The Amwell


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Having not really invested in any vintage tackle this year I couldn’t but help notice the sale of a Chapman of Ware cane fishing rod on thatcwell known online auction site. 

Having followed it over a few days I noticed that it sold for £162.50, a good amount and more than I sold mine for a year ago at the Vintage Tackle Fair in Redditch. My pristine example was purchased by a German collector for £135.

In early November those of the brotherhood of the angel will take to the roads early in the morning and head to the Mecca of all things piscatorial for the Vintage Tackle Fair, however  tempting it is, but I realise I’ll come back with more than I left to sell and that doesn’t please Mrs Tales.

I do have four Chapman rods to sell, a couple of Chapman 500’s and a sought after 550 which was refurbished by the respected Mr Paul Cook, which reminds me I have a Hardy LRH cane Salmon spinning rod to refurbish and a friends Farlow Elf that needs a new top section.

With little fishing done this year I’ve decided to reduce the amount of rods and reels in the collection, even young Tales realised that although it’s nice to have a cane rod the practicalities of a more modern rod means that you’ll use it more, much like the classic car only being driven on dry days.

Well it’s time to head to bed to read the most recent copy of Trout & Salmon, scroll through the feeds on the twitter account and look at all those lucky enough to be Grayling fishing this week.

Perched on the edge…


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From the tranquil Thames to Donington Park Circuit life couldn’t be more different however ‘perched on the edge’ seems an apt headline.

On Sunday the air was full of the scent on autum, earthy notes of decaying bankside vegitation, smoke in the air from burning leaves and that damp smell you get in the dappled light of October. For some the next six weeks are a highlight of their year.

With less fishing done this year we ventured out with a couple of short  lure rods for a little bit of Perch fishing with soft lures and Mepps spinners, Rovex and Shimano reels attached to our Rovex and Ron Thompson Tyran Travel Spinning Rod.

Young  Tales was perched on the edge of a concert wall beneath a motorway bridge searching out a predatory fish, unfortunately there were few fish around or not interested in our offerings. We moved on to a favourite mark near Green Street in Lowet Sunbury but again nothing wanted to bite. Fallen apples bobbed in the margins and the sky reflected in the water indicated little flow in the river. The water coloured by recent rainfall gave little hope for a fish.

Today I also was perched on the edge but in a very different way. Being privileged to attend a track day at Donington hosted by Rally Champion Steve Perez and Ginetta. With the opportunity to be driven and drive a host of Ginetta race cars and tutored by some very young and tallented drivers who put me through my paces as conditions changed during the day.

In wet conditions I managed to take to the grass and bring out the yellow flag but by the end of the session I felt I had made good progress with my track craft and conquered my fears of pushing hard in wet condition on a glassy track surface with a day’s rubber and oil laid down and

 on a track I barely know having only done a dozen or so laps around, well maybe 20 or so if I include those driven by Tom Ingram, Sennan Proctor and Jody a young star of GT racing.

Cornwall…this way


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Last Friday I took the decision to drive on my own to Cornwall to visit Rubina and William Tyler-Street,owners of the Curio Spirits Company based in Mullion Cove. We had things to discuss on brand development and it was good to see developments at the distillery. It was also an opportunity to catch up with friends who I share the same passions with, drinking gin, art, antiques and a coastal lifestyle – that’s if you can call mine that for living on the banks of the Thames.

 The evening light started to fade as I drove down the A303 and onwards to the A30, the rear lights of the cars in front forming a snake like trail across the Southern Counties through Surrey, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Sommerset, Devon and on to Cornwall. Stonehenge always seems to slow the traffic down as people look at one of the wonders of the world. It took a good few hours to get to what I feel are the ends of the earth, a sky so dark that the stars shine like diamonds, trees bent over from the Atlantic winds their branches encrusted with moss and the smell of the sea, distant crashing of waves and the odd Cornish chough call.

As I pulled into the car park of the Mullion Cove Hotel, Willaim peered through the passenger window to greet me. We sat talking for a few hours sipping at out pints of Tribute after a meal of locally caught fish and reared beef. We talked about distilling, shipwrecks, Customs Officers, poets, the sea and what next to create. As a seasoned brand ambassador I presented my Franklin & Sons Tonic range the bar manager and General Manager, which they seemed to like.

