Reminiscing

Dave Spence

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Please forgive me folks but, as I was researching my previous Drowners stories to help write the new one. I came across these tales, from a few years ago about me and Ken. I have taken the liberty of re posting them as a a bit of a memorial to him. Please forgive the self indulgence.


Let’s have an adventure

“Giz a hand Dave” shouted my dad through the back door. I put down my paper and groaned as I heaved myself up off the settee, I had been on nights and was absolutely knackered. I walked outside, stretching and yawning as I went, to be greeted by my dad unhitching a large trailer from his Vauxhall Victor.

“What you got there Ken”? I asked

“It’s a trailer tent” he replied,” I bought it off a chap at work and I thought we might have a bit of fun with it”

I helped him unhitch the trailer and we pulled it round the back of the house and into the garage.

“What made you buy this Ken” I asked

“How long is it since you and me had an adventure” he replied. I had to admit that since I had started work I had been taken up with matches on the Trent, Ken and I had not pleasure fished for ages, I did not realise how much he missed it.

“Brian can be off school next week” he stated, “can you get off as well”? My dad had so much hope in his voice that I suddenly felt very sad and guilty that we had not fished together for so long.

“I’ll go and see Wantie tomorrow and get a week off”

“Brilliant” replied Ken, it was a good job my mother didn’t hear us, Wantie (Dr Want) was our local GP and my mother did not believe in wasting his time.

The next day (Friday), after a visit to the good doctor, I came home the proud possessor of a sick note for seven days.

“Do you want to come fishing with me and Dave for a week or would you sooner be at school?” Ken asked my younger brother as he was just gathering his school books together before setting off.

My, 13 year old, younger brother was called Brian but he was known by everyone as Boo. This nickname had evolved from his habit of following me around like ‘Boo Boo’ with Yogi Bear and it had stuck (even now, 40 odd years later, I still call him Boo).

“Brilliant” said Boo, “can I bring Carl?”

“Don’t see why not” said Ken “provided his dad is okay with it”.

Carl was Boo’s best mate, 5 stone wet through but hard as nails and a very promising amateur boxer.

“Where are we going Ken?” I asked.

“Brookie has told me about a lake at Woodhall Spa” he replied.

Brookie was my ‘uncle Howard’ (whom you may know from previous stories) and if he gave you information you ignored it at your peril.

“When are we going, Saturday?” I asked

“Yeah” replied my dad “I’d better let Vi know”

“I’m taking the kids fishing for a week Vi ” my dad shouted,

“Okay” replied my mother, she was well used to my dad by now and the statement that he was off fishing for a week didn’t faze her in the slightest.

The rest of the day was spent sorting kit, filling spools with new line and a trip to Dorman’s for bait.

“Do you know how to put the tent up Ken?” I asked

“It’s only a tent” he replied “how difficult can it be”

Boo came flying through the door, having finished school, in a state of great excitement “did you get the maggots Dave” he asked

“Yeah” I replied “a gallon for me and Ken and a half pint between you and Carl”

“That’s all I need to beat you” he grinned cheekily as he went to the shed to get his gear out, shouting “what’s for dinner Ma”

“Rabbit” replied my mother. “Your dad got a couple off Howard so I made stew and dumplings”

My mouth watered at the thought of it.

Carl turned up, just after dinner, under a mountain of gear and collapsed through the back door. He was absolutely exhausted, “I’ve had to walk all the way” he gasped “my dad said it would help build my stamina for boxing but I think he just couldn’t be bothered to get his car out.”

We had decided to go that night so we could have a good night’s kip and make a dawn start the next day. We loaded up the car, hitched up the trailer and set off, waving goodbye to Vi and my sister Gail, Ken and I in the front and the two 13 year olds in the back.

Three hours later we were driving through Woodhall Spa, all of us in a state of excited anticipation, craning our necks to try and see the path that led to the lake. We then noticed a huge woman jogging along the road towards us, skin-tight Lycra, pink water bottle and matching headband. As the poor woman sweated by us Carl, observed

“Wow, she’s got a few more miles to go”.

It was one of those moments, when something whacks your collective funny bones, we all cracked up laughing and my dad had to pull the car over as the tears streaming down his face prevented him from seeing through the windscreen.

We eventually found, what could be loosely termed a campsite, a patch of mown grass and a brick toilet/shower block with the rest of the site totally overgrown and wild, in other words perfect.

Boo and Carl, in typical teenage fashion, sauntered over towards the jungle that surrounded the lake, leaving Ken and I to unpack and set up the tent. I was lifting the baskets out of the car when Carl and Boo shouted

“Dave come over here quick”

I strode round the car and stopped dead, my head swam and I felt a jolt of agony like nothing I had ever experienced I had walked into the bloody tow bar! I fell to the ground clutching my leg, Ken was desperately trying not to laugh, not so the dynamic duo, I looked over and they were both doing a dying fly in the grass.

I rolled my trouser leg up and surveyed the damage, the tow bar had took a chunk out of my shin and blood was flowing freely down to my sock.

“That’s nowt” said my dad “stick a plaster on and stop moaning”

Now Ken, I often thought, was impervious to pain, he once declined a stretcher after a mining accident and walked out the pit holding his forehead in place, which had flapped down over his eyes! The subsequent hospital visit resulted in 112 stitches in his head, broken ribs, collar bone and nose and the surgeon who put him back together said he could not believe he was still alive. He got one of his mates to go round to tell my mother that he would be a bit late home as he was having a couple of stitches in a ‘bit of a cut’.

