Car booty…

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Today saw the return of a certain West London car boot sale. I guess I was a little excited when I drew back the curtains to see blue skies and the glow of winter sun. A mug of tea was downed and a layer of thermals put on as although the sun saw out a brisk wind barrel up the river.

Joggers, cyclists, and dog walkers turned the towpath into one of Boris’s super-highways and the river was a hive of activity with rowers as they skimmed their oars across the water. I made my way over Barnes Bridge via Duke Meadows past the Civil Service Sports Ground where a procession of Range Rovers, Astons, Maserati Quattroporte, Ferrari 456, Porsche Cayenne and mid range executive cars ferried their occupants to a rugby tournament. Hastily on foot I made my way past the engine noise of V8’s, V10’s and turbos.

By the time I past the allotments I knew I was only a few minutes away from the car boot sale but o was later than I wanted to be as the trade descend on this venue early in the morning in order to pick up the best and most desirable items, however it seemed that they had stayed away today as it was quiet compared to other days.

I was after picking up some vintage gin and whisky miniatures as I know they turn up, today was no exception as soon after scouring the ground with my eyes I found three cardboard apple boxes full of someone’s collection. clearly made up of collecting souvenir miniatures from their travels. Nothing really stood out though I know many are still prized by bar tenders, bottles of vermouth , Benedictine , Camus Cognac, J&B Rare and Sandeman Sherry. One miniature that did stand out was a co-branded BOAC Fino Sherry, clearly a First Class complimentary aperitif. Even for the £1 price tag I declined to load my backpack, foolish I may be but they turn up time and time again.

I know my dealers well, so I call on the usual suspects however didn’t find what I was looking for or had I…I can’t help myself with vintage tackle, I do pass up on most of what I see but did part with £8 for a Efgeeco rod carrier and a vintage fibreglass Cardoc Three Fishes leger rod, both items in clean usable condition, not on that we’ll know online auction site could you buy these a £4 per item.

Having browsed several isle of stalls I came across a stall of vintage glass ad ceramic bottles, none of the old gin or whisky bottles but I did clock a black- japanned time with the distinctive label BACC JUNIPERI. The tin had a flip top hinged lid which revealed a bright clean interior, this I had to buy. On the same stall was s box of vintage hand-made floats all beautifully made the paint and varnish still crisp and clean. There were Spanish reed floats, chubbers, avons, fluted, quill floats, antenna and wagglers, a box full of over 50 floats all marked up at £2.50 each, I was so tempted but knowing I have boxes and boxes of vintage floats I passed on these, however on the walk back past the allotments I wished I purchased a handful.

Maybe next month I will find more treasures but in the meantime I hope to get out on the river to give the rod I purchased today a chance to bend whilst playing a river roach or dace.

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Low tide…

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The air was crisp, a familiar wind barrelled down the river, the river ran fast as low tide approached on what was a bright and sunny February afternoon.

I took a couple of hours out of my day to walk along the river on the Middlesex bank towards Corney Reach as stretch of the Thames that run from Dukes Meadows towards the Chiswick Brewery know as the Fuller’s Brewery. This part of the Thames as a story of two to tell and is steeped in history. Here along the Thames are the remains of Saxon fish traps, plantations of willow once used by basket makers and the tell tale signs of an industrial past of boat building a wax works and the knowledge that settlement dating back to the Neolithic period and Roman Empire utilised this part of the Thames.

At low tide the riverbed reveals its historic past, clay pipes, ceramics, pottery, glass, metal and leather litter the shoreline. Each item gives a dateline to activity on a social and industrial level. Every decade and century leaves its stamp amongst the more contemporary detritus.

Their voices carried on the breeze, a group of children from one of the local schools exclaimed their excitement at finds in the shallow pools left by the outgoing tide. ‘A leech Miss, a leech Miss’ followed by ‘I’ve caught a shrimp Miss’ and then the shriek ‘ an eel’, all of this gave me a warm feeling as it means the state of the river has improved and running clean.

As I made my way across the stones and silt towards the drop off of the gardens where the edge of the river is scoured to reveal bars of sand fragments of pipes are bleach to their former white clay, fragments of clay pottery, blue and white china lay like confetti on the surface. One fragment of glass took my eye, it was the base of a glass Roman storage vessel. This fragment of glass was a mix of green and blue with a dimpled surface texture, this is one of my oldest finds. However I have found a flint arrow head which I assume pre-dates this along with the fossils of sea urchins and squid.

