Who am I?

An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to see the natural world as a place for competition. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!


Tuesday 29 November 2016

Tangents and blind alleys

As the years pass things, which I once thought important, have now become very secondary in their power and influence. It is this aging process which has allowed me to remain fascinated by my hobbies, the enjoyment of each in no way diminished, by a simple realization of how very far down the list of priorities in my, latter, life they have fallen. My ability to rejoice in the capture of an eel in March, or a Song Thrush sulking in the garden shadows is an indication of how my life has moved on since those crazy obsessional phases. Following the death of my father I have been focused on how soon can I retire? There is light at the end of this particular tunnel but, now, I'm having second thoughts! It's true that my fathers' estate will result in a very substantial amount of money being deposited into my account, but is that all I care about? Mum and Dad didn't work as hard as they did to ensure that they had a good life, they worked to ensure that they were able to assist the next generation as well. As the incumbent head of the Wrathall clan it is now down to me to continue with this ethos and attempt to maintain the values that my parents strove to instill. Would leaving work and living off their efforts be what they wanted? No; I don't think so either - as appealing a scenario as it is.
I am wrestling with several options, at present, although my sensible head says to remain within FSIS and bump up my mega generous company pension with the maximum AVC's allowed. My health remains good, although the arthritis situation is never going to improve - can I find another role, within the organization, which will allow me to stay employed but without the physical stresses placed upon my aging frame by my current position? I've opened a few lines of inquiry and have gleaned some ideas that could just provide a solution to my predicament. This might require a leap of faith to get to the desired situation, but the safety net is in place should it prove to be a wrong decision - it's a "no brainer" when viewed from that angle. C.V's and interview techniques - what's all that about? I have to relearn a process which has no equivalent in my past. You applied for a job - got called in for a chat and if you fitted the criteria - "When can you start?" and that was about all there was to it! In 2016 there are layers of psychological examination, competence and aptitude assessments before any decision process has a chance of kicking in. How will I negotiate such a mine-field? I've already visited HR and inquired about appropriate dress code! First hurdle safely negotiated - all that's left is the entire process of applying for a job and proving that you are sufficiently enthusiastic, and skilled, to fulfill the role. Piece of piss!
I have to accept that I might fall short of the mark (could go to a tribunal claiming ageism!) yet don't feel at ease with the whole situation. There is always the scenario of "if the face fits?" - and I guarantee that mine doesn't. Hair cuts and clean shaven ain't where Dad's influence has taken me - be proud/confident to be an individual - I am! Cutting my nose to spite my face? - I'll still be a relatively wealthy, ex digital, FSIS employee whatever the outcome. I could explore other opportunities, as offered by the retail trade, - I'd give up beer and become vegetarian first! So where am I headed? Tangents and blind alleys sums up everything about my life at present - fear not, I ain't ready to quit this gig in the near future, whatever fate dishes up. The uncertainty is where I am having a problem - I don't know when I will have to make a decision? I don't know how much money is involved (except that it's going to be far in excess of anything I've previously known)  and, if I'm totally honest, couldn't give a toss. Maybe easy to say when it's not something important - I completely understand why others would view that statement in a very different context. "Money doesn't make you happy!" - SAYS WHO? It certainly makes you less sad, and there's no disputing that.

Sunday 27 November 2016

There might be something in this?

I am just back home after another session out on the marsh - four bites, three pike to the bank, including two low doubles, both of which I have caught previously. Generally I am not too pleased with recaptures but, under these circumstances, I am more than happy. Why?
If you've been following the Richie Francis "ideas on pike fishing" theme and the resultant exchanges in my comments box, you will have seen the train of thought that has led me down a rather intriguing path. I make no secret of the fact that I'm a static dead-bait angler - end of! I am also very much of the opinion that large baits = large pike and have happily employed this logic to my pike angling since my return to the hobby in 2011. Chris, the Youtube "Ginger Fisherman" had got some fascinating underwater footage of a large pike examining, and rejecting, a static dead-bait and this is where the saga starts. I'd never have thought that a pike was capable of such behavior, almost carp-like learning, and as such have found myself questioning almost everything I do as a pike angler.
It is not a bad thing, to challenge the status quo, but it does stick in the crop when somebody else is able to point out something which is blatantly obvious and you've simply not noticed it!