With that sort of background it was no wonder that my injury was no more serious than a shaving cut.

I got up to my feet, gritted my teeth and pressed on unloading the gear, desperately trying not to show that my leg was throbbing like a base drum.

The tent went up surprisingly easily and within the hour we were sat inside eating fish and chips that the kids had fetched from the village.

“What’s in the lake?” asked Carl

“According to Howard” replied my dad “there are some big tench and massive bream”.

We decided to concentrate on one area of the lake and feed it heavily each night and hope that bream would move in over the course of the week. The ‘campsite’ apart from our tent, was deserted and we really hoped that it would stay like this. We had walked around the lake and it was obviously not subject to much angling pressure. The banks were totally overgrown, overhanging bushes, trees and lots of lily beds. We chose a sheltered corner which had a spit of land about fifteen feet wide stretching into the lake like a pier. Ken and I would fish opposite sides, in effect back to back, with Boo next to me and Carl next to Ken. Fishing this way meant that we could cover a lot of water whilst still keeping an eye on the kids at the same time.

Early dawn saw us tackling up with an air of great excitement, the night before we had mixed two big baby baths of ground bait, Ken had bought a 56lb bag of crumb, 25lb of pab (sausage rusk) and he had managed to scrounge about a gallon of floaters (old casters) off his mate Terry Dorman, these were mashed up and added to the mix. We had decided not to bait up the night before as we wanted to ascertain what fish were already there.

I plumbed up and found about 5ft of water, just nice, and there was a bed of lilies just to my left, I was so confident that when Ken said “I’ll fish you for a pint tonight” I offered to make it two. That was a bit rash as I had never beaten him; he was a ‘bit good’ in those days.

I had tackled up with a homemade antennae float carrying about 3BB, two were used as locking shot with strung out 6’s and 8’s down to an 18 hook and 1.7lb bottom, I always fished on the light side to start with, reasoning that I could scale up once if bigger fish were showing.

I cast in, my float settled and I was just moulding a ball of ground bait when it sailed away and I missed it. Recasting I gave it my full concentration and sure enough it went again, exactly the same as before, this time I made no mistake and my rod took on a healthy bend. There followed a very peculiar fight, it was almost like when you have a tug of war with a dog and a rabbit skin, the fish just seemed to be pulling against me rather than trying to swim off. I eventually got it within netting distant and was very surprised when a large eel came to the surface, it was quickly netted and then followed the usual carnage when trying to unhook an eel but, eventually it was in the keepnet.

Whilst this was going on I had not noticed that Boo had also got a big eel, Carl had netted it for him but, unfortunately he had a very old fashioned net with very large mesh. The eel had slipped through the net and Boo was trying to play with his line through his landing net. He did his best but eventually it broke him. I put my micromesh net between us so that we could all use it if any more eels were hooked.

At the end of the day I had caught 6 eels for 10lb, Ken had 8 for 13lb and Carl and Boo, who had been fishing up in the water to avoid ‘the orrible slimy snakes’ as Carl had christened them, finished with about 3lb of small roach each. He had beaten me again!

“I once read” said Ken

“Who taught you to do that” said Carl with a cheeky grin.

“I’ll throw you in to the slimy snakes if you’re not careful” laughed Ken.

“You’ll have to catch me first” replied Carl

“Anyway, as I was saying” Ken went on “I read that if you catch an eel and just put it on the bank it will always go back into the water at the place where it came out”

“Goo on wi yer” I exclaimed

“Let’s try it” said Boo

Ken and I tipped our 14 eels onto the grass in the middle of the spit of land and, sure enough 6 of them slithered to my swim and the rest went to Ken’s on the opposite side. I was speechless; I had never seen anything like. Even now I am not even tempted to try and find out if this is a normal phenomenon as I just want to believe it.

That night we all sat in the pub garden, Ken claimed his 2 pints and we discussed tactics for the next day. We agreed that we did not, particularly, want to catch any more eels and would, therefore, switch to bread baits.

This worked a treat and the rest of the week saw some lovely tench caught along with some quality roach (up to 1lb 8oz) all on flake. Carl caught the best tench at just over 5lb and Boo had a brace of rudd that weighed 1lb 8oz and 1lb 12oz respectively. Unfortunately we never saw any of the big bream that we had hoped for and we wondered if Howard had been spinning us a yarn. However at the end of the week we were all packed up to go when Boo and Carl, who had been having a last walk round, ran up and told ken and I to come and have a look at a giant dead bream in the margins.

We walked over and sure enough there was a real ‘dustbin lid’ in the side, I managed to lift it out with a big polythene bag and we weighed it. We were staggered, it pulled the scales down to 11lb 4oz and most of its insides had decomposed, what it would have weighed is anyone’s guess but it remains the biggest bream that I have ever seen in my life.

Driving off the campsite we all agreed that it had been a fabulous week and we were already making plans for the next adventure. Suddenly Carl cracked up laughing, coming towards us was the large lady we seen on our arrival, still jogging.


Big Bunnies, Crib and the Creaking Caravan



Fifteen two, fifteen four and twos six I said, pegging to within two holes of the finish on the crib board, that gives me three takes to your one to peg two holes, you may as well get them in now Ken I said triumphantly.

Lets just have a look replied Ken laying down 3 jacks and a five, matched with a five turned up.

Thats fifteen two, fifteen four, fifteen six, fifteen eight, fifteen ten, fifteen twelve, six is eighteen, two is twenty. Oh and one for his knob makes twenty one he said, smugly pegging into the hole to win our fourth game of crib on the trot. What were you saying about getting them in he said waving his empty glass at me.

