2018 - 'The Fourteenth'

Well now. What to do? Crossroads.

"Certainly any one who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices." - Voltaire.

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." - Friedrich Nietzsche.

"I always felt that a scientist owes the world only one thing, and that is the truth as he sees it. If the truth contradicts deeply held beliefs, that is too bad. Tact and diplomacy are fine in international relations, in politics, perhaps even in business; in science only one thing matters, and that is the facts." - Hans Eysenck .

You can use the 'month' links below to skip off down the page...

·•·January·•·February·•·March·•·April·•·May·•·June·•·July·•·August·•·September·•·October·•·November·•·December·•·
Carp? What addiction?I am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page) Carp? What addiction?a very subtil fish Carp? What addiction?Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders. Carp? What addiction?if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience Carp? What addiction?I am content to wait. I am well used to it.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 27th May 2018. The 'MK III'; Part V. The Day of the Ferrule. The counter has a closed end, so I bored a 0.8mm hole through to vent any trapped air during gluing. The inside of the ferrule and the cane were cleaned with white spirit then dried for quarter-of-an-hour in a patch of sun. The ferrule was then fitted 'to the hilt' and, with a pencil, the cane was marked at the point the ferrule 'ended'.

I mixed some 'regular' Araldite (top tip; weigh it out in the right ratio for best results) and applied it generously to the inside of the ferrule. I did the same with the cane and then put the ferrule on the cane and pushed if firmly into pace, right up to the marked line. The excess adhesive on the bottom of the ferrule was removed, then, using the string the blank came tied with, the tangs of the ferrule were bound firmly into place and the whole hung up to set. The female is a tad loose on the butt-section, so I smeared a little left-over araldite onto the cane and left that to set also. I'll glue the female on tomorrow.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 26th May 2018. The 'MK III'; Part IV. Decisions, decisions... I concede I've dithered on the matter of the fittings for and the fitting of the MKIII. I'm not sure why, I've had a couple of notions and then put them aside, something about spoiling a dream with a less-than-perfect reality, or not being able to get EXACTLY what I wanted. I can get titanium intermediate rings in grey but only if I order from Pacbay directly and I can get a titanium tip-ring but only if it's very shiny (why are so many fittings so damned garish?) and I wanted to fit the really good Bruce & Walker sliding reel-bands as they seemed fitting, but don't' quite trust myself to do that job with only half a piece of plastic drainpipe and a lathe is an investment I'm unwilling to make at present.

And so on and so forth. The thing is, the rod is perfect right up until the moment I put something, anything, on the cane, which has stayed swaying on hooks since I varnished it a month ago and then varnished again today. My prevarications are defended by desires for unattainable perfection, although fears of splintered bamboo and sad sets haunt like the shapeless terrors of M. R. James.

I gave myself a stern talking to; the rod is there to be used after all, I can dream while it's in hand. Even a self-declared rational-empiricist cannot always vie against human nature, so I shall feed my inner archetypes in short spells, while hunched over a mythical rod, while next an intimate, old and deep pool. All you Jungians out there can make what you like of that.

So; I'd fitted regular Pacbay TT4XGs to a previous cane 'project' and they looked fine, admitted further defeat and got a Fuji BCMNAT tip as it was about the only one readily available with a 4.5mm tube and with a gun-smoke finish (although I'll swap it out for a lighter one when such are back in stock), then scarred perfection with a 30mm Seymo 243S-BC for the butt-ring, as the alternatives are either black or look wrong. I'll dull down the stupidly flashy chrome before I whip it on. I'm going to fit a screw-lock reel seat, as plastic would be against nature, so a matt 'gun-smoke' ALPS reel-seat. There, all decided and ordered before I change my mind. Again. I'll use black thread, then build it just like this:

The Richard Walker MKIII Carp RodYep. Just like this.

Finally, one traditionally inscribes on some aphoristic Latin motto, but I'll go with "Oh Whistle and I'll Come for You...". What's the worst that can happen?

