|I like porcupine quill floats...(and back to the top of the page)||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...|
"To all Readers of this discourse, but especially to the honest Angler" I.W.
Just AnotherAngler (JAA) has worm-drowned around for two-score-and-five years. I fenced off this piece of internet negative equity in 2005 to write about fishing and generally indulge myself, a 100% vanity project. In 'those days' blog templates were rare, but the previous year I'd taken on the running of a website for a 'local protest group' which consisted of interfacing to the chap who'd done the work so far. The trouble was that his idea was that we'd ask him to do stuff and he'd do what he thought was best. It was simpler to teach myself 'HTML, which it turned out, took less than a week 'FAPPFor All Practical Purposes'. twtThe early code had stuff 'left in' that did nothing, as I worked intially by trial-and-error on a quiet webpage tucked around the back. Then I discoved 'CSS' and all manner of other things. 'PHP' came later. SQL next (maybe). For a year or three I'd occasionally find incorrect hyper-link target fields or picture ID's that had no use at all... . Meh.
If you can see the fun in catching small perch and gudgeonA gonk a day keeps you smiling: The GUDGEON is reputed a fish of excellent taste..., then you may well like this site but if you don't, then it's just possible you are missing the point, but it's a free country. Mostly. This site is not really about catching fish, it's really about why I fish at all slipIf you think 'the how to' bits must have stuff like "I put up my Beastmaster XXX 3½lb rod, loaded 300 yards of Bloggs Triple-Strength 12lb onto my Overlymanley Big Pit reel and tied on a Noddy's Chod rig with a Tiger Claw size 8 hook...yada yada"...bo££ocks, then you're on the wrong website. Really. SFAlthough if that kind of stuff makes you feel good, you'll be pleased to know that Sigmund Freud got there well ahead of you. .
AAIn a past job, I worked with Ian who was recovering from 'substance abuse' and one day at fag-break he asked if I'd been fishing, so said I was considering starting a website to present my own view of the fishing world. He took a long drag and gazing into the middle distance, said "An alternative look at fishing...another angle..." He was always doing that. One of his favourite words was 'wheelbarrow'. No reason.
is a 'pleasure angler', which is to say I don't spend days and nights camped
rhAlway amused by those tales of 300 rod hours finally 'nailing' the target fish. I'm rather more in the "after four hours I'm fairly sure the fish is somewhere else so will have a re-think" mould myself.
'Long session' or no idea where to fish? You decide... by a water, trying for the 30 pounder that I know is in there, mainly because the owner put it in, it's been caught three times already (this year) and has a name. So have my childrens' goldfish GF'Goldy' and 'Finny'. Well the Marmite-Angler was only 2¼ at the time. Mind you, they've were recently joined by 'Crucial' the Crucian, 'Mr. Smith' the Common and 'Jaws' the Mirror. 'Jaws', that's what happens when boys name fish. Heh.
P.S. July 2010: Mr. Smith didn't make it. R.I.P.
P.P.S. ...as of June 2011, indoor fisheries are now up and running, or 'goldfish bowls' as I hope they will be known... . I am a bit obsessive about knotsPick a knot, any knot, tie it properly mind. Test it, you must. though, to be fair. And surface fishing for carp...still chasing butterflies come to that.
|di·vid·er: (noun): a thing that keeps two spaces or areas separate (...and back to the top of the page)|
"We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered."
- Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
This quote is included as: (1) I like it (2) Almost without exception, folk who advise one "not to burn your bridges" only have their interests at heart and (3) if you're going to burn them, make a commitment, trample the ashes to powder then kick them in the river. Mean it.
|di·vid·er: (noun): a thing that keeps two spaces or areas separate (...and back to the top of the page)|
Herein I expound on fishing in general, tackle, methods, plus an occasional diaryToday I went fishing...or wrote about something else that amused me. Or annoyed me. Or something.. Possibly the occasional rant as wellGrumpy old anglers of the world unite...my therapist says it's good for me and I'm 'making progress' whatever that means. She thinks I'm a paranoid schizophrenic, but we both know she's lying.. Well, it's my website, which I hope you find as it is written and if you think you've guessed my secret identityJAA lost in France, do email in. I may even own up anonOr not...
...yeah, right. .
It's just possible this site contains information unsuitable for overly sensitive folk with low self-esteem, no sense of humour and/or an irrational belief system. It's possible to mistake me for someone who gives a stuff about 'opinions'. However, I am open to reasoned debate on most topics. If you believe you have some kind of 'right of reply', reserve a domain name, pay a hosting service and write your own damn website. Bear in mind I write this for my own benefit and entertainment. There may be mistakes and in keeping with an engrained engineering mind-set, it is continually being 'improved'.