I got up and went to the bar; the barman chuckled and said beat you again has he.

Yeah I replied I think Im going to have to wait until senility sets in before I stand a chance.

I heard that you cheeky bugger laughed Ken youre not too old for a good hiding and youve not got your Mam to stick up for you out here

Youre forgetting Im 26 not 12 I reminded him.

Youll always be a little lad to me son he replied affectionately, lifting the pint that I put in front of him.

We sat in comfortable silence for a few minutes contemplating our drinks. Lets get off Dave said Ken, draining his pint we want to be fishing at dawn.

I finished my drink, put the crib board and cards in my pocket and we headed back to the campsite, which was about 200 yards down the road.

People who have read my stories will remember that Ken had bought a trailer tent, in the hope that he and I could recapture some of the adventures that we had enjoyed when I was a kid and this was one of those adventures.

We had arrived at a campsite in the depths of Lincolnshire that afternoon, for a weeks fishing, and had spent a couple of hours making camp, cooking dinner and baiting two swims, on the site lake, that were within 50 feet of the tent.

Once again we were acting on a tip off from Kens mate Howard; how he discovered these places was beyond me, he seemed to be an expert on almost every venue in the country. Mind you he didnt work (Ken always said that Howards last job was cabin boy on the Golden Hind) and he spent every day fishing, rabbiting and shooting, he epitomised the carefree life which I always craved.

Whilst we had been eating our dinner a car and caravan had pulled alongside and a young couple got out,

do you mind if we pitch here the lad asked.

Not at all, replied Ken but we have baited up those two shops there, so we would appreciate it if you left them to us.

Oh were not fishing the lad replied weve just come away for a weekend of peace and quiet
.
They looked to be in their late teens, the lad was short and stocky, but it was the girl who made us look twice; she was gorgeous, tall slim and blond although she had a, startled, wary look and she reminded me of a Deer caught in a pair of headlights.

I said hello and she tucked her head into her shoulder and mumbled something which may, or may not have been hello.

Dont worry about him me duck said Ken if he bothers you, just let me know and I will smack his earhole for you

All this attention was too much for the poor girl; she blushed scarlet and fled into their caravan.

Youll have to excuse her said the lad, shes very shy and he disappeared into the van after her.

When Ken and I arrived back from the pub, there were no lights on in the caravan next door and we assumed that they must have gone out.
Ken made a pot of tea and we sat in the gloom drinking and chatting about our chances the next morning.

It was then that a slow creaking started in the caravan, wheek, wheek, wheek it went, in a slow but steady rhythm. It was obvious what was happening but Ken and I studiously ignored it and carried on our conversation; I must point out that Ken in those days was a bit of a prude and sex was a taboo subject.

The squeaking of the caravan got louder and louder, the squeaks got closer together but we still ignored it. The pace of the creaks increased, faster and faster and we ceased our conversation and looked anywhere in order to avoid eye contact.

The noise, which had lasted about five minutes built up to a crescendo and then stopped dead, silence reigned, only to be broken by that prim and proper, shy young girl uttering the immortal words.
Is that f*****g it!!

That was too much for Ken and I, we both fell about laughing, I had tears in my eyes and Ken was frantically trying to shush me in case they heard us.

We were still laughing when we decided to go to bed half an hour later.

Im off to the loo Ken I said and with a roll of toilet paper in one hand and the Angling Times in the other I set off in the direction of the shower/toilet block.

This campsite was marginally better than the one in my previous story and had mown paths leading around the lake and although there were no platforms, the swims were cleared and level.

I turned a corner and stopped dead in my tracks, my blood ran cold and I thought I was having a sixties flashback, then I realised that I was too young to have enjoyed the sixties in a psychedelic way and, therefore, the six foot, blue and white rabbit that faced me must be real. I am not sure, but I think I actually screamed.

Dont be a wuss Dave I said to myself and gathering my courage I forced myself to calm down. The bunny didnt move and, as I crept forward, I noticed that it was smiling. At that point the moon emerged from behind a cloud and illuminated the scene. I saw that the nightmare image was actually a large plastic waste bin in the form of a giant Rabbit. Heaving a huge sigh of relief I realised that I no longer needed the loo, although finding a laundrette was now high on my, to do, list for tomorrow.

I went back to the tent and told Ken what had happened,

Oh you found a bunny bin did you he laughed there are quite a few of them dotted around the lake.

You could have warned me I said indignantly.

Scare you, did it? teased Ken

No I said, a little too vehemently.

Whats that smell laughed Ken.

I got in the single bed whilst Ken took the double, I switched off the battery light and we settled down to sleep.

In my dreams I was being chased by a giant Rabbit, the paths around the lake were overgrown with huge orange mushrooms and tall palm trees held birds singing Lucy in the sky with diamonds. I ran through what felt like a sea of mud, my legs burned and the bunny got ever closer. I fell and rolled over on to my back, the Rabbit loomed over me growling, louder and louder until I jolted awake, terrified, in a bog of sweat. The growling, however, continued and I frantically looked around to see what was doing it. Ken laid totally oblivious, mouth wide open and snoring like a pneumatic road drill. Fortunately there was a bank stick on the floor, within reach, I picked it up and pushed him in the back with the ferrule end, Ken grunted, turned over and silence reigned.

I mentally admonished myself, for once more, being a wuss and turned over and shut my eyes. No sooner had I started to drift off, the snoring started again. After several more prods with the bank stick I could stand it no longer, it was either use the sharp end or sleep in the car.

