Found on a table at a sale of vintage and collectables this disguised Abu Toby lure. Clearly decorated in the original owners favourite colours I wonder if this was for predatory fish or for a Spring or Autumn Salmon. I guess the only way to find out is to fish with it, but in the meantime it can be used as a decoration on the tree, once the treble has been removed.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.