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An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to the see the natural world as a place for competition, that was until Covid-19 intervened!. 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!

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Thursday, 26 December 2019

2019 - where did it go?

This last year has simply flown by and I honestly don't know where time went. There were three major factors which have impacted upon my life during the year, over none of which I have much choice. Work is obviously a big part as I need to earn a living, whilst taking care of Bev's Mum is a no-brainer. The third piece of this jigsaw was far less down to me and more dependent on the workloads, and timescales, of the contractors we used. Happily, three weeks before Christmas, the bungalow refurb was finally completed and, apart from a bit of decorating, the project is over. I think that it's obvious to most visitors to this blog that my posting was very erratic and rather sparse in comparison to previous years. I plead guilty as charged and promise to try harder next year. Similarly my angling exploits were rather slap-dash and lacked the focus of previous years, again down to other pressures impacting on my available spare time. So, although 2019 wasn't a classic year, looking back isn't without highlights and pleasant memories - so here we go!

January

Nothing particularly out of the ordinary as the New Year kicked in. Perch fishing at Scroggins continued to take centre stage whilst the local drains could be relied upon to provide a bit of pike action by way of a change. The most incredible event was by complete fluke, Rob Tuck-Brown offering me the chance to own an awesome split cane rod, although not one I'd any interest in up until that fateful moment. A 1956 Hardy "Palakona" Perfection Roach became mine and was to lead me on a crazy adventure as the year unfolded.

Not a brand synonymous with Dylan Wrathall - this was the first example of this
manufacturers rods I've ever held!
Plenty of birds to look at whilst awaiting the alarms to sound, the East Kent marshes have so much to offer


The drains can always be relied upon to provide a bit of pike action.

February

More of the same, I'm afraid. Marshside continued to dominate my angling efforts, although the perch stopped playing ball. It was left to the drains to provide the pike shaped distraction as bent rods were becoming a bit of a novelty over at Scroggins.



The health of Bev's father was deteriorating rapidly and hospital visits were becoming more regular so it wasn't unusual for me to be in charge of the grandchildren whilst Bev had other matters to attend to. Trying to get Harry interested was hard work, but at least I can say that I made an effort. One other aspect of being outdoors started to play a role. Spurred on by my fellow bloggers, the camera got quite a bit of usage as I attempted to capture images of the ambience of my surroundings. Not too sure if I was successful, but I gave it a bash.

Dawn at Scroggins

March

Personally it was a month of change as my focus switched away from the perch of Scroggins and on to the, surface caught, carp of Homersham. The weather was mild and, as a result, the carp were rather mobile which ensured that my close season target of one hundred fish got off to a flyer! 

Ron Bunclark - RIP
However the month was dominated by the passing of Ron, Bev's father, who departed this world on the 16th; a sad loss to all that knew him.



Because Bev was embroiled in the task of funeral arrangements, and the associated red tape, both Emily and Harry accompanied me on several visits to the Marshside complex, Emily being far more enthusiastic than her younger brother, but they both caught some fish. It was, however, an encounter with a Water Stick Insect which made the biggest impact, Emily happy to pose for a photo with this "lifer" for me.


April

Quite a difficult month as the reality of losing Ron and the subsequent health issues of Denise, Bev's mum ensured that we had very little time for ourselves. For sure I caught a decent number of carp (scamps) off the surface at Homersham but, realistically it was all too easy and I was learning very little.
Scamping at Homersham was very enjoyable but, in reality, far too easy to be taken seriously.
May 

A month of upheaval as Bev and I quickly had to adapt the bungalow to provide a bedroom for her mother. Diagnosed with the onset of dementia, we could do little else as we were committed to the fact that Denise wouldn't be placed in a home, exactly as we'd promised both my parents. Only medical necessity would change our minds, such is the commitment to honour this undertaking. The mine field of red tape that is in place beggars belief, but Bev stubbornly refused to be beaten and set about the task of transferring Denise's care package, banking and associated matters from the Canterbury district to that of Thanet - might as well have moved to Afghanistan, such was the number of ridiculous hoops to be jumped through. 

In the middle of all this we had a week's holiday pre-booked, thus required some respite care for Denise. Fortunately Gary, Bev's older brother, came to the rescue and we were able to travel knowing that Denise would be looked after.

Levant Sparrowhawk

Mole Cricket - sadly picked out of the pool, so an ex mole cricket!
Pefkohorri was a superb break from the reality, that existed back on Thanet, it being a resort that we'd previously visited some years before. The change was incredible and, I have to say, not for the better, but we were out there and made the most of it. The weather was all that Bev could hope for, hot sunshine dawn to dusk, and the countryside surrounding the resort provided enough scope to keep me happy whilst on my wanderings. Just to top it off I even managed to photograph a "lifer" (which I very nearly screwed up) with Levant Sparrowhawk. I walked miles, took hundreds of photos, looked at plenty of creatures that would normally be ignored, and chatted with an array of complete strangers who were intrigued by the long lens and binoculars being carried by a long-haired twat! Just what the doctor ordered.


Remember that Hardy rod? Well I broke it, causing a previous repair to fail, whilst scamping at Homersham and this was the catalyst to an extraordinary set of circumstances that resulted in my stumbling upon the superbly gifted craftsman, Steve Boncey, who had the skills required to return the rod to its' original state. More about this saga to come later.

June

A routine was becoming established as Denise became accustomed to the daily visits of the carers and Bev was able to get some semblance of order back into her routine. Work remained my route to normality as home life took on a very different dimension.