The whole area seems to speak to you about its past, its former market gardens, fishing and the location of Corney House these are all are distant memories, yet you think you can hear voices of ferry men working the river.

If you get a chance to visit this part of West London take a walk along the river and if at low tide see the history for yourself. On a cautionary note the tide moves fast and you need good footwear so alway be aware of the state of the river and locate exit points.

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When the wind blows…

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January has passed by in the blink of an eye. The rods only twice graced the water and only once did the line tighten and that was for young Tales during a foray to the River Itchen just after New Year.

As the winds blow and the rain continued throughout the month the rivers ran the colour of the proverbial builders tea, the river banks were awash with water and its speed too fast for trotting for silver fish. It has been a poor month for river fishing.

The latest copy of Fallon’s Angler has yet to hit the doormat so we still wait in anticipation for its arrival and the recent copy of Trout & Salmon still rests in it plastic wrapper. Something tells me that either time has not been in our side or that young Tales focus has moved on, the words ‘can we go fishing’ have been seldom spoken this side of Christmas. This time last year we had spent a Saturday at the Lower Itchen Fishery, braved the chill winds on Brighton Marina wall, fished Syon Park Fishery and had a couple of trips to the Thames at Sunbury. Is this absence a reflection of my own lack of enthusiasm or just that windy wet days keep us away from the water. Certainly the rivers aren’t fishing well, not unless you fish the bottom with a feeder and that may be the option for this weekend. With the wind set to blow most of the weekend fly fishing for Grayling will be a tough task and one where any back cast will probably connect with the hedge or worst still in your back as you cast out.

For the first time young Tales showed interest in the local fishery in Barnes close to the Wetland Centre. A well kept lake surrounded by trees and in his mind a better option than the lengthy drive to overflowing rivers. This is a Members water so we will investigate the option on getting him a Junior Membership, certainly an option if it keeps the enthusiasm but I know not quite where his ‘purist’ beliefs are of the wilds of the river in order to watch a fly or float work the currents.

One thing we have noticed is how advanced the plants are in the hedgerows, even the daffodils are out a month earlier than last year, the Blackthorn who’s fruit in Autumn is the sloe berry is in flower along the towpath, nettles are showing fresh growth and even in a sheltered spot the blackberry has over-wintered and is flower, most bizarre.

I sense this year will pass all too quickly, they just do as you get older, like watching clouds rushing by they are gone in a flash so you need to make the most of the time you have.

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New Year, new directions…

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Christmas is just a distant memory and the New Year was spent as far West as one could get tucked away in a friends cottage with the warmth of an AGA. The cottage was situated on the shoreline of Abereiddy, once a slate workings where the only indication of its industrial past was a row of derelict cottages and the main slate working now flooded to form a lagoon.

There was no mobile signal or internet access, no village shop or pub, we were miles away from it all. We had packed all the food and drink we needed, warm jumpers, Barbours, wellingtons and slippers.

The rain fell continuously and the wind blew, only occasionally would the patchwork grey sky give way to the odd ray of sunshine, the presense of a cobalt blue patch a welcome sight. To many this may seem a remote and glum place to be but there was a beauty about it. Certainly it was a key location for those willing to brave the element to surf and those that took to the coastal path for a bracing walk on what was a breathtaking coastline.

It wouldn’t be a normal Tales adventure without the use of a fishing rod. We had packed a beachcaster, rigs, weights and a fixed spool reel the only thing we didn’t have was any bait, however there were enough limpits on the rocks to use. The surf was high and powerful so the water was coloured like builders tea, not ideal conditions but it was more about being out there.

The torrential rain that most of the country has endured for weeks kept up over the three day vacation and what was a small stream from the hills became a broader river in flood cutting off access to the whole beach, you needed wellingtons to breach it, each day it flowed faster and deeper.

We took time to visit St David’s with its grand cathedral that seems to be built on an incline so if you stand at the back of it you look upwards towards the alter. To think how long ago it was built adds to the grandeur of the magnificent construction and to look back at it through the trees dappled in winter sun gave an air of romance about it. It inspired me to paint a quick picture of what I could see on an off-cut of wood with some acrylic paints I took with me.