If you see anyone you think is me and they are using a keep-net, barbed hooks, live bait, 2lb line, halibut pellets, trout pellets or boilies, it's not me. There is no chance anyone using a 'bolt-rig', a fixed lead, an 'anti-eject rig' (the gin-trap of fishing), a 'spod' or a 'method-feeder' is me. Anyone ledgering is not very likely to be me, I don't really enjoy ledgering, but free-lining on the other hand - that might be me. I never have and cannot see why I might ever kiss a fish. If you see someone taking a picture of himself with a fish, that's not me. I like to keep pictures of some fish, what I refer to as the 'digital keep-net' but I see neither point nor purpose in a multitude of pictures of myself with 'some fish'.
If you see anyone using treble hooks it's probably not me either (I just don't like them, nasty spiky things, plus I'm not convinced they're actually more effective).
Remember, the only sure way to catch fish every time, is buy a barrel and then buy some fishObviously I'd never fish for them. Probably. - you'd blank eventually even so...
"I love fishing. You put that line in the water and you don't know what's on the other end. Your imagination is under there."
|...coffin...(and back to the top of the page)||...barrel...||...coffin...||...barrel...||...coffin...||...barrel...|
On a ship canal this is easy, it's pretty much 'straight on' as a rule. However, here at 'anotherangler.net', things are nowhere near as linear. At the top of every page is a menu linking to the main website pages. Some of these menu entries will shuffle about every time a page is loaded. You may find this (a) amusing or (b) mildly irritating. In case it's the latter, the middle row items never move, including the 'DiaryThe diary of the moment. The 'blog'' and 'LinksLinks to some things that are mildly similar and entertaining' pages' hyperlinks. At the bottom of the 'links' page is a list of 'all the site's pagesa site-map of sorts', a site map of sorts, where every page is listed with a permanent link.
Links to pages on other web-sites will open in a new browser window. Links within the site, whether they are to somewhere else on the current page or a different page on 'anotherangler.net', will open in the same browser window. At least this is the intention and it's possible one or two got missed...
The diary pages have expanded like demented slinkies, so at the bottom of each page is a 'Back to the top of the page...Ah go on...have a guess...go on, go on, go on....' link. Guess where it takes you? On all the jovial page break separators, whether hooks, sinkers, gudgeons or miniature gudgeons, the left-hand image will also link you back to the top of the page. So will the occasionally encountered curly page-divider things.
Hint: so, on the row of 'fishingy things' below, click on the left hand one...
And if all else fails, on the 'DiaryJustAnotherAnglingBlog' page there's a custom search facility which is also available below. You're on your own thereafter. You can email me using the address at the bottom of every page, but it's manual entry - too many 'bots stealing emails for spam spam spam...and I will answer such, unless they're abusive. Or contain suggestions for improving the site's 'marketing', in exchange for a small fee.
Tight lines to you.
P.S. You may spot random mini-fish around the place. They don't do anything, they're just fish.
|This space deliberately blank||Random mini fishes... (and return to the top of the page)||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||This space deliberately blank|
|This space deliberately blank||I am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page)||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||This space deliberately blank|
These generally don't work on mobile devices - so I've modified the way this works so that they do (in 2017). All links internal to this site and external should work this way as do 'tool-tips' for images and any common abbreviations. It's taken a while to get around the whole site and implement that, along with other site-wide style changes. I concede this was done for myself, as I use my own 'handy' to look stuff up on my own site...
|This space deliberately blank||A swagger of perch (and return to the top of the page)||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||A swagger of perch||This space deliberately blank|
In late 2017, the entire site was converted to a kind of 'php' database that I invented myself. I wanted to learn 'php' to a decent standard and it also occurred to me that if I didn't get the maintenance and structure under control now, in ten years' time it would be a nightmare and I'd give up in exasperation...
...so almost every entry on the site is a kind of 'index-card' file with a set of associated critieria. I've built various 'engines' which will display pages according to 'some criteria' and also extract entries that match (e.g.) 'some criteria' for specific pages. I can create whole new pages by simply copying a file and changing it's name (sneaky, oh yes...). The idea is that from 2018 all I need to do is write something, add the right data fields, then upload it and it will magically appear in all the right places. For ever. Currently there are around 1,233 such entries.
