Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The path of a trophy husband is riddled with clints and grykes

We have just experienced one of the most unproductive weeks for putting fish on the bank in my time jumping in and out of this river. Fishing must improve soon. The river is in fairly fine fettle with a reasonable level of water, the weed is strong for this time of the year, water temperature is not excessive so dissolved oxygen levels are not a problem. Hatches of fly are not quite what we would expect for September but a trickle of olives and a few sedge should draw the eye, and the grayling are feeding hard on all manner of bugs on the bottom of the river but the Brown Trout remain incredibly fickle. Many will rise to within an inch of a carefully presented artificial before falling away so tackle must be fined down as much as one dare. The few fish that do deign to rise, pick amongst the detritus that has blown from trees and forms a thin line down the centre of the main river's flow, with little fly on the water, it may be tree dwelling bugs that the fish occasionally take, in which case small and black should be the way to go. The brown trout in this bit of water always have a bit of a feed before falling out over spawning sites and then finally getting down to business, I just wish they'd get on with it.

It is both challenging and frustrating fishing, and is the brown trout equivalent of blocking out for a draw on day five of a Test, or parking the bus to take a nil nil draw.

Perfect presentation, fine tackle, maintaining a low profile and bags of patience are a prerequisite when fishing for fickle fish of any species, and this particularly canny bunch of brownies are no exception. But even the most perfectly planned and executed fishing trip can still prove fruitless, which is why it is the sport of "Fishing" and not "Catching" which provides little succour to an angler returning home with an empty bag, and I apologise on the fishes' behalf.

Three days on and the fishing has picked up immensely. Our kitchen played host to squadrons of Daddy Long legs and imitations of these accounted for seven fish over the weekend, we have also experiencced some reasonable hatches of sedge from midday onwards and three more fish fell on the Monday to a small black nymph fished fairly high in the water and four more on Tuesday to a weightier dark nymph pattern. The September bounce back may just have begun.

Up in the village that suffered from groundwater flooding last winter there is much talk about drains and ditches. Which is great, the spring ditch through the village is the Test Valley in miniature with multiple riparian owners. If one doesn't decide to join in and play ball it is a proper pain in the arse for the rest. Communication is everything, as is remembering that the ditches must be maintained every year, a few dry winters will provide a bit of a test.

Our local superstore is currently selling 150g of blackberries for £2, which means that this time next year Rodders we'll be millionaires as we have a bumper crop in the hedgerows around here, although the apple crop has failed completely.

Three mornings out of five this week Otis has enjoyed the benefits of a drive through McDonalds as the remnants of a brown bag full of egg Mcmuffins have been left in the middle of the lane. Don't get me wrong, I like a burger, and was once a regular worshiper at the altar of the golden arches. A forty eight hour bug in Madrid induced by the consumption of ghastly local sausage (the pan European menu description "village sausage" should always be preceded by the word "beware") rendered me unable to eat anything but Ron's crispy fries for a 24hr period, although the chap who lived on Big Mac meals for a month and subsequently suffered twenty four hour hunger pangs and malnutrition suggest that Ronald's finest fayre may be some way short of nutritionally complete. My point is, could the car that leaves the highway to the sun to dump his half eaten bag of McDonalds in the middle of the lane, please stop doing so and wait for a convenient bin.

Breakfasting this morning, Madam had a bit of a moment over the Ryder Cup teams propensity to display their wives in matching gear. She was quite adamant that if requested to do this she would not comply. I reminded her that I had not made myself available for selection this year, so she needn't worry. Some of the singletons in the photograph of the team disembarking down the steps from the plane may have partners who felt the same way and had been asked to hang back or leave by the rear exit away from the cameras. Statistically one or two could be in a same sex relationship and declined to wear the bolero jacket and pencil skirt. Why they were coming down the steps is beyond me. I am sure they expected something a little more commensurate with their status, such as one of those raised tunnels that is pushed up to the plane to provide an easy passage to the terminus, not down the stairs and a ten minute wait for a fifty yard ride in a bus driven by a bloke in a Tam o' Shanter.

I like the Ryder Cup, it is an exciting format of the game and I am reminded of the time I listened to the last knockings of the "War on the Shore" at Kiawah Island while conducting my own war on the shore on a pretty stretch of the Middle Hampshire Avon, I was fishing as a guest of a national newspaper cricket correspondent and caught fish all afternoon that were rising to hatching mayflies, yes mayflies in the middle of September.

