This was originally going to be a rather short blog but as usual I got carried away. My intention was to make a few excuses about being completely strapped for time but it’s probably true that the devil finds work for idle hands. I did have an hour to spare the other day while waiting for a delivery so I played around for a while designing widgets. The first is just one of those daft countdown timers to the new river season. However, the next two might be a little bit more useful.
If you own a blog or a web site and like them, do feel free to nick them. Click on the ‘Get Widget’ Tab and a drop down tab will open. Simply choose what format you want to save it in, copy the code and paste it into your site. The blog you’re reading was created in Wordpress. If I want to import a Widget I select the Flash version and copy it into the Edit Post page, making sure to switch to HTML before clicking paste. It really is as simple as that.
There are option buttons to add it to Facebook, Twitter and a load of other sites I barely understand(!)
The first widget is a bit pointless but at least it does exactly what it says on the tin. I blame the Barbel Days And Ways customer who emailed me with lots of complimentary comments. The title of his mail was ‘Desperately Seeking the 16th’.
Okay sir, this may help…
Now the next one is much more useful. It tells you what the latest updates are on this web site without you having to bother visiting. Providing it functions properly, and it should, it will automatically upload any new articles that I publish.
And finally, here’s a little widget that I designed to let you play some of the movie clips Stu and I have filmed in the past couple of years. Again, should you want them then just take them with my blessing.
Like I say, if you like them and want to nick them for your own web site or blog, feel free to do so. Just help yourself.
I was out filming with Stu this morning on a classic estate lake. I’m sure you have a vision of what I mean, a shallow, crystal clear lake, completely neglected surroundings, acres of tangled lilies and completely overgrown. No-one seems to fish these places nowadays – it’s all pasties and F1s whereas this is tench heaven.
Of course, they’re of no consequence when compared with the great lumps that seem to abound in every southern gravel pit. These are chunky, powerful shoal fish that run to not much more than 4lb. They also have quite different feeding habits. Tomorrow I’ll be dabbling on a Cambridgeshire pit where the tench feed all day. If you want an estate lake tench you need to rise before the dawn chorus begins because the fishing’s generally done and dusted by the time most folk are heading off to work.
It came as no surprise to find we had the lake to ourselves. Unfortunately the temperature was hovering around 8 degrees and as a chilly northerly wind strengthened it felt more like Autumn than Spring and although a few tench fizzed briefly after a quick raking, none were tempted by Stu’s hook baits. Indeed his only fish were this pristine roach and a small perch.
Still, we filmed a few lovely sequences and I took some pretty pictures, but there was nothing doing on the catching front. By 9am we were heading home, licking our wounds and contemplating a return visit.
Cest la vie.
I love It When A Plan Comes Together
After blanking on the prolific local water the following day didn’t fill me with great confidence as I was heading for a Cambridgeshire gravel pit where I hoped to scope out a bit of filming that Stu and I plan to do. Nor did it help to find my key didn’t fit the first gate and there are two more beyond that to reach this secluded pit. Obtaining a replacement cost me valuable time but all the frustration was forgotten when I parked by up and found a bunch of carp basking on the surface in the first swim I looked at.
I was there to catch tench but it’s not like me to look a gift horse in the mouth. Out went some floaters and within half an hour I’d banked the bigger of these two carp. Frustratingly I missed a take from a real lump of a fish and I’m not sure who was more surprised that the hook didn’t set, me or the fish.
Once again I found the tench frustratingly difficult. They simply wouldn’t play ball and despite fishing on into the dusk my only reward was this cracking eel.
Up the following morning at the crack of dawn, I was keen to try and make contact with a tench, after all, that’s what I was there to catch. I shouldn’t have worried. After a slow start they switched on nicely and although it wasn’t exactly what you might call hectic fishing you do have to bear in mind I was fishing with just the one rod.