The bad news for any competitive angler reading this and already mentally rubbing their hands together thinking this site will be a mine of useful information that will give them 'an edge', is that I don't record fish's weight, the bait I caught fish on, the water temperature, the barometric pressure and a lot of other things, although I mostly record what bait I took with me. Quite often I just note I caught, for example, 'some perch'. I might mention the weather/temperature/hook size. I might not. It's mostly 'not'. While there are those that consider this a wasted opportunity for me to become a far better fishermen, in the first place, my goal is 'to go fishing' and in the second place, the site is for the most part a longitudinal memory experiment I'm running with a single non-randomly selected participant. If you'd like to join in, write me a letter...
|This space deliberately blank||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon (and return to the top of the page)||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||Gonks, gobbies, gudgeon||This space deliberately blank|
This site doesn't use or set any cookies of any sort. Nope. None. Nada. No money being made here. In point of fact, I put money in and 'anotherangler.net' comes out. It's a bit like opera. You put money in and opera comes out. Although 'anotherangler.net' doesn't have interminable arias and love-stricken mezzo-sopranos mooning about the place, getting on yer nerves. So that's good.
As this site stores no visitor information or data of any type, either as cookies or in any other form - no SSL is required. This site is 'technically' un-secure, connections to it are not encrypted, but as there's no visitor data, there's nothing to read, nab, eavesdrop or otherwise intercept. In short, the worst thing someone can find out about a site visitor is that they are visiting this site. Someone might, I suppose, feel sheepish about that.
|I am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page)||a very subtil fish||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.|
|...there's a float in there if you can spot it.||Barton's Court Aurora Borealis sunset|
|Gobio Gobio (and return to the top of the page)||Gonk||Gobby||Gonk||Gobio Gobio||Gobby||Gobio Gobio||Gudgeon||Gudgeon||Gobio Gobio|
I've been fishing since I was about twelve, which means I've been sitting hopfully behind a wet worm for forty plus years. As a very young angler I was fortunate to see a little mystery, a lot of small perch and a path by the water. Then 'Old Bob' imparted to me the importance of luck, a love of the outdoors and more importantly, respect. Then some 'real life' intervened and the mysterious was put on a high shelf. In later years, possibly due to a surfeit of 'real life', I've edged back to the water to reclaim some peace and latterly, to fish for dragons.
I live in Dorset real...as opposed to 'middle-class TV Dorset', which looks lovely on the telly, but honestly, it's just not like that. Very few of us bother with 'artisan made' anything as it's generally three times the price and not any better than the 'regular stuff'. And don't get me started on "Christmas Fayres". where most of my angling takes place, but have fished all over the place. I'm lucky to get my tackle out most weekends, thanks to Mrs AA's good graces. I used to think my opinion of today's over-commercialised angling were 'Just me', but the discovery of 'Waterlog', its forums, other anglers and succeeding forums was cheering and have led here. Eventually.
I'll fish anywhere for anything, which is how I've come by mullet, grayling, wrasse (various) and moray eels. I've had as much fun on two-feet wide mountain streams catching bullheads and 1oz wild trout as I have catching tench in lily patches - although it's true to say I've done a lot more of the latter.
I like some traditional things, but not at the expense of picking the best tackle for the task in hand. I once got a Wallis cast about right; that is to say it went a good distance more-or-less where aimed without tangling on the reel handles or a tree.
I am not a 'traditionalist', perhaps 'orthodox' is a better term, and don't automatically assume old tackle is best, nor do I think all modern tackle is 'new fangled', although it's easier for some to believe this than consider the alternative. It took me until 2011 to catch a barbelBoris the trespassing horse gudgeon, 1½lb, and that was by accident, and in 2010 I caught two 30lbL'Orange Daze and one 40lb carpTangerine Days, but had to wait until 2011 for a first 'twentyGosh, that was a chilly session.'. As of 2016 I'm up to 'three' of those carp, mostly float-fishing and with the bait on the hook. Can be done.
I've never used bolt-rigs, boilies or pellets, (trout or halibut) and mean to keep it that way. I've tried 'anti-eject' rigs and will not use one again. I side with those who consider this little better than foul-hooking. I go fishing to go fishing FFAs opposed to 'I go fishing to catch fish', which is generally used for justifying some questionable tactic, tackle or stocking density. Normally stated in a belligerent and bullish manner, but I take comfort that those folk generally give up when things get tough 'because the fishing is rubbish'. . I like green and grey, and make a lot of floats, some of which even get used. I nearly always float-fish, even when most sane folk have got out the ledger rod or gone home. Some call this obsessive; I prefer 'dedicated'. I'm usually to be found in a quiet windward corner of the lake reclining under a hat, six feet from one of the said floats, rod resting on one boot, apparently not paying any attention. I'm trying to achieve the virtual equivalent with this site. I admit to being a bit obsessed with knots.