2018 ''Crossroads'' 9th May 2018. The 'MK III'; Part III. So, after making the counter a good working fit to the cane, some inertia crept in. Or work related ennui after long office days for which I am out of practise. Or something. I've opted to seal the blank in its tube with a 250g bag of silica gel to draw any residual moisture out after the long damp spring. Once it's been in there a few days, I'll remove it and give both sections a quick coat of varnish to seal the cane and then I'll start gluing on the brass bits. Must order some fittings...

(I'll scrape the varnish back where the ferrules and handle are glued on).

All tench are good tenchAll tench are good tench...(and back to the top of the page) There are no bad tenchThere are no bad tench All tench are good tenchAll tench are good tench There are no bad tenchThere are no bad tench All tench are good tenchTinca tinca little star...

2018 ''Crossroads'' 28th April 2018. Hiatus. My regular readers, all half-a-dozen of you, may be wandering whether I've given up the rod, left the country or gone into hiding to avoid: the wrath of traditional fishermen, sundry other folk who believe in the validity of an appeal to ignorance, or those who don't see the point of falsifiability. mldAnd don't get me started on those who conflate "It's possible!" with "Hah, I'm right!". Everything is possible. But everything isn't likely. For instance, the odds of a J.J.Cale song featuring a laid back instrumental style are roughly speaking 'one'. In comparison the odds of a large hairy new-to-science anthropoid living in the wilds of North America are roughly 'feck-all'. I'll concede the latter is marginally more likely that all the molecules in the hostess's underwear simultaneously jumping three feet to the right.  Well, it's none of those, although my chances of a 'Good Conduct Medal' are rapidly diminishing. I've just been back at work and being an apprentice codger, I've been too bolloxed by Friday to go fishing...which reminds me I must book the 16th June as a holiday. Pip Pip!

A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box...(and back to the top of the page) A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box

2018 ''Crossroads'' 23rd March 2018. Post. Two things arrived in the post today. Firstly, a set of finest bronzed reinforced barrel ferrules for the MKIII project. These, after some too-ing and fro-ing with the always helpful Ted Oliver, turned out to be a spot-on fit. Item two, my Harlow Reel number two. Yeah...

The MKIII rod's ferrulesThe perfectly proper bronzed reinforced barrel ferrule for the MKIII.
Harlow Center PinMy second Harlow...now I need a spacer for the reelseat...

2018 ''Crossroads'' 12th March 2018. The Adaptable Fly-Fisher (Wild Trout and Coarse Fish on Fly) by Lou Stevens.  star rating 

I picked up this little gem last week in the back-room of a Beverly mini-arcade. It's down-to-earth and full of practical advice on: casting, what fly patterns one actually needs, tying them, when and where they are needed and sound advice on fly-fishing for wild trout and coarse fish. I thoroughly recommend it.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 2nd March 2018. Snow. I ignored the snow and went for my constitutional anyway, and it was of course a glorious day to be out and if I could have driven somewhere I don't doubt I'd have fished. In any event, here is my proxy for said fishing.

Anderson Parish under the snow Across the field to the one-horse town Anderson Parish under the snow up the track onto the down Anderson Parish under the snow up the track onto the down
Anderson Parish under the snowThe track to the north down Anderson Parish under the snowThe track to the north down Anderson Parish under the snowThe track to the north down Anderson Parish under the snowThe lee-side bank with its sheltering birds.

On the 'lee' side of the hollow track, where it sinks below a steep bank, for every three of my steps some bird whirred out of the dry grass and ivy, blackbirds, robins, thrushes and fieldfares, all no doubt tucked in out of the wind and driven-snow - and a set of fox-paws bordered the bank with occasional forays into the bank itself, for presumably, the same birds.