She weighed in at 11 lbs 6 oz today. The Mk IV is fitted with an ABU Cardinal 44X, an
idea I got from watching Hugh Mile's "Lost in Time" documentary about Chris Yates. He also
uses a similar combo, but catches much larger fish than I do!
So where am I at today? The session this morning has gone much better than I could have hoped; three rods, two of which were baited with my standard sized, flavoured & dyed offerings and the third with a much smaller bait (a yellow roach - 3 inches max!) Both the doubles fell to the small baits, the bites being text book takes and the hook holds perfectly in the scissors. Obviously it's far too soon to be making any claims about success, but it certainly seems to be a step in the right direction and worthy of further exploration.

Friday 25 November 2016

Ideas from others

Ric ("Little Richie") Francis and I were members of the Tring Syndicate during that exciting period of specimen hunting, ref; Tench fishing - 1981-93 - and have traveled a, spookily, similar path ever since! The last time we met was in 1993, Studland Heath, whilst "twitching" a Hoopoe. Thankfully, the advent of social media has resulted in us getting back into contact, via the mutual connection to Gavin Haig's "Not Quite Scilly" blog. (Richie, Gavin and I regularly post comments on other blogs we read)
Gavin and his son, Rob, have recently embarked on a pike fishing campaign along the Exeter ship canal click here .I have never, knowingly met with Gavin, although we did fish Tiddenfoot Pit, near Leighton Buzzard, for the catfish around the same period in the early 1990's. Again, there has been a very similar pattern of events in our two lives; angling - birding - angling plus all the other, far more important, stuff involved in getting old! It is Ric (always gonna be Richie to Sye and me) that is key here; both Gavin and myself are in awe of his angling prowess - he's bloody good (or rather he was exceptional when I fished alongside him during the Tring Syndicate days) -  his attention to detail a lesson for anyone aspiring to regularly catch specimen fish. I always felt that the bish, bash, bosh, of pike angling was far too industrial to be worthy of his attentions - he's a rig person. Bait and hooks, that delicate balance of presentation and efficiency being a trademark during the Tring years. His catches of huge Roach from Startops End Res are the stuff of angling legend and it didn't stop there. Tench and Bream also succumbed to the silky skills of this "half - pint"  thinking angler. Even then, way back in the 1980's, Richie had a gift for looking beyond the box - always willing to explore new avenues, regardless of peer group pressure - very brave for someone so young (in 1981!)
Anyhow, that's enough "bigging up" and on with the point of this post. I received this comment and it has set in motion a whole new thought process!

Dyl, Could be a connection between the size of bait the pike are usually caught on, or how often in nature they ever come across such a prize such as a large -intact-dead fish? Unusual food item = unusual outing to the bank. I imagine that, in nature, any poorly fish will be whacked by the pike when still alive. Since we don't 'do that tactic' I'd go down the particle route, since if a very large fish died, it would end up in tiny bits as it rotted away. Didn't Mumford (Ray) take some biggies swing-tipping tiny baits over fish meal ground bait.I once had a 12lb when eel fishing. I was using Bleak sections and the bite was ever so slow. The issue of bite offs isn't far away? All the best, RicF.

What's going on? How could I have missed something so obvious? The really hurtful bit is that I've already experienced success using the "particle approach" during my winter eel campaign. One night session in February was to see me "plagued by pike" including a double! All these fish falling to tiny fish sections fished amongst similar freebies. How did I overlook such a blatant demonstration? Just thick I guess! Or was I simply engrossed with my eel project? Yes, that's a lot easier to accept than being a dullard!