Saturday morning arrived after a good nights sleep, but I missed my morning cuddle with young Tales. Breakfast rolled into our meeting to discuss what next and after a few hours we felt we’d made enough ground to wrap up after a tour around the grounds and a conversation on how to develop the business further, the possibility of a visitor centre for the distillery and it’s expansion – certainly I noted the amount of knocks on the door by gin enthusiasts as they came to purchase their bootles of gin, much in the same way as when I was in my early teens and people coming to Quill Hall Farm for their eggs and milk, how times change.

Without giving too much away we had conceptualised a great new brand.

 It’s now down to us to turn creative scribbles and research into an award winning brand in both visual and liquid terms. I am very excited by the new journey we have embarked on. With more knocks on the door by gin enthusiast it was time I made passage to Hayle on my whirlwind journey to Cornwall, however there was one detour to make, the Lizard, and a visit to ‘Cornwall’, a small antiques and decorative interiors shop owned by our good friend Debbie who appeared on TV a few nights before my trip. The shop is a real cornucopia, an eclectic mix of old and new items…it’s difficult for me not to want to take most of it home but I was told in no uncertain terms that Mrs Tales said I have too much already. Debbie kindly gave me a small booklet on Falmouth Corporation Fishery, printed in 1963 and detailed popular patterns of flies on the Corpoartion water, Black Spider, Wickhams’s Fancy, Peter Ross, Coch-y-Bondhu and one of my favourites the Alexander, noting that the Sedge Fly fished wet or dry was deadly – that then prompted me that as time was of the essence I should make haste to Hayle but not before one last drop in to Last Stop, for me one of the best tackle shops around and certainly the best in Cornwall – a bass fishers paradise. Unfortunately when I arrived Chris wasn’t there but that didn’t stop me buying a 28g Tsunami Frenzy Jig in sliver/orange as a point jig for young Tales next excursion to the South Coast.

 My thoughts went back my last visit in July when I attended the Gin Festival in St Ives, giving us the opportunity to visit our friends who live on the Lizard and in St Ives. Part of my excitement this time was to see Richard Nott my artist friend and to see his new studio in Hayle, a former forge and known as the Forge. This new studio gives him a great space to work in.

Nestled in the back of the car was my trusted W F Holdsworth ‘Equipe’road bike which I offered Richard back in the summer. Richard, a keen cyclist would make better use of this 70’s icon of British road racing rather than for it to endure the harsh elements of another winter propped up against the potting shed, or rather Gin Shed as it’s now known. Whilst walking around Richard’s studio I was thinking about what a great distillery building it would make. Richard was in the middle of creating some new works, I was then thinking about a big white wall at home that one would look great on…

 Talking about gin sheds, Curio have a fine one that houses their still and the production hub of their Curio Rock Samphire Gin and crafted vodkas. In a secluded spot on the outskirts of Mullion, on the edge of a wind blown coppice surrounded by a stone wall their still house made of a stone structure painted in what I call Tiffany Blue an out-building to the farm which itself has a rich history and by all accounts has had a dwelling sited there for over a 1,000 years. The old farmhouse once an armoury is allegedly haunted – you can tell that a rich history seeps from it’s walls. I urge you to visit the Curio Distillery if you are that way inclined to learn where your gin comes from.

Within 24 hours it was time to head back to SW London, a shame to be leaving so soon but I know not for long there is something about Cornwall that draws you back time and time again.

Fishing the evening tide…


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After a slow start to the day we eventually get ourselves together and made our way to Seaford for an afternoons fishing. The  forecast was promising, a late high tide and the wind that blew for most of the day would drop by early evening. With a brief stop at Newhaven Angler for some lugworm we were set for a good afternoons fishing.

We set up a couple of vintage rods, an Abu Atlantic 4 paired to a Cardinal 759 and an old Masterline spinning rod paired to vintage Mitchell reel that was acquired a couple of years ago from a car boot sale in Norfolk.

As a good couple of hours passed by with not even a knock it was clearly going to be a tough afternoon. Young Tales, kept his focus , as dusk set in he was rewarded with a Horse Mackerel  


Deceivers Part II…


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There are many ways of deceiving game fish, well any fish for that matter as you can catch coarse fish on the fly and Carp do like a dog busciut.