I tend to put coffee in the flask as long as proper stuff is available and might one day invent an espresso attachment for the Kelly kettle. I'm overly fond of strong coffee, red wine, good whisky, very dark chocolate and log fires; 'addicted' is a word that has been used in respect of these things. Part-paraphrasing, I like the creak of leather and the magpie's shriek, but prefer the jay's screech, the yaffle's chatter and the squeak-and-scurry of the furry folk at my feet, possibly because these noises mean I'm so far unnoticed.
|Fire, for the reaching out of toes of.|
I like weathered red-brick and am not yet tired of Spring, but like Autumn most of all. I'm technically competent and happily continue to have 'authority issues' AIThis is quite deliberate. I've never agreed with the notion of 'feudalism' either inside an office or outside. I don't have to repect anyone. Respect is earned. Or not. And it can be lost in a trice, often with small things, like slipping a pen into your pocket when you think no-one is looking, or a curl of the lip or a moment's fawning to your boss... . I've spent thirty odd years in electronics, designing and providing ASIC field support all over Europe and the world. I've given that up for an MSc in psychology. I like stuff made out of brass, which seems to me more honest that gold and tend to find things other folk have left behind, sometimes last week, sometimes 15,000 years ago. I like oak that's weathered to silver. I'm not scared of the dark and enjoy dusk most of all. I'm not a morning person. In fact I'm not a person at all until 9am and two cups of freshly brewed black stuff.
There's no telling whether my children will find the path by the water, but I took them fishing anyway and they seemed to like it. Hopefully one will wheel me to the water's edge in a bath-chair when I can't get there myself and ideally before making the great last cast.
"Nullius in verba" - "on the word of nobody"
NIVThe Royal Society's motto 'Nullius in verba', roughly translates as 'Take nobody's word for it', and is an expression of the determination to withstand the domination of authority and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment...or more roughly "That's what you claim, now prove it or push off".
How we miss the good old days of rigorous science. ...and be Lucky...
|...and...wait for it...swivel ;-)...(and back to the top of the page)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)|
I can recall, while only 'four', peering into a ditch on the Bingham road wondering what lived under the green scum on the top of the water - I probably didn't know about fishing then, but the curiosity, the insistence on peering from every bridge into the water below, was already there.
My earliest memories of actual fishing and its grip on the psyche came from Singapore, where we spent twenty months in 1966-68. Mind-lodged is the wooden balcony at Seletar Yacht club, which overhung the sea (when the tide was in). On a grey rough day a Chinese man appeared from the kitchen behind the bar with a short rod and casting a line over the balcony edge, caught a garfish, which bent itself in bright green hoops as it was carried back into the kitchen, presumable heading for the 'dish of the day'. I still haven't caught one and it's still on my "to catch" list.
There were small whiskered catfish around the slipway at low tide and small bright silver fish, which wheeled and darted past in threes and fours. Sometimes the prehistoric horseshoe crab came up to the beach and we'd pick them up by the tail to look at the alien underneath. This beach didn't rate shark-nets, unlike around the coast at Changi. We shared a boat with a family friend and in this we took jaunts across the Johore Straight to Malayan beaches, where, there were occasional pineapples in the bushes and men would appear with long bamboo poles to knock coconuts down for a few cents. When the tide was low, mudskippers bounced along the wet sand in improbable parabolic leaps and I'd chase to see them at rest. On one such jaunt I was stung by a jellyfish which left a line of burning red weals from chin to swimming trunks, thus ending the day's entertainment.
|The Yacht Club is on the right in the background where you can see the balcony||The Yacht Club from the other side and that's the boat we shared with 'Bill'|
I have a memory of Chinese boys fishing for catfish in one of the larger monsoon drains (10 feet wide, 6 feet deep). These larger drains always had areas with some water in them - the smell was overpowering and best not committed to memory - but the feel of the heat radiating back off the concrete into my face is alongside the excited chatter as a large (to my eyes) catfish, a huge alien tadpole, made its way up the foul channel towards a bait on a line held by one of the boys. I wanted to wait for the outcome, but was hurried on. I forget where we were or were going.
