 
I lifted into a fish still with my todger hanging out!
Left handed put away, right handed rod hold...or was it the other way round?
Anyway, this time the fish was bigger and tougher, and was heading off downstream, it was starting to give ground came off.
Once again I had a knot failure, this time on the hook length swivel.
Disgusted with myself I packed up, it was nearly sun down, so being off the fishery is in the rules.
I was so angry with myself that it took a while to calm down even after some idiot pulled out on me on my approach to the roundabout at Newark.
The driver kept faffing about in front of me all the way up to the A1 roundabout, after a few blasts on the horn I felt a lot better and then calmed down for the remainder of the drive home.

This is/are the fish, so if I have any readers, are they the same fish?

I'm now determined to go back down again, and to make sure before hand, that my lack of practice in knot tying fluorocarbon is improved and I'm up to finding out what is in this part of the mighty Trent.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

It's peeing down!


A blank day on the Trent last week. 
I have to say a river with a bit on and some colour appeals to me far more than what I encountered.
So to start off a session somewhat unhappy with conditions doesn't put me in the right frame of mind to fish, but I did for around 5 hours.
I put in a good pile of hemp and maggots via the big bait dropper, and had some good takes earlier on, of which one I had a connect, but was very quickly into a bottom snag, and left me without my end tackle probably a rock. 
After that it all went quiet, and once again I left the fishery without going into the dusk time.If the mood is not right, no point lingering in hope
I need to go down later in the day, I think.

The Lake District
And, so Saturday and we're off to Braithwaite our base in The Lake's for a week of touring around the sites and waterways.
We booked a small cottage in the village, close to the pub.
Our welcome was cold wet and windy and for the whole week, save for Thursday, it stayed that way.
Never the less we did two long boat trips, one on Windermere the other on Ullswater,  and basically we enjoyed the cruises and the scenery. 
Of the two, I think we preferred the views from Ullswater, in fact my camera didn't really get much action on Windermere, the worse weather of the two trips.
The rest of the week we took in Morecombe was closed, Whitehaven, much the same, and generally a good tour around the back lanes of the lakes via Keswick, Kendal and Cockermouth etc.
No Jenning's brewery tour as we were too early in the year, they wait for the kids to have the school break!
Whilst I took a liking to some of the beers available, the local was a Jennings pub and I'm not too impressed with the four they had on offer,so stuck to the guest beer a Ringwood brew Old Thumper. 
Thwaites and Robinsons were not too bad, but as I was driving, only one or two passed my lips.
I have to say apart from the weather we enjoyed our stay, the cottage was just the right size, although the staircase ceiling up to the bedroom probably had a coating of scalp by the time the week was out. Going up was ok, but coming down my lean to the left was often just not enough on many occasions!
Cosy Cottage
The countryside was beautiful despite the rain, or perhaps because of the rain. 
All in all a fine trip also some good local food in the local restaurants.

The White Hart LUDFORD
Although the local grape vine had passed the news around about a fortnight ago, my membership email has just confirmed that my local has just been awarded Lincolnshire pub of the year by CAMRA. Mick and Jenny are justifiably proud of the achievement.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Don't talk to me!

An evening spoiled

I rushed out at 4:30 pm last night to get some fishing in, and headed down into the valley.
In my rush I forgot my worms, fortunately I had a pot of Mistral paste and my plastics in the bag, and a bucket of hemp..
Having set myself up, I suddenly remembered that the England v Iceland game was on a 8 pm. 
So I decided that I see how it went, fishing wise, in the three hours before kick off.
I set myself up on Goose lake, I'll call it that from now on, because there are hoards of canada and greylag's at the far end.

Tonight was to be a carp night, with them coming from the off.
They were all about the same size, and gave me quite a tussle on the light tackle.

At 7:30, I decided that I'd had enough and packed for the short drive home and the football match. 
All I'm saying about that is, I wished I had stayed fishing!

Meanwhile back at home, in the garden
The hedges are getting in a bit of a mess and need a good trim, but every time I go to have a hack I find that another bird has decided to nest. 
We have three linnet nests in various stages of development. Our regular wren has now encouraged a mate to his nest, and we have eggs . Dunnock's are nesting again, as are the robin.
On top of that out two resident blackbirds have nested again and I haven't, yet, found another song thrush in residence, but they are about.
The garden generally is full of young sparrow (and our nestbox family fledged last week), blackbirds and wood pigeon.
Never mind at least I can cut the grass, when it's not raining!

