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Dare you enter the Devil’s Arse? Hmmm, hardly the kind of poster you normally expect to see in a gift shop window unless of course you’re in the Peak District village of Castleton where you’ll find a cave of that name. It goes without saying that this causes much giggling and guffawing among the countless school trips arriving on a daily basis. Memorable marketing, too.
I paid my annual visit to Castleton for a scramble around Mam Tor and have to say we were mighty lucky with the weather. Bright but cloudy best describes the day and it remained dry all the time we were up there but the heavens absolutely opened while we ate our evening meal in Castleton’s Youth Hostel. I’m talking thunder, lightning, hailstones and rain that came down like stair rods.
The River Styx, which cuts through Castleton, is normally crystal clear and you’ll regularly spot a nice brown trout. On Tuesday morning it was running chocolate brown after the previous days rain but by the afternoon (before the deluge) it had begun to clear nicely. In my mind I had visions of the thousands of tiny rivulets that trickle down the Derbyshire hillsides, all destined to end up in the Trent. Had I been barbel fishing the following day I would be saying, ‘Bring it on!’ Unfortunately I was due to shoot a roach fishing feature…
The following morning I was up bright and early checking the river levels on the EA web site. It’s brilliant that you can track the tributaries at 3-hourly intervals as well as the main river. That gives you a clue as to whether it’s likely to be rising or falling during your session. According to my fag packet calculations the river was up a foot and likely to remain steady or fall slightly.
Chucking the float gear in the van I couldn’t help feel there was a touch of autumn about this morning, more October than September. The van windows needed wiping clear as they were covered in condensation; it was quite misty, too. Crossing the Dearne valley I revised that observation to quite foggy. It was nippy as well and I was glad I’d worn a fleece.
Patchy fog and motorways do not make good bed fellows. Now whether I’m due an accident or not I can’t be certain but each time I’ve been out on a fishing trip recently I’ve been held up in traffic caused by a pile-up. Each time one occurs I’m getting closer to the hub. Today, in the outside lane of the M1, I was just three cars behind a two vehicle shunt. Fortunately I was able to skirt round them or I might have been delayed for ages.
I’d gone to the Trent with a plan in mind. I knew the exact swim I wanted to fish, indeed it was the reason I kept the Pride ticket on this season – last year I never used it once. It’s a swim I’ve fancied fishing for a good while and it certainly has some roach form. You might even say it’s a hemp and tare flier. Unfortunately with a foot of extra water on it it was unfishable, certainly for roach. Damn! That was all I needed on a feature day.
Bearing in mind the conditions I opted for a swim I would never normally fish. It usually churns like a washing machine although high water tends to flatten the surface to a degree but I’d still have to fish the stick at four rod lengths out, not an easy task with a centrepin. So I kicked off feeding hemp and caster aiming to switch later to tares if things looked favourable.
The first hour was patchy and then I began to pick up a few roach. Most were small but the odd ‘netter’ cropped up sporadically. I had every faith that the swim would get stronger, especially when I caught withhemp on the hook and then on a tare, but it wasn’t to be. The river level was dropping very slowly and the character of my swim was altering. The roach gradually petered out to be replaced by dace. In all I caught 7 different species of fish: roach, perch, chub, dace, bleak, silver bream and minnows. I nearly had an eighth when a pike grabbed hold of the keepnet and gave it a good shake!
Still, it was good to meet up with Greg (Whitehead) again. Greg has left Angling Times and is starting a new life in the Channel Islands, writing fiction – some might say working on the Times will have given him a good grounding in that(!) – but he was back in the country for a few days to pick up some gear giving him the perfect opportunity to do this shoot as a freelance. Good luck with the future mate.
I’m Going Ga Ga!