There were these; fascinating and prized for more years than I'm going to tell you.
|2 Cent - Hippocampus Kuda||4 Cent - Puntius Hexazona||5 Cent - Amphiprion Percula||6 Cent - Toxotes Jaculator||10 Cent - Rasbora Heteromorpha||25 Cent - Trichogaster Trichopterus|
There was the 'kampong' where our 'amah' lived. There was a well outback and in it was a carp, being fattened on scraps for the table. It would come up when fed and then sink, Cheshire cat like, back into the depths. Perhaps it 'monitored' water quality as well. I wanted to catch it even then.
|That's the view from our amah's house (Kim, a full-time amah, which was an important distinction) into the kampong||This was self and sibling in the 'garden' with some of Kim's children. The well, with its carp, is out of shot to the right.|
Here's another, where I got into trouble for scampering up the pier to see what was going on. I'm probably being restrained behind the camera. The second is Haw Par Villa. It occurs that those fish still lurk in the subconscious - I could put a lot more in here, I have a quite exceptional memory for my early life, but another time.
|Here's another, where I got into trouble for scampering up the pier to see what was going on. I'm probably being restrained behind the camera. I imagine the tackle being used is very 'traditional'. Just folk fishing on a jetty (in Singapore).||Haw Par Villa. One of the most bizarre places you'll ever see, fascinating for small boys, Mother really didn't approve.|
...and these came back from Singapore...
|...round and round and round...|
Then there was the camping holiday by the Thames, somewhere (I think) in the area between Lechlade and Oxford. One evening I stumbled across a fisherman on the river's edge, tucked into a gap in the rushes. The float, keep-net and general air of expectancy fascinated and I can still feel the glare of the sun-set reflected off the water and smell the river-tainted evening air. I cannot recall seeing fish caught, but still in my minds eye is the float with its rounded top and bands of colour. Even then, at the grand age of eight, it seemed full of mystery, forever poised to vanish.
The paternal grandparents (in one of their many houses) lived a stone's throw from the Lancaster canal and I don't need the picture to recall the draw of the water, often as not covered in duckweed. This the Lancaster canal at the White Horse lane bridge, c. 1969. Honest.
|I can still smell the river from that evening.||I really hope that sign says 'no fishing'.|
By late 1968 we'd moved to Sculthorpe in Norfolk and I couldn't pass a body of water without gazing rapt at the surface - I knew this as there was a pond on the approach road to the camp (the road to Syderstone) which became the object of longing every time we passed by in the car ("Wickenpond" which has a tradition of its water rising and falling with the corn prices).
Barely a year later we moved to BoddamBoddam is a coastal village in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It is 29 miles (47 km) north of Aberdeen and 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Peterhead. Sea cliffs rise to 200 feet (61 m), south of the village: a coastal path leads along these to the Bullers of Buchan., the most easterly place in Scotland, which is here:
From 1969-71 this served only to heighten interest. There was no power station then. Before, there was a stream, narrow and fast, flowing between grassed banks in a shallow valley with a few scrubby trees. It was good for 'civil engineering projects', dams, those trees were the only ones for miles and they looked as windswept as a tree can, while 'not a bush'. This stream, the 'Den of Boddam', clattered over rough granite shingle and coarse grey sand at the beach. I never saw a fish. We always went to the stream by the farm track (past the sweet shop where you could get four 'blackjacks' for a penny) and came back along the beach to the harbour. Just seemed the right way round.
There was plenty of fishing from the harbour wall. The village lads fished, I watched, tackle seemed so out of reach...there were rock pools on the lighthouse island (the 'Boddam Coo'), when sea-fog laid on flat seas, the Coo lowed, overlaying the presence of fellow man with highlighted isolation - you learned to sleep through it and not go east of the lighthouse when it was foggy. Rock pools there upon had fleets of blennies and at the northern end a deeper pool fed by occasional waves had pollack, after storms, enough pollack to rouse village lads with rods to remove them. I watched enviously, once being allowed to look in a tackle bag, which had an actual orange float in it, wonder of wonders. Funny thing, in 1994 the deep pool was there but weeded and well above the sea level, other pools I recall being fresh, blenny'd up were now weeded and stagnant. There was a lot more shore and a lot less water. Thought the sea was coming up...but not here.
|By that hut on the left, was a large pile of empty skittering clam shells, which smelt of the sea and their contents. Clam shells always seem too good to throw away. In the distance is Peterhead. In those days it was a working harbour and fresh wet-fish was sold out of a small (and strongly annointed) stone bothy behind the harbour.|
There were other places. On the southern approach to the village there were two square quarry holes, both shallow at one end, sharp rocks and unknowable cold dangerous depths at the other, not that we cared. These were overrun with sticklebacks, three-spined plus an occasional imagined glimpse of something larger that blurred to the deeps. The barbed wire didn't deter small boys. These pits were bisected by the railway embankment, the long-gone 'herring line', that dipped into every village from Aberdeen to Inverness and mostly ran down to the harbours. All trace of the station was gone, the embankment remained and its east face, with copious broom, was dry and sheltered so was a favourite haunt on damp windy days. Opposite the eastern quarry pond was a regular pond with thick rushes, more sticklebacks and an impressive number of tadpoles in the spring. Endless fascination, floating paths were made from folded and woven reeds on which we'd edge oblivious out into the water, which was probably barely three feet deep.
