Back in nature…

Friday evening saw me, two other leaders, one junior leader and 14 Scouts park up at Ullesthorpe Scout Camp. As soon as I headed down through the trees with my gear, I knew I was in for a special weekend. Just being surrounded by nature, no phones, no watches, just tents, food and space.

I think it took about an hour to get our camp pitched, before we got the fires lit, kettles on, and burgers and hotdogs cooking. So nice eating outdoors with our troop, surrounded by trees, with the crackle of fires soundtracking our evening. I didn’t mind that I had a tiny tent, although it was kinda funny listening to the Scouts chatting away loudly until 2:00 in the morning!

I didn’t sleep much that night, so was up at 4:00am, getting water and making sure the kettles were on for a brew. It was nice having the camp to myself  for a while, the only sound being the stove boiling water. Strong coffee brought me big smiles, as I waited for the rest of our crew to stir…

A fry up of bacon and eggs, more coffee and some fruit got everyone up and running, and we set the Scouts off on Bivvy building exercises, and making sure their fires were brought back to life. Our younger Scouts did a great job of keeping their fire going all day, which was brilliant, as we were cooking on fires that evening. I was very proud of how our younger Scouts managed over the weekend, and carried out all tasks, even washing up with a smile and good grace.

At some point during the day, I wandered back up the hill, and sat in the small open air chapel for a few minutes. It was lovely just sitting in peace for a short while on my own, surrounded by trees.

So, the bivvies never got built, but the fires were stoked up, and a water fight ensured everyone (me included) got soaked. Hey, it was fun, and the sun was high in the sky, and we dried off quickly. Dinner that night was chicken stew and baked potatoes cooked on the camp fires, damn there were good. Dessert was baked bananas with dark chocolate, I should have left mine on for longer, but it was nice and unctuous…

We spilt the Scouts into two groups and set them challenges around the campsite, which was fun, and they won sweets, which they enjoyed. We all spent time chilling around the fires, and all was good until some of the older Scouts starting mucking around, and curfew was called. Just as well we were all tired anyway… I read for an hour (Pratchett) and crashed out, happy wrapped up in a sleeping bag.

I was first up again in the morning, so got the kettles on for brews. Once everyone else was up, we got sausages on, and tucked into a very hearty breakfast… those sausages were GOOD. Slowly, we took all the tents down, washed all the pots, cleared up the rubbish, and generally got ready to go home. We were all knackered form taking everything back up the hill, but it was worth it. We had all had a brilliant weekend. Bring on the big camp in July…

Cycling makes me happy!

Today was college day, almost the end of the first year of my Counselling Diploma (man that has gone quick…), and it was really cool to cycle in.

The afternoon saw me plummet into a tailspin of tiredness and depression, and even though I had a good chat with an old friend that helped, cycling home really lifted my spirits and brought me back from the pits of despair.

I bloody love cycling!

elsa
Elsa – my trusty road bike

 

I have been reborn…

I’ve been working on my first lot of new music for a while over the last few weeks. I had got burnt out on making music for quite a while, but I have my mojo back BIG TIME!

I’ve loved heavy metal for a long time, I grew up with it, chose it as my own as a teen, and have been rocking out ever since… Rekindling my love for heavy sludge sounds last year with GURT and others led me to start working on some new Harmonica sounds of my own. RUKE (my heavy music alter ego) was back, loud and proud!

So, there’s a heavy ep of six tracks percolating away of the PC, which I had great fun blasting out in our front room on Sunday. There is a way to go to get these tracks right, but a solid foundation has been laid. And whilst driving around earlier this week, I had a eureka moment…

I was listening to an ace compilation of Brazilian metal acts from Terrorizer magazine, and I thought, blimey, isn’t heavy metal amazing? There is a big umbrella of metal with all kinds of crazy genres underneath it… what if I made eps and albums in all those genres and styles, but with HARMONICAS?!? Kapow! I had another crazy idea to fixate on (I tend to get a bit OCD over projects and ideas), and act on.

SET-UPThere we go, my musical obsession has another facet to it. Heavy Metal Harmonicas are GO!

Heres a teaser… https://soundcloud.com/ruke-622656462/stomper

BMX!

IMG_0019I blummin love BMX. Riding, bikes, culture, style, the whole shebang… I’ve been riding BMX on and off since I was 12 (There is that age again…), and cannot imagine not riding it in some form until I drop!