Friday, 17 June 2016


June 16th

Arrangements were made with FlyFisherman, Richard to meet on the Trent at 10 am on the first day of the new season.
I had been reading reports on the internet of the river rising, and the usual flotsam rushing through, but the river level tables indicated the river was only about two foot up on normal conditions. 
I was tempted to contact Richard to postpone our meeting, but thought a trip down anyway would assist the decision making on the spot, so to speak.
Having made myself a full breakfast, I made my way down to the west of Newark on the A46, and arrived at the fishery gates at just after 10 am.
Nearly chopped my finger off in the gate mechanism, and drove bloodily down the bank side track along  the long straight and up to the big bend.
The river was certainly shifting through and bales of hay and bits of tree were speeding along in the current as I arrived.

As I rounded the bend I noticed 3 vehicles, none of which was Richard's, so I parked up and wandered over to the first angler for a chat. 
The first question I asked was is the river still rising, he wasn't certain but his pal in the next swim said it was, but slowly.
At that time one barbel of about 6lb and a small bream, were all that had been caught by the six anglers present.
Still no sign of Richard, so I decided to set myself up on the very first swim off the bend and immediately dumped a good few large bait dropper's full of hemp and maggots in the margins.
By 11 o'clock I was tackled up, some difficulty experienced though in knot tying, I couldn't get a proper grip with the slice out of my left hand finger (next to the thumb) giving me problems.
Blood seeping  everywhere again, so I decided to superglue the skin flap down, it stung a bit but sealed the skin in place. Only needing the occasional further dab of glue to stop the wound catching on everything.
So, I sat back with a quarter tin of garlic spam affixed to a Partridge size six weighted Czech Nymph, no other weight. 
I was going to fish with maggot but changed my mind.
My decision to use only one rod probably was the safest option as the current, just over two rod tips out, was hurtling through. 
The last thing I wanted was tangled tackle!
A few tentative tugs kept me concentrating, as did the occasional recast, being not certain if the meat had come off.
Anyway after almost three hours and thinking the England v Wales football match was probably on the radio, I was tempted to sit in the car and listen to the commentary, and perhaps fish on into the late evening.
Meadow crane's-bill

As it turned out, another few twitches of the rod top developed into a solid take, and I was soon into a tough fight with a fish as yet unseen.
I couldn't understand why my reel drag on the 5010 wasn't working, and was having quite a bit of trouble gaining line on the fish. I eventually got control with a pumping action, and caught sight of the barbel as it reached the surface, it looked at least a double.
I was very relieved as the fish slipped across the rim of the landing net safe and sound.
Anyway whilst trying to unhook the fish, and not being able to loosen the tension I then found the problem. 
I hadn't threaded the line through the first eye properly, and as the fish gave tension the line just tightened across the rod between the reel and the eye!
I really must take more care a lost fish because of pure carelessness would have bugged me for the rest of the day.
Duly rested after the rigmarole of trying to unhook the fish, I zero'd my scales  and weighed the barbel at 9lb 8ozs.

Not a bad start. 

As it tuned out apart from a few twitches, that was it for another three hours, so I packed up my gear and headed off home. The river level was going down.
Fortunately for me,and in particular my continued well being, there was a fella cutting the grass at front of the entrance, and he kindly opened and closed the gate for me.
No sign of Richard!
Is my mojo back? 
We shall see, but it did feel good!

Sunday, 29 May 2016

All quiet on the Eastern Front


I've been down in the valley a couple of times, not  a great deal different to report, but it got me out for a few hours.

We've booked a "bungalow" overhanging the River Lima in Ponte da Barca Northern Portugal for the early part of October.

My John Wilson travel rod will be taken, along with my 5010.

In the meantime we've booked a week in early July, at a cottage in the small town of Braithwaite in the Lake District.
Not certain about the fishing locally, but may take a few lures along.


For many years following my regular trips down to the big smoke I've promised Pauline a trip down to the old hunting grounds of the City, and to show her what has happened from Tower Bridge downstream.

The BBC Good Food Fair was on, so this gave us that opportunity, so we booked two nights by the river at the Hilton Double Tree, close to the Excel at Victoria Docks. £85 a night B&B. Free parking!
An edge of city location, pretty quiet, in close proximity to London City Airport.
We arrived Friday pm, so had plenty of time until Sunday PM to have a look around.
A river trip didn't come off, but the very handy DLR gave us plenty of scope to see the City and all it's riverside splendour.
The Show was alright, a Tom Kerridge presentation being the highlight.
The hotel restaurant was first class.
Tickets and hotel booked through

My blogging history

Looks like I've lost interest!
We'll see how the fishing year goes, before dropping out.

►  2010 (117)

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Summer arrives ?