There was the quarry on the Stirling Hill, the pink granite quarrySeriously, 'the'. This is the source of a lot of the world's pink granite. You couldn't bung half a brick without picking up a half-brick sized piece of the stuff. It's everywhere. Walls, piles, heaps, Trafalgar Square, Blackfriars bridge..., a trefoil pattern of three cavernous holes in the hill, plus the Type 80This was a 2.5 Mw (peak) S-band (3 GHz or 3,000 MHz) search radar with a range of around 200-250 miles. radar station. Absolutely verboten, so so dangerous, steep drops, bottomless waters, falling rocks. There were also huge colonies of newts which you could catch by hand, empty interesting cartridges left by the rough shooters and if you bothered to hunt the nooks, crannies and quarry dross, clumps of quartz crystals and even small outbreaks of amethyst - none of which could you own up to having as there was only one place to get them...as I discovered to my cost by showing such treasures.
Water's the main attraction but not the only attraction. There were crumbling granite cliffs (climbing not allowed, yeah right), the big pile of scallop shells by the harbour, I can smell it and recall the hollow clatter, even now. We grew tatties (everyone did), froze in the winter, one paraffin heater and one fireplace in thin-walled cast iron-framed single glaze windows ('airmens' quarters' to you). Winter-time you walked to school in the dark for 9am, walked back again at 3pm in the dark. Summer-time brought near midnight-sun, dawn at 4am. It was wild, windy, rough and the people, my classmates (presided over by the fierce grey-haired Miss McLeod and then her twin Miss McLeod) were friendly and welcoming with little of the incomer hostility most postings had - the case for fly-by-night 'forces' brats'. The feeling of being treated as a local assumed odd significance when years afterwards my father, c. 1994, established the family had originated a few miles around the coast near Forres and the surname, was common in the areaA Keith, Veritas Vincit. In fact, it turned out we were kind of 'local', with great-grandfather having left this home village for the army life and a great-great-aunt of mine is there still. Funny thing.
The only school prize I ever won was here, a book, no idea what it was now or where it went. A wander about the place on 'Streetview' shows most of the village is unchanged, the school exactly as recalled. After leaving I was fluent in DoricFit like? Farabootsyerfrom?
(How are you? From whence do you hail, my good man?), something of which I found retained during a 2007 biz. trip to Aberdeen and a little further north.
So, "Sugar Sugar" by the 'Archies' was a hit, we liked that as there was a cartoon. So was "Two Little Boys" (not so twee now eh?) and "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" theme had a TOTPReally? Top of the Pops, pop-fans. (sorry) video of silent movie westerns, which we also liked. I made Airfix models and painted my hands as much as the models. It kept me quiet, the primary function of anything I was given to do. We spent two Christmases up here, I don't recall either of them, but can hear the crunch of the ice laminated snow in the bitter mornings, see the frozen 1/3 pint bottles of school milk and recall a recurring night terror which I'm not about to relive in detail. I still miss the place. Funny thing that.
When Mrs AA and myself swept through in 1994, newly-legitimised, on the way to Dornoch (as it turned out), I was momentarily flummoxed by 'my' house not being where I recalled (I don't know about pigeons and salmon, but I can find places blindfolded if I've been there but once), but after a moment it was apparent they'd knocked the old pebble-dashed quarters down and built new houses. Probably as well.
A'm fair forfochten.
Then mid-1971 we decamped dc'Literally' as it happens... to CyprusVia Brize Norton by VC10, veritable luxury compared with a Britannia. with small ballen wrasse, blennies and sociopathic moray eels, where I was, clichéd, hooked.