I started riding Flatland BMX (standing on your bike spinning around in circles and not falling off…) back in 2008, and you think I would be good at it by now, but the fun of mucking around on little bikes rather than worrying about new tricks and fads makes me happy and puts a smile on my face.

I had an ace time riding with my eldest grandson (he is a natural!) at the weekend, and getting a new sprocket (I snapped my old one in competition) for Christmas means I will back out there before you know it…

Grow old gracefully? On your bike! (Ha!)

That’s better…

I’ve had a rough day today… not feeling too good about myself and my attitude, I spent the morning at college on my Counselling Diploma. This morning, we were working in groups presenting controversial issues to each other and letting the debates ensue. I dug myself further and further into my cave, withdrawing from the room and the ensuing debates.

I presented our groups issue (enforced euthanasia) with sheer bloody mindedness, stayed for the following group, made my excuses and left, knowing that my mood and mental state would not be conducive to learning that afternoon.

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The Pond in late Autumn

After a long lunch and a cuddle with my wife on my return home, I packed up my fishing rods and backpack and headed back to my favourite fishing spot of the summer, “my pond”. Just walking down the towpath in the late autumn sun made me feel better. The canal was high after heavy rain last week, and the trees were mostly bare, allowing more to be seen in the fields around the canal.

 

 

IMG_5135
Rods are out…

Arriving at the pond, the feelings of the morning faded, and a warm smile spread across my face. It is good to be back at one of my favourite places to relax. The pond seemed a little different, as it is not covered by so much foliage now, but it has lost none of its magic calming effect. Being in nature is such a tonic to me in times of distress and upset.

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The Pond in late Autumn

 

After fishing with my good friend Rolf at the end of last week down in Hampshire (I was after Pike, Rolf was after Carp), I was certain that there is a dirty great big Pike in the pond… I had seen it briefly over the Summer, and the lack of water birds on the pond confirmed it to me and my friends. Rolf has kindly set me up with Pike rigs and a bigger landing net, so Im determined to go after the Pike in the pond, alongside fishing for the larger Roach that are definitely in there too.

Here’s to an exciting Winter at a lovely spot, and catching some big fish. It makes me happy.

Gone fishing… again!

It’s been really nice to have a day off today. Even with being self employed, sometimes you need to take a break. The last few weeks have been really busy, as we’ve had some big projects on,but both my wife and I are so happy with how our art and design business is growing.

I spent a little time tying a new (to me) rig ready for the mornings fishing, whilst keeping an eye on the weather (it’s really windy in the UK at the mo…). After bundling my simple fishing setup into my rucksack, grabbed a single rod, my net and folding stool and headed off for the canal.

I’m experimenting with equipment setups at the mo, seeing how little I can get away with for various activities. For example, I have found that I can go fishing with a rucksack, a single rod, small net and a folding stool. My lovely old rucksack carries a stove, fishing kit in sectioned box, bait, kettle, insulated cup, frying pan, food and most importantly, coffee bags. I have a folding water carrier, notebook and mechanical pencil, and thats about it. It sounds like quite a lot, but it’s quite minimal really.

I don’t want to get too bogged down in kit lists, as I think it’s more important to write about experiences than things, but I’m really enjoying the challenge of exploring without too much stuff getting in the way. Its more fun that way, you enjoy it more if you’re not worrying about having the right knife, cup, rope, whatever.

So, back to fishing. I’ve been reading a lot in Carpology lately about methods, techniques, tips, history and so on. There’s a really interesting article in last month’s issue about baiting up and waiting, sometimes for days. It really resonated with me. Today, I started putting it into action.

Arriving at the canal, I had to wait whilst a narrow boat moved up through the locks that were next to the swim I’m fishing in at the mo.  All good, it gave me time to have breakfast and get a brew on. Once the boat moved on, I baited up, had coffee, more breakfast and waited for almost an hour before I cast out. (It was as long as I can manage at the mo… I am building my patience up again. It’s kind of a zen thing with me and fishing.)

The fish are out there, I saw them this morning, and they were definitely knocking around the bait, as my bite alarm testified, but no bites today. Thats okay. I’m really enjoying being outdoors again, whatever the weather, and the challenge of catching a fish in a natural environment. It may take longer, but that’s what I’m enjoying. Learning about fish, their patterns of behaviour, diet, hooks, line, all that. You never stop learning in this world.

TeethRename

Claw Rig

 

Let’s go exploring… Chapter 1

It’s been a really good week for exploring the countryside and waterways around me. Not having a car for a while makes a huge difference. I like it, heck, I even rode my bike this week!