Even so by the time I wrapped up in mid-afternoon I’d had a dozen tincas and another eel. This was probably the pick of the bunch but to be fair I did have at least half a dozen proper lumps. Not bad what you can achieve with a couple of pints of red maggots, eh?
I guess if you fish often enough you’re bound to have a few sessions like this, but when you’ve grown up in the tench deprived north, where even a four pounder is a good fish, sessions like this are gold dust. I know some of you will think I’m mad but I didn’t weigh any of these fish. If truth be told I didn’t even have any scales with me. Sometimes just being there is ample reward.
What A Kracker
Nirvana’s Kracking Carp Lake is part of the Anglers Paradise complex but open to non-residents for the price of a day ticket. It’s been on fire this season and the fish have been packing on weight like there’s no tomorrow.
Martin Rodgers, who’s a member of the estate staff at Anglers Paradise upped the lake record this week with a proper old lump of a mirror weighing 36lb 4oz. That’s the sixth thirty pound carp to be caught from the lake this season.
No Flies On Stu
Stu and I did a bit of underwater filming last week. It’s all part of the next series of DVDs we’re bringing out, but don’t start pestering me about when they’ll be released. This is not going to be a short project as it will encompass all manner of styles and species. The rushes are exciting, mind, and we’re making more new discoveries along the way.
After we’d finished the shoot Stu whipped out his fly rod in the hope of tempting a big old wild trout. Unfortunately a 4lb chub nailed his nymph instead and sadly that meant it was time to pack up. No point in even trying to catch the elusive trout when chub are congregating on the shallows in readiness for the spawning they’ll undoubtedly be starting round about the time the season opens…
Now Look What You’ve Done
Someone collared me the other day, ‘Bob, what are the rules on eel fishing in the closed season on the River Trent?’
It was an odd thing to ask as eels are as rare as rocking horse droppings on the Trent these days other than when the river’s up and coloured.
‘Why?’ I asked.
‘Our ****’s keen to do a bit of barbelling and he saw in the Angling Times where they’d held a closed season match fishing for eels. He reckons he can catch loads of barbel on the worm.’
‘But that’s illegal. If you’re fishing for trout or eels in the coarse fish closed season you have to deliberately avoid coarse fish. If you catch one by accident you’re supposed to move swims, otherwise you can be arrested.’
‘That’ll not bother him. He fishes is miles from anywhere. No one will see him…’
You may think I’m making this up and if that’s what you want to believe then fine. But it’s the God’s honest truth. It was irresponsible behaviour by the Willow Creek lads to host this match – fished by what, four anglers? But not half as irresponsible as the Angling Times in reporting it.
Unless of course it was their intention to actively encourage others to ignore the law.
These Apologists Have Me Worried
I’m starting to worry about our current Government. It’s clear that harsh measures are needed to stabilise the mess we appear to be in. Or, dare I say, were led into by folks who all seem to be rather well off and immune to any cutbacks – like bankers and politicians – so why don’t they stop beating about the bush and just tell us straight, eh? On one hand they preach about a Big Society while on the other they’re just running around blaming everyone else but themselves for the actions they’re taking.
How many times do we have to hear one of these fanny merchants come out with the phrase, ‘Given what we’ve inherited…’? Every bloody time they announce cuts or bad news it’s like a stuck record. You wanted power. You practically sold your granny and jumped into bed with her sister to gain power. Now get on with it and start doing something more constructive that just scoring a few points. It’s not a rugby match.
Please, stop looking for sympathy by blaming someone else. Show a bit of backbone and take some responsibility.
And why is it, when something looks to be going wrong it’s the same old excuse we hear, ‘The fault undoubtedly lies with [x-y-z] introduced by previous Governments.’
Is this Government trying to tell us that it is perfect? Because I don’t think it is. And five years from now the next Government will be blaming them instead of getting on with what they were elected to do – to put it right.