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1971-74. Cyprus.Onward and eastward. Hot and dry. Sometimes very hot and dry. Sunny. And here:
I had the good fortune to live here from 1971-4, plucked, to Mother's evident relief, from the extremes of Boddam to 90°C in the shade. Ow. This was where I started actually fishing, as opposed to dreaming about it while reading the "Ladybird Book of Coarse Angling". I had neither rod nor reel and initially made hooks out of safety pins (read it in a 'survival' book) and used a single thread out of the middle of parachute cord (green for preference). This worked surprisingly well, especially with a range of safety pins, though the angle and length of the 'hook' and 'barb' was critical. Once I found a 'pattern' that worked it was guarded with my life and copied. One pair of pliers and a concrete wall for a file and sharpener - the wall outside the back door had three solid metal posts embedded, (for some long lost wire), each making a handy makeshift anvil for beating home-made hooks a little flat and the fine-cast smooth concrete made a perfectly serviceable file. Safety pin hooks they might have been, but they were 'cold forged' and needle sharp.
|Safety pin Hook||Proper 'paracord': 'paracord' fishing line - (the core threads)|
Eventually I gleaned enough tackle (well, line, hooks and shot) by buying little bits and finding a surprising amount. I still find a large amount...I digress. We came by a small cardboard box of 100 Mustad spade-end hooks once, must have been about a '14', I sometimes wonder where they all went.
The fishing, with several friends, was simply sitting on a rock at the bottom of cliffs, a place directly behind the house, over the hill with the radio-listening post, skirt the minor dump (where I once used a pallet as a stepping stone among the piles of old tin, ('discovering' in this way a bee's nest) and following the rocky path down past one side of a spur of the soft sandstone nearly as high as the cliff top itself, known to all as "Camel's Hump". There at the bottom, armed with a hand-line and a knife, we fished for small wrasse and some kind of blenny using limpets as bait, prised from the rocks with the aforementioned knife.
You used your finger as a bite indicator and a couple of shot to keep the bait down. On a good morning you might catch ten fish - bites were more or less non-stop, but wrasse have small mouths and hard teeth and are hard to hook as a result. They were predominately green, with purple and yellow markings and mostly only a couple of ounces.
We envied the lucky folk with fishing rods, who could cast the 30 feet needed to catch bream or garfish.
If you let the bait down to the bottom, then you would pick up blennies, easier to catch, but fewer and further between. The risk was that a bait on the bottom became interesting for Moray eels, a sort of 'eel shaped' demon with sewing machine needles instead of teeth. And no sense of humour at all.
|di·vid·er: (noun): a thing that keeps two spaces or areas separate (...and back to the top of the page)|
This is the insane bit.
Once or twice we caught a small moray - a foot or so long, but still quite an exciting thing. The trouble was that even a small one would back into the rocks on the bottom and a protracted tug of war was needed to get them out. The only difference between being snagged on a rock and a moray, was that despite keeping the line as tight as you dared, you would get an occasional tug back. If there was more than one of you and the water was shallow, then the non-combatant would get in and move some rocks to free the eel.
This accidental catch developed into a deliberate sport at some point. Your 'moray rig' was a piece of broom handle, some very heavy line and a wire trace with a big hook on it. I have no idea where we got the wire, but I am quite inventive, so it was probably a strand of an old bike brake cable or similar.
You catch an unfortunate blenney and, using its head as a bait, search out a big hole in between the large rocks and stick in the bait...
If you were lucky you found one of the three-foot mottled yellow and brown monsters - I once caught one like this that even anchored as it was by its tail to the rocky lair, the top half was out of the water with me on the other end. Eventually the eel tired and inch my inch you get it away - and eventually (and suddenly as it lets go - focuses the mind to see a yard of thrashing airborne psychopathy heading in your direction) onto the shore with you - which suddenly becomes marginally less safe than before. As I said, no sense of humour.
The only way (and I was very young) was to go after it with the knife and separate the head from the body, easier said than done.
The trouble with getting you hook back was that the upper jaw bone was 'V' shaped and the hook tended to go right through the 'V'. And just because the head was not on the body, didn't mean it still couldn't bite. You can take my word for that.
Maybe this is why I am tolerant of eels - compared with the moray, the freshwater eel is a friendly and harmless thing...mostly.
In our garden we had clumps of bamboo, planted a decade previously (I know this as the planter came by one day and told us). This endless supply of raw material for bows, arrows made with sanded rocket sticks and dart-feather flights, was powerful enough, if made five feet long, to stick a fire-hardened, rocket stick arrow in the side of the aircraft engine crate that had been converted to a shed in the back garden. All attempts to make a bow out of more than one piece of bamboo failed, but if I'd had cable ties, well then...they of course didn't exist then. I once spent far too long trying to make some sort of fishing rod out of a 1cm diameter fibreglass curtain pole, too thick and it's a complete mystery to me why I never simply cut a bamboo pole and tied a piece of line to the end to fish with. Seems obvious really...
