So here we are again folks! It's that time of year when we, bloggers, offer a condensed review of the events that have impacted upon our annual cycle. Without question, it has been my least productive blogging year, by quite some margin. I aim to rectify this in 2019, but that's stuff for another day. Quality, not quantity, that would be a superb cop-out, but not true in my situation. I've been lazy but, with the disruption of a complete bungalow interior rebuild, I know why it's not been my best year in that context. The builder had said six to eight weeks! Five months later and we were just finishing off the interior, the garden and conservatory still require major effort in order to get them up to scratch. So 2019 will also feature some level of stress, due to this end project and the disruption it will entail. That's to look forward to, now let's look back.
For the most part, angling was a non-starter. I was still a member of Sandwich & District AA, yet couldn't catch a cold in either of their two fisheries. Added to that, a run in with the most odious committee member I've ever encountered, ensured that membership renewal was never up for consideration. I spent most of my time getting a year list up and running. Off to a very good start, birding down in Ramsgate Harbour got me Iceland Gull, Snow Bunting and a C-R 1st yr Shag - all the way from the Isle of May. Happy days!
The "Beast from the East" - nuff sed! Fishing wasn't an option and it was left to the local birdlife to provide most of the entertainment. The garden feeding station was heaving, thus central to much of my attention during the month. The building project had not yet started, so the, then, kitchen doorway was scene of many a photography session. It wasn't. however, only birds attracted to the feeders!
The weather had started to return to some level of normality. Spring was just around the corner and I could get back out with the rods. The local drains continued to provide excellent pike fishing, whilst I had started to visit the Marshside day-ticket venues in search of some early carp. This was to pay big dividends later. The first butterfly of the year and the start of the Spring Common Buzzard movement - very typical fare for our Thanet garden in March
Where else? Scotland and the mighty Loch Awe. No, no, never ...... well OK, just one last trip! I'd just purchased my Nissan NV 200 van, and picked Sye up from Aston Clinton, en route. We travelled up, overnight, enduring an absolute fiasco of roadworks and diversions as we attempted to navigate our way north The loch was as magnificent as it ever is, we struggled - big time! Benno, Luke, Sye and I all caught pike, some of which were very pleasing. However, the weather tested us to beyond breaking point and we headed home, two days early, as a result. I don't see any of us ever returning?
Back into carp mode, awaiting the 16th June, and a return to my split cane "30" challenge out on the flatlands. Marshside day-ticket fishery and I was having a blast. Mick Jones, the bailiff, was a great help during my early visits, giving some excellent advice as he went about his duties. My use of split canes and centre-pins/Mitchell 300's ensured I got noticed and led to an invitation to join the club. I was very flattered and seized upon the opportunity, particularly because I'd not bothered to rejoin Sandwich & District AA. A new club, a new adventure and this one started with a real bang when I landed a magnificent Mirror Carp (20 lbs 7 oz) from Scroggins Lake.
A real roller coaster of a month, as the bungalow refurb stampeded into motion. Absolute chaos ensued as Bev and I attempted to live out our normal lives within a bomb site! The traditional angling season opened and, as a result, I crossed paths with Gareth Craddock. A proper character and superb blogger, we hit it off immediately and embarked on our separate challenges out on these desolate flatlands. So much else was going on, in the background, that focus was a real problem. I didn't catch much, saw even fewer birds, but had a blast along the way.
The realisation of a long awaited plan. Bev was 60 in March and we'd had decided that a family holiday would be preferable to a party? £2,000 or £4,000 really simple we'll go for the most expensive option! Not quite as black and white, I happily would have paid more just to see the faces of Emily and Harry as they boarded an aircraft for the very first time. Bev's son, Darryl, and his partner Alix, also joined us on Mallorca. Fabulous memories of a, never to be repeated, wonderful family occasion.
In spite of some top notch birding and angling, later in the month, the image that sums up July must be of Emily, Harry and Debbie, their mum, enjoying themselves in the villa pool, during their first excursion abroad. (Although a Black Vulture over the road is a very difficult memory to eclipse)
Back to the grind, an almost seamless transition, the split cane "30" challenge continued to dominate my angling effort, whilst the building project ensured that nothing was ever easy. Carp were caught, although nothing close to the prize I was chasing, however, European Beavers were able to provide a distraction which, despite my angst, were a real privilege to spend time with - all up close and personal.
A crazy month in which I caught my best carp of the season, got a "lifer" in the form of Lanner Falcon, yet everything paled into insignificance during our stay at Saoulas (Kefalonia) - Steve Godden got into the pool! Absolutely unheard of, just like the first moon landing! Brilliant times, spent in exceptional company, friendships such as these are a very precious gift. An absolute shining beacon amidst the nonsense of "Brexit" and our continuing bungalow rebuild! Malaka's ? - yes the whole crowd would happily take Elaini's accolade - fabulous memories of great times, people and places.
There was no chance that this month could live up to the heights of September, but it still had its' moments. Sadly the one that sticks in my crop is that encounter with a half-wit gamekeeper. Walking with my grand-children, through some superb woodland habitat, exquisitely manicured and maintained, my exchange with that guy was a real kick in the guts - what a, one dimensional, loser!
|The old "Ice House" - so much more important than the tosser we encountered along the way? Fairies live in here!|
What a month? Probably the best of 2018, if such a measure is possible? Three double figure pike, to 18 lbs 4 oz, a perch project that had just kicked off then, to top it all a "lifer"! The White-billed Diver; what an absolute stunner! That I was able to enjoy my sighting alone just gave the encounter additional sparkle - how blessed am I? I missed multiple Pallid Swifts, but had seen loads, earlier in the year, so it didn't cause me any stress.
|I have no shame! This was a "lifer" and I enjoyed my time with this Arctic stray.|
Work went crazy with, any amount of, overtime available for those of us within "Digital". As a consequence, I didn't get much fishing, or birding, done. I celebrated (no I didn't!) my sixty-third birthday and caught a few perch, including five two's in an hour on the 1st. No great fan of the modern Christmas spending fest, I still want my grandchildren to enjoy their holiday and, therefore, spend far more than intended, as we attempt to fulfil our role of Nanny & Grand-dad. Bev and I are in need of very little, so tell our family to concentrate on ensuring the kids are spoilt, yet my own kids, Sarah-Jayne & Benno, pulled off a masterstroke with their gift. I was absolutely blown away as I gazed down upon a pristine example of an Allcocks Match Aerial (circa 1969) - the real deal, not a Fred Crouch copy.
What we got up to this morning
Boxing Day is traditionally a date which, for an older angler, can only be compared with 16th June. Benno and I were on the Royal Military Canal just after 06.00 hrs and spent a very pleasant morning getting over the madness of yesterday. We both had a pike, for our troubles, mine a modest jack, Benno's tipping the scales at 13 lbs 4 oz. Around 11.30 hrs, we headed home, well I did, Benno went across to Sandwich Coarse Fishery where he added a perch of 1 lbs 14 oz to his day tally. Fabulous morning, out on the banks of this great pike fishery, we'll be back soon, certainly before the holiday period is over.