Dry January, snowy February …


January passed all to quickly, well for me anyway for most not soon enough. I managed to get out fishing a couple of times, once on the Pembrokeshire coast the other an afternoon out with fishing guru Robin Howard off the Sussex Coast in his boat in somewhat cold conditions, however it was an afternoon of catching several species.

Robin Howard is a fabulous fisherman and Guide he possesses an immense amount of knowledge and experience, he is also a great teacher. On the day I went out on his fast boat from Brighton Marina it was calm, bright and cold. Opting for a rig of small feathers on light tackle we were targeting herring, however there were none to be seen although the conditions we right and a few days before these delicate ladies of the sea were a plenty. Having covered a couple of good marks it wasn’t long before we were into fish, Whiting to start with then several small bass. Switching rigs to a soft Shad set above a heavy lure which acted as weight we manage to get down to some larger fish within minutes a large Wrasse took the soft bait and after several casts larger Bass and Pouting took the time and time again. What was a surprise was to catch a Mackerel, the first for me in 2019 and possibly the boat.

It never ceases to amazes me the diverse species of fish off the Sussex Coast especially so early in the year, possibly down to a warm summer maintaining higher water temperature late into the year. Now in February we are seeing some of the lowest temperatures across the nation and over the last couple of days some heavy snow for the first couple of days of February.

This morning Mrs H and I spent time on the allotment I have been given to look after. Having spend a good six months getting it back into a workable state, over the winter months raised beds have be dug and prepared with the enrichment of stable manure, garlic, shallots, onion and broad brand sown. The fruits trees and vine all pruned and the area of woodland and riverbank beside Beverley Brook is now being prepared to turn into a woodland garden planted up with Hostas , Ferns , Hellebores ( Lividus White Marble) , Digitalis, Snowdrops, Ivy and some ground cover such as Bergenia Harzkristall and Eroica, Liriope Muscari ( Moneymaker), Ajuga Black Scallop and bulb planting of Scilla. I can’t wait to get this area sorted in order to sit among it and watch the Chubb and Dace in the shallow of this tributary to the Thames.

The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path


As we put our toe into the water in more ways than one in 2019, I reflect on a few days spent on in the splendour of the Pembrokeshire Coast where I took the family to stay with close friends to see in the new year.

After a good 4hr plus drive along the M4 and the A40 we found ourselves back in a familiar location, a remote cottage nestled in a small valley and literally within a stones throw of the sea. In fact this year the sea seemed even closer as this area is susceptible to coastal erosion, the car park which services dog walkers, surfers and those waking the Pembrokeshire Costal Path is getting smaller each year. The seasonal storms shift the rocks from the foreshore with ease. One year we witness the arrival of a steel girder on one tide to see it removed out of sight on the next, the sea on this coast has an unimaginable power that shapes the shore like turning a page in a book.

We arrived just after dusk so settled in to the cottage spending the evening catching up over a sausage casserole and glass of wine or two. The following morning gave me my first chance to inspect the beach to see how it much it had changed since last year, and change it had with at least a good 9ft of the car park now out at sea. The shingle and boulders that make up the structure of the foreshore had significantly moved.

During the day we walked up and over the hilltop onto the coastal path, again each year the shoreline below changes with more coastal erosion and rock falls. It doesn’t take long for it to sink in that at some stage the coastal path will have to move further inland as in one or two places the current path is only a couple of yards wide before a sheer drop to the rocks below. This part of the Pembrokeshire Coast is simply beautiful if not breathtaking. The change in colour of the rock formation below and strata changes with every cove, sheep graze on cliff tops so steep that I can only imagine that one or two have ended up getting a salty bath. Littered across land are the footings of buildings of the Industrial Age. Slate mines and the supporting infrastructure abandoned over a century ago still remind us of harsh lifestyles people had in this region, yet the building last as a legacy, if you close your eyes you can imagine the hustle and bustle of the coastal mining towns right down to the noise of the servicing rail trucks.

Our walk took us to Porthgain a small inlet and fishing village, home to cafes, restaurants, art galleries, gift shops and The Sloop Inn where we stopped for a light refreshment before heading back up and across the cliff tops as the light started to fade away as the sun set.

Far from the madding crowd…

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It’s as if I’ve selected catch up on the TV and I’m just about to watch another episode of Country File, this time its for our annual pilgrimage to a remote cottage on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path near Abereiddy, in fact the cottage is literally a stones throw from the sea. This place is a sanctuary for us in order to recharge the batteries before we embark on another busy year.