Anderson Parish under the snowLife goes on... Anderson Parish under the snowOnly the pheasant wanders about the place eschewing shelter. Anderson Parish under the snowDown the up-track Anderson Parish under the snowThe view acorss the fields from almost the top.
Anderson Parish under the snow One end of one Winterbourne holding pond... Anderson Parish under the snow ...and the other end Anderson Parish under the snow The Winterbourne itself, cold clear and here.
Gobio GobioGobio Gobio (and return to the top of the page) GonkGonk Gobio GobioGobby GonkGonk Gobio GobioGobio Gobio GonkGobby Gobio GobioGobio Gobio GudgeonGudgeon GudgeonGudgeon Gobio GobioGobio Gobio

2018 ''Crossroads'' 20th February 2018. Milton Abbey. Gone. On the way to Mappowder a few days back, on a whim I was taken with the idea of fishing at Milton AbbeyAll JAA's Milton Abbey days. However, there was a sign on the gate that said the 'day-ticket fishery' was closed. I've since found out that's a permanent closure, which is a damn shame. There are few enough places where one doesn't have to continually second-guess for carp. I shall miss it, although not enough to consider the annual fee for the syndicate. Ah well.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 19th February 2018. Fossils. Being something of a collector of unconsidered trifles, it's singular that a decade after I last picked up a fossilised echinoid or sea urchin, I find two in the space of a week. Consider these are at least 70 million years old and that the one on the right, the 'poorer' of the two specimens, has been deformed after its initial deposition by forces as unimaginable as its age.

Fossilised Echoids The first and more complete, found in a field. Fossilised Echoids The second, crushed by pressures beyond belief, found in my front garden of all places.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 17th February 2018. Mappowder. Three halves of an afternoon. It was too nice a day to resist, so I rooted through the fly-fishing bag to transfer over those bits that are part of both kits then nabbed some frozen bread and cockles. You can almost guarantee having Mappowder to yourself winter-time, plus being in the middle of nowhere it's good for the wildlife. Thus it proved.

I ambled over to 'Pheasant', walked the lake, annoying the voluble geese, then set up in a casual way, float-banding a quill, tying on a hook, pinning a cockle, and lobbing the whole into the margin while I thought about fishing. I watched the geese then turned my bag out to see what was inside. Meanwhile, the flat-float twitched twice but otherwise didn't move. I located the relevant bits, removed the 'porcy', slipped on float-stops and a mini-swivel. I located some fine 8lb hook-link braid and threaded on what looked like a size '10'. I loosely furled the last two inches of the braid, then combi-knotted it to the mono., so the hook-link was about 3" of looped furled braid. I clipped on a blue pole-float, a fettled foundling, 2 × no.4 shot then fished bread-flake for a time. As the rucksack-rifle had turned up the thermometer, I checked the water temperature. I didn't really need the thermometer to tell me the air was 7°C warmer than the water and that the ripple-patch on the opposite bank was a better bet. So, de-camped.

Mappowder LakesThe thinking pitch and the distant and more productive ripples Mappowder LakesThe flat-float Mappowder LakesFishing properly now Mappowder LakesThe second pitch
Mappowder LakesThe view of the afternoon's first half

The bank was too steep for the chair, so I sat on the un-hooking mat. I cheerfully fished laid-on bread, the little blue float pleasingly set at the same angle as the waves. The sun was warm, the wind necessitated a coat-zipper and carp came along at respectable intervals, not so often it was a nuisance but often enough to keep you watching the float. I was glad of the decision to fish the MKIV 'G' with 8lb on the 'pin, the 2-3lb fish could be removed smartly, although several 5-6lb fish bent the rod somewhat. I re-resolved to make a long handled disgorger, so I can poke the hook out without faffing about with the net. A raven appeared in a tree behind me, and ran through the oddest sequence of guttural utterances along with clicks and glottal stops. Fun though this was, I slithered down the bank to check out the interesting pool in the stream, made some mental notes, then re-decamped.

Mappowder Lakes The blue float in the waves Mappowder Lakes The MKIV 'G', the Kingpin and the tiny float-box Mappowder Lakes The largest carp. It was dark, looked feral and frankly, underfed.

