The fifth day of Advent…

The frost was thick on this fifth day of Advent, the sky was clear at 4.30am when started to get myself together for a flight to Glasgow.

It is evident that Christmas will be soon upon us, trees, hedgerows and gables are all festooned with Christmas lights. Music on the car radio down to Gatwick resonated with Christmas classics and everywhere I went during the day the sounds of 50’s and 60’s reminded me of my early childhood.

As this weeks draws to an end there is a little excitement at the thought of getting the decorations down from the loft, putting on a Christmas carol playlist, heating up the mulled wine and easing into the Christmas spirit.

On the forth day of Advent

Nature brings beauty to the hedgerow in winter in all manner of ways. Seed heads, fruit and coloured stems of rubis demonstrate the way that nature presents itself. Whilst the festive season fast approaches I can’t help but look around at nature’s baubles, stars and ribbons. Holly, rose hip, mistletoe and ivy all add to the dressing of Christmas. The abundance of berries are nature’s larder to get the wildlife through the harsh winter month.

Another year, so here is a post for the first day of Advent

Sheer pressures of work, balancing out mental and physical health have pushed me to focus on other areas of my life than writing my blog. There has been little fishing over the year but what I have done has been rewarding.

There has been little if any vintage tackle purchased and very few visits to car boots, to be honest Mrs Tales has banned my from adding to my collection. My one therapy for the year has been my focus on the allotment I have been asked to take care of whilst neighbours have moved away for a while. I have to say the allotment has been great fun and very rewarding.

We’ve only been fishing a handful of tines during the year, a few fly fishing forays and a few sea fishing trips targeting bass. One trip on a boat with Robin Howard who runs a boat out of Brighton Marina was great fun and productive with a couple of PB achieved by young Tales and myself as I caught my first cod of the year on a soft bait.

Hopefully 2020 will afford us the time to do more fishing.

On this first day of Advent I present you with a box full of vintage pike floats.

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.



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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.