On the Nineteenth Night…

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With work now put to bed my thoughts and efforts are focused on getting the house ready from Christmas. There is much to do and in some ways it feels a daunting task.

Most houses in our street seem to be ahead of the game, wreaths are on the doors, Christmas trees are decorated and glistening in the windows so there is a festive feeling amongst the neighbours. Hopefully we will have ours up this evening.

During the week our drawing room turned into a mini Goodwood Race Circuit as several boxes full of Scalextric were taken down from the loft along with the boxes of Christmas decorations. Young Tales had the Scalextric set up in no time at all and it has been played with every day, unfortunately for him I decided to pack it away today in order to get the Christmas tree in, no doubt it will be set up again over the weekend. Even for me there is something satisfying about watching those slot cars whiz around the black plastic track until they spin off or one of the cats has them off with a swipe of a paw.

Firstly the bags of tackle and rods needed to be put away along with boxes of artists materials, paper, canvases and easel that have sat around most of the year. There has also been an accumulation of ‘stuff’, why I needed to buy another pond yacht, more vintage tackle books, cocktail glasses and bar equipment I shall never really know just that I already have enough to set up a shop. There have also been the eBay purchases and a few things from the charity shop or car boot that have been smuggled in or hidden in the shed, for if Mrs T got sight of it all there would be trouble.

One item I did wonder as to where I had put it was my artist box that converts into an easel for outdoor painting, I was prompted to think about this as earlier in the week in St James’s I saw an artist set up outside the Dunhill Store painting a street scene in the afternoon light. He was there for some time as on my return to Green Park underground I happened to pass him but this time he was packed up and heading home with his work over his shoulder, the style of his work reminded me of an artist I like called Rodney Pearce who paints scenes of the River Thames and Thames-side buildings.

During my efforts to pack away as much of the ‘stuff’ as possible I did find my artist box under the bed of all places, so I’ve decided to keep it out as I will try and do some painting over the festive season, unless of course I get side-tracked re-creating the Goodwood Revival Meeting for young Tales.

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It won’t be long till young Tales gets home, the fire can be lit, Christmas carols played and a drop of The king’s Ginger poured whilst we unpack all the decorations to adorn the tree on this the last Friday before Christmas.

On this Sixteenth Day of Advent

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The last few days have been a mix of finalising activity for 2014 and preparing for the year ahead, meetings to conclude and new acquaintances made to scope out work that will keep me busy as the seasons change.

Completed Moleskins will be indexed and set aside, some are notebooks with observations, facts, figures, ideas and recipes. A second range of Moleskin sketch books hold designs, drawings, water colour sketches and cuttings of things that are important or form stimulus for the many projects I embarked on. The process of working out an order in which to store them is difficult but some books just come together.

I have started putting together my recipes for my proposed book on cooking Game, listing ingredients, suppliers, markets and sourcing the best direct from the hunter. There is much to write about, photographs to take and editing out images that aren’t up to standard or in the style I wish to use.

My other projects include creating and developing some new spirit brands for next year and the compilation , documentation of my vintage tackle collection that will be up for sale from January. There are boxes of reels, fly boxes, floats, cane rods, nets, books and an assortment of accessories . It will be difficult to let some of it go but it needs a new home.

As this day draws to a close I decided to open up a bottle of home-made vintage Sloe Gin made from Sloes sourced from hedgerows of Surrey, Hampshire and Buckinghamshire. The result of my endeavours is a liquid deep red in colour, rich in taste yet still allowing the juniper to shine through, a satisfying tipple as I work my way through my Christmas ‘to do list’.

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Where did the Twelfth Night go…..

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The days are still getting shorter but somehow yesterday passed in a blink of an eye. Time passed all too quickly, there was no time to take Young Tales to the river but we did manage to catch up with good friends who had made the journey from The Lizard to watch the ‘The Blues’ secure a two goal victory.

In a riverside pub in Putney we recounted summer days on the Cornish Coast as if it were only yesterday. Young Tales spoke of battles of rod and fin, pointing out his prize catch captured on the iPhone something he will never forget, a moment that has sealed his love of the art of angling.

The Twelfth Day of Advent will be remembered for an evening spent with those who we care for and interestingly enough for old acquaintances to be rekindled, as by chance I met up with an old friends sister who I hadn’t seen for nearly 35 years. This chance meeting brought back memories of my teenage years spent living in the Chiltern Hills in the market town of Amersham.

As the Thirteenth Night Of Advent draws to a close we eagerly await to see who will become ‘BBC Sports Personality Of The Year 2014′, could it be Lewis Hamilton, hero of Young Tales….my ‘Sports Personality Of The Year’, is Young Tales for his determination, dedication, learning and ability to out-fish me all season, may he continue to do so.

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On The Twelfth Day….

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Having recently been advocating Allcocks reels I find myself today in receipt of an Allcocks leather reel case. Interestingly enough at the Barnes Christmas Fair two raindeer were to be found, clearly a sign from above.

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On The Eleventh Day Of Advent….

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There were no Pipers Piping on this the eleventh day of December. The bulk of the Christmas cards were written and posted early this morning and I made a trip to Marlow Bottom under a mixed sky of sun, clouds, rain and the dominant silhouette of kites which are now a common sight in the Buckinghamshire skies.