If ever proof was needed that they actually believe the electorate is completely stupid, how about Transport Minister Phillip Hammond’s statement that he’s going to cut out a billion pounds of Railway subsidy without affecting services? He talks about the massive investments made everywhere from the boardroom to the platform. Unfortunately, what he doesn’t seem to realise is that it’s what happens below platform level that results in an efficient and safe railway system. Trains require well-maintained tracks and signals to operate, not uniforms, fancy passenger lounges or new rolling stock.
He talks of a booming industry where passenger numbers have steadily increased over the past 20 years but I don’t suppose it has occurred to him that the population of the country has increased by over ten million in that time thinks in no small way to unregulated immigration and Government has done everything within its power to drive them off the roads onto public transport.
Oh, and he’s putting fares up by 3% over inflation and the off-peak hours are going to be reduced with a sliding scale of increases either side of the rush hour to generate extra income. Can you believe he was selling this to us as a benefit because it will offer us more choice as to when we travel? No, nor can I.
No doubt he would really have preferred to use the words of his Prime Minister, ‘Calm down dear, calm down!’
Unfortunately I’ve seen what happens when folk who know next to nothing about railways start meddling. Trains crash and people die needlessly. Then the blame game starts.
It’s very worrying when you actually know a little bit about the industry.
I’ve Got The Best Bunz In Town – Now It’s Official!
With all due apologies, I nicked this picture from Keith Arthur’s Facebook page. Hope he doesn’t mind too much!
Beats Nobby’s Nuts, don’t you think?
In case you didn’t notice I’ve now added a search feature to the front page. That’s because some kind reader contacted me and asked where it had gone. I hadn’t noticed it had gone AWOL when I switched over to the current layout theme. So I wrote back to him and apologised, suggesting I hadn’t got a clue how to rectify the problem but guess what? But I don’t like loose ends, so I played around until eventually I managed to sort it. Where there’s a will there’s a way.
So while I was in a creative mood I had a play around with a hit counter – a fishy one, of course. Unfortunately all my data prior to 7th July 2010 was lost and I also lose out when the server decides it needs a re-boot but I’m mighty proud of the number of hits in less than a year. Not quite sure what will happen when the figure tops 100,000 but I’ll face that bridge when I come to it. And before anyone asks, yes, that’s actual site visitors rather than page views.
The trouble with gaining a little knowledge is that you want to experiment even more and that’s dangerous. I am always aware that a couple of wrong clicks could send everything into meltdown but it’s addictive. Maybe I’ll have a go at reviving the weather forecast when I get a chance but I have to confess it’s not exactly top of my priority list right now with the new river season approaching fast.
What I really need to do is chase up some ticket renewals because That’s something I tend to be a bit sloppy with.
It’s a few weeks since I joined Facebookand already I have 600 friends! I started publishing site update notifications in the Newsfeed but for some reason they only seem to appear on my wall. Can someone tell me where I’m going wrong?
The Final Countdown
Well, the Endeavour space shuttle left Cape Canaveral without a hitch and Stu was there to see it. I was there to see one myself about 15 years ago and it has to be the most spectacular thing I’ve witnessed in my entire life. I promised Stu something he would remember forever and sure enough he came back raving.
It’s not the visual spectacle that gets you, which in itself is remarkable, but the noise. You can listen to the countdown on radio, you can see the shuttle in the distance, across the water, you see the ignition and clouds of steam as thousands of gallons of water are released to protect the launch pad and you watch the shuttle slowly begin it’s race for space in silence.
When I learned, at school, that light travelled at 186,000 miles a second and sound travelled at 625 miles an hour, it meant nothing to me. But the day I stood and watched that spacecraft rise to the heavens I learned the biggest science lesson of my life. Quite some time after the vision unfolded in front of me the wall of sound arrived and let me tell you this. You may have seen Motorhead. You may have even stuck your head in front of the speaker stack but you’ve never, ever experienced anything like the rush you get when the sound of a space shuttle launch hits you.
