Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Bewl Water is fishing well with big fish being caught, if you know how!!!


Rob teaching at Bewl


I managed to get down to Bewl Water to enjoy I some top of the water autumnal action. Rob Barden (who fishes for England) was manning the Fishing Lodge so I did not hesitate to ask his advice on the where and how. He recommended drifting either side of the fish cages in terms of the where and fishing a booby on the point and a couple of small naturals on the dropper. He said the knack that makes the difference at this time of year is to fish the booby static, and if on the drift not retrieving any more than is necessary to keep the fly line straight between the rod tip and the fly. So fully briefed I went to work.  The weather was ideal, mainly overcast with a good ripple on the water.  As I was motoring to the cages I saw a circle of smooth water and was tempted to stop and cast to it as it was probably caused by fish circling just under the surface. I should have paused but the call of the cages was too strong!   
A selection of boobies
Now I am use to retrieving boobies fast on warm summer evenings when the trout will provide a brilliant chase, but that is totally wrong in the autumn. So I had to force myself to keep the booby as static as possible and it worked.  In the end I gave up drifting, I got lazy and moored to a buoy, with fish moving all around.  The weather was bright and there was a quiet time early afternoon but there were fish showing most of the time.  Just before I was leaving the clouds opened and it poured. I managed to wrap the leader round the top of the rod and thought of leaving, but I decided I liked extreme fishing so I tied a new leader on put an fresh minkie booby on the point and was swiftly rewarded by a cracking take and another 3 lb fish.

It was worth getting wet as I filleted the fish and my wife cooked my favourite trout recipe "Pan fried citrus trout with basil". The recipe is in the book "50 Classic Trout Recipes" by Jane Bamforth at the amazing cost of £4.99.  I got it for Christmas last year so if you want to get a fly fisherman a lovely present this year there is my suggestion.



   

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Crucial protection when teaching a grandson to fly fish.

A few days ago I had the pleasure and privilege of giving Sam, my 15 year old grandson his first boat fly fishing experience.  He lives at Milton Keynes so that gave us the excuse of going to Grafham Water, around an hours drive away.  Grafham is a well run fishery, where they even provide drogues and landing nets (for reasons I wont go into here).  They have a superb tackle shop and allowed my grandson and I to fish on the same 6 fish ticket.  I had not fished the water for several years so asked where we should concentrate.  The weather was a bit contrary blowing a gale with bright sun.  Eventually we found the fish down by the dam, but it was tricky fishing as the wind was blowing us onto the dam.  I insisted on Sam wearing eye protection, he had forgotten to bring his sunglasses but fortunately so I gave him an expensive pair my son Stuart had left in my car.  Sam then forgot to bring those in the boat, fortunately I had got another spare pair in my fishing bag!  A hat is a good idea too Sam!


To cut a long story short Sam cast well, fished well and was rewarded with a brace of cracking rainbows caught on blood worm flies.  Here is the first one.

I am sad when I see people fishing without eye protection, having buried a hook in my own face a couple of times, I don't think it is worth the risk of getting one in the eye!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Fun sailing in Dubrovnik at Uvala Lapad

I am glad so many of you, from all over the world, enjoy my posts, I get pleasure out of writing them because I remind myself of things that have happened (usually good) and I like to share experiences with others. I have one more thing to share from our sojourn in Croatia. Walking from the Hotel More along the footpath just above the sea on our way to the bus stop we passed this lovely lady. Stopping for a chat (as you do) I inquired about hiring a yacht for a sail. 


The net result was that we had an evening sail, with a very friendly and competent captain, who told us about the area and what was going on.  He kindly kept us in calm waters.
This is the boat we sailed in as seen from the hotel restaurant.

 As you can see I was quite relaxed!

This island use to be all rock but ages ago, when the Austrians conquered the area, they shipped soil to cover it and now it has trees. 

If you are out there and fancy a sail their web site is http://www.dubrovnik-sailing.com
An evening sail cost us around £90 which I thought was good value.  The customer service was brilliant!  Life is short and you have to enjoy the journey!!!


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Just occasionally we Brits do something really well!

Having seen the news coverage and having friends tell us what a wonderful sight it was my wife and I decided to jump the bus and train and take a look at the major art installation "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red" at the Tower of London.  This artistic display marked one hundred years since the first full day of Britain's involvement in the First World War. Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies progressively filled the Tower's famous moat over the summer. Each poppy represents a British and Commonwealth military fatality during the First World War.
The poppies encircle the iconic landmark, the castle, known as the Tower of London creating not only a spectacular display visible from all around the Tower but also a location for personal reflection. The scale of the installation intends to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary creating a powerful visual commemoration.
On the conclusion of the display, the poppies are to be sold raising millions of pounds which will be shared equally amongst six service charities.

 We went there on a Friday around 11.00 am and it was solid with people from all over the UK and the World.  It has been like that for weeks and weeks.
 Here is an artistic touch showing the poppies appearing to pour out of the castle.  Just like blood pouring out of some poor soul's body.
 The crowds were quiet and reverent, quietly shuffling along all a bit overwhelmed aware that each poppy represented one of the 888,246 who died protecting our freedom.

We came away quiet, reflective and thankful.  It made me proud to be British.

Magic in Montenegro!