With the first of the days business meetings concluded by late morning I drove back to London to the ‘House Of Tales’, before leaving for a second meeting in Holborn, there by the door were two packages, for at the House Of Tales it seems to be Christmas every day as packages are delivered pretty well each day.

Opening one of the packages posted from Harrogate a bottle of Brontë Liqueur appeared from beneath the shredded paper that safeguarded it. It was a sample from Sir James Aykroyd in order for me to try. Brontë Liqueur is a crafted liqueur of Blackberry & Sloe. Sweetened with wildflower honey and a hint of jasmine, a product produced from the fruits ‘From God’s Own County’. This liqueur with be consumed over the festive season and a flask of it will be dropped into the Brady bag for the proposed fishing trip on Boxing Day along with the usual hip flask of King’s Ginger a liqueur that was specifically created by Berry Bros in 1903 for King Edward VII as a tipple to revive His Majesty after his morning rides and since been a regular fill of flasks for sporting gentlemen. I believe Brontë may well be the choice of Mrs Tales over the Festive Season.

With this evenings weather forecast indicating snow for Scotland and parts of the North you may be in need of a shot of either liqueurs sooner than later.

The other package revealed a early WR Speedia centre pin which is in need of some attention in order to make it fit for fishing, I will tend to this over the coming weeks but during the early evening gave it a clean, oiled it and came to the conclusion that it needs a replacement pin as there is movement of the spool and possibly the spool base plate is bent. I will detail the progress on the refurbishment of this reel as although it is missing much of its original black paint finish, I will not be re-painting for I feel doing this masks the stories and history some of these reels evoke.

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The Tenth Day…

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There is much to tell about yesterday’s visit to Studley near Redditch but as I seem to be short of time to tell all I will share with you the results of the labours of Mr Mills and the image of the refurbished and now working Allcocks Aerial Match, which is a far cry from how an unusable reel was delivered just over a week ago. Mr Garry Mills is a sheer genius and dedicated engineer, I thank you.

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On The Ninth Day Of Advent

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After driving for two hours I opened a door to a workshop, within I would find Garry Mills owner of The Mill Tackle Company who are renowned for making and restoring a range of fishing reels from JW Young, Allcocks, WR Speedia as well as making prized Perfection Centre Pin reels.

Today I took a battle scared and un-fishable 60’s Allcocks 4 1/2 Aerial Match centre pin reel that was recently purchased from a well known online auction site for less than the price of a ticket to watch Fulham FC play in the Championship.

Just over a week ago this reel arrived, missing spokes, springs, latches, screws, pins and check catch, a sorry sight however in thought that it could be put back into working order after being given to Garry Mills to work his magic…I don’t want to tell all now but the time spent with Mr Mills was well worth it and I was in for a big surprise!

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The Eighth Day…

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During the summer months I scoured the table tops at car boots for unique finds of vintage fishing tackle and related items. In amongst some old tools and ironmongery was an old pocket oiler, it gleamed in the summer sun and was in pristine condition retaining its screw on application pin. These oilers in this condition are hard to come by and are invaluable to keep reels in tip top working order.

If you have time to search these oilers would make an ideal gift as stocking filler for the fisherman.

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On Seventh Day Of Advent…

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It was a cold day yesterday however the clear skies allowed some winter sun to show itself and help thaw the frost from the previous night. The temperature didn’t move more than a couple of degrees most of the day, well it certainly felt that way.

I helped out at the local Farmers Market for a few hours, keeps me in the loop of the trade of ‘real food’ and is helping me in doing research for my proposed book on cooking Game. Just after 2pm it was time to head home as I had promised Young Tales a trip to Winchester to see the Christmas Market and I thought this was best done in the early evening. As we drove down the M3 I couldn’t help noticing in the rear view mirror the glorious sight of a golden full moon, a golden ball that sank into a sky of purple velvet.

With that vision I thought of a ‘Double Double’ the name given to a miniature bottle of Glenrothes Whisky, a fine dram distilled by Berry Bros & Rudd. I like my Whisky and the Glenrothes is a great Speyside Single Malt. Each year they release a vintage or two, I still haven’t tried their 1995 vintage but I do have a good collection of 70cl vintages and these ‘Double Double’ miniatures make ideal Christmas gifts. If you don’t want to consume your vintage collection you can always buy a bottle of Select Reserve an expression of Glenrothes Berry’s Bros. produce as a regular and well priced dram.

If you are planning on heading out to the Christmas Markets make sure you go equipped with a dram to fend off the chill of a winters evening. However Berry Bros & Rudd also make a miniature of their Dutch Distilled No. 3 Gin, presented in a stunning little green bottle and as Gin is now all the rage these make ideal gifts for table presents or stocking fillers.

Today being the Seventh Day Of Advent there were no packages delivered to open, no car boots to visit and for once I bring you something different to feast your eyes on other than vintage fishing tackle, so go on, drop a hint to those who care for you and ask for a ‘Glenrothes, Double Double’, one golden bubble you’ll enjoy as the winter sun sets and a hunters moon appears over the horizon.

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On The Sixth Day …

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An envelope arrived from Carlisle in the morning containing 10 small spoon spinners, ideal for catching winter perch or early summer sea-trout. These will be ideal for Young Tales to try out over the Christmas holiday, maybe Boxing Day will be an ideal day to escape to the river.

May your Christmas wishes come true.

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