Wednesday, 31 August 2011


Last week I managed to grab a few hours by the river and check out that swim I reconnoitered on my last riverside walk.
A few inches further forward and into the abyss...
 It was blowing very gently (towards me, unfortunately) and made gentle ripples on the surface. I was quite sheltered under the overhanging trees. There had been a couple of days of rain before hand so the river was a bit 'coloured', but the fish were easy to spot as they were literally leaping, head and tail, out of the water, and coming down with an almighty "SPLOSHHH" every now and again.

This bit of river drew my attention last week as there's a fallen tree creating a narrow channel between the banks. The water glides slowly just after this obstruction and the fish leisurely loiter just below the surface to prey on whatever passes by them

Like a sushi bar in reverse.

The light's fading - just one more cast, honest...
I'd got thigh waders on. These took me out into the river about a foot before the bottom just dropped off into oblivion right in front of me. Did I fall in? Of course I did! Backwards fortunately so only up to my shoulder in cold water this time as I reached out to steady myself (or this could have been an obituary).

After I'd managed to hone my casting (several lost flies later in the trees behind me) I managed to find a rhythm and catch a fish! Followed by two more. All about the same size (about 1lb - 1.5lb). All nice Brown Trout with the most intense colours, golden brown with black, brown and bright red/rust spots. Beautiful.

Shaky camera with all the excitement.
I never seem to have the heart to kill and eat Brown Trout (certainly not this size). Rainbow's are a different matter as they are stocked for the purpose. These lovely fish went back after a couple of shaky, blurred photos were taken.

Off you go, my plate next time when you're bigger
Looks like the 'Grey Duster' did the trick, although the greedy buggers seemed to eat just about anything I flung at them during the last of the daylight.

I was so caught up enjoying myself I was late putting the chickens to bed. Tut, tut.

More fishin' trips shortly (after my op). Just had some more chicks too! More to follow...

Friday, 26 August 2011

Thursday, 25 August 2011

And the nominations are...

Well, that kind smallholder, goat herder and all round good egg, Crow at has very nicely and unexpectedly bestowed upon this blog the 'Versatile Blogger Award'. Thank you Crow for that.

This means that I have at least one reader, which thrills me to bits. Even if I do have to pay her to read this stuff ;-)

Anyway, I have to list seven things about myself (groan). Please try and stay awake long enough to get to the next bit which is to list fifteen blogs I'm going to pass this award onto (should they decide to accept) and which are well worth a look.

Seven things

1)  Although I am blond I have a reddish beard (which is now slowly beginning to go grey) Like a bloody rainbow.
2) I can be very cheeky (in a good way) but which has landed me in trouble more than a few times.
3) I love animals and don't much care for people who don't or cause cruelty to them.
4) I'm only really happy when doing something creative. I can't do 'everything' but I enjoy the attempt.
5) I'm an only child which means I can get along by myself fine (provided I get plenty of attention later.)
6) I like a drink but I've had to cut down to almost nothing over the past few years as it was getting to be a bit of a habit, mainly due to...
7) I'm self-employed and have been for over twelve years. Deadlines, chasing invoices, bills, chasing work...somebody get me off this treadmill!

You can wake up now. The following blogs are well worth a look so I've humbly passed on this award to them. Some of them I've stumbled upon by accident and have caught my eye, some I've stalked from comments left on other interesting blogs. It's an eclectic mix. (Apologies if you've already received this and declined or if you're not on the list - all the blogs in my blogroll are a cracking read)

1) The Barefoot Crofter
2) The Garden Roof Coop
3) Magnons Meanderings
4) Tom Stephenson
5) Calling Ravens
6) The River Beat
7) Going Gently
8) Ocean Breezes
9) Laughing Duck Farm
10) Midlife Farm Wife
11) My Tiny Plot
12) The Smallest Smallholding
13) The Tail Out
14) Linda's Bees
15) Welsh Hills Again

I think the idea now is that you do the same if you are on the list and accept -pass it on, listing seven things, linking back to the giver, and awarding another fifteen recently discovered blogs. Otherwise grab a glass of wine and check these out if you haven't already (hic)...

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Recon 2 - Grey Duster

Looking at the weather forecast for the next few days, I might have a window soon to hit the river and catch me a Trout!

What I need though, looking at the sparse contents of my dry fly box, is some suitable flies to entice these wily fish. So I've tied a few 'Grey Duster's'. Remember yesterday, walking though the grass as the sun was setting? All those small grey moths coming out of the grass made me think about tying a few of these as a likely means to catch a meal.

Those of you who don't have a clue about fly fishing or fly-tying - read on. Those that do, please excuse my ham-fisted tying attempts! (although they really do catch fish - honest)

Click a pic to enlarge as usual...

Tying flies is actually just as rewarding and relaxing as fishing itself. Many expert fly dressers turn this into an art form. This fly is quite a drab imitation of a drab coloured moth, but some flies are so colourful and so beautiful that they become art objects in their own right.