I squelched back to, then around Spring Lake and reconnoitred the pond at the bottom of the spinney. I cut the loop of braid near the knot and carefully retrieving the hook from the wet grass, snell'd on a new hook that looked like a '14' and clipped on a little orange cork-ball bobber. For information purposes I fished for an hour using a few pills of bread and a couple of cockles and though the water twice moved in an interesting way, nothing came of it. I'll be back when it warms, there's something in this pool.

Mappowder Lakes The pool behind the spinney Mappowder Lakes The little orange float next to the rotting rushes

I'd planned to head home, but passing one of the last swims in 'Spring', I recalled several brown goldfish caught during a cold evening a few years ago. Hm. I flicked a few bread pellets in and carefully plumbed the depth, setting one no.6 at the top of the hook-link and the other 1" from the hook. A robin arrived to beg bread. I gave it a piece and while I waited, used a wooden ruler to flick crusts into the middle of the lake, to see if the carp would come up to play; which they did, but merely toyed with said bread. The little float sunk 1" then rose 1½". I struck, untangled the hook-and-line from a hazel branch, and re-cast. Some time passed and there was much dithering then a gentle submergence and the result was, disappointingly, a slender honey-coloured common of 3lb of so. I knelt on the wet ground, drew it to the edge and tweaked out the hook, saving the net. I recast and listened to a pheasant's short surprised squawk, followed by the sound of a thudding wing-beat slowly fading with its owner; whether a fox, mink or stoat got the bird I couldn't say. See, 'good for wildlife'. Blackbirds cautiously picked up their evening song and the float bobbled a bit and went under. This was a small humpy common also about 3lb, so I spared the net again, and decided that was good enough. Plus I couldn't feel my finger-tips.

Mappowder Lakes The view from Peg 1 at 'blackbird' time Mappowder Lakes The little orange float waiting in vain for a brown goldfish.

It occurs to me that the two 'lakes' are 'ponds' and the 'pond' is really a lake. Heh. Cool day.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 15th February 2018. A Beautiful Game by Mark Nicholas.  star rating 

Nothing to do with fishing of course, but still worth mentioning. I've had this book sitting on the 'to read' stack for a year or so. Finally, yesterday, I picked it up, started reading, then pretty much read it through, barring coffee collection intervals. Well written cricket book are not as rare as (say) well written fishing books, but are still uncommon. 'A Beautiful Game' is a joy to read, and author's love for the game radiates from every page. If you like cricket, you'll like this, if you love cricket, you'll love this.

2018 ''Crossroads'' February 2018. De-Flashing.

One of my bug-bears is the incredible shininess of some items of fishing tackle and have a particular dislike of very shiny rod-rings and other rod fittings. I've sorted out a way of dealing with chromed surfaces that doesn't do a bad job. Firstly, you rough up the surface of the metal. Use '000' grade wet'n'dry perhaps, although or toothpaste or wire wool might work. Once mildly roughed up, colour over the offending metal with a dark grey indelible pen, more than once if you like. Black works well also, but green tends to produce a finish that's a smidge too Christmassy for me. This is surprisingly durable, and can be easily re-applied. However if you really wish, varnish over the colour, matt varnish obviously.

You can remove most indelible pen using nail varnish remover on a piece of kitchen-roll, but take care not to get it on the rod itself or glue, varnish, etc. As with all fettles, it's wise to do a tiny experiment somewhere where it won't show, otherwise you can end up with a tip-ring that looks like a Christmas-tree bauble, to give a random example.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 7th February 2018. Phew, finished. There's a few small tweaks to do and 'all the pagesIt's a site-map.' are listed here. I need to spend some time riffling through the entries and standardising variable names. Plus a bit of editing, something I've resisted while coding.

In other news (I swear this is true), an employment agent who had sent my CV into a potential employer called me to give me some feedback - this in itself is welcome, if rare, but I'd not got an interview, "...but it was probably because your CV didn't read very well. But I did change it a bit before I sent it to the client."