There is no getting away from the fact that Richie has given me another option to explore. The East Kent drains have not yet provided me with that elusive twenty. Could it be due to my stereo-typical methods? Only by attempting something different will I gain any further insight into the pike behavior in these intimate venues and hope to unlock the code to further progression in my quest for my target fish. Nothing ventured - nothing gained!

Friday 18 November 2016

Ringing the changes

It's been a strange sort of week. I've had three visits to the legal bods; ref Dad's estate and, by logical necessity, these taking place during work hours. Although my supervisors have been incredibly supportive, it's completely messed up any other plans; I've had to make up lost time here and there, so it's been quite a mish-mash! Thus it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that I've had nothing to blog about recently.
Hopefully this latest legal saga will see the final pieces of the jigsaw in place and, therefore, a light at the end of this particular tunnel? Still, every cloud - as they say! Out pike fishing in the morning, looking to pick up where I left off last Sunday. It would be ridiculous to expect a repeat performance, but I still fancy my chances. The original plan was to fish Sunday, but the weather forecast is absolutely crazy - 60 mph gusting south - south westerly gales with heavy rain - not ideal in my humble opinion; so we're out for breakfast in Faversham instead; could be interesting? Tomorrow is predicted to be a chilly, bright dawn, with a very moderate westerly - excellent. Three rods, mackerel, sardine and roach being on the menu for the session. I've got my dyes and flavours in reserve, should they be required, but I'm headed for a new section where the fish haven't been subjected to these baits, as yet, so I'll play it as I find it. I've never put a bait out in this section of the drain, although I've often walked past thinking I should give it a go.
I have been completely blown away by some stunning underwater camera work by a guy who masquerades behind the pseudonym of The Ginger Fisherman - check this sequence out for a pike behaving like a clued up carp - click here Luke has a Water Wolf camera system and has used it, occasionally, to watch how well his lures are working - this latest technology is taking our understanding to a different level, absolutely brilliant. I remember some Hugh Miles' underwater footage of a pike circling a lamprey, deadbait, suspended beneath a crude/cumbersome float set-up, somewhere during the "Catching the Impossible" series - Bernard Cribbins ends up with a twenty plus as I recall? (and using a Mitchell 300!) To see carp rejecting baits or shying away from rigs is what I would expect, given their ability to learn - to see pike demonstrating similar abilities poses an awful lot of new questions. May be I've not caught a twenty from the drains because I'm not skilled enough - not because there isn't one present?  Tomorrow marks the start of a new era - I'm going back to basics. "The only man who never failed was the man who never tried!"

Sunday 13 November 2016

A super Sunday

I was at the drain, fishing three rods, before 06.40 hrs. The two Mk IV's had ABU Cardinal 66X's fitted whilst a Duncan Kay was teamed with a Mitchell 300. Baits were 1/2 dyed & flavoured Mackerel, a dyed Rainbow Trout and a small roach, as it comes! These baits have been in my freezer since we returned from Scotland at the beginning of May, so they were a little soft. Within five minutes of casting out, the middle rod was away and resulted in a lovely fish of 9 lbs 8 oz. Less than fifteen minutes later, my left-hand rod had a bite and this time a fish of 11 lbs 4 oz graced the landing net. A quick check revealing it to be a fish that I'd taken previously, so I slipped her back un-photographed.
I'd planned to leap-frog the rods down the drain every half hour, or so, and was just thinking about moving when the middle rod was away again, this time I bumped a really small jack which threw the bait (and hooks) as I got it to the surface. The two successful rods had been moved and I was just thinking about the roach, "Did I need to enhance this bait in any way?", when the bite alarm stuttered into life and I found myself attached to a nice pike of around 7 lbs. A couple more moves provided just one more take, a spirited fish of around 5 lbs bending the cane quite nicely. It was just after 09.10 hrs that I was positioning my final rod when Bev rang to see how I was getting on and what time I was planning to pack up? I told her that 10.00 hrs was my target and I'd be home before eleven.
With that I noticed my mate Neil, the local birder, walking along the bank towards me. It was good to have a chat about the recent autumn and what we'd seen. Lots of juicy gossip about discontent within the "great & good" of Kent's finest following the "suppression" of an Arctic Warbler (and on Thanet - who'd have thought it?) Am I glad that I'm well out of that scene - bloody grown men falling out over a bunch of feathers; still they could be waving placards complaining about Brexit or Donald Trump, couldn't they? Neil was just getting ready to leave, when the rod I'd cast last rattled away and resulted in the second "double" of the morning, a proper scraper - happy days! He was kind enough to grab a few photos before heading off on the remainder of his circuit. It was fast approaching 10.00 hrs and I was happy to pack up. It had been a very productive morning and rather entertaining on several levels.

