Words that strike a chord

Angling too, is about people.  Fishermen are heroes or villains.  There are no middling characters, for put a rod in a man’s hand and the mediocrity of his day-to-day life seems to melt away.  Every angler, alive or dead, deserves his chapter somewhere and his own tale to tell.

John Bailey – Reflections from the Water’s Edge

The best laid plans

The weekend.

  1. Load camper van
  2. Drive to Kentchurch
  3. Fish ’til late
  4. Beers at the Bridge
  5. Sleep over
  6. Fish early
  7. Back home in time for Sunday roast

Well that was how it was supposed to be.  I’d got number one done and was about to start on two…

Before you go; can you just get the suitcases out of the loft?


Climb ladder.  Reach in.  Pull suitcase.  Twist.  BANG!  Back’s gone and so has my fishing.


Environment Agency announcement

Environment Agency announces 10 most improved rivers  such a shame there is no mention of the fantastic work being done by anglers and rivers trusts all over the country

She has to go

Sad news friends; the ultimate fishing wagon has to go. Veteran of numerous trips up north and regular visitor to the Monnow and her tributaries, she has given good service.

I need to make space for a bigger & newer van that I’ll be picking up tomorrow so; if you fancy getting your hands on my pride & joy, head over to a certain well known online auction site and make a bid!

Another Royal Wedding

But this time I’ll be about as far away from a decent trout river as it’s possible to get.

A pleasant way to spend an evening

Work has been particularly stressful of late but, last night, I managed to get away early to fish the Little River Avon.  I’ve not fished there this season, though I’ve done some work parties and helped Neil when he was guiding Justin so I wasn’t particularly shocked at how low & slow the water is.

The barley is now in so the surrounding fields wear their stubble fashionably long like a moody monochrome model in an aftershave ad – I remember fields like this when I was a kid; making bale houses, actually bale castles which we defended against the other kids by pulling up clumps of stubble, setting fire to them and lobbing it over the ramparts!  Hooligans! Well, we had to make our own entertainment in those days 🙂

The whole area has a peaceful aire now that nature’s frantic urges of Spring and early Summer are over.  There is a sense of ease, of a pausing before the work of stocking up for the Winter begins in a few week’s time.  Fortunately this feeling is pervasive, enough for me to forget about clients and project managers, deadlines and databases.  If music can soothe the savage breast then a mid-summer’s evening can certainly calm a stressed-out techie.

When the balloon goes up…

You won’t catch a thing…


Our Rivers…

Few things evoke a sense of the Great British outdoors like a babbling brook in full flow; dipping a toe into the icy water; the flash of a kingfisher as he dashes downstream, dragonflies darting through the reeds.

But all these are in danger- we’ve just had our driest spring for a hundred years and our rivers are running at the lowest levels ever recorded. At the same time, people are using more water than ever – and almost all of this comes directly from our rivers and streams.

It’s not just low water levels that are threatening our rivers- pollution from cities and agricultural runoff is also having a devastating effect on the health of these amazing
ecosystems. We need better quality water and more of it if we are to maintain our picturesque British rivers and the unique and abundant wildlife they support.

This is the aim of Our Rivers, to protect and restore the nation’s watercourses to pristine and thriving ecosystems. But we can’t do this alone – we need your help to muster support for Our Rivers so we can convince the Government to take action and properly protect rivers for future generations.

Get involved by taking part in our national survey, become a friend on facebook, share your pictures with us on Flickr and tweet about what’s happening on your river.

You can also check out our latest campaigns here.

…has a new web site.  Check it out at http://www.ourrivers.org.uk/

Labour of love

Researching my family history has been no mean feat, especially in view of the fact that my starting point, my great-grandfather, was a chap called Fred Smith who lived somewhere in Wiltshire – that was all I had to go on.  Anyway, it’s surprising what you can discover and I have managed to trace the line back to the early 1700s.

One thing that strikes me is that nearly all of the men in my family have been listed by the census as ‘Ag Lab’ – agricultural Labourer.  Peasant.

Every one of them, to a man, would be ashamed of me today.

Yesterday I spent the day pulling Himalayan Balsam as part of the MRA‘s Going Native project, aimed at eradicating invasive, non-native species from the Monnow catchment.  Just six hours of manual labour has me searching for a place on my body that doesn’t ache.  How on earth did the labourers of old do this every day?

To off-set the aches and pains I have the knowledge that the MRA has made huge strides towards the project’s aims, and going back to areas that 12 months ago were completely infested with HB I can see a huge improvement.  The weed is mostly confined to isolated pockets which is easily pulled by teams of volunteers in a few short hours. That doesn’t mean that the job is anywhere near done – the whole-catchment, top to bottom approach means we will be going back over the ground that we have already sprayed/pulled for several years to come, and there is still a lot of un-touched ground in front of us but, there is hope – I have seen it.  Monmouth beckons and we will be there sooner than anyone could have anticipated.

On behalf of the MRA I’d like to thank all of the volunteers who attended this weekend.  I know some of you travelled from far afield to offer your assistance – your efforts are both vital and hugely appreciated.


The things you see

I normally go to the river to get my wildlife fix but, this morning, while checking the bird feeders in the garden I came across a portly little field mouse inside one of those hollow log thingies that you put fat balls in. He didn’t seem in the least bit perturbed by my presence either.

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