I would like to spend some more time exploring the Pembrokeshire coastline with the family here in late spring so for sure we will make this a destination for our travels in 2016.

For all of you may I wish you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year. Whatever you do and wherever you go enjoy.

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It is Christmas Day!

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To all of you brothers of the angle, shutter and paintbrush, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, may you all find peace and love not only over the Christmas season but for evermore.

For those of you heading to the river or sea tomorrow may your lines be tight and smiles put upon your face.

I bless you all for a prosperous New Year.

The night before Christmas…

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Between the rain showers and the warm glow of winter sun we dashed around the village doing the lasts bits of shopping before retiring to the pub for a beer and a bite to eat in order to give us energy to wrap those Christmas gifts for young Tales, it may take some time.

The years seems to have passed all too quickly, possibly because we’ve done a lot but more than likely because we are getting older. During the year we went West Wales for young Tales birthday to allow him to fish for sea-trout, went to a wedding in St Ives, visited Mrs Tales birthplace on the island of Cyprus, retuned to Bexhill – a place I spent time at as a young teenager to fish, stalled out at The National Vintage Tackle Fair, worked on some new projects and now it’s Christmas.

As it’s time to spend time with Mrs and young Tales on this Christmas Eve I want to take this opportunity to wish all of you who have taken time to read my blog a very merry Christmas.

Another day closer…


The clocks ticking and Christmas is nearly upon us.

We are still experiencing warmer than average temperatures, maybe the amount of Christmas lights are contributing to this phenomena. Only a few years ago we had experienced a good snowfall and the temperatures were at a seasonal norm.

Today sees is the first of the Christmas present delivery runs as the family scatters for the festive season, however we will reside by the river and call into the neighbours for season drinks and banter.

As you can tell from the posts there has been little fishing of late and certainly no purchases of vintage tackle or piscatorial items. Hopefully we will get out to do some Grayling fishing but what we need is a good frost as there is nothing quite like hearing the crunch beneath your feet as you walk along the riverbank listing to the flow of the water and the shrill of a Robin in the hedgerow. I guess it’s a bit early to buy a half pint of mixed maggots just in case we head out on the Thames for some perch fishing but I better not leave it too late but then again a there is always the option of digging up some worms from the garden.

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Four days till Christmas Eve…

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With such high temperatures at this time of year surely it’s going to be a great opportunity to head to the river to fish. So I’m planning where and when.

Lord Sugar has made his choice of candidate as his Apprentice, the number 1 in the Charts is a Mr. Bieber, Tottenham are 4th in the Premiership, Watford beat Liverpool, Andy Murray is Sports Personality Of The Year, Star Wars is set to break box office records, there is no snow in the Alps, a teenager is crowned Scalextric Champion after playing for the first time, young Tales realises Santa isn’t for real and I still haven’t won The Lottery!

Most of my work projects are completed, Christmas gifts purchased, food list finalised and wines selected…bring on Christmas!

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On the seventeenth day of Advent…


The lights twinkled on the hedgerows and the trees stood tall in the the windows of the more affluent households on my way home, in fact many of the lights had clearly been professionally installed. There were some pretty impressive wreaths adorning the high gloss doors of the large houses that once had horse drawn coaches pass beneath the arch to the side of the houses. Today these houses only sport an average 225bhp plus of gleaming metal on the driveway. Anyway we are fortunate to live in a pleasent part of London close to the Royal Parks and Kew Gardens.

I realised today  that I have done very little shopping for Christmas, no browsing, no click and collect and no searching of that well known online auction company in fact for the first time in many years it will be left till quite late but I will have to do it all before Christmas Eve. 

We managed to buy our Christmas tree yesterday evening but still haven’t collected it yet so that will be on my to do list for tomorrow as well as collecting the Christmas wreath for the front door. I managed to find the Christmas lights and untangle them but they are also not up yet, however I did manage to get the Christmas cards in the post. So I need to focus and draw up a list of things I need to do.

One thing I must not forget is to buy a box of maggots so we can go fishing the day after Boxing Day.

On the fifteenth day…

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This day marks the first day a British Astronaut visits the Space Station. The question is can he Santa from up there?

One thing he will witness is that we live in a very special place so why does man continue to fight, scar the landscape and pollute the seas…why?

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