Over the next few days we aim do walk more of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, do some fishing, drawing, reading and chill out with friends.

SoS

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There is nothing quite like a trip out in the car to somewhere that’s on your radar but not a must go place until a trip to the sea side ticks the box for a day out after the mayhem of Christmas, still full of turkey, sprouts and all the trimming a walk by the sea seemed like a grand idea.

We set off mid-morning from south west London taking the North Circular round to the A13. Sporting a pier of over a mile and a half with a well know chefs (Jamie’s) restaurant at the end of it. Southend On Sea was the destination for our trip after a stop off for lunch at The Peterboat a pub right on the sea front at old Leigh, The pub served a good range of locally brewed ales such as Two Trees and served sizeable portions. I chose The Peterboat clam chowder which I have to say is the best I’ve ever had, brimming with clams, smoked haddock, leeks, potatoes in a rich cream sauce, if you find yourself along this part of the Thames Estuary, Old Leigh is worth a visits, brimming with local merchants of fresh sea food.

At sunset we ended our day with a trip on the Southend Pier railway, a hurried return trip on the last train, if nothing more than to say we’ve done it. I did notice when we arrived at the end of the pier a handful of fishermen chucking out lines into the purple light as the sun set behind them. Southend for sure will be a destination for a days fishing in 2019.

Last Chance…

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An eventful year to say the least, Brexit, far flung travels, a fishing first, an allotment,  a new business, more gin and a son that’s taken to the tarmac instead of the river bank. So where are we now,  as another year has all but passed by like an autumn leaf caught in a pool of slack water before catching the current to finally take it floating down river and out of sight. On reflection this has been a very busy year with much done since I last wrote on here.

In early spring I chose to move on from my role at Franklin & Sons, a role I enjoyed very much. I had been tempted away with the offer to help set up another drinks brand agency. Before I started to craft the business I took a break with the family, I knew from the outset setting up the new business I would end up being time poor, early mornings, late nights, this new role would need my full commitment, so there has been little time for car boot fairs, days fishing the southern chalk streams or Sussex Coast or walks along the tidal Thames foreshore. What there has been are three memorable trips, the first to Mauritius, the second to the northern coast of Cyrus and the last one to Sicily. However there is once last chance for another memorable trip to the Welsh Coast before the sun finally sets on 2018.

Our trip to Mauritius back in April allowed us all to swim with dolphins and over coral reefs that were still alive. Young Tales caught a PB with a Dorado aboard the ‘Lady Diana’, a memory that will stay with him for a lifetime. In August we took off to the north coast of Cyprus, there we took time out to visit a turtle sanctuary and were privileged to be be able to let 10 turtle hatchlings free under the moonlight, to this day we wonder how they have all fared, especially when only 1 in a 1000 are likely to survived to adulthood. Our third trip allowed a long weekend in Sicily where we drove the original Targa Floria route as well as visited the largest sculpture installation. This has been a great year so far and we have one final trip in store to a remote cottage on the Welsh Coast, literally as stones throw from the sea.

I’ve now embarked on a research project for 2019 which will focus on the sea and sea fishing, it will cover the welfare of our seas, sea shore and fish. More importantly my observations and notes will be around the issues of mental health and how fishing, the sea and rivers can help level the mind, fishing is a great healer.

I look forward to writing more in 2019, I just need to get back into the discipline and with greater commercial pressures my fishing and writing will help me through what I see as a very demanding year ahead. Hopefully I can share with you my Sea Angling Diary an initiative with Cefas.

Story telling…


This is not going to be a story of the one that got away, more about the gains form from tidal Thames.

For centuries the Thames has been a locker room for documenting of our history, discarded waste, accidental loss and signs of the time. The river is an artery that has supported life and cultures on its course to the sea. Settlements of Neolithic tribes, the Romans, Medieval Britain through to the Industrial Age and beyond, fragments of lives and the way we live litter the river bed. With each tide and moon phase fragments of our possessions are exposed.

Over the last five years this river has given me an insight into lives an cultures that inhabited the land on both sides of the river, Neolithic flint tools, Roman glass and clay pots, Medieval tiles, Victorian ceramics, war torn Britain, and now the plastic age.

One story that I told today at a local event to celebrate the Birthday of a friend was the unexpected find of part of an art installation poured into the tidal Thames, this being 5,000 individually numbers ceramic eggs of various sizes. When I found the first three eggs to say the hunt for more became obsessive would sum up the unfolding events well, on each low tide I would hunt for more and on the occasional high tide I would scoop up the odd one with an extendable landing net. We are soon approaching the anniversary of this event as it took place just after Easter Sunday some years ago.

