Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Living the dream

The build up to the big day is like no other - well, maybe Christmas, for I have the same feelings and likings at both times of the year. The Glorious Sixteenth is such a day in the traditional anglers year. Plans laid down, tackle accumulated, cakes made and my dreams will hopefully become reality.

As regular readers will know, my season starts as it always has done. Same place, same friends, same old, same old - I wouldn't have it any other way. My pal Demus said many years ago on opening day "we are living the dream, enjoy it, for it may not last". I know what he meant, we were living the dream and thankfully we still are, but as always on opening day I think of those who are no longer with us and who enjoyed these days so much. Never forgotten.

Whisky toasts are made at midnight, the magnificent rocket is launched to many an ooh and aahh and we laugh like naughty school the dream.

The tools of our trade are quill floats and all home made affairs. Each one has a story and as each season passes more stories get added. Our bait is simple. Like our floats, our group grows older each year, but our love of these most special times grows ever bigger in our fisherman hearts. 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The path east....

It's been a bit of a slog over the last few weeks. I was carving a really good groove with my walking and then disaster struck as I put my back out - the quack noticed my embarrassment as I was told another "person of your age" did the same picking up a sandwich and I have since heard an acquaintance did it playing chess. Life in the fast lane eh? I didn't have time to fib massively and say something manly like it was changing a tractor engine, building a garden shack or lifting sacks of cement - I meekly mentioned to the quack I was giving very important cuddles to one of my terriers. Oh dear.

No walking, drugged up to the gunwales and no alcohol for over three weeks with a recovery in six weeks meant taking it easy. This is hard when you have found something that makes you feel so alive and is physical requiring footfalls over rough terrain. 

After three weeks I just had to get out, so pain killers taken, walking pole in hand I tentatively set out for a short dawn walk east.

It was one of those mornings that makes you think it really was worth the effort creeping out into the mist and hush......I puffed like a grampus going up the slope, eventually above the mist and into glorious stillness. My favourite sunrise over Eggardon was the perfect tonic coupled with a cacophony of bird song.

The short walk turned into a six mile one just to satisfy my addiction - it worked, although a dull ache proved I had been pushing things. It was worth it. The views up top felt like I was on top of the world and other than a few roe deer there were no other stirrings - even the dawn chorus seemed quieter.

My route left a pioneering trail in the morning dew and on returning home I realised I was not the only one walking that route. The cocktail of fox, deer and badger piss on my trousers was just too much - a small price to pay I guess!       

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

The mighty radish

I dread to think how many posts I have done over the years about my radish obsession - apologies, here we go again!

Like the turning of the seasons, the comings and goings of birds my radish season is something I eagerly await. Succession sowing means they come thick and fast now. I'll keep going until very late in the summer and, luckily for me, I'm the only one at Straker Towers who likes them! 

Monday, 12 June 2017

No nesting here!

This tree caught me out for a while. Always a landmark on my journey heading towards Cranborne Chase, it never appeared to move in the wind - any wind. Even in the most violent of gales its branches would remain still.

I parked up by it a few years ago for a closer inspection and all was revealed - almost hoodwinked, just like a Tory Party manifesto.

Thursday, 8 June 2017


Worthy of three pictures to show the detail - I was both delighted and saddened to find this after the blustery winds and rain of the last few days. A work of art. Lichen, moss, sheep wool and dog fur. A wren perhaps? Looks cosy in there, wouldn't mind a snooze in there myself.......wonder where all the previous occupants are now? 

Friday, 26 May 2017

Rogers & Strong

To say I was chuffed to bits with these two beauties is an understatement. Found whilst walking ankle deep in a Purbeck Stream after trout they will soon be cleaned and displayed in the shed.

I don't know a great deal about either - Rogers of Bristol (the larger of the two) is from the old brewery of Old Market in the city. Strong's of Romsey and Wareham is equally intriguing. I know of the old brewery in Romsey but did not realise they had a brewery in Wareham - more research required.

Rogers and Strong has a good feel about it - much like Flanders and Swann, Monk and Canatella and Flanagan and Allen don't you think? Yet again I will get my coat.

Friday, 19 May 2017

The path west...

To get my fix and have the all round feeling of being alive I have been setting out early. I leave between 04:00 and 04:30 - I have been up and off, treading the route which gives me not only the feeling of great accomplishment when I return to a still sleeping house, but keeps me in everyones good books. With a young family my indulgence has no impact on anyone. Only me.

My route is a familiar one - I have no specific location to head for but it usually is to one of two places. The dark and sunken lanes to the west or the ridge to the east. Both are as good as each other and offer a different vista so I just go where my boots take me.

I do prefer the route westwards. The birdsong is louder here and in the deep lanes, made famous by Geoffrey Household in his superb book Rogue Male, it's easy for my mind to wander. All my best plans and lists are made in these early dawn moments and usually they are coupled by some of my most memorable wildlife spots. It's that moment at the edge of night and day when nocturnals, like Household's hero, are returning back to their hole.

Parts of this route were undoubtedly carved by Household himself. The Monarchs Way passes the rear of our house and our hero, when on the run, may have passed here when returning from Eggardon to the deep and hollow lanes west.  

The loudest bird at this hour is most definitely the blackbird, its song reverberates in deep lanes thirty feet below where he sings - there is not an ounce of melancholy in these lanes with such a tuneful and melodic soundtrack, it puts an extra spring in my step.

I time my arrival at a high point as the first proper light arrives, a swig from my water flask, maybe an apple and I continue....just giving myself enough time to still get home before anyone else is about and the joy of sipping my first mug of tea watching the final moments of the day waking up whilst most of the town still sleeps.  

Monday, 15 May 2017

Market Finds No 24

You will return one more to the bank of lake and river- who can resist a market find such as this? Less than the price of a Dorset pint and this reel, I would imagine, has a tale or two to tell. A bit of TLC in the Straker Tackle Shed and it will be purring once more!