Worlds away

A holiday should be just that. Time away from the day to day experiences and a chance to recharge the batteries which are always taking a hit by the 9 to 6. My time in Devon has been all that and more.

Arriving on Saturday morning, we quickly unpacked and headed over to Brixham for their annual Fishstock festival. The event celebrates music, the sea and the Fish it offers to our plates. From the tasty demonstrations by the Chef’s to walking around a Trawler and seeing the conditions they live in when at Sea.

Smiles all round as Andy is declared the winner
Andy and Richard compete in ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’. Smiles all round as Andy (Right) is declared the winner

It was the walk around the Trawler which really got me thinking. These (apparently) large vessels, take to the sea with the aim of bringing back food for the tables of the likes of you and me. It’s the perils they face that make it an expensive business, both for the equipment they have to maintain and the injury/loss of life that they face in the harsh unforgiving depths of the Ocean.

Climbing aboard the Barentszee, we were able to walk around the kitchen and living quarters of the crew. For anyone who has travelled on the Northern Line in London, imagine living in one carriage, the seats replaced with beds (two of them to one row of seats), a Kitchen and Bathroom and sharing with several other people(!)

As we made our way up some narrow and very steep steps, we found ourselves at the helm of the vessel.

The Trawler
At the controls of the Trawler

The screens above the Skipper’s seat dancing with data and maps to help them locate their treasure, keep them safe and warn them of incoming weather fronts which may be of concern.

Radar on the Trawler
Screens on the Trawler

The boat gently swayed as more and more people walked on and around the boat, some venturing on to the RNLI boat moored next to it. I couldn’t help but stare at the giant rig’s on the Trawler. Seeing them up close was a surprise, as they always looked huge, but you can’t appreciate them until you have been stood next to them.

Today, the wind is blowing and the sea is creating waves that are crashing on the rocks in the distance. I can’t help by think of those who are still going out to work though. The waves are nothing compared to what you can face in the open waters of the English Channel, but they still look impressive.

Our Fishermen go out, whether it be for the day or a week, in all weathers. No option to ‘pull a sickie’ if they don’t feel like it. They have bills to pay and families to support.

When I face the train pain of my commute or wake up feeling sorry for myself because I don’t want to go and sit in my office all day, I’ll remember them.

And to any Fishermen reading this now, stay safe and good luck for your next trip.

Walking and walking… and more walking

It has been a beautiful day here in South Yorkshire. The perfect day for a walk. Luckily! I had planned the day for doing a site survey ahead of the software launch next weekend and was hopeful the rain would stay away.

The software is to be used for the Angling Trust’s Winter League final and as such I had 3 miles of the Stainforth and Keadby Canal and Lindholme Lakes complex to check and ensure it had adequate mobile signal. I opted to head for the Canal first as it was the biggest bit of walking. I was pleased I did as it was lovely. I parked near Staniland Marina in Thorpe and walked down from the pegs in the 280’s. A barge going through the lock gave me time to watch a couple of local anglers, one of which was catching a few small Roach.

Barge in a Lock

The walk down from the lock saw me get a bit lost in the long grass. Now, I’m not the tallest of people (a struggling 5 foot 5), but the grass was taller than me. There were a couple of guys fishing but I daren’t have a chat with them as I wasn’t too sure I wouldn’t stand on something. There was a moment when I wondered if that was going to be my entire 3 miles, but soon the grass cleared and I was faced with a brief walk along the road.

When I got to around peg 180, I encountered another group of anglers. It  transpired that several teams had made their way up to Thorne to get in some practice on the Canal ahead of next weekend, some of whom were staying to fish the Open tomorrow. A team from Oxford/Reading were very friendly and they were doing ok. I informed them of my mission and they wished me well.