Earlier today I had to revisit some account from last week so this meant a trip to Stockbridge in the valley of the Test. Nestled in the high street is a tackle shop, independent and stocked with high quality tackle, clothing and everything you may need for a day, week or month on e river.

Under the orders of young Tales I was intucted to squire some very realistic flies for his next fishing foray. I have to say these are real imitations, in fact I feel too close to the real thing, that cheating comes to mind.

As the weekend is upon us my dear son has requested that we go fishing, at £3 a chuck I hope these flies stay on for most of the day, however if he doesn’t catch anything on these I will asking for my money back.

For me it’s not about  the catching but the time out and away from the iPad that counts. Hopefully we’ll have something positive to report tomorrow.

Just as an observation, late into the evening we’ve seen the odd bar of silver break the water on the Thames, I’d like to think it’s Salmon but I know it’s a run of Sea-Trout heading up stream.

Hopefully one of Dai Jones flies or one of theses will deceive a trout or two.



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Found under the glass roof of Spitalfields Market today a cluster of home-made and vintage lures.

Over recent months it has been noticeable of the absence of Andrews of Arcadia, no longer a dedicated piscatorial stall fills a space at the far end of the market, no more mugs of victory tea, banter, stories of trips to the ends of the island in search of ‘Vintage Tackle For The Soul’ – this an now only be found by viewing on my iPad.

Spitalfields Market always excites me in much the same as Sunbury Antiques Market who’s home is Kempton Racecourse. You simply never know what you may find but if you wish for something you’ll always manage to find it.

Having attended a meeting at Shoreditch House I decided to stroll back through the Market towards Liveool Street Station. Dealers sat chatting to each other and punters browsed the eclectic mix of items, boxes of bone, silverware, vintage watches, paintings, glassware, vintage furniture, shop fittings, clothing – yes this list is endless.

Having picked up a vintage Festival of Britain branded glass and a 50’s button badge from someone’s holiday souvenirs from St Ives I came across a table of odds and ends and a handful of vintage lures. Some whittled from wood, others a combination of wire and lead weights, others vintage manufactures lures, similar to Heddon and one painted Abu Toby, this I had to have. What intrigued me most was that someone had taken the time to sit and make some lures that they thought would deceive a fish…today they caught the eye of a fisherman, as my wife say’s, tackle is there to catch fishermen not fish.

Masters of disguise…


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In the middle of the high street in the town of Stockbridge a small stream runs in front of the shops to one side, in fact at varying points between the houses you will find small channels of water, some gin clear with bright green weed and other clear but with a tope coloured sediment. Disguised through the rippling water are wonderful specimens of brown trout, hard to spot but the size of some will take your breath away. 


Back on the trail again…


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It’s frustrating when whilst I the middle of a writing a post it seems to disappear, however I will have another go. Fishing trips have been far and few between this year in fact I’m not even sure we’ve been on one. I know we’ve put the rods in the car, bags and all the other stuff, but the time spent by the water fishing just hasn’t happened.

Also in my pursuit of all things vintage there have been no trips to Sunbury Antiques Market and I think I’ve only been to my favourite West London Car Boot once. I’ve purchased a couple of things out of local charity shops, these being an Intrepid Gearfly Reel and Spool along with a pristine Diawa Salmon spinning recent online purchase of a colapsable canvas fishing creel from the turn of the last century was a good find, made by the Planet Co of Westfield, Mass. Planet seem to make a range of colapsable canvas fishing items, bait buckets, minnow traps and a creel. Although missing it’s carrying strap it looks like new, no faded material and the metal struts in good condition. It was listed as a live bait bag but after having done some research it was note as a Creel and across the Pond a valued item trading at $145 in fair condition.

My other recent purchase has been a ‘New Era’ Bruce & Walker Fly Rod #7/9 an ideal Sea -Trout or Grilse rod. This rod I want to try out on a West Wales river before the season ends. Having purchased some Sea-Trout flies from Dai Jones, serviced the Gearfly reel and cleaned the lines ready for use, I just need to pick up the rod from Toby on the South Coast and head for the hills of mid Wales. For over two seasons your Tales and I have talked about a trip to catch a bar of silver out of a Welsh river but to date we just haven’t found the time to do it. In fact we had also discussed a trip up to the Tay in Scotland, once an annual pilgrimage for myself to fish on the Kenmore stretch of the river during the end of September or early October.