JAA; "Pity, these things happen, I would have liked a shot at that role."
JAA (inside voice); "So, in summary, you changed my CV without discussing it with me, fecked up the opportunity and are blaming me? You utter dipstick."

2018 ''Crossroads'' 1st February 2018. I've been occupied of late with the search for gainful employment. Nothing wrong with that of course. There is however, a problem; it is almost impossible to find potential employers. Leaving aside the unnecessary details regarding the type of post I am looking for, it is the case that typing "job title" and "county" into google generates literally scores of pages of advertised positions that apparently match my criteria. However, all of said positions or posts are being advertised by employment agencies.

"Oho," I thought to myself, "what I need to do is create a custom search string which excludes all those result that are listed by agencies." My next discovery was that google allow a maximum of 32 words in a search string. OK. So after some diligent cutting-and-pasting, I arrived at a search string that excluded the first 29 employment agencies that appeared in my original search. Even then, the first five pages yielded a lone 'No Agency' web-site and one direct vacancy advertisement. The other several hundred results were, you've guessed it, 'agencies'.

Working from my own data, the first twenty-odd agencies were all advertising duplicate positions. Any employer trying to maintain a sensible working relationship with twenty agencies would find themselves rapidly swamped by the process and keeping those twenty on, e.g., a retainer is barely worth discussing.

I suspect potential employers may be frustrated by this; their own vacancies on their own websites are virtually invisible to the job-seeker. Unless the job-seeker already knows of the company, they simply won't be able to find the advertisement. In consequence only agencies are able to provide a steady stream of potential candidates, which costs said potential employer, a handsome four-figure sum of money for each candidate they employ. They barely have a choice.

In addition, and I am in a position to know, the front-line employment agency staff barely understand the roles they are collecting CV's for. I've yet to have any dealings with somone with the professional qualifications or experience that aligns with the roles I'm seeking. Yet, these folk are gate-keeping CV's, that they'd barely understand even if they read them. One might have more respect for such an agency if it, e.g., carried out some kind of psychometric testing, or in fact any objective selection process at all, as justification for its four-figure fee.

Some might consider this the 'blind leading the sighted'. It's certainly hard to see how the prospective employer benefits, never mind the beleaguered professional who would like to discuss a role with someone who understands it, even a bit would be nice, before passing on their CV.

This situation and process has the outward appearance of a group of apparently independent suppliers, whose goal is to increase collective profits by means of limiting supply or by other restrictions.

This is a cartel, is it not?

Not so very common carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page) Not so very common carpa very subtil fish Not so very common carpWatch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders. Not so very common carpif you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience Not so very common carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 16th January 2018. The 'MK III'; Part 1.

A tube arrived today with a cane rod-blank in it...I've always wanted an actual 'MK III'. That is, the Richard Walker double-built cane carp rod, a 10 foot two-piece compound of two straight tapers. In his own words "Of course it was designed for fish of 10lb and upwards..." ('Drop Me A Line' p.198). I always fancied, notwithstanding 'the narrative', that this rod was the more likely conqueror of the 44lb record, although I can't substantiate that. But it has always intrigued and over the course of a long set of sporadic emails, the idea was born and an offer was made. The tapers for this rod are on Page 27 of Drop Me a Line, and these technically, make the rod a compound taper, the top and bottom sections having different tapers. On the opposite page (p.26) there is a ring spacing, which I may or may not use. Here it is:

The Richard Walker MKIII Carp RodThe whole blank in the string
The Richard Walker MKIII Carp Rod The thick end of the butt section, show casing the double-built cane The Richard Walker MKIII Carp Rod The Tapers The Richard Walker MKIII Carp Rod The thin end of the butt section and the thick end of the tip section, the double-built cane clearly visible.
The Richard Walker MKIII Carp Rod A wider shot of the blank's ends The Richard Walker MKIII Carp Rod A wider shot of the blank's ends