Sunday 8th May crack of sparra's fart.
The top lane down to the lakes down in the valley has suffered quite a bit of erosion this last year or so.
Heavy lorries and machinery involved in running an estate hasn't helped the situation, but once you get towards the bottom it's obvious that rainwater has paid it's part too, channeling relatively deep rivulets on it's way to the level area of farmyard and barns at the bottom.
Before the new motor the old girl would bounce down there, crunching the undercarriage beneath the bumper that never did fully recover from an encounter with a muntjac some years ago.The new motor was a dream cruise by comparison.
Anyway, I was awake most of early Sunday morning after a homemade curry made itself known, grumbling away in my stomach. I gave up any attempt to sleep so decided to get up and go visit the lakes, setting off just before dawn broke
I had been thinking of fishing the bigger of the 3 coarse lakes, as it had been one of those which I hadn't given a great deal of time to. I need to check if there were still tench in there, and whether the roach and crucians had grown over the years.
On arrival I was surrounded by a cacophony of geese, both canada and greylag, not liking being awakened by a human. They all cleared the lake and headed for the field opposite where I was setting myself up and,in doing so, they disturbed a pair of hare.
My camera, still in the bag and with the wrong lense anyway, meant I failed to capture the moment as they lopped of across to the back of the field and over the hill..
So I set myself up, after a wander around, in an area of the lake I knew contained some goodish roach, and used to be where the tench came out a good few years back.
 I was home by 8am for breakfast, the fish stopping to take at nibble at my worm over hempseed, more or less as soon as the sun hit the water.
The result was one carp of about 5lb, a snotty (bream) and a roach of around the pound mark.
No sign of tench
I suffered all day Sunday through the lack of sleep, even trying for 40 winks after the lunchtime visit to the local failed, so decided a Monday morning dawn start probably wasn't on. Indeed it wasn't, as I had a great sleep through until about 8:30am.

Another fine day yesterday, so I decided to fish a few hours until sunset. setting out for the five minutes or so drive, at around 17:30.
The geese were all still in the field, bird calls everywhere, chiffchaff, reed bunting and warbler to name but a few.
I set up in the same spot, once again with worm over hempseed, using my Aspindales Aero backed up with my Youngs Heritage, 4lb Maxima, a porcupine quill straight through to a size 12 microbarb fished lift method, with about 4 inches on the bottom.
The carp were the first in action, followed by a chub of less than 3lb, a crucian of around a pound, some small rudd and a bream interspersed with more carp of no real size but a good tussle nevertheless on the lightish gear.Still no sign of tench!

And, so as the sun sets I head off home dodging a rather large hare, as he skipped down the road from side to side, giving me no indication of which way he was going!

I'm voting OUT.
As my regular readers will know I was a senior manager with C&A, a Dutch( European wide) family business, for nearly 20 years, ok not on the retail or buying side, I looked after the estate. 
During the later years of C&A's existence in the UK it was decided that whilst everybody in C&A Europe should speak English, trading and buying would be set up on a European wide basis. 
In other words centralisation, and a one size fits all philosophy .
Well it didn't work, the folk of the UK didn't buy the one size fits all approach.
C&A showed it didn't work so they sold up and left the UK..
I can still remember the first grapevine tale after the centralisation the first casualty of Eurosell was the stocking of shoes made in Germany in the UK stores, almost the entire stock was returned unsold! I'm sure there were similar occurrences but the grapevine was lopped.
What we had was a similar set up to the EU.
IMHO it's time for us to show that the UK doesn't fit the one size fits all mold, and continuing to be set by the EU. 
Time to get out

In the garden
Well, the house sparrow pair have finally decided to build the nest in the box formerly occupied, for the last few years by great tits. It's nearly complete(shaped like a big wren's nest) but with no eggs, yet.
We have two fledgeling blackbird from one nest in the garden, we have another pair nesting with eggs, along with a song thrush, hedge accentor, linnet all within the boundary hedges.
I'm happy that I did not renew the old wooden fences and replaced with a natural hedge.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The Avon Roach Project


I feel duty bound to promote the work of these guys, so here is their latest blog.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

An Easter break

Plockton  Ross- shire Scottish Highlands

Our easter weekend, my birthday celebration, was planned sometime ago by our friends Marlene and Jim, who live about half an hour drive West of Stirling.