About 5:00am I awoke to a beautiful morning with the hand brake lever of Kens Vauxhall victor sticking in my ribs. Groaning, I pushed myself up and got out of the car. Ken was already up and talking to two fellow anglers who were on their way to the shower blocks.

Morning they said to me,

Morning I replied have you mashed Ken?

Ken passed me a mug of tea,

he slept in the car because of my snoring explained Ken to the two chaps.

Oh my god exclaimed one of them was that you? We could hear you and we are camped on the other side of the lake.

Ken had the good grace to look sheepish sorry Dave he said.

The next hour was taken up with cooking breakfast and assembling our tackle, by 6:00 am we were at our swims, raring and ready to go.

Fish you for a pint tonight asked Ken hopefully.

OK I replied, but I was not optimistic, Ken had forgotten more than I knew about fishing and I wondered how many pints I would end up paying for over the next week.

My swim had a small bed of lilies to my left, dense reeds to my right and about three rods out and to my right was a curious floating structure; I found out later that it was a duck house. I had baited, the previous night, with several balls of groundbait stuffed with maggot, castor and corn. I had fed two lines, one against the duck house and the other against the lilies. I tackled up with my usual starting set up; small, home-made antennae float, 3lb mainline, 1.7lb bottom and an 18 hook with a single bronze maggot.

There was a slight breeze blowing from left to right and by casting beyond the duck house and not sinking the line, I was able to drift the float behind the 'house' and then by submersing my rod tip and gently winding in, my float dipped under the house and reappeared, tight against it, with the line sunk.

I catapulted out a few maggots, put the rod in the rests and relaxed; the trauma of the night before already leaving me.

My float dipped slightly before sailing away, a quick strike and a few seconds later my first fish, a rudd of about 4oz was in my net.

This continued and over the next hour I put together a net of about twenty of similar sized rudd and roach. I went to the tent and put the kettle on before sauntering over to Ken. I could not see him from my swim, due to the reeds and I had no idea how he was getting on. I walked up behind him just as he was slipping the net under a bream of about 3lbs.

Nice fish Ken I said,

Thats my fifth he replied, all about the same size, have you done owt he asked.

Just bits I replied what are you on?

Piece of flake said Ken I was only getting little roach on maggot

I went back to my swim, determined to catch him up and I was rummaging through my tackle box for a bigger hook when the owner materialised from the bushes.

Any good lad? he asked and I explained that I was just changing baits, to try and deter the small stuff.

Whereabouts are you fishing? he asked.

Tight to the duck house I replied.

Thats the mistake everyone makes on this swim he said knowingly, all the small stuff shoal up under there, you want to be fishing there he said, throwing a small pebble against the lilies at my feet thats where the tench are.

What bait are you on he asked.

Maggot I replied

Try a piece of sweetcorn he said knowingly and walked off towards Kens swim.

Now, I have always listened to advice, especially when it was from a local. I, therefore opened a tin of corn, shallowed off to about three feet, having plumbed up at the start, and cast, gently underarm, to the lilies.

I did not have to wait long before my float slowly ran along the edge of the lily bed and sank. I struck into a powerful fish which bored off towards the centre of the lake and after a spirited fight I put the net under a tench of about 4lbs, this was more like it.

Over the next couple of hours I had a great time catching these beautiful fish and was just netting another when Ken surprised me with;

I got sick of waiting for my tea

I turned around and he stood there with two mugs in his hands.

Oh sorry I said, I had forgotten that I had put the kettle on and was supposed to be making tea.

Too used to having your mam carry you about laughed Ken.

Youve got that right I laughed

I had moved out about a year previously but I still missed the mornings at home, sat by the open fire, the warmth in the kitchen and Vi (my mother) singing there was an old lady who swallowed a fly as she made breakfast for us all. Come to think of it I still miss it now, forty years later.

How many have you got asked Ken, jolting me back to reality.

Not sure I replied but it must be at least a dozen.

Ken went back to his swim and I recast, however, with the sun now high in the sky sport had come almost to a standstill and at about 1:00pm we decided to call it a day.

I was packing my gear away when the young girl from the caravan emerged, towel and toilet bag in her hands, obviously on her way for a shower. I couldnt resist it and giving her a knowing grin I said Hello, sleep well?

She looked up, startled and without answering fled towards the showers, I had never seen anyone move so fast without actually running.

You evil sod grinned Ken leave the poor girl alone.

We finished packing up and jumped in the car to fetch fish and chips and to have a look round for any other interesting waters.

We returned at about 6:00pm, after finding several venues which looked interesting, including a beautiful small stream which screamed chub at me. I grabbed a towel and made for the showers, stopping to say hello to Lennon, the name I had given to the big Bunny, he didnt seem scary at all in daylight and I chided myself for being such a girl the night before. When I got back Ken was dressed and ready for a pint.

Cmon he said I owe you a pint for today.

I realised then that it was probably the first time I had beaten Ken off adjacent pegs, but I wouldnt have done it without the owners advice.

And make sure you bring the crib board, I only intend buying you the one said Ken.



Blueys, Stolen Days and Lessons Learned



“Dave, Dave, wake up”; I opened my sleepy eyes and gazed lovingly at Sandie, “C’mon Dave wake up” said Sandie with that beautiful smile. Sandie was the absolute love of my life and I would do anything for her, including waking up when it was still dark and my bedroom was so cold I could see my breath hanging in clouds around my pillow. As my sleep fogged brain came to life I realised that Sandie Shaw could not be talking to me, she was a poster on my bedroom wall!