It isn’t just loud…, the whole world shakes. The noise is physical and invades every cavity in your body, reverberating like you’re made of jelly.
Quite what it must be like to ride a shuttle is beyond my comprehension, but oh for the chance, just once, to experience that ride. It’s the consummate definition of awesome and just seeing Stu’s picture brought it all rushing back.
To get a slight impression of what it’s actually like try this short clip. Or this. Or this night time launch in 2008. Sorry, I’m rambling incoherently. But those who’ve been there will understand. This is truly the eighth wonder!
Or this ;-0 !!!!
No, this is even better (comes with a loudness warning).
Ah, just go to Youtube, there are loads to choose from. But to witness a night launch must be absolutely amazing.
At The Risk Of Becoming A Bore…
Watch The Dream Is Alive. It’s in 3 parts. Simply stunning cinematography. Sometimes you can catch this playing on Imax screens and that’s well worth making an effort to see.
A Little Bit Of History
A rather excited Ray Hyland emailed me this week. Ray is behind the current crop of Adcock Stanton reels and he’d been scouring the world for an original Stanton model for some while and the good news is he’s discovered one at last.
It was made sometime between 1938 and 1967 and is the very model the Adcock Stanton was based on. The guy selling the reel told him his dad bought it when he was a teenager direct from the original maker Harry Reynolds and Reynolds told him it was one of the first ones he’d made, which would make it approximately 70 years old. It looked pretty untidy with no handles – people back then took them off when fishing the Trent (tell me about it – I’ve an old Leeds reel tucked away somewhere and you can still see the hacksaw marks where I removed the handles).
Ray spent a full day completely stripping it, cleaning it and replacing the handles. Everything is now in very good order and it came up brilliant and it runs very nicely for its age.
I’m guessing he’s completely ruined the value of the reel – a bit like touching up the paint on an old master – but who cares, I’d want to go fishing with it rather than stick it in a glass case. After Peter Stone died I bought a bag of his old terminal tackles at auction. Most are gone now because I went fishing with them. Okay, I inevitably lost a leger weight here and there in a snag but each time I landed a fish it had special meaning.
But back to Ray’s reel. If you look closely at the images you will see imperfections that look like damage. This is because the reels were cast at the Stanton Iron works Sandiacre. Harry actually took the parts home to machine them and those marks are air bubbles from the casting.
‘Apart from being skint this has made me a happy man,’ Wrote Ray.
You can learn more about the history of
Welcome Home Blackpool
Oh well, Blackpool’s glorious season in the promised land fell apart in the end but only after a ride that would have rivalled anything on offer at the Pleasure Beach – what a roller coaster ride! Mind you, had they not been promoted last year they could easily have been in serious trouble. Blackpool gambled heavily on promotion and it paid off. They had a turnover of just £9m yet laid out £13m on wages alone. The pre-tax losses were £7m but what would the outcome have been had they missed out? Surely you should not be allowed to run a business where the wages alone are 144% of turnover? Sooner or later you have to be declared bankrupt?
This article reveals the perilous plight of clubs in the Premiership based on the latest official accounts filed at Companies House and they make sorry reading for some. The law that allows these clubs to operate so recklessly and then settles all footballing debts in full before a penny goes to genuine creditors is being ruthlessly abused. It’s a disgrace.
But enough of the realities, back to the fantasy. Did you keep tabs on Survival Sunday? I watched Jeff Stelling’s crew wring every ounce of emotion from a day when all four of the five threatened clubs spent some time in the bottom three. The changes were heart stopping as one goal scored or conceded by anyone was often enough to shuffle the pack and completely rearrange the table. That happened no less than 14 times. Boy, was it emotional!
Just don’t try and tell me that the procession to the title is anywhere near as thrilling in either the English or Scottish Premierships. There’s no drama in winning your 19th title, is there? Or your 35th. Why on earth is that deemed to be exciting or sensational? It’s absolutely not. No way.