By far the chattiest, was a gentleman at about peg 120 who was with Maver Image. He was sat behind one of his team mates and we had a long chat about the matches, travel, London and technology. By this point I had been walking for 2 hours and was starting to feel it. I had plenty of water with me luckily and I made my excuses and carried on walking. Other than a couple of other gentleman, there was then no one until I reached peg 20, where Ossett (forgive the spelling!) were fishing ahead of their League match tomorrow.

Canal

On my walk back, I filled in the guys with as much info as I could and again had a nice chat with the Maver Image guys. I saw quite a few fish caught, the highlight of which was a nice Tench of about 4 pound. Beautiful fish.

4 hours after I had started out, I arrived back at my oven of a car and headed over to the Lindholme complex to check the signal there. After several missed turns and spending 20 minutes messing about with EE (I really do not enjoy dealing with them!), I managed to get out and have a walk around.

It’s a wonderful place and is very well managed. Most of the guys were weighing in and as I rounded one corner, a group of chaps in fine voice, were handing over the brown envelopes of cash to the winner. As I walked past, a very cheery gentleman of advancing years, who I believe was called Lesley was holding the envelopes with a beaming smile. He asked me for a kiss to celebrate his win and, encouraged by several others and despite my first attempt at saying no, I gave in and gave him a kiss on the cheek. His smile broad and his friends cheering away, I carried on my walk around the lakes.

Lindholme Lakes

So now I am faced with a need to input some data into my system and look at one minor issue ahead of Friday. I’ve had an amazing day, but 18000 steps and over 7 miles later, I think for now I will enjoy my dinner and well earned beer… or two!

Best of luck to the guys fishing in the Open tomorrow on the Canal! Here’s hoping the rain isn’t as bad as they are predicting.

As the warm weather finally decends on the UK, it seems that we need less than 24 hours of warmth, before people start to complain that it’s too hot!

I could’ve done with it being ‘too hot’ last Wednesday. I decided to embark on my first fishing match in 4 years. Harescombe Fisheries have several lakes which are ideal for catching Carp. Well, they’re ideal if you’re not me. The 3 hour evening match had a good turn out and within 15 minutes I was already a good 5lbs behind the men pegged around me. 35 minutes in and a section of my pole smashed.

Fishing at 7 metres, the float buried, I struck, the elastic came out and the number 6 section of my pole splintered. A quick lunge forward to grab the pole before I lost the lot and a lot of very unhappy thoughts. To make matters worse, by the time we were 30 minutes from the end I was cold, hungry and the few fish I had in my swim had decided to join the rest of the shoal and emigrate to the pegs next door.
At this point, my thoughts centered around whether I should even bother weighing in and that I was dying for a nice hot cup of tea. I did decide to weigh in, just shy of 7lbs – leaving me in a really successful last place.

The latter part of last week saw the rise in temperature that we were all hoping for and a reduction in the water cascading from the sky.

With this in mind, on Thursday, we finally made a trip to Cheltenham to attend the Brewin Dolphin Cheltenham Cricket Festival. It’s been a number of years since my last visit and I was suprised at the lack of support. I can only assume that with the uncertainty of the weather, people were reluctant to visit. It was day Two of the LVCC game v Leicestershire and it was great to see Gloucestershire in action. Leicestershire were in to bat when I arrived and I didn’t move until the close of play, leaving Gloucestershire on 40/2.

Sadly I was unable to make it back to the College ground and this was probably my only live Cricket experience of 2012. Such a shame considering I had hoped to watch several Gloucestershire matches this year and make at least one England game. Maybe a plan for 2013?

Friday saw myself and three friends put on a charity gig at Cheltenham Town FC. I would like to thank everyone who took part and everyone who came along to support us. We had some people up and dancing along to the songs and successfully raised just over £200 for Help the Hospices and Cancer Research UK. Both charities are dear to me and I am thrilled that we’ve been able to help them a little. We’ve been asked to do another gig in the near future, which we will (hopefully) do and now I have a bit more of an idea on what’s involved, I’m sure we will improve!