I sat up and saw Ken (my Dad) standing at the door, “what day is it” I asked sleepily.

“A fishing day” whispered Ken, “now hurry up and get ready, Colin’s coming round in a minute; and don’t wake your Mam or she will send you to school”.

I didn’t need telling twice and with a huge grin on my face I crept out of bed and picked up yesterdays’ clothes off my bedroom floor. I pulled on the clothes over my pyjamas, it was too cold to take them off; not many people had central heating in 1965 and double glazing was still in the realms of science fiction. I blew a kiss to Sandie and crept downstairs, my excitement mounting, as I pondered a day off school to go fishing. Ken often did this, much to Vi’s (my Mother) annoyance and he knew he would get a rollicking when we got home.

Downstairs there was a huge coal fire roaring in the grate and I sat down by the side of it basking in the warm glow, Ken passed me a cup of tea and I sipped in bliss, there was no better start to a day than a cup of tea, a warm fire and the knowledge that Ken and I were off on an adventure. The fact that Ken’s mate Colin was coming as well made it even better. Colin was a little stocky fella with an incredibly loud voice, what you would call a ‘gobby’ so and so nowadays, but a heart of gold and he always gave me advice when we were fishing. In fact, all of Ken’s mates acted like my appointed guardians and I was, therefore, brought up by a motley crew of anglers, poachers and foragers.

Ken was just finishing making a pile of sandwiches for us when in walked Colin, Ken immediately put a finger to his lips to shush him before he even opened his mouth, “don’t wake Vi up or she will make him go to school” he whispered pointing at me.

“Can’t have that David can we” Colin, just like my mother always used my full name.

“No” I grinned back.

“I’ll show you how to catch some chub today and if you manage to beat your Dad I will give you half a crown”

“Brilliant, thank you” I replied, half a crown was a full week’s spending money, but I knew it was unlikely to come my way as Ken was the best angler I knew.

We crept down the garden path and silently loaded the gear into the car; Ken had gone from motorbikes to cars about 6 months previously and was the proud owner of a Standard Vanguard which had already taken us on many adventures. I sat between Ken and Colin on the big bench front seat and we pulled out of the, still sleeping, council estate on which we lived.

On the drive Ken and Colin had me in stitches with tales of their fishing escapades, in Stickney, fishing the Hob Hole and Bellwater. One tale that still makes me chuckle is when Ken had an attic room at the Duke of Wellington, where they used to stay, and all of his mates were coming up to his room to use the chamber pot; claiming that they didn’t have one in their rooms. The reason they were really doing it was that Ken’s pot did not have any handles, a fact that they had soon latched on to, and they ensured that it was full to the brim by morning so that the poor landlady had to dip her thumbs in it to carry it downstairs. Any way I digress.



After about an hour’s drive, under Colin’s direction, Ken pulled off the road onto a bumpy farm track, we bounced down the path, pulled over under some bushes and parked up.

“Here you are David” said Colin handing me a penknife “you will need this”

“What for” I asked, taking the knife and putting it in my pocket

“To cut some Bluey’s” replied Colin.

“They’re like blue mushrooms” said Ken “Colin will show you”

We walked into a field and Colin picked a mushroom out of the grass, “what’s this David”

“A mushroom” I replied

“Almost” he said; turning it over he showed me the blue veins on the underside of the cap and the bluish tinge on the stalk. “This is a Bluebutton” he told me “much nicer than mushrooms and more valuable”

In those days they would often sell surplus stuff in the pub on a Sunday lunch time; you could invariably obtain Rabbits, Hares, Mushrooms and Blueys from most of the pubs around our estate.

Within a couple of hours we had filled a pillow case each with Blueys and we headed back to the car, “let’s go and get some chub now” said Colin rubbing his hands together in anticipation.

“Here’s your knife back” I said holding out the pen knife he had given me. Colin looked to see if Ken was watching and said with a wink “you can keep that, but don’t tell your Dad I’ve given it to you”

“OK” I replied with a grin “thank you”. I was elated, my very own knife; it had a 4 inch blade, a horn handle and I still have it to this day, although it is in a toolbox in Kens’ shed.

We got back in the car and drove back up the dirt track to the road, 20 minutes later we were on the banks of the river. I am not sure which river it was, I assumed it was the Trent but, thinking back, I suspect it was the Witham at Claypole. It was fairly fast flowing and judging by the reeds along the edge being almost died off, I would assume it was October/November time.

“Are you going to tackle up yourself or do you want some help” asked Ken.

“I’ll do it myself” I replied, I might have been only 10 years old but I considered myself a ‘proper’ fisherman and as such I could tackle myself up.

“Good lad David” said Colin

I picked my swim and Ken put a piece of rope round my waist and tied it to a small tree so that I could not fall in. I tackled up with a small porcupine quill; my Sundridge split cane rod, Speedia centerpin and 18 hook. My first cast revealed that the flow was much faster than I thought and I saw the sense in the rope around my waist. My float was no sooner in the water before it was at the end of my swim. I persevered, to no avail, for about half an hour and Colin came over to see how I was doing.

“Any good David” he asked.

“No, it’s too fast” I replied

Colin watched my next trot and sat down at my side. “You’re fishing too light” he said “pass me your float wallet”

I passed my float case over to him and after a quick rummage he said “here, this one’s perfect” handing me a short, stubby, balsa float which I had never even been tempted to use. He removed the ‘porky’ and put the balsa on and started placing shot. I was horrified; I had never had so many weights on my line. Colin kept dropping the float in and adding weights until he was satisfied, then, passing the rod back to me he explained the reason for the position of the shot.