It’ll be interesting to see how Birmingham fare in the Championship because I didn’t see that one coming a couple of months ago when they were beating Arsenal at Wembley. Will they be able to arrest the slide though? And what’s this talk on the grapevine about administration?
One thing’s for sure – an emotional ride in the Championship beckons.
Away To Who?
That’s what a number of largely unknown eastern European teams might well be saying soon.
As a result of Fulham having a player sent off against Arsenal during the final game of the season it looks like Blackpool might qualify to compete in the Europa League courtesy of the fair play league ticket. If so we’ll have two second division sides representing England in this increasingly meaningless competition this year – the Tangerines, the Blues (Birmingham), plus of course the mighty Stoke City and Spurs, while Liverpool and Everton miss out completely.
I suppose it’s rather nice for the clubs involved but it kind of makes a mockery of the competition’s credibility, don’t you think?
West Ham’s board chose to sack the somewhat ineffective but always rather dignified Avram Grant just minutes after defeat at Wigan sealed their relegation. It wasn’t done in a tactful considerate way. It was done in the corridors of someone else’s ground.
Furthermore he was told he was not welcome on the team bus back to London and to take a car instead. It says something about the players’ character that they objected and insisted he went back with them. Unfortunately it speaks volumes about the Board’s porn baron background.
Was anyone actually surprised they went down? I don’t think so.
Sorry guys, you’ve shown conclusively that you’ve no class whatsoever.
Even Less Class
Chelsea’s defeat at Everton on the final day of the season affected nothing. If they’d won they would still have finished second. If Everton had lost they would have still finished seventh. To sack Carlo Ancelotti at Goodison Park, straight after what was a totally meaningless game speaks volumes.
Sorry Chelsea. You may have bought a bit of success in recent years but class is something you simply can’t buy. And Chelsea haven’t got a shred of it to call their own.
But The ‘No Class Whatsoever’ Award Goes To…
A certain manager who banned a journalist for having the temerity to ask whether the ineffective super injunction taken out by one of his players to hide an adulterous liason with a Big Brother contestant and the subsequent Twitter frenzy that pre-empted his outing in the Houses Of Parliament might affect his preparations for an upcoming big game.
Perhaps it was pure coincidence that a bunch of thugs vandalized at least six vehicles belonging to journalists that same afternoon. Tires were slashed, cars were kicked and paint was poured onto them during the attack.
One wonders if he can even recognise the contradiction of lavishing the riches gained from world wide media rights on feckless whoring players while randomly banning journalists like a tin pot dictator and completely refusing to speak to the BBC, who’s Match of the Day programme is the only remaining opportunity for folk who cannot afford Sky to actually watch a few delayed Premier League football ‘highlights’ .
Clearly you can award any fool a knighthood but you can’t bestow him with class.
And While We’re On The Subject
Pundits on TV and radio seem remarkably eager to tell us all that we should be supporting Manchester United this weekend in the Champions League final. Why? Because they’re an English club and we should be patriotic.
Are they for real? What planet are these idiots on?
Manchester United is no longer an English club and hasn’t been for decades. It’s a global brand like McDonalds, Apple or Microsoft. It is American owned, has a squad of players that is as English as a Lamb Jalfrezi and it’s supported by plastic fans from all around the world. They just happens to play in the English Premier League, turn out in the FA Cup when it suits and field a reserve side in the League Cup (or whatever it’s called now) most of the time.
The majority of Man City fans certainly don’t want them to win, nor do most Scousers and I doubt it will fill Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea fans with great joy.
Personally I want to see Barcelona win for the simple reason they are currently the best footballing side on the planet. Arguably the finest I’ve seen in my entire life. On those grounds alone they deserve admiration. Please don’t preach to me about patriotism when the public face of Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson refuses to communicate with me through the BBC – that’s right, the BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation.
If anyone should be expressing patriotism this weekend it’s him, not me!