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.
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
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 rod.ba 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.