It only just made it - 10 lbs 2 oz, but much appreciated all the same!

Saturday 12 November 2016

Lurking in the shadows

The garden feeding station is a massive success; loads of birds visiting the feeders and consuming around 4 kg of mixed seed and sunflower hearts every week, plus the obligatory fat balls. The variety is a little sparse, House Sparrows dominating the scene for the majority of the time, but Starlings, Collared Doves, Feral Pigeons, Great & Blue Tits, Dunnocks, Blackbirds, a pair of Rose - ringed Parakeets and a Robin also take advantage of the facilities. I have to admit to spending considerable amounts of time staring out of the kitchen and marveling at the antics of these feeding birds.

There is, however, a down side to this generosity - Brown Rats! They have always been a feature of our living with a farm at the bottom of the garden. Each harvest sees these creatures move out of the crops and into the hedgerows and gardens along Vine Close, so it's not a surprise to see a rat scurry across the lawn during the autumn. To have them feeding, unconcernedly, under the feeding station is taking the piss. I've been forced to use violence - my trusty 1959 Webley Mk III underlever air-rifle has been called into action and has, so far, accounted for four of the little blighters. Sadly, this has not been enough, I have had to resort to poison as they are now under the decking right outside the kitchen! I'm not happy about the poison, it's a last resort solution in my opinion. If I was able to spend more time with the rifle, I would, but work and general life keep getting in the way.

The one highlight from all this time watching out for the furry fiends, was the chance encounter with a very rare garden visitor in the form of a stunning little Song Thrush, quietly feeding in the shadow of the buddlieas. It made my day!

Friday 11 November 2016

Doom, gloom and reality

I'm no Oxford scholar, (you might have noticed?) but I do have nearly sixty-one year's worth of experience to call upon when faced with a situation which is outside my comfort zone. I read a fantastic post by Jono click here and have made comment, as have many others. Donald Trump is soon to be the most powerful man in the free world - God help us all! First "Brexit" (something which I fully support and am proud to say I voted for - no hiding behind curtains here old mate!) and now America has, apparently, lost it's marbles by voting for a "cretin" (not for the first time in my humble opinion - Ronald Reagan wasn't the sharpest pencil in the box!) and already the educated elite are demonstrating their angst by displaying anti - Trump banners and burning effigies - how very mature? How very anti democracy? The rules were set before the off and the election conducted under these parameters. Everyone involved knew, before the process started, what was required to become president. First past the post, a two horse race - whoever gets the most votes (wins the most states) is the winner! Fairly simple, to understand, for even an "uneducated" twat like me!

So where are we at now? The UK is doing OK, unless you listen to the b(w)ankers who think that money is the sole purpose for our existence - we've not yet triggered our get out clause, but we're also not a washed up economy - we remain the fifth largest on the planet thanks to our basic infrastructure and political stability. Doom and gloom - I've not experienced anything close to it in my little corner of this green and pleasant land.