So we drove up to them on Wednesday the 23rd and gave the new car it's test drive. We arrived at their home after about six hours including a pee & tea stop, at around 3pm. 
A journey of a tad over 300 miles via the M62/A1/M74.
The ride was quite comfortable for both of us, but particularly for me as the driver. 
I don't like the system that switches off the engine when stopped at traffic lights etc, but I now know how to override that.
We stayed with our friends for the evening, getting through a great deal of wine and spirits, and decided that we would set off in the morning at around 10am.
And so we did, after a good night's sleep, and headed for Plockton on the West coast, North east of the Skye bridge, via the A87 and A82.
It took us just under 5 hours including a lunch stop. I volunteered to drive for the whole break..
We were staying at the Plockton Inn for 3 nights b&b.
Our rooms were on the top floor of the annexe opposite, they were purposely chosen by Marlene for the view.
Pauline and me in room 13, our friends in 14. 
Very comfortable rooms, but for me, the tallest, twice hitting my head on a low door and on the eaves, was a quick lesson learned.
A quick sloosh down and then to the bar, the beers on tap were Timothy Taylors Landlord and the Plockton Brewery Hitched
I was satisfied to drink both as a tester, and had three pints before retiring for a shower,  to be back early for pre dinner drinks. 
Our table pre-booked for 7pm. 
There's nothing flashy or pretentious about the dining room, but the food on offer was excellent with a  long menu, and an even longer specials board.
There was some concern at first about the number of dishes on offer and the possible effect on quality. 
Any doubt was soon waylaid our individual choices from the predominantly fish menu, had all four of us well satisfied, and full.
It was a full house tonight, in fact all three nights were crowded.

The Plockton Inn

We were so satisfied with our food we decided to book the next two evenings for dinner, which quite fortuitously saved me missing out on the beers by having to drive further afield.
In the meantime, we went back to the now very crowded bar for live "folk" music played by local musicians. 
It was my birthday so the whole evening was thoroughly enjoyed.
Next morning breakfast was between 8 and 9am, and without going into detail of everyday of our stay, breakfasts were  very well cooked, and I have to say that my peat smoked kipper, on the first morning, was the best I've ever had. 
Full breakfast and smoked haddock with a poached egg, were enjoyed the next two mornings by me.
Marlene, Jim and Pauline didn't have a bad word for their choices over the three mornings.

The weather wasn't very good for our stay, so not a great deal of walking done, but what we saw of the area, and the Isle of Skye was enough for us to perhaps return again, maybe at autumn time after the midges had calmed down for the winter.

So, we drove back South on Easter Sunday for another night at our friend's house, before heading further south and towards Storm Katie on Easter Monday.
A damp journey home, but the storm had crossed the sea well before we got home to a bright sunny afternoon.
We settled down for the evening in front of the tele, and I finished off my bottle of Caol Ila bringing back a smokey memory of the kipper!

All in all a very good short stay, the Plockton Inn being well recommended by all of us, should any of my readers venture that way.
The Annexe

Eilean Donan Castle

The car is now well "run in" and has 1300 plus miles on the clock already.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

At the end of the day


That's it for another river season.
I'm sorry to say, and it all my own fault, that my trips to the river totaled three excursions. The Wye,the Dane and the Upper Witham.
The mojo is just not there, the thought of an hour drive to my nearest fishable river is just not giving me the spur on I most certainly need.. 
Roll on our last house move, which is no closer to actually occurring than it was last September. 
It will be closer to a river though..... when it does come off.
I did get out down into the valley on tuesday evening of last week for two hours, with just some cockles, hempseed and plastics. One carp to show for it at about 6lb.

Mother Nature

All around the garden the birds are showing their instinct for mating with the blackbird, song thrush, robin, chaffinch,wren, woodie and collared dove all sparing for territory in their different ways. Still loads of sparra, but they seem to get on as group.
For the first time however, I was witness to the literally dying minutes of a tussle between two female blackbird.
I looked out of the front room window onto the garden, wondering whether to keep up with the neighbours, who've been cutting grass all winter, when I noticed a female blackbird  under the laurel hedge having a furious peck at what seemed to be another bird. 
At first glance I thought it may have been eating carrion.

As it turned out the bottom bird was still alive, but not giving a good fight of it. 
I took a couple of shots through the window glass, hoping that the one underneath would fly off, it didn't and the other kept up the attack.
After the top bird was frightened off, the other still managed a weak flutter for a minute or two and then stillness. 
She was now dead, so a fight to the death!

Talking of territory, a pair of house sparrow have claimed our nest box and beaten the great tit pair to far.

The International Drinking Society

On our return from Plockton after Easter, I've arranged my birthday do with the old boys from IDS. We're meeting up at The Gun on the side of the Thames and Canary Wharf. 
An old pub site from the early 1700's.

Got a new motor