It’s a while since I stumbled upon an artist that made my ears prick up but take it from me (unless you’re pubescent), give Lady Ga Ga a miss and check out Lady Antebellum instead. I’m telling you no more. Just check out these six tracks culled at random from their last two albums…
A Mystery Solved
By now you may have seen the new issue of Improve Your Coarse Fishing magazine in which I describe at some length the epic battle between me and an unseen monster on the Trent. Suggestions that it was a seal, a shark or even a conger are stretching things a bit but a more plausible suggestion arrived at the site in this email…
Trust all is well with you. Seems so from reading the blog. Interested in your IYCF piece on the barbel fight. I suspect I am neither the first or the last to suggest that what you had hooked on to was a “Roccadile”
Takes hat and coat and calls for the taxi!
Well, it made me laugh. 😉
You’re An Angler? Then You Have A Small Dick! (According to PETA)
While on the subject of things that make me laugh, have you by any chance seen the PETA web site suggesting that anglers have small rods (and they don’t mean fishing rods). It’s the peurile humour of the school playground and says so much about the mentality of PETA’s followers. Essentially if to go fishing you must have a small dick.
So, does that mean if you pack in fishing it will grow to the size of a cucumber?
How pathetic. Honestly, you couldn’t make it up, could you?
I liked the bit where it says PETA’s top brains have come up with this masculinity test.
Yep, I can buy that.
Mystery Of The Missing Cards
Recently my credit cards went missing. One day I had them, the next they were missing. Unfortunately I was going to be away for the best part of a week but I was so convinced they were in the house I took the risk of not reporting the loss.
On my return I found them right here in the study mixed in with some papers. ‘Mustn’t let that happen again!’ I mused and promptly mislaid them again. Only this time I couldn’t find them. That they were in the house was certain, but where? ‘Sue, have you moved them?’ Brought the kind of response that left me wishing I hadn’t asked. It was all my own fault, obviously.
And so for the next two weeks we turned the house upside down, searched every draw, cupboard, nook and cranny. We moved every piece of furniture, checked every pocket and then did it all again. Where the hell were they?
By now I’d taken to checking my bank account online, just in case. I’d given the cleaner the third degree and she’d spent a morning looking for them, too. It wasn’t just my bank, building society and credit cards, either. There was my E111, my fishing license, my travel cards and much more.
After a fortnight, and several restless nights when I’d wake at all hours just puzzling about where they could possibly be, I decided they must have fallen in the bin and been thrown out with the refuse. So I bit the bullet and cancelled all the cards.
The very next day I sat down at the computer to email my old employer about replacing my travel cards and found myself wondering what on earth was sticking in my backside. I felt around on the office chair underneath me and there were my cards, wedged into the tiny gap between the cushion and the backrest, just the edge of the wallet showing. Unfortunately, having cancelled the cards they were no longer any use to me and I was still waiting for my new ones to arrive.
How they got there I haven’t a clue. Why I’d never felt them in the countless times I’d sat in the seat working and pondering where they possibly might be, again I can’t explain. But at least I can sleep at night now and maybe I’ll take a bit more care over where I put them in future.
I’ve been reluctant to write anything much about the Rovers this season, after all it is a bit early to tell whether you’re going up or down in this division. Some are talking about us pushing on for a play-off place while I’m still eyeing the other end of the table nervously. Four games is nothing. Ask me on New Years Day, or after Easter when the table should be making more sense but right now it looks to me to be upside down – Portsmouth, Leicester and Bristol in the bottom three? Forest, Hull, Sheffield United, Middlesborough and Derby in the bottom ten? That’s not right, is it?
Teams that come up from Division One often keep the momentum going for a few games and then fade away. Teams that come down, spend heavilly or were there abouts last year are seldom bad teams either. Mind you, QPR and Cardiff have made good solid starts.
Even so, three points is the difference between being top and tenth. Three more points is the difference between 11th and fourth bottom. Each club will play three games in the next 8 days. Methinks the wheat will begin to sort itself from the chaff in that time although fixture congestion favours those with bigger squads. I reckon we’ll struggle to field a full bench next Friday evening for a live TV game!