The blank itself has a slightest odour of charring, perhaps a slight smell of treacle, and on the ends the double-build can clearly be seen. The tip section has been left a trifle longer than 60" to allow for the fitting of a tip ring. The first order of the day is to lay it on a flat surface to work out which face the rings will end up on. Once marked (pencil), I'll then varnish it once to seal the cane, while I seek out a good quality reinforced ferrule. Once the ferrule is on, and a little time has passed, then I will give the whole thing a waggle or two and consider my next move. I have no set date for completion - it will be built bit by bit and if it's not ready until September, then it's not. But where to try it out? Now that is a question.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 14th January 2018. The Saxon Ponds. One of several work parties, as we prepare the ponds for dedging and some landscaping. I was helping Pete clearing a patch of rhododendrons where the ground was boggy and the path, defined by a fallen tree on the uphill side, is a quagmire even with two drains run under and a timber'd walkway.

After some lopping, it was clear that there was one primary source of water, a spring perhaps, and that the fallen tree, in form, but in reality a loose collection of rotten wood held together by a shell of bark, had simply dammed the natural path of the water and turned the area behind into a small bog. It was immensely satisfying to cut a new channel from the welling spring next' the fence, to the pipe sunk under one of the paths' timbers. This involved, variously, pulling out rooted rhododendrons, clumps of matted roots, digging out some grey-and-greenish clay and finally cutting a gap in the fallen tree, achieved with only a shovel, so loosely was the rotten wood bound by its bark.

The 'bog' drained before our eyes and two further trickles of water, under sleepers and through gravel, dwindled to nothing in less than an hour. A slick of silt drifted down the shallow water left in the pond itself, but the spring-water, after the initial rush, ran clear. Why this was all quite so satisfying I can't tell you. But it was. It's an engineer thing. It's been fixed, that's what it is.

The Saxon Ponds and its meadowThe view across the meadow on the south side of the Lower Pond

On the way home, rattling along the top road, I was flashed at by a man in white van who was making 'slow down' gestures. I assumed, assigning low integrity to said driver, a speed-trap, primed by the 'white van' and its popular notoriety. Around the bend was a lady struggling with a horse. I wasn't exactly pelting along, so slowed, stopped, to give her time to get the fairly panicky mount under control and off the road, achieved in the end, by dismounting and leading it off. This is how assumptions can get you into trouble...

The Saxon Ponds' cowsThe resident livestock, and although I for one do not like cows, I've grown used to these woolly faces watching me wrestle with wellingtons, and to the warn sweet smell of the silage and hay.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 10th January 2018. "The Navy Lark; Johnson's Diet". Sub-Lt. Phillips speaking of Wren Chasen;
"She's making a fuss about her pom-pom."
Which is funny, but not nearly as funny as Heather Chasen then corpsing and Jon Pertwee 'in character' pulling her leg. Still great.
"Left hand down a bit..."

2018 ''Crossroads'' 7th January 2018. The Saxon Ponds. A slash and burn party, bank clearing and bonfires of previous clearings. All good fun, even the charred potatoes.

The Saxon Ponds The smaller of the two bonfires, nearing its nadir. The Saxon Ponds The large land drain in the corner of the Lower Pond The Saxon Ponds The view across the drained Lower Pond, the dam wall, the sluice and the other bonfire.
The Saxon PondsLooking up the pond on the north side of the island

2018 ''Crossroads'' 1st January 2018. Shortly before realising I wasn't watching comedy, but a stylised diatribe, a 'comedian' declared with the utterly erroneous belief of the fleeting-famous, "You can't change an old person's mind". Point of fact you can, as I've decided that particular funny-man is no longer funny, so will in future avoid the twit. There. Two birds etc.

"It's not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren't doing it." Sir Terry Pratchett, of course.

Happy New Year.

'BB'it's lead free, honest...(and back to the top of the page) 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p
05:48am on 2018-05-28 JAA