It was the last Scout meeting before our Summer break on Tuesday, which was great fin, as we set up a HUGE water slide, covered it with baby bath and water, and spent a couple of hours slipping and sliding. Much hilarity ensued. I also got my paperwork for Assistant Troop Leader sorted, and just have a short informal interview next week, then I’m official! Excited! We had chips from our fab chip shop to celebrate!

On Wednesday evening, I went exploring for new fishing spots. I had already planned getting some walking in, after finding out more about the state of the fish stocks in our stretch of the canal, so a journey further afield was required. I knew I could get to a further stretch of the Grand Union Canal by following footpaths, so set out after supper for a lovely walk through corn fields and onto the canal.

You come onto the canal at a set of locks with a bridge next to them, and there were already good signs of fish around. Just after the bridge there is a big swim, surrounded by tall reeds, with plenty of weed and features for fish to hover under, which looked really promising. I logged that swim for a later session, as I was headed for a bridge further down the canal. Walking down this stretch of canal was lovely, as I hadn’t really explored it that much, and I love walking in the countryside. Heck, I just love walking!

There was good signs all the way down the canal, and it was really nice to stop at the bridge to set up and start fishing. I’ve driven, cycled and walked over this bridge so many times in my life, that it was just so nice to be stood next to it, immersed in nature, and scanning the tree line opposite for signs of fish. I baited up with this evening’s corn mix (hot chilli, ginger, mustard seeds and sesame oil) with my ace old baiting spoon (big old kitchen spoon… we’re on a tight budget these days!), and cast out to the opposite bank…

It was pretty quiet for a while, but then the feeding began, and there were a good few knocks, with fish showing interest. Casting around a fairly small stretch of water seemed to be paying off, as there was definite activity. There was a HUGE splash at one point, sounding like a cow had jumped in the water. It was too far over for me to see anything, but there were some BIG ripples coming out from the trees… Hmmm.

I stayed there until the light started to really go, mindful I had a two mile walk back, and I didn’t fancy doing it in the dark! Happy that I’d found another good swim, I packed up and headed back up the canal for home, smiling and content. I checked out the swim near the locks on the way back, very happy to see signs of BIG fish over there. That’ll be the next session sorted then!

To be continued…

Stormy Cornfield
Stormy cornfield en route to the Grand Union Canal
locks
Locks after the bridge
A6 trees
Trees on the opposite bank
A6 towpath
Towpath heading towards Wistow
weeds swim
Weedy swim on the opposite bank
baiting spoon
Trusty baiting spoon!
PORK!
PORK! Evidence there’s definitely been fishing done here!

Hooked!

Back from my best solo fishing session yet! I got my first bite, though the fish got away!

I feel so happy and calm right now. I had intended to go down to the canal for two hours tonight, and fish the other side of the bridge, as there seemed to be more fish activity on that side, BUT… I looked over to the side of the canal where I have been fishing for the last few weeks just in time time to catch sight of a mighty splash in line with my usual spot. Game on! I was fishing down there for sure!

Trying to keep calm and quiet after seeing activity in ‘my’ spot, I got down there quick sharp, baited up with sweetcorn, using the water from the tin at the canal’s edge to tempt the fish, got some corn on my hook and cast out… There was lots of activity on the far bank, near the weeds, and a little further from there too. I felt really happy, and proud that my tactic of baiting up this spot seemed to be paying off. The fish were out there, and definitely interested…

I got a little frustrated that I seemed to be casting more into the overhanging tree for a while, and managed to break a float… It was a freebie, but still. I set up a new float and rig with lighter weights, and this seemed to do the trick. Casting out to the other bank, and allowing the mild current of the canal to shift the float and rig a little closer paid off, as the fish were a lot more interested, bubbling up around the float. Time passed without me noticing, as watching the fish draw ever closer was so exciting. I was willing them on to take the bait… then one did!

This was my first proper bite, as I was fishing solo, so it was really exciting. I managed to get the fish out of the water, a small Roach (I think) about six inches long, but it wriggled off the hook and splashed back into the canal with a plop! Miffed, but so happy that I’d got a bite!

roach

Time had passed, and I had planned to head for home, but they were biting now! I stayed on for an extra hour, until the light started fading, enjoying seeing the fish get ever closer to the float, but not quite taking the bait. Plenty of knocks, but no more bites I’m afraid. I cleared up, taking my rubbish home, and walked back with a REALLY big smile on my face. I might not of actually caught and landed my first fish on my own, but I was so close. I’m hooked!