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.
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.
It was mid-afternoon when I stumbled across this very rare item, it is a boxwood rope gauge. I found it on a table of treasures in a shop close to my home.
Having lived in SW13 for nearly two decades I have frequented this shop that sells an eclectic mix of vintage fabrics, homewares and hand crafted items by Angel. On the run up to Christmas I always make the effort to visit this iconic shop in Barnes. As you open the door the air is filled with the scent of flowering hyacinths, beeswax and lavender. The warm glow of candles and the glimmer of light reflects the the polished brass, ceramics and glass domes that shroud exquisite works, one that stood out was a tree full of baubles, beads and over vintage trinkets.
This is in no way a shop for thrifty purchases, each item for sale is hand made and unique much like the rare items sourced which in their own right are works of art.
A good friend of ours is a boat builder, well he is a master craftsman, carpenter, sculptor in fact nothing quite describes his sublime skills, for me one of the most talented people I know much like his partner who is a fantastic painter. For Bob these rope gauges would be an ideal gift, more as an item for the mantelpiece than to work with. An item to sit beside his Mamod Steam engine and clockwork Meccano boat.
I do try to find obscure gifts for those who know me for me it is part of the pleasure of Christmas finding things that are not usually available on the high street.
The streets were packed with people, children crowded around a couple of real Raindeer that were grazing in a makeshift pen, choirs sang and bell ringers rang their bells and classic Christmas songs sung by iconic singers of the 50’s filled the air.
As we made our way along Church Road towards to Olympic Cinema originally know as the Olympic Studio known better as the recording studio of the Rolling Stones, Led Zep and a cast of many well known groups. There on the pavement was a pop up vinyl DJ booth playing an array of tunes from groups which frequented this leafy village in SW13. It was an evening of nostalgia and one where everyone took to the streets for the annual Christmas shopping evening.
As vinyl is making a comeback there is nothing quite like picking up an old LP feasting your eyes on the graphics then listen to the sound from that rotating black disc. These old records make great secret Santa gifts and if purchased from a charity store should cost you no more than a couple of pounds.
Purchased before the end of the summer for the sum of £2 a fine copy of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and illustrated by Arthur Rackham, published in 1952. This copy by William Heinemann Ltd, London makes an ideal Christmas gift for all ages.
This well illustrated book with simple black and white along with fine colour plates is a treasure to behold.
Interestingly enough my old friend Steve Hunter is playing in our local production of a Christmas Carol by the Barnes Community Players and directed by Emilia Lerderleitnerova, this I must see and have booked tickets for the family.
There is still nothing quite like the vintage illustrations to evoke the thoughts of Christmas past.
Lucky Seven is reputed to be the most authentic Diner this side of the Brooklyn Bridge based in W2 along the Westbourne Park Road, it was also the title to a TV series, the title of a film and a tobacco brand State side. However my lucky seven was this evening for on my journey home I found a £5 note drifting along a pavement in the breeze.
As I bring to you a range of possible gifts sourced from charity shops, table top sales, car boots and the like I can’t help putting a grin on my face after remembering picking up a pewter tankard from a junk shop off the Askew Road in West London paying a £5 note for it only to find that it was stamped on the bottom with the Dunhill brand logo.
It is now my treasured vessel for consuming ale out of and when used gives me great pleasure. Yet again I prove that there are treasures to be found amongst the tat and cast offs that reach the charity shops and bric-a-brac stalls across the land. I therefore raise a glass to those who go in search of treasures past for future Christmas presents.
Earlier in the year I found a tin decorated with an oriental theme with a price tag of £3 on a self in one of our local charity shops. I picked it up to find that it was containing a full box wood chess set. Inverting the tin carefully it beard a logo of the Twinings Tea company with the further detail ‘Fine Quality Blend Of Indian & Ceylon Teas Half Pound Nett Twinings’ along with (Registered Trade Mark).
A long time ago I purchased a black lacquer and gold painted gaming board with a chess or checkers board on one side and within a back gammon board. This small tin an ideal partner to that board. I thought for young Tales a welcome departure from the modern age iPad, there is something satisfying when picking up a box wood chess piece and saying checkmate.
I found a small brass spirit stove a while back in a charity shop for the price of £2. This would make an ideal stocking filler. These little stoves are small and robust, if looked after will last a lifetime. This most certainly won’t cook your turkey, rib of beef or goose, however I always carry a small spirit stove if I head out to the rivers, wood, hills and dales during the winter months. Capable of heating up a brew or even cooking a breakfast and if lucky enough to catch one a trout wrapped in foil on a tray or at this time of year to pan fry some pigeon or pheasant breasts.
I believe items like this make treasured gift at this time of year and goes to prove that will some stealth in looking around you can find items for less than the cost of a pint of ale.