Today was about getting a few friends together and take them to the foreshore to understand a little more about the river and what lay beneath it.

Hedgerow Bullace


As freezing cold temperatures sweep across the country, the Bullace or Wild British Plum is in flower under clear blue skies. The winter sun has pushed this early flowering member of our hedgerow to blossom over the last week.

A light green hue now adorns the riverside bushes along the Thames Path, patches of white blossom brings a bit of colour momentarily, however we could see a blanket of snow over the coming days destroy the fragile flowers of the Bullace.

It is interesting to see that when these hedgerow dwellers bear their fruit that few people pick them. When ripe these yellow perfumed fruits have a sweet taste, soft skinned and are ideal for making jam. The other use is in the infusion of Gin or Bullace liqueur. Recently I have seen a couple of gin produces launch a limited release of Bullace and Quince Liqueur, Pinkster being one them.

What would be interesting to do is to use the flower as a botanical in gin distillation, on that note I may have to go and have a conversation with the guys at Sipsmith, our local distiller or maybe with the erudite Master Distiller, Charles Maxwell of Thames Distillers based in Clapham.

One thing for sure some Bullace infused gin will be made this year one way or another.

On a final note it’s a shame more isn’t done to protect our hedgerows and educate people on the importance of looking after them and the rewards that they can yield.

Car boot finds


Last weekend I took a short walk across the river via Duke Meadows to the monthly car boot sale held in the grounds of Chiswick School. Over the years this car boot sales has never fallen short in terms of the eclectic mix of items found and those which one would buy to style a home with.

As most of you know who read this blog I have a passion for angling and vintage fishing tackle. In recent months I have passed on the option to acquire more however last weekend I couldn’t help myself as bargains were to be had. Not long after 8am I found a Shimano Baitrunner 4500 in great condition and for less than the cost of an average bottle wine made sense to buy as I’m thinking of doing a spot of pike fishing over the next couple of weeks. Not long after this purchase and having viewed several vintage rods that I passed on I found small green reel case, sipped up but clearly housing something interesting, it was to contain a Young’s Ambidex in great used condition again for under £10 it was duly purchased. Having now spent the good part of 2 hours wondering up and down the rows of vendors I took one last look among a pile of boxes scattered across the school playground only to find a box full of pike fishing gear, having already acquired a fair amount over the years I decided just to buy a mint condition Efgeeco bait box, two traditional pike floats and a dead-bait spinner. With my new purchases placed in the bag the last purchased was a painting easel, as if I needed another one but always handy for displaying one of a number of paintings I own.

I guess I wonder what treasures will be found and the sales at the beginning of March.

Items found at the monthly Chiswick Car Boot Fair last weekend.

Happy Christmas to you all


Under a leaden coloured sky there is merriment in homes across the land but let’s cast a thought to those not so fortunate. At Midnight Mass the word ‘buffeted’ was the focus of the Rectors speech, he thought it was the most apt word to describe events of 2017, Brexit, Trump, Genfell Tower, terrorist attacks, fires, floods and discord across the globe.

Whilst many of us woke this morning with the joy of Christmas in our hearts, let’s cast a thought to the many for who it is just another day of survival, poverty, disruption and a bleak future.

For those of you who are brothers of the art of the angle, may the memories of this last season bridge the gap to the end of March. To those of you who switch the focus to grayling, pike and perch may your lines tighten on a crisp winters day. I leave you to enjoy the festive season with this verse:

On the dust-covered hillsides,

In the quiet of the night,

‘Twas shepherds out feeding,

Who first saw the light:

A window to heaven

As the sound filled the sky.

Sing glory to God

For the Maiden and her Child.

I wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas.

Christmas is soon upon us…


As detailed in previous posts there has been little fishing since May, few car boots visited and only three items of vintage tackle purchased.

Work has been all consuming, sometimes I think to the detriment of life rich tapestry but young Tales’s focus has also shifted to four wheels, poles apart form his passion of fishing.

I hope over the Christmas break we’ll find a day to fish the Itchen in search of a Grayling.

We will downsize our collection of vintage tackle in 2018, sad to see it unused and stored in boxes in the loft, so watch this space as we select what to keep and what to let go.

It has been good to read others stories and posts on the art of angling, some of the photography has been sublime, motivating and artistic.

Hopefully I will find time to post something before Christmas Eve, however, may I take this opportunity to wish you all the best over the Festive Season.

Tight lines to you all.