What is to happen to America, and it's position in global politics, post Barack Obama? I don't know, but neither do you, you or you (if you did you'd be winning the lottery every week!) Quite simply, none of us have the gift of foresight, we must take each step at a time and see where it leads. These are turbulent, some might say troubled?, times - we must now pin our hopes to those which our forebears fought to secure, thus ensuring a "land fit for heroes"

Image result for royal british legion poppy image

It's Armistice Day - The Eleventh Day of The Eleventh Month - there will be a two minute silence in the FSIS manufacturing area, as expected. It might be prudent for all those, who observe this ritual, to look forward and think about why so many paid the ultimate price to ensure freedom of speech, choice and political allegiance before passing judgement. Why is democracy so important if we find it so unpalatable to accept?

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Strange events around Newlands

Having passed comment upon the end of local autumnal birding I was rather taken by surprise, this morning, when my early morning cuppa was enjoyed whilst watching a steady trickle of winter thrushes passing inland, high, over the "patch". My observations were mostly of "continental" Blackbirds (all dark bills) with a smattering of Fieldfare and a handful of Redwing for good measure. Just to put the icing on the cake, a lone Lapwing - a very good bird here - was followed by a flock (?) of seven! What's going on? I did my best with the camera, in the dingy gloom that passed for early morning, to grab a few record shots, but that was it.

I'd just started to prepare my lunch, prior to leaving for work, when I discovered a small beetle-type insect wandering along the window sill in the kitchen. My best guess is that it's an example of Corizus hyoscyami (a Squash Bug). Quite what it was doing in the kitchen, in November, is a mystery, but a very pleasant encounter all the same - needless to say, it was a new species for my Kent pan-list (ha ha!)

Whatever its' called - a smart, little, insect to be crawling around the kitchen!

Sunday 6 November 2016

November doldrums

Well that's the autumn finished on and around Newlands Farm. There are still a few Chaffinches and Meadow Pipits kicking around, but the winter thrushes and finch flocks have abandoned the area leaving behind a sorry mix of Carrion Crows, Jackdaws, Wood and Feral Pigeons, Collared Doves, House Sparrows and Starlings. These will be my staple fare for the next four months, although there are Waxwings knocking about in the Thanet suburbs, so they will be an expected addition to the year list at some point between now and Christmas?

One of these spectacular winter visitors can brighten up your darkest of days. Will I see one around Newlands this year?
Yesterday saw a  Swallow fly south over the garden, my latest "patch" record, but nowhere close to the latest Kent bird I've seen. The weather forecast for the next 24 hours is horrendous, with severe northerly gales overnight and lingering into Monday morning - ideal conditions for a wreck of Little Auks around our coastline. It was John Hollyer who once told me that "Bonfire Night" was always a good date for a Kent Little Auk, a few days either side being his experienced prediction. I'm on "lates" next week, so might make the effort to get across to North Foreland in the morning to see if these gales have delivered.
I've not been feeling too sparkling, recently, and although I got up at 04.30 hrs, this morning, didn't bother going out onto the marsh for a pike session. Uncontrollable shivering and a streaming cold being all the incentive I required to climb back into my warm bed; there's always another day - Tuesday or Wednesday look favourite. I'm in limbo at present, I need a plan, a challenge, and one that fires my enthusiasm - I'm struggling for inspiration. Simon is thinking about Grand Union Canal perch fishing - I could be persuaded to attempt a similar project on The Royal Military? Time will tell.

Wednesday 2 November 2016

FIFA - you sure?

The national football teams of England and Scotland (and Wales) have been refused permission to wear arm bands depicting the poppy! You what? A bunch of money laundering fatcats, playing statesmen - go fuck yourselves! The poppy is a symbol for all those who have fallen in battle fighting for what they believed to be right. A show of remembrance, by our British Legion, to recognise the ultimate sacrifice paid by so many and to demonstrate to us, who remain, that their efforts are not forgotten.  The poppy is not a racial, religious or political logo - it is a mark of respect, long may it continue. That there might be personal reasons why an individual feels unable to wear an armband and that is down to that person and their conscience - it doesn't require an international governing body to decree on such matters.