Like Macrame and the correct use of a washing machine, a round of golf is beyond my capabilities, but once a week when the children were small my "big night" out was an hour hitting balls at a barn owl that regularly hunted across a nearby golf driving range before stopping off for a beer at a pub half way home where coincidentally the aforementioned cricket correspondent drank most evenings. He knew his bashing spoon from a mashie niblick and passed on several useful tips regarding my elbows as well as inviting me out for a few games, which I always declined as I was sure to be found out for the golfing charlatan I was and still am somewhere in the course of eighteen holes. Child B developed an interest in the game and showed some promise although more measured eyes than mine picked out that he played a lot of cricket. At a young age I took him up to the driving range on a midweek evening and gave him a basket of balls, we had the place to ourselves and I had already worried the owl, when the proprietor arrived and asked us to leave. No children under the age of sixteen were allowed on the range and despite our protestations and a ten year old who was hitting a seven iron 150 yards, we were forced to abandon our baskets of balls. I briefly pondered teeing up a ball and smashing it with my three wood through his office window, but I probably would have missed the building. I still see the miserable toad in the supermarket and a quick scan of the contents of his trolley suggest he probably lives alone, but he must wonder why some bloke goes out of his way to inconvenience or impede him each time he encounters him in the aisles.

Never forget, NEVER FORGET..... cue creepy laugh ed.

Child B went on to play lots of golf with his mates at the many driving ranges and courses in the area that actively encourage children to take up the sport.

Child A continues to tour and has just sent words and pictures from a stunning part of Slovenia. Google confirms that there is some superb fishing for trout and grayling in the rivers of northern Slovenia and some big carp in Lake Bled. A closer look may be required sometime soon.

Chided from various quarters over the past twelve months I have recently been trying to write something a little longer. It may turn up on here, it may turn up somewhere else in a few years time or it may be buried in a field and its precise location recorded in a safety deposit box should I suffer a premature demise at the hands of henchmen dispatched by Richard Madeley or some other cove I have irked.

The target figure for words is over six figures which if my maths serves, is about what was chucked up on here in the last twelve months. Punctuation is a problem for the master of the misplaced comma and f*&6 knows what semi colons are for? and then there are the fruity bits, I was once asked to write a few thousand words of erotic fiction but I struggled and the denouement was premature and done and dusted in a couple of sentences, which may be a little too raw for some; fruitiness is obligatory apparently.

I like a good read. I don't like a bad read, which is why I jump ship after a few chapters at the first whiff of flakiness, but a good read that you can return to time and again is one of life's great comforts.

I couldn't write a good read,

neither can Richard Madeley or the Archduke Rio Ferdinand but it doesn't seem to bother them,

After a recent epiphany, when scallops were consumed for the first time after a lifetime aversion to eating fish (they are my friends) I am more willing to take leave of my comfort zone, although experiments with mussels that tasted like licking a harbour wall, were a setback. So with an open mind I struggled on with a book that I suspected to be bad. The closing chapters confirmed my suspicions and a second epiphany occurred.

I could write a bad book, there are lots of bad books on the shelves so why not mine?

Further research over the past few weeks has revealed that many bad books are over a hundred thousand words long, I don't think the word counter on my pre war version of Microsoft Office goes up that far so the project may require some funding for a more up to date version of Microsoft Office, (2007 would do, any offers welcome). There are even people who know of spelling, punctuation and grammar and, for a fee, will go at your writing with lots of red pen, so further funding may be required.

Sitting down to write the thing is a challenge and there is much advice out there on the "writing process" most of which hinges around discipline (not my forte) shutting yourself away (forte) research and knowledge of subject (er?)

Ignoring all advice I turned to my favourite tome and drew inspiration from Dotore Iannis, who each evening set out to write the history of Kephalonia only for a goat to eat his writings when his back was turned.

For the goat, read Windows Update, which has shut down my computer mid flow each evening. My ancient version of Microsoft Word is a little tardy when it comes to auto-saving and each evening's opening gambit designed to draw the reader in, is all that remained following Windows Updates' intervention.

For the record, they are as follows

Monday : "A trophy husband must tread a difficult path that is riddled with clints and grykes......"

Tuesday : "The door closed silently behind me and I was locked in the kennel with only a bitch in heat for company............"

Wednesday : "The chainsaw buzzed noisily in my hand as I hung on to the tree with my other, Six feet below in four feet of water I could just make out the shape of my stainless steel spectacles being pecked at by a million minnows........."

Thursday : "Deep within my mother's womb I could just make out the Archers theme tune, little did I know that even before my birth I was being brainwashed by an everyday tale of country folk........."

This may take some time.

Oh Yes, Well done Scotland, a little faith restored especially with sixteen year old voters engaging so well in political debate, and what a turn out!

Now how about the United Kingdom attending to UKIP sometime soon.

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