Having taken on the role of launching a new range of tonics and soft drinks under the Franklin & Sons brand who’s heritage dates back to 1886, the precious time I once had to fish with young Tales has now been absorbed in attending Gin Festivals across the country most weekends. Hopefully, whilst the summer holidays are upon us we’ll get the odd afternoon to head South to the Itchen on the outskirts of Winchester to fish, there a couple of seasons ago young Tales caught his first Sea-Trout, an experience he will never forget or will I.

Fishing in what ever form has been a great pastime for us to enjoy, building lasting memories and bonding us together in a way no other sport has done to date, well except our love for cars and motorsport but it’s not quite the same. I do hope we can enjoy more time by the river or sea together- simply we need to make time to do it.


Boiling water…


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Having missed a good three months of the official trout fishing season I do find myself missing the feeling of a  line tighten as a trout takes a fly.

With nearly a full moon in the night sky and the Thames tides showing more of the foreshore than I have seen for some time my thoughts turn to the excitement of a nights sea-trout fishing. For sure they run the Thames and I have seen them caught at Isleworth and Hampton Court on the fly. However, there is nothing quite like a night out on a river in the West Country or West Wales.

Usually I have fished light in the past using a 9ft #6 rod and JLH Hardy reel with floating line, light tackle can give heart stopping excitememt but most I know go for a slightly longer, stiffer rod using a weight 7/8 line on a Hardy Marquis or Princess Reel if being a traditionalist. One good vintage rod is a Bruce & Walker ‘ New Era’ Sea Trout rod that will handle a 8/9 line for double figure fish. Choice of flies are inportand and Dai Jones ties some good patterns, snake flies , tandems, needle flies and surface wake or bubblers flies proving successful.

When the opportunity has arisen I have purchased boxes of old sea-trout flies from the West County or Wales as I know local patterns work well, they have been tried a tested. In a recent article in Trout & Salmon on Sea-Trout fishing it covered the tackle required, techniques and flies to be tried, it’s was certainly worth the read. With the run of Sea-Trout now well underway I hope to get a long weekend in the West give me vintage tackle an airing and the chance for young Tales to once agin put me to shame, for the last couple of seasons he has out-fished me in both terms of number of fish caught and the size. His first ever Sea-Trout caught on the Itchen was a shade under 9lb.

With a couple of warm days and late low tides it may temp me to venture out on the Thames or to book day/night out on a river in the West.

Casting in the sun


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With the start of the new coarse fishing season underway only the fool hardy ventured out under the grey skies and pouring rain – clearly as I get older I have turned into a fair weather fisherman. Gone are the days when I would head out whatever the weather in pursuit of a trout from a chalkstream or a trace full of mackerel and a prized sea bream from the sea.

Any sort of fishing recently has been put on hold. The course rods and reels were put away back in March, there has been little time to venture to the Sussex Coast for any sea fishing and the collection of trusted Hardy fly rods and reels have remained in situ since the end of last season.

Having had my Father pass away recently it brings home how precious time is, how missed opportunities with young Tales by the river watching his face light up as he catches even the smallest of fish or purely the sheer enjoyment of  just being spending time out together, so the rod will be dusted off and packed into the car as we head off to the West. 

Fortuitously work this weekend takes me to one of the furthest points West, glorious St Ives, where this I will be working at the Gin Festival UK promoting Gin and Franklin & Sons tonics and mixers, a range of soft drinks produced since 1886 on the edge of the metropolis along the Metropolitan Line in Rickmansworth. As a child I remember finding the old Franklin branded glass bottles on the spoil heap of the local farm and occasionally I see one in the bottom of the River Chess and more often in hedgerows along the footpaths leading to the river, probably discarded by school boys on their way home. Occasionally when on the banks of the River Thames you can find the old black vulcanite stoppers, recently I found a Franklin ‘F’ branded bottle stopper and at a local table sale an old glass branded green bottle.

Hopefully if we get a good day on Sunday and with a little sun young Tales and I can get a couple of hours in hurling a Dexters out to sea. In recent years in-shore mackerel have been far and few between but the odd pollock has often broken cover in the rocky coves to take the odd lure when presented.

I’m certainly looking forward to a catch up with some old friends, the odd pint in The Sloop Inn or cocktail in the Rum & Crab Shack and without question a Gin and Tonic if Col has anything to do with what we’ll be drinking.