I cast in and had to admit that the extra weight made casting much easier, my float immediately sank, I struck but there was nothing there. This was repeated about 3 times before Colin said “take your bait off and try with a bare hook”. I thought this was a strange request but didn’t argue, Colin was a very good angler (a couple of years after this adventure he made headlines in the local paper for catching 100lb of bream from Wollaton Park lake) and I would be silly not to take his advice, plus, there was half a crown at stake!

I cast in with a bare hook and exactly the same thing happened, “is it bottom?” I asked

“No” replied Colin “I’ve put more weight on than you need”

“How do I fish it then” I asked

Colin took my rod, baited up and cast in; the float didn’t sink straight away but trotted beautifully through the swim before darting under. Colin struck and a small chub was soon in my keep net.

“The idea, David, is that you want your bait to go through slower than the current so you have to hold it back. Putting too much weight on means that you have to fish it properly or your float sinks, plus, the extra weight stops the bait being wafted up over the heads of the fish”.

I digested this information and tried again, under the watchful eye of Colin. It took several trots before I got the hang of it but once I did, it seemed easy.

“Ken, come and have a look at this lad of yours” shouted Colin

Ken came over and I showed him my new found skill, casting in I trotted the float slowly through the swim, it dipped, I struck and hooked into a much bigger fish which ploughed off downstream. I slowly managed to get it back and Ken slipped the landing net under a chub of about a pound.

“Well done son” said Ken proudly “Does this beat going to school?”

“Certainly does” I grinned thinking of my mates who would be sat in class hardly daring to breathe in case they incurred the wrath of Mr Hutchinson, our teacher.

“He’s gonna be good if he sticks at it Ken” stated Colin

“I think he will Col, it’s in his blood” replied Ken.

They went back to their swims and I carried on, honing my new trotting skills and picking up small chub, with the occasional bigger one, on a regular basis.

At the end of the day we weighed my fish “just over 11lb” shouted Colin “that’s a great weight David”

“Have I beaten you Ken?” I asked hopefully.

“We’ll see” said Ken.

Colin was next, he pulled out his keepnet and I was amazed at how many fish he had caught,

“23lb mate” said Ken “well done”

“I think I’ve done him David” said Colin delightedly.

We got to Kens swim and he pulled out his net, Colin and I stood opened mouthed looking at Kens keep net, it was bulging with chub, some of which must have been approaching 4lb. The 25lb scales bottomed out and rather than doing multiple weighs, we were only pleasure fishing, Ken and Colin agreed on an estimate of 40 odd pound.

I had been beaten out of my half crown, but, I had a pen knife and a memory of a great day out.

We packed away our gear and made our way back to the car, “we’ll do him next time David won’t we” stated Colin.

“Yeah, we’ll get you next time Ken” I said.

Ken laughed “you’ve got a few years yet before you start winning but you did really well son”

We arrived home to be met with Vi standing in the kitchen holding the note that I had left;

GONE FISHING WITH KEN

Love David

Colin cracked up; “at least he let you know Vi” he spluttered.

“You can’t keep letting him miss school Ken, he needs his education” stormed Vi

“He learns more with us than he ever will at school” replied Ken, although a bit sheepishly, I think he was scared of her.

“Ok” replied Vi “what have you learned today?”

“How to trot properly” I said excitedly and; I ran back to the car and retrieved one of the pillow cases,

“I learned how to pick these as well; can we have some for tea?” I asked

Vi was cracking and a hint of a smile played around the corners of her mouth.

“I suppose so” she said resignedly; she knew when she was beat.
 

Arry

Aitch, Cantankerous old gimmer with "Views"
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Wonderful Dave... a superb account of Dad and lad...
 

SeanB

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You have a great way of telling a story, you should write a book. Can't wait for the next one 🙂
 

Scribe

Official Supplier of Pork Pies to the Drowners
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Thank you Dave that was a wonderful read a real tribute to your best mate.
 

robert d

Allways trying to improve
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Please forgive me folks but, as I was researching my previous Drowners stories to help write the new one. I came across these tales, from a few years ago about me and Ken. I have taken the liberty of re posting them as a a bit of a memorial to him. Please forgive the self indulgence.


Let’s have an adventure

“Giz a hand Dave” shouted my dad through the back door. I put down my paper and groaned as I heaved myself up off the settee, I had been on nights and was absolutely knackered. I walked outside, stretching and yawning as I went, to be greeted by my dad unhitching a large trailer from his Vauxhall Victor.

“What you got there Ken”? I asked

“It’s a trailer tent” he replied,” I bought it off a chap at work and I thought we might have a bit of fun with it”

I helped him unhitch the trailer and we pulled it round the back of the house and into the garage.

“What made you buy this Ken” I asked

“How long is it since you and me had an adventure” he replied. I had to admit that since I had started work I had been taken up with matches on the Trent, Ken and I had not pleasure fished for ages, I did not realise how much he missed it.

“Brian can be off school next week” he stated, “can you get off as well”? My dad had so much hope in his voice that I suddenly felt very sad and guilty that we had not fished together for so long.

“I’ll go and see Wantie tomorrow and get a week off”

“Brilliant” replied Ken, it was a good job my mother didn’t hear us, Wantie (Dr Want) was our local GP and my mother did not believe in wasting his time.

The next day (Friday), after a visit to the good doctor, I came home the proud possessor of a sick note for seven days.

“Do you want to come fishing with me and Dave for a week or would you sooner be at school?” Ken asked my younger brother as he was just gathering his school books together before setting off.