The border with Montenegro is only an hours drive from Dubrovnik and my brother had said it was well worth a visit.  We signed up with a tour operator near the hotel and were told we would be collected from the hotel at 7.55 am.  We hadn't asked so we were not sure whether a car, taxi or minibus would turn up to take us, so we were surprised when a forty-seater coach arrived on time.  There were already some people on board and as it drove through Dubrovnik stopping at other hotels it soon filled up.  As we left Dubrovnik heading south along the mountainous roads I soon realised we were in the hands of a very professional team.  The driver was confident and careful and the two tour guides a lady, who sat at the back translating for the french and Ratka a male comedian who performed up the front giving the commentary in english.  Ratka gave us a geography lesson and a history lesson and made it funny and interesting.  Helpfully he briefed us on how to behave with the officials when we reached the border crossings, warning us that some holiday makers who ignored his advice are still guests of the government!
As the pictures will show we were blessed with beautiful weather.  The coast of Montenegro has fjords like Norway and they are very deep which means that large cruise liners can sail deep into the country like this one at Kotor.
Ratka told us how several hundred years ago a fisherman had discovered an icon (a small religious picture) lying on a rock in the middle of a fjord and had taken it to his village where it was placed in the church.  The next morning the icon was gone, presumably stolen and everyone was sad.  A few days later another fisherman found the icon back on the rock so he took it back to the church.  Then it went missing and was found back on the rock again!  The villagers decided that this was a sign and the icon needed to be on the rock so they built a church on the rock to house the icon in!  The picture below shows the church they built.
Here is Ratka in full flow suggesting where we might eat.  I included this picture because it reminds me that there is some serious fishing to be had in the area.

Having driven round the fjord we then took the ferry to cross it giving rise to some lovely photo opportunities.

We kept having to pinch ourselves to remind us it was mid October.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Exploring wonderful Dubrovnik, Croatia

Having had a wonderful drive from the airport the helpful receptionist (Nika) at Hotel More  (pronounced Morey) recommended us each purchasing a special tourist discount card called a "Dubrovnik Card" from the local tourist office.  She explained it was actually two cards, one gave us free travel on the buses and the other free access to museums, art galleries and "the famous city wall" (10 locations in all).  She also gave us a very useful map with the city on one side and the whole area on the other side where she planted a cross showing us where the hotel was. When in a foreign country it is always reassuring to know where you are laying your head!

Having unpacked in lovely rooms and tested out all the switches etc. we went about exploring, first the hotel and then the cliff path in front of it.  The cave bar blew our minds it was so cleverly arranged.  Then we had dinner, went for an evening stroll along the cliff path in front of the hotel and then crashed out.

The next morning after a robust breakfast we walked to the tourist office exchanged some currency and collected our Dubrovnik Cards.  A bus came along straightaway and we shoe horned ourselves onto it.  It was the rush hour.  I got chatting to a chap from the UK who had been there nearly a week and he kindly recommended some things to do and places to visit.  I was holding on too tight to write anything down but fortunately Rosalind was eves dropping and she has total recall.

When we got to the bus station just outside the old walled town it was heaving with people, apparently there were two large cruise ships in the port.  The atmosphere was magic with street performers and music and loads of food.


Having "done" a couple of art galleries and had refreshments by the little harbour we found our way up to "the wall". This goes right round the old town (as well as up and down) and you get the most amazing views and photo opportunities.  Altogether the walk round the wall is around 1.3 kilometers long. Fortunately it was not too warm.

The orange area is the old town surrounded by the wall.

View from the wall of an adjacent fort.

From the wall you look down on stunning tiled roofs.
And the marina.
 Rosalind has to be coaxed into posing.
 There was some very clever workmanship as this hand rail bracket demonstrates.

We had a lovely lunch and a pleasant bus trip back and felt we were really on holiday!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Wonderful Holiday by the Sea in Croatia!

In order to recover from our 6 weeks babysitting in the US we consulted our travel guide (my brother Chris) and he recommended Croatia, somewhere I would have never considered!  We booked up and thankfully my mother's graduation from this life did not require us to change our plans.  Chris kindly told us which travel agent to use, what hotel to stay at and what things to do and it was all absolutely brilliant.  So to share this I am going to do a series of short posts covering booking and the hotel, what we did in Dubrovnik, trips and activities and our visit to Montenegro.

We booked with a company called Broadway Travel and a helpful adviser called Grant Lawson. We flew Easyjet from Gatwick (around 2.5 hours) and stayed at a 5 star boutique hotel called Hotel More (pronounced Morey in Croatian).  We went half board but could have gone B & B as there were lots of cheap places to eat at locally. We took Rosalind's brother John with us.
John looking at the hotel as we sail past.
The sea views from the hotel were wonderful.

The hotel was excellent, the food good and the staff friendly and helpful.  The quality of workmanship in the building was first class.  The layout was slightly complicated due to it being built down the face of  cliff but that made it interesting.
The dinning room was lovely but much of the time we were alfresco.
The kitchen had a large window enabling you to see the wonderful food being prepared.
During the construction of the hotel a cave was discovered and this has been developed into a wonderful bar.
The cave bar has a clever viewing platform that allows examination of the stalactites and stalagmites closely.  It is all beautifully executed.
I liked the sea side patio with sun loungers and tables, but best of all I could dive straight into warm deep water and snorkel watching fish until I was exhausted!  More to follow.......