My close season carp project was completed with ease, I actually had over one hundred surface caught fish with nearly a week to spare! All efforts were now to be directed towards the East Kent marshes and yet, I knew that it wasn't ever going to be anything more than playing games. The many time restrictions impacting on my abilities to be reactive under given conditions ensured that I'd spend more time photographing Beavers than I would be in serious contention of catching that split cane thirty.




Despite all the negatives, it was still a privilege to be out on the flatlands and my new found interest in landscape imagery was to see me capture some fantastic pictures of my surroundings including a crazy example of "luminescence" on the night of the solstice.

July

It was sheer bloody mindedness which kept me returning to the flatlands, I would have experienced the same level of success had I cast my baited hooks into the toilet! With the school holidays looming Emily and I enjoyed some wonderful afternoons doing silly things that can only matter to a Grand-dad and his Grand-daughter - brilliant memories for this old'n.


Stroking lambs or catching her first carp, these summer afternoons were
very special for us both

The skies started to exert their influence further and I found myself mesmerised by the ever changing vista that the fading light, on these long summer evenings, could produce.

This one is from the back garden!
As an aside the garden feeding station became re-established prior to the guys coming round to clear the unsightly jungle and I was entertained by some nice photo opportunities as various species came to sample the fare on offer.



August

I might as well have left the rods at home such was my lack of success! However, the garden feeding station was continuing to attract a nice variety of clientele and, as a result, there was always a photo opportunity should I be bothered?




A BTO ringed Starling was a nice discovery and, by the end of the month the annual passage of Common Buzzards had gotten underway. Many of these early migrants being very pale individuals indicative of the lowland populations of the near continent.


September

With Kefalonia always the main feature of recently passed Septembers, it comes as no surprise that Bev and I were really looking forward to this holiday. The responsibilities involved with taking care of Bev's mum are a burden much akin to bringing up kids! It would be impossible, however, for me to use this as any type of excuse for the events of the 1st. I made a complete pig's ear of a very straight forward identification and jetted off to the Greek sunshine oblivious to my schoolboy error.

What idiot could screw this id up? Me, of course!
With a fortnight booked we needed to find some professional respite care for Denise and came up trumps when we discovered this place in Canterbury. Each, and every, member of the staff at Connors House (A Rapport Housing & Care company) whatever their role, were outstanding in every aspect of this situation. Even as Bev and I were sat in a bar at Stanstead Airport, a phone call was made to reassure us that Denise was in good spirits and for us to enjoy our break and not to worry - fantastic touch! An extraordinary piece of PR which very few other businesses would have thought of? Would I recommend them? You bet I would, an absolute credit to the organisation - advert over!


I don't think I can say too much more about this holiday that hasn't already been said. That Carrie-Anne & Craig turned up, completely out of the blue, just took the whole fortnight to another level. God bless you both - I borrowed that from my Mum! We did things and visited places that we'd never previously experienced and returned home much the better for this time away.

October

My inability to catch a cold was starting to grate and, although it went against my better instincts, pike fishing commenced. I did manage to sneak out a rather characterful common carp prior to my fist pike session, but still my results were a long way short of expectations. Fortunately I had the distraction of "big skies" at both dawn and dusk whilst the feeding station was also a feature outside my study window.



November

If October was bad, this month was even worse! There were events going on beyond the scope of this blog which contrived to ensure going fishing was a long way down the list of priorities. I did get out,


on a few occasions, but nothing occurred to write home about. My second double of the season was a nice change of fortune, yet action could hardly be described as hectic! Our trip down to Devon to rendezvous with Carrie-Anne, Craig, Leon & Leeney was a wonderful event and just served to highlight what true friendship is all about. Bev and I are very lucky people!

You couldn't make it up!

December

As has the rest of our nation, I endured the pathetic rigmarole of the General Election. An exercise which passed without a single candidate, or representative, visiting my address. It was so pathetic that we only received one leaflet and that was from the Lib Dems! On the 12th, after finishing my shift, I did my duty and cast my vote (for the Greens!) knowing that I had ensured the right to complain once the result was announced. The total failure of Labour can be summarised in two words - Jeremy Corbyn - and is a sad testament to the forefathers of socialism who strove to give the working man a voice. It's all over now and only time will tell how clown prince Boris will adhere to his manifesto promises?
Despite the "remoaning" doomsters, FSIS has continued to prosper amidst the chaos of Brexit and my working fifty-four hour weeks is a direct result of the success that has been built by our Japanese owners during this period of uncertainty.


Beyond this political circus, the bungalow project came to an end with the construction of our summerhouse-type conservatory. Many thanks to those guys at Kent Sectional Buildings for their efforts. Christmas Day has passed relatively peacefully and I look forward to getting back out with the rods, however, there needs to be a decent break in the rain before I have a realistic chance of returning to the RMC or drains. My new syndicate might offer some alternative choices but, as yet, I've not even visited the fishery!

So there you have it and I'm sure you'll agree that 2019 hasn't been a classic. However, it doesn't matter how I dress it up, the fact remains that my existence is pretty good and I've little to complain about. It is overcoming these obstacles which makes you understand what, in life, is important? Catching fish and/or looking at wildlife are brilliant interests which can fill a void, but important they ain't!
Oh yeah! I had mentioned the restoration of my Hardy split cane by Steve Boncey. It is such an incredible demonstration of skill that it is really worthy of a post of its' own. I'll do my best to get one ready before the New Year - promise!


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