My, 13 year old, younger brother was called Brian but he was known by everyone as Boo. This nickname had evolved from his habit of following me around like ‘Boo Boo’ with Yogi Bear and it had stuck (even now, 40 odd years later, I still call him Boo).

“Brilliant” said Boo, “can I bring Carl?”

“Don’t see why not” said Ken “provided his dad is okay with it”.

Carl was Boo’s best mate, 5 stone wet through but hard as nails and a very promising amateur boxer.

“Where are we going Ken?” I asked.

“Brookie has told me about a lake at Woodhall Spa” he replied.

Brookie was my ‘uncle Howard’ (whom you may know from previous stories) and if he gave you information you ignored it at your peril.

“When are we going, Saturday?” I asked

“Yeah” replied my dad “I’d better let Vi know”

“I’m taking the kids fishing for a week Vi ” my dad shouted,

“Okay” replied my mother, she was well used to my dad by now and the statement that he was off fishing for a week didn’t faze her in the slightest.

The rest of the day was spent sorting kit, filling spools with new line and a trip to Dorman’s for bait.

“Do you know how to put the tent up Ken?” I asked

“It’s only a tent” he replied “how difficult can it be”

Boo came flying through the door, having finished school, in a state of great excitement “did you get the maggots Dave” he asked

“Yeah” I replied “a gallon for me and Ken and a half pint between you and Carl”

“That’s all I need to beat you” he grinned cheekily as he went to the shed to get his gear out, shouting “what’s for dinner Ma”

“Rabbit” replied my mother. “Your dad got a couple off Howard so I made stew and dumplings”

My mouth watered at the thought of it.

Carl turned up, just after dinner, under a mountain of gear and collapsed through the back door. He was absolutely exhausted, “I’ve had to walk all the way” he gasped “my dad said it would help build my stamina for boxing but I think he just couldn’t be bothered to get his car out.”

We had decided to go that night so we could have a good night’s kip and make a dawn start the next day. We loaded up the car, hitched up the trailer and set off, waving goodbye to Vi and my sister Gail, Ken and I in the front and the two 13 year olds in the back.

Three hours later we were driving through Woodhall Spa, all of us in a state of excited anticipation, craning our necks to try and see the path that led to the lake. We then noticed a huge woman jogging along the road towards us, skin-tight Lycra, pink water bottle and matching headband. As the poor woman sweated by us Carl, observed

“Wow, she’s got a few more miles to go”.

It was one of those moments, when something whacks your collective funny bones, we all cracked up laughing and my dad had to pull the car over as the tears streaming down his face prevented him from seeing through the windscreen.

We eventually found, what could be loosely termed a campsite, a patch of mown grass and a brick toilet/shower block with the rest of the site totally overgrown and wild, in other words perfect.

Boo and Carl, in typical teenage fashion, sauntered over towards the jungle that surrounded the lake, leaving Ken and I to unpack and set up the tent. I was lifting the baskets out of the car when Carl and Boo shouted

“Dave come over here quick”

I strode round the car and stopped dead, my head swam and I felt a jolt of agony like nothing I had ever experienced I had walked into the bloody tow bar! I fell to the ground clutching my leg, Ken was desperately trying not to laugh, not so the dynamic duo, I looked over and they were both doing a dying fly in the grass.

I rolled my trouser leg up and surveyed the damage, the tow bar had took a chunk out of my shin and blood was flowing freely down to my sock.

“That’s nowt” said my dad “stick a plaster on and stop moaning”

Now Ken, I often thought, was impervious to pain, he once declined a stretcher after a mining accident and walked out the pit holding his forehead in place, which had flapped down over his eyes! The subsequent hospital visit resulted in 112 stitches in his head, broken ribs, collar bone and nose and the surgeon who put him back together said he could not believe he was still alive. He got one of his mates to go round to tell my mother that he would be a bit late home as he was having a couple of stitches in a ‘bit of a cut’.

With that sort of background it was no wonder that my injury was no more serious than a shaving cut.

I got up to my feet, gritted my teeth and pressed on unloading the gear, desperately trying not to show that my leg was throbbing like a base drum.

The tent went up surprisingly easily and within the hour we were sat inside eating fish and chips that the kids had fetched from the village.

“What’s in the lake?” asked Carl

“According to Howard” replied my dad “there are some big tench and massive bream”.

We decided to concentrate on one area of the lake and feed it heavily each night and hope that bream would move in over the course of the week. The ‘campsite’ apart from our tent, was deserted and we really hoped that it would stay like this. We had walked around the lake and it was obviously not subject to much angling pressure. The banks were totally overgrown, overhanging bushes, trees and lots of lily beds. We chose a sheltered corner which had a spit of land about fifteen feet wide stretching into the lake like a pier. Ken and I would fish opposite sides, in effect back to back, with Boo next to me and Carl next to Ken. Fishing this way meant that we could cover a lot of water whilst still keeping an eye on the kids at the same time.

Early dawn saw us tackling up with an air of great excitement, the night before we had mixed two big baby baths of ground bait, Ken had bought a 56lb bag of crumb, 25lb of pab (sausage rusk) and he had managed to scrounge about a gallon of floaters (old casters) off his mate Terry Dorman, these were mashed up and added to the mix. We had decided not to bait up the night before as we wanted to ascertain what fish were already there.

I plumbed up and found about 5ft of water, just nice, and there was a bed of lilies just to my left, I was so confident that when Ken said “I’ll fish you for a pint tonight” I offered to make it two. That was a bit rash as I had never beaten him; he was a ‘bit good’ in those days.

