Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Fenland in brown

      The winter colours are beginning to appear now, they've been slowly advancing across the greens, golds and straw colours of the Fens for quite a few weeks and they've almost taken over.
      A lot of people passing through Fenland on their way to the north coast of Norfolk barely give the area a second glance but there is a strange melancholy beauty about the area that gradually gets under your skin.
      Winter is closing in and inevitably the big question is, will we get a proper winter or another that will add to the sequence of mild winters? Never mind there's more to look forward to than you think and in the next week the pike rods, reels and tackle are getting a little maintenance so the colder time of the year is definitely with us.
      Along with optimism and weather watching.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Where's the water?

      Actually it's about two hundred yards to your right Mr Heron, just forget about flying over to the river bank you could walk there quite easily. Now, could this be a slightly confused heron? The bird is definitely one that's hatched this year because he, or she, still has some youngster's feathers.
      We think the standing on the headland at the edge of the field is part of the hunt for worms and frogs which are probably easier prey than the fish in the river.
      Since taking the photograph we've seen this bird standing immobile three more times, each time in a different part of the field so there must be some good pickings for a heron's breakfast, dinner or tea in amongst the immature oilseed rape.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Something nasty in the woodpile

      The way that Barney, one of our Jack Russell Terriers is giving the woodpile, or to be more precise what he thinks is in the woodpile the 'look into my eyes treatment', you really would think that there was a rodent hiding in there in fear of its life.
      Being the person who had stacked the logs just a couple of minutes earlier I know there isn't anything hiding in there at all. It would have had to get past me and Barney while I was stacking the wood and he was just getting in the way. Maybe it's the plants on the other side of the fence moving and scraping away in the wind or simply a fertile imagination. Who knows?
      The good thing is that this sentry duty shift kept him quiet for hours by which time there could have been something in there but by then it was time for a walk anyway.
      Meanwhile the other Jack Russell, Minnow, is fast asleep on the couch. Sensible girl.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Reconnaissance time

      I've read somewhere that time spent walking the river banks is as valuable as time spent fishing, because you get to know the water without the distraction of actually fishing. Well that's the theory any way.
      So a long and sunny walk with the two Jack Russell Terriers squaring up to Bastard Barry the Jack Russell Terrier and no blood spilt and that's a miracle believe me. Maybe weight of numbers prevailed. Just.
      The river and drain looked good but more as a rather splendid water feature in a grand garden. There was a proliferation of eel grass, cabbages and lettuce, water lilies and other weed plus floating debris, so, please can we have a good frost, some heavy rain and a good flush out, in any order.
      There are worse places to be walking your terriers and even if predator fishing has to wait a week or two the watery reconnaissance has been officially carried out and later this week there's a new venue to check out too.
      Remember every good general has his scouts.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Local produce. Spanish style

      We know that you are a long way south when you in Murcia, yes, sorry it's Spain again, but you can't help but be impressed about what is easily available in the kitchen garden. On this visit we were able to enjoy grapes that were simply picked and eaten straight away and super ripe Persimmon, never mind pick-your-own olives. What a treat.
      The more we visit this part of Spain the more we realise how good the quality of life is and how cheap the cost of living is too.
      Utilising alternative cooking techniques and methods didn't pose a problem either. The oven is an outdoor oven with a barbecue next to it, all built in of course. We used the wood fired oven to cook pizza, chicken, meat and the tour de force, a suckling pig. The outdoor oven comes highly recommended and I'd like to bet that cooking a rib of beef in the wood-fired oven would be treat too. There's always next year.
      Our apologies to vegetarians, and for the idiot with the camera reflected in the oven door.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

General Franco's Bass

      Apparently General Franco was an enthusiastic angler and during his reservoir building programme he insisted that the new lakes created all over Spain were stocked with Black Bass to supplement the native fish stocks and presumably so that he could fish for them too.
      We spent nine days up in the mountains in Murcia fly fishing for Black Bass in one of the General's reservoirs and enjoying lovely food, excellent beer and wine, sunny blue skies and a swimming pool. Absolutely brilliant.
      In the middle of the holiday the humidity and a little light rain had brought out some large black flying ants and in the lake the fish were slashing wildly at the fresh food falling from the sky onto the lake. Prior to this hatch of falling ants I had been catching Black Bass on lures but definitely not those fish that were feeding so avidly on the surface.

      I'd like to say that it was through a process of investigation and logic but that's not the case, in desperation I tied on a floating Daddy Long Legs and twice in ten minutes a solid take was followed by a fish going deep, deep and deeper again before snapping the cast. Intriguing and interesting.
      The next day a huge storm was forecast to arrive and we could hear, way in the distance, the thunder rolling around the mountains and all the while the flying ants continued to fall so on went the Daddy again. In the space of an hour or so there were eight or nine slashing rises at the Daddy Long Legs but finally there was a solid take and after a few minutes the culprit was revealed, a beautiful golden Barbel.

      A Barbel on a Daddy Long Legs in Spain, not quite what was expected?
      We caught a few more before the rain arrived and then retired to the car, the rain eased and we fished again, but a couple of miles away the sky was as black as the hobs of hell. Obviously this was not the time to be waving a carbon fibre lightning conductor around but was quite definitely the time for a hasty retreat. The six or seven mile drive back to the villa was a battle through the torrents of water that were pouring off the mountains and washing stones, rocks and all kinds of vegetation onto the road; not forgetting that the rain was still doing a passable imitation of a monsoon too.

      After all the meteorological and piscatorial excitement the calm of the evening was an absolute pleasure, simply sitting under the Mulberry trees and watching the sun go down and having a sundowner, with tapas of course.
      Roll on the next visit, we'll be fully prepared for the Barbel.

Friday, 7 October 2016

I can smell breakfast

      Wild field mushrooms from a large paddock in West Norfolk and what a sequence of culinary treats they represent, some mature and some freshly appeared overnight. As far as we are concerned freshly picked field mushrooms are the most flavour-filled of all. Delightful.
      Served on toast or as part of the biggest favourite of all, the full English Breakfast we are really looking forward to eating our way through them. Also, in homage to all things Norfolk, they have even been picked and gathered in a Norfolk Bog Door Blue vegetable  tray, now there's a little bit of harmonious synchronicity for you.
      Right, is it going to be smoked streaky bacon or unsmoked back bacon.
      Decisions, decisions.