I've not included a 'rib' here as I want to keep this fly looking as simple as possible (a rib is a thin wire wrapped around in loose turns up the body of the fly to add sparkle and hold the dubbed fur / body material onto the hook shank better - I'll show a ribbed fly on a later post.)

The finished fly. Will it work?

Here fishy, fishy fish...

Monday, 22 August 2011

Recon 1

After a solid week of work and missed deadlines, today was spent trying to clear a foggy head by taking a long walk along the river.

It's been well over a week since I last fell into the water, so I thought it was about time I got my ass wet again and do some fishin'.

Darley Bridge at Darley Dale - There's fish in there (somewhere)
Now, the thing with fishing inland in the UK is that just about every inch of inland lakes, rivers and streams worth fishing are privately owned by 'someone'. Those of you in foreign climbs who trek out to vast wildernesses of unpopulated country and cast a fly or bait into Salmon rich H20 will have no idea how vexing this problem is. Not only do we need a national license to fish freshwater, we also need a permit to fish a particular swim on a particular stretch of water - lake, river, stream, loch - you name it! This can range from a few pounds a day to, well, Prince Charles' income range (more than I can count to).

Faith - does not allow photos without a treat - I had no treats!
I've joined a local association to gain access to some decent local rivers that contain Trout - mainly wild or stocked Brown Trout but also Grayling (a beautiful fish).

I never fish for a species of fish unless I can eat it - just my thing. I've never seen the point in putting fish through all that trauma unless it is for the dinner table. If it's too small, it goes back - simple as that.

Anyway, this bit of the River Derwent in Derbyshire is rather nice and offers much for the fly fisherman, both wild Brown Trout and Grayling in abundance. Just walking alongside the twisting, winding course of the river, I could spot likely swims, areas where the Trout were congregating, deep water pools, fast water riffles, shallow gravel beds and smooth, gin-clear, glides showing clearly the circles of water where the Trout were rising, sipping down tasty passing flies and insects trapped in the water's surface.

Fish loiter behind the obstructing tree in the slower current...
This stretch of the river is new to me. Further down stream, high banks hinder any kind of back-cast which means I'd have to wade, but here some of the trees, bank-side, have been felled.

Another likely slow glide under some trees, large Trout rise to sip passing insects
It's very peaceful here too. Just the occasional passing dog and walker, and I can get to play at being one of the 'Railway Children'...

Peak Rail passes just behind the river
In fact when a train passes by I could imagine I was living in the 1930's (if only...)

Walking back to the car and inspired by some of the large Trout patrolling this beat, the sun started to set. Through the long grass, my footsteps stirred hoardes of tiny white / grey moths, a likely prey item for greedy Trout this time of day. Looks like I'm going to need to tie some 'Grey Duster's...'

...more of that tomorrow.

Saturday, 13 August 2011


This is my little friend Emmy (Em or Little Em for short?)

She's getting on a bit now, bless her, but the other day I found a lump on her belly! What is it with all these lumps at the moment?

 Anyway, she needed an operation to remove it. A couple of years ago she had a similar lump removed (malignant) so the vets feared the worst again this time. But it came away clean and there were no nasties on the x-rays anywhere else...BANG!...

...while she was under the anesthetic, we had her partially shaved. She's a very, very furry cat usually. She looks big when she's got the fur, but when shaved, she's just the skinniest thing you've ever seen...BASH, BANG!...

To stop her eating her stitches, she's had to wear this funnel which looks like a space helmet. Which she hates...SCRAAATCH, BANG!, SCREEEEETCH...

...Em's not quite managed to gauge distances with it yet. I can hear her now, bashing into the furniture...BANG!...hopefully she'll put up with it 'til the stitches come out next week...RATTLE, RATTLE, BANG!...and makes a full recovery...SCRRAAAAPE, BANG!... long as she doesn't look up when it's raining.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

You say Tomato...

I like to eat a nice fresh tomato every now and again but this time of year there's always a glut of everything (if you've done it right!)

Like the courgette (zucchini) plants, there's fruits aplenty now, so what do you do with 'em all?

Last year I made some of the best ketchup I've ever tasted so I thought I'd share the recipe (such as it is) which can be bastardised any way you like to your own tastes.

Ingredients: (roughly)
4lbs ripe toms
1x large onion (or 12oz shallots)
2x red peppers
small piece of root ginger (or 2 tsp's powder)
80g soft brown sugar
2 tsp's paprika
2 tsp's salt
300ml red wine vinegar (or balsamic)

Click on the pics to enlarge as usual...

That last bit is where you can season to taste. I add a pinch of tumeric, a few cloves and some pepper as well as the paprika, all of which gives it a real kick.

One thing to note though. Make sure it's still slightly runny before you pour into the bottles. It'll thicken up as it cools into a nice thick sauce.

I can't get enough of this stuff and it never lasts 2 months as I've usually eaten it all by then.

Next time I'll post some courgette (zucchini) recipes.