As I write it is 10th September and there’s no guarantee we can even hold on to our manager, Sean O’Driscol, for much longer as he seems to be touted for every single vacancy that comes up these days. Last year he was offered a shot at the Premiership with Burnley, this week the bookies have offered odds on him taking the vacancy at Aston Villa, League One club Southampton, and get this, Fabio Capello’s job!
But we’ve made a decent start for a change with just the one blip at Cardiff but we bounced back with a fairly comfortable win over Hull City, fresh down from the Premiership. Interestingly I spotted an interesting post on a fans’ forum:
“While working in Brigg today I sneaked off for a crafty bet on the horses and heard the only other two people in there talking about the Rovers-Hull game. The punter was telling the bookie that Rovers were the far better team and they’ll be up there for definite at the end of the season. So I turn around and said I went to the game and although we played okay I thought Hull was poor. The punter said, ‘Do you think so?’ I asked him if he went to the game to which he replied ‘You could say that.’ And then it clicked, I was taking to Andy Dawson the Hull defender. He went on to say that we were a good team with a bright future…”
Now you watch us go and lose the next three games in a row! Watford away, Norwich at home and then the Bates Gang, live on Sky. I’d call every one of those a slippery banana, especially Norwich who I fancy to do well this season. Hate to sound negative but I’d take four points right now but don’t ask me from which games – I haven’t a clue and actually care less! Just give us the points. This season, as always for a pub team like ours, is all about survival.
Getting The Right Angle
As we say goodbye to Coarse Fisherman magazine we say hello to a new quarterly(?) ezine called WRITeANGLE; basically an online attempt at creating a magazine. It’s a fine effort although clearly aimed at the novice end of the market, focusing as it does pretty much on the basics and commercial fisheries. Click on the image, take a look and see what you think. There’s another one due along in the Autumn, I’m told.
Swordsey Hoping To Climax
Lee Swords tels me that he’s having a proper crack at winning the Climax Challenge this season and before you begin to attach any rude connotations to the notion it’s a competition run in that fine publication, Angling Star. I’d point you to its web site but there doesn’t appear to be one…
The competition is backed by Climax Tackle, Dronfield, and basically anyone can join in. All you have to do is submit pictures to the paper of your specimen fish catches. Points are awarded for achieving various target weights and I believe you can submit multiple captures in each category to increase your points standing. The key is to be versatile because there are bonus points for catching multiple species.
The drawback is that there’s no real policing so you see pictures of ‘doubles’ that look about 8lb, 30lb pike that would struggle to eat a minnow, banana fingers and so on. There’s no proof, either, that the fish were caught this season or indeed from within the geographical boundaries, so yes, it’s flawed, but that shouldn’t detract from the overall winners as it’s judged over a season and not based on one-off captures. After all, who wants to win a few tackle vouchers so much that they’ll compromise their reputations?
Or are they…?
Well, at least Swordsey is and good look to him on his quest. He apparently heads the leader board in the next edition of the paper and he has plans to target a number of different species in the coming months. The pictures in this snippet show him with a 6lb 5oz chub and a 13lb-odd barbel. Top points scoring!
Proud To Be British
Is there anything quite like the Last Night Of The Proms for stirring up passion within the soul, to gird your loins and fill you with genuine pride that you are indeed British? You’ll Never Walk Alone, Fisher’s Hornpipe, Rule Britannia, Jerusalem, Elgar’s March Of Pomp and Circumstance and God Save The Queen. Only we Brits could fill the Albert Hall with flag waving toffs, knowing that they can afford to look the fool because we created an empire that others still envy. And to rub it in we simultaneously broadcast it to live audiences around the realm and across the planet by satellite just to remind them.
