Friday, 26 April 2019

My unlikely love affair

My unlikely love affair

We are first up for the new series of the BBC Countryfile Spring Diaries, the show going out at 9.15am on Monday 29 April on BBC One. You know the story but you might like the BBC's take on the show:

"Paul Martin (the presenter who interviews me) is discovering that our back gardens can be a convenient snack stop for cheeky creatures who are always on the lookout for a free meal. Otter numbers in particular are on the rise in the UK, and Paul has been meeting a man whose battle to save his fish stocks turned into an unlikely love affair."

The show will be available shortly after broadcast on BBC iPlayer

A Twitch Upon The Thread

Over my fishing lifetime I have come across plenty of fishing anthologies but I can't recall one that captured my imagination quite as much as Jon Day's 
A Twitch Upon The Thread.

The difference with Day's book lies in his chosen subtitle - Writers on Fishing. He has scoured the library of King's College London where he teaches English for not just great fishing literature but that written by our greatest writers. Who would have known George Orwell, who I always assumed to be a dour sort of fellow, defined his childhood through fishing? That John Donne took against fly fishers, for little good reason as far as I can tell, in his 1633 poem The Bait calling us 'curious traitors'. That Charles Dickens wrote of sturgeon in the River Thames.

If you ever sought a paragraph to define why we fish, then the words Izaak Walton quotes in The Compleat Angler from his friend and fishing companion Sir Henry Wotton still resonate four and a half centuries later,

"An imployment for his idle time, which was then not idly spent: for angling was after tedious Study, a rest to his mind, a chearer of his spirits, a diverter of sadness, a calmer of unquiet thoughts, a moderator of passions, a procurer of contentedness: and that it begat habits of peace and patience in those that profess'd and practis'd it. Indeed, my friend, you will find angling to be like the vertue of Humility, which has a calmness of spirit, and a world of other blessings attending upon it."

However, before we all get carried away with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside Lord Byron was less impressed by The Compleat Angler, railing against the cruelties of angling saying of us all, "No angler can be a good man."

Ranging across five centuries its hard not to be impressed by Jon Day's deft collection which was published last week by Notting Hill Editions and is available through Amazon at £14.99.

PS In case you think A Twitch Upon The Thread sounds familar it is indeed the name of Book II in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited which in turn takes the quote from a G K Chesterton Father Brown story. It is a fair old bit of literary upcycling.

No more trouble at t' mill

The River Test at Whitchurch Fulling Mill is one of my longest standing beats; the connection goes back nearly twenty years through three different owners, though it is only the most recent who have any interest in fly fishing.

Richard and Lucy are passionate about the river and it shows; all sorts of improvements are completed, in progress or planned. Over the winter a combined team from the Wild Trout Trust and fishery students from Sparsholt College did great work on the wading section above the mill. The canopy was trimmed back, bank repaired and the felled trees used to create deflectors. Since then Mark Burns the river keeper has planted more than fifty heads of ranunculus weed.

For those of you who have fished Fulling Mill in the past you might recall the footpath than ran along part of the beat. Most of the time the intrusion was limited to walkers enquiring as to whether you had caught anything (I perfected about 20 various answers to alleviate the tedium) but on a sunny day dogs, children and bread thrown to the ducks could be a nuisance. However, the new fencing and a cunningly designed splash for dogs, duck feeding and even children (!) seems to have done the trick for trouble free fishing in the future.

The season opens at Whitchurch Fulling Mill on 1/May. More details here .....

New places for 2019

As you know I always like to find something or somewhere new for each season and 2019 is no exception. Here's a brief summary:

Ideal for groups of 2-4 Rods on a combination of the Tanyard and House beats, the former being great if you like to wade.

In addition to the carrier ticket we are now offering the lake tickets online, which includes the recently added Catch & Release lake. You can combine river and lake tickets to switch at will during the day.

Located downstream of Upavon Farm and upstream of Avon Springs this is right in the heart on Frank Sawyer country.

The Quiz

Castle Howard the setting for Brideshead Revisited starring (l-r) Anthony Andrews, Diana Quick and Jeremy Irons.
More questions to hopefully entertain and enlighten. As ever it is just for fun with the answers at the bottom of the Newsletter.

1) The Greek messenger Philippides was running from Marathon to where, establishing the legend responsible for the marathon road race?

2)      In what year was the ITV series Brideshead Revisited first broadcast?

3)      What does a podiatrist study?

Have a good weekend.

Best wishes,
Simon Signature 
Founder & Managing Director


1)      Athens
2)      1981
3)      Disorders of the foot, ankle and lower extremity

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