I found the bottom half of some old bomb case, which I fell across once, the find's tail fin leaving a welt across the small of my back and causing me pain for weeks, for which I got no sympathy and indeed was not even helped up. Let's call it 'pragmatism'. I often wonder if that's why I had a bad back that kicked in around 1981. There was ordinance, if you knew to look under the piles of spent GPMG shells for the live ones dropped as the bolt was worked to get the belt in. Odd 'thunderflashes' turned up (deadly things), black power flare-gun shells, any number of spent cartridges, especially if you sneaked over the twenty foot, grey, handily stepped wall on the small arms range...completely forbidden of course, but you could gather a lot of brass. And plenty of 9mm slugs for one's catty.
The cattys were slingshots. A loop of elastic and a pouch. You needed to drop the hand sharply on firing and all of us at one time of another had sustained that nasty bruise that resulted from hitting one's own hand. Elastic came in one 'pic' and one and half 'pic' lengths and the latter was the most useful size - fights were common, with ammo consisting of occasional pebbles and 9mm slugs and casings. It's a wonder no-one got hurt. Probably poor marksmanship. Probably. I made ersatz firearms with match heads and tissue wadding using TV aerial tubing, an experiment abandoned when a pinch of nitro-cellulose propelled the tube fifty yards across the scout hut frontage with a noise that at once frightened and made one rather conspicuous. Once I cut the end off a rifle bullet, expecting lead, only to find it was an incendiary of some sort and as the phosphorus smoked I wondered and then as it flared, I pondered, then was left holding empty pliers between my knees, with a ringing sound in my ears and a trickle of blood running down the inside of the right knee. Even then I realised I'd been rather fortunate and for all I know that sliver of copper is still in my leg somewhere.
I spent many happy hours wandering the bondhu ('outback' or 'bush' seem the best translations) searching the dry limestone for Roman coins among other things (after rain was the best time). There was the odd Byzantine coin, a bronze finger ring (conned from me by a Flight Lt., a 'friend's' father who really should have set a better example), two bronze fishhooks, one a near circle, thick wired and flat-sectioned and one more like an 'Aberdeen' with a spade-end, numerous bronze buttons, a strigel or two, bronze horseshoe nails, tesserae of blue and green glass, some with gold leaf inlay, enamelled pottery shards, ancient glass (Why did I give this all away? Answer, 'Reducing weight for the crates home and it's rubbish anyway'). Dammit.
For my last birthday on Cyprus my parents had eventually spotted the need to fish and bought me a rod and a reel. This was a seven foot glass fibre rod, made by Modern Arms Company in Kent (it's stamped on the reel seat) and an 'Intrepid Challenger'. Well, I was excited and the glimpses of rod and reels at the top floor tackle shop in Limassol came to life - then for some transgression I don't even recall I was banned from having either for six months, which took us past Cyprus and the summer spent at my grandparents. I've no idea what I did even now, although I have a sense that mother thought it harsh, this wasn't unusual.
We drove from Cyprus to the UK in 1974, setting off in June. I know this because it took three weeks and Turkey invaded Cyprus in July 1974 and we heard of it on the radio sitting in France at a campsite near a duck-weeded canal. Turkey, reached by ferry was welcoming enough, but we were nearly held in Turkey as we crossed to Greece, father afterwards telling us how close things got and also confiding that he'd seen, among the army vehicles going the same way as us (towards Greece), an accident in the rear-view that he'd normally have stopped for, a lorry leaving the road and overturning. With hindsight, why did we get on the ferry? Odd call. At Ossicacher SeeBrrrr, cold...and so many chocolate cakes. we swam in water so cold it made your bones ache and I fished with a hand-line and an antenna float against some reeds from a canoe that the German lad from the tent next door took me out in (a quid pro quo for games of chess I played against his father, I think 'won one, lost two'). Caught nothing...but I fished.
In Austria near Salzburg, the campsite bordered a small mill-house and on the banks of the mill-race I found a hook with barbs on its shank, a find which I kept long after (although we were castigated severely for wondering off the site, an overreaction to the earlier situation in Turkey I suspect). In France at last, where the invasion of Cyprus was announced on the radio, I watched French pole-masters at work on the duck-weeded canel bend that bordered the site, great excitement when a 1lb bream came to the net.
Then our posting to Chivenor went west (sorry), the camp closing and we ended up in limbo, staying for months at Old Bob's, a long summer and the prospect of school in Chandlers Ford loomed and then it was AngleseyYay. 'Fun Island'.. Oh Goody.
For a good year or two afterwards I'd dream of looking for Roman coins or hand-lining for wrasse, perfectly content, then waking, sorry to be off the Island.
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|08:20pm on 2019-01-19|