Just watching that clip brings a lump to my throat. Sure you can emigrate to the UK. You can live and work here, raise a family, and I’m all for the multicultural society, but can you seriously ever be British? I doubt it. And this madcap celebration tells us why. Folk travel from around the globe to attend, waving flags of the old Commonwealth but you know, deep inside, they would just love to be British.
Watching the England football team stepping out onto some foreign field used to fill me with the same pride but since we became enamoured with foreign coaches (who consistently fail to deliver) it’s not quite the same, is it?
Being British gave us Tommy’s and the blitz spirit. It gave us 1966 and all that, not to mention the Beatles and Rolling Stones. In return we gave the world electricity, telephones and television, the steam engine, the beam engine, the seed drill, the lawn mower, the penny post, fibre optics, even the concept of the geostationary satellite.
We gave the world its first pocket calculator, police, DNA fingerprinting, the internal combustion engine, the jet engine, the slide rule, iron bridges, the light bulb, electric batteries, flushing toilets, the electric kettle, stainless steel, tubular steel, portland cement, penicilin, blood transfusions and viagara. We gave the world the Whitworthrifle, the bouncing bomb, depth charges and torpedos, the Davey Lamp, steam locomotives, cats eyes, the Belisha beacon, tarmac, bicycles, pneumatic tyres and the fire engine.
To this list we can add the steam turbine, propellors, the lifeboat, hovercraft, hydrofoil, diving bell and the submarine. We invented linoleum, Meccano, the crossword puzzle and if that’s not enough we gave them cricket, and golf, and we and established rules for both football and boxing.
And HP Sauce.
And that’s just a start, which is why we can afford to look pretty stupid with our tacky little flags singing ‘Land Of Hope And Glory’. Because that’s what it is.
I’ve never been to the Albert hall for the Last Night. I did join the plebs and Woganites in Hyde Park a couple of years back where you get to sing along to the finale on a big screen but as good as it was, I can’t imaging it’s quite the same…
Harking briefly back to football, I write a weekly angling column for a Sheffield sports paper called the Green Un’. Each week there’s a column reflecting on what was in the paper 25 Years Ago and this weeks was looking at Saturday September 4th, 1985, when Sheffield Wednesday slipped from second in the old First Division (now Premiership) to third place as a result of a 2-2 home draw against West Ham in front of a crowd of 19,000.
Wednesday now find themselves in the Third Division, or League One as it has been re-branded. A massive fall from grace from those heady days when they were actually a big club, yet the first three home league games this season against rather mundane opposition (Dagenham and Redbridge, Brighton and Carlisle) have attracted crowds totalling over 62,000 – that’s more than they got in the top division.
So how come they only just avoided being placed in administration this week when the tax man wanted his wedge. Another million pound loan has bought them a bit of time but how much more money can they keep borrowing? What’s the debt now – £27m?
As regular readers of the blog will be aware I’m a keen music fan with wide and varied tastes. However there’s one area that I’ve never shown any real interest in – dance music. Okay I don’t mind a bit of chillout now and then but in general the entire dance genre has passed straight over my head without registering. I had completely dismissed it as unworthy until I sat down last week and read the authorised biography of Paul Oakenfold by Richard Norris.
Dear, oh dear. Perhaps I’ve been understandably hasty on the basis that I dance like a three legged camel at the best of times. Perhaps I saw it as music for the E-generation (or girls…). Certainly it wasn’t something to be taken seriously by someone of the Beatles and Woodstock generation.
To learn that Oakenfold continues to fill stadiums worldwide in his own right came as a huge shock. To then realise how much of this non-musician’s work I was already familiar with in the shape of film theme tunes, the Big Brother theme, U2 remixes (Match Of The Day) and so on made me feel a bit stupid really.
And, of course, there’s his work on the seminal Happy Mondays album, Pills Thrills ‘n Bellyaches…
It doesn’t exactly mean I’m now a fan but it has made me realise how easy it is to compartmentalise our lives and be prematurely dismissive of things we know nothing whatsoever about. I for one will be keeping a more open mind in future.