I had tackled up with a homemade antennae float carrying about 3BB, two were used as locking shot with strung out 6’s and 8’s down to an 18 hook and 1.7lb bottom, I always fished on the light side to start with, reasoning that I could scale up once if bigger fish were showing.

I cast in, my float settled and I was just moulding a ball of ground bait when it sailed away and I missed it. Recasting I gave it my full concentration and sure enough it went again, exactly the same as before, this time I made no mistake and my rod took on a healthy bend. There followed a very peculiar fight, it was almost like when you have a tug of war with a dog and a rabbit skin, the fish just seemed to be pulling against me rather than trying to swim off. I eventually got it within netting distant and was very surprised when a large eel came to the surface, it was quickly netted and then followed the usual carnage when trying to unhook an eel but, eventually it was in the keepnet.

Whilst this was going on I had not noticed that Boo had also got a big eel, Carl had netted it for him but, unfortunately he had a very old fashioned net with very large mesh. The eel had slipped through the net and Boo was trying to play with his line through his landing net. He did his best but eventually it broke him. I put my micromesh net between us so that we could all use it if any more eels were hooked.

At the end of the day I had caught 6 eels for 10lb, Ken had 8 for 13lb and Carl and Boo, who had been fishing up in the water to avoid ‘the orrible slimy snakes’ as Carl had christened them, finished with about 3lb of small roach each. He had beaten me again!

“I once read” said Ken

“Who taught you to do that” said Carl with a cheeky grin.

“I’ll throw you in to the slimy snakes if you’re not careful” laughed Ken.

“You’ll have to catch me first” replied Carl

“Anyway, as I was saying” Ken went on “I read that if you catch an eel and just put it on the bank it will always go back into the water at the place where it came out”

“Goo on wi yer” I exclaimed

“Let’s try it” said Boo

Ken and I tipped our 14 eels onto the grass in the middle of the spit of land and, sure enough 6 of them slithered to my swim and the rest went to Ken’s on the opposite side. I was speechless; I had never seen anything like. Even now I am not even tempted to try and find out if this is a normal phenomenon as I just want to believe it.

That night we all sat in the pub garden, Ken claimed his 2 pints and we discussed tactics for the next day. We agreed that we did not, particularly, want to catch any more eels and would, therefore, switch to bread baits.

This worked a treat and the rest of the week saw some lovely tench caught along with some quality roach (up to 1lb 8oz) all on flake. Carl caught the best tench at just over 5lb and Boo had a brace of rudd that weighed 1lb 8oz and 1lb 12oz respectively. Unfortunately we never saw any of the big bream that we had hoped for and we wondered if Howard had been spinning us a yarn. However at the end of the week we were all packed up to go when Boo and Carl, who had been having a last walk round, ran up and told ken and I to come and have a look at a giant dead bream in the margins.

We walked over and sure enough there was a real ‘dustbin lid’ in the side, I managed to lift it out with a big polythene bag and we weighed it. We were staggered, it pulled the scales down to 11lb 4oz and most of its insides had decomposed, what it would have weighed is anyone’s guess but it remains the biggest bream that I have ever seen in my life.

Driving off the campsite we all agreed that it had been a fabulous week and we were already making plans for the next adventure. Suddenly Carl cracked up laughing, coming towards us was the large lady we seen on our arrival, still jogging.


Big Bunnies, Crib and the Creaking Caravan



Fifteen two, fifteen four and twos six I said, pegging to within two holes of the finish on the crib board, that gives me three takes to your one to peg two holes, you may as well get them in now Ken I said triumphantly.

Lets just have a look replied Ken laying down 3 jacks and a five, matched with a five turned up.

Thats fifteen two, fifteen four, fifteen six, fifteen eight, fifteen ten, fifteen twelve, six is eighteen, two is twenty. Oh and one for his knob makes twenty one he said, smugly pegging into the hole to win our fourth game of crib on the trot. What were you saying about getting them in he said waving his empty glass at me.

I got up and went to the bar; the barman chuckled and said beat you again has he.

Yeah I replied I think Im going to have to wait until senility sets in before I stand a chance.

I heard that you cheeky bugger laughed Ken youre not too old for a good hiding and youve not got your Mam to stick up for you out here

Youre forgetting Im 26 not 12 I reminded him.

Youll always be a little lad to me son he replied affectionately, lifting the pint that I put in front of him.

We sat in comfortable silence for a few minutes contemplating our drinks. Lets get off Dave said Ken, draining his pint we want to be fishing at dawn.

I finished my drink, put the crib board and cards in my pocket and we headed back to the campsite, which was about 200 yards down the road.

People who have read my stories will remember that Ken had bought a trailer tent, in the hope that he and I could recapture some of the adventures that we had enjoyed when I was a kid and this was one of those adventures.

We had arrived at a campsite in the depths of Lincolnshire that afternoon, for a weeks fishing, and had spent a couple of hours making camp, cooking dinner and baiting two swims, on the site lake, that were within 50 feet of the tent.

Once again we were acting on a tip off from Kens mate Howard; how he discovered these places was beyond me, he seemed to be an expert on almost every venue in the country. Mind you he didnt work (Ken always said that Howards last job was cabin boy on the Golden Hind) and he spent every day fishing, rabbiting and shooting, he epitomised the carefree life which I always craved.

Whilst we had been eating our dinner a car and caravan had pulled alongside and a young couple got out,

do you mind if we pitch here the lad asked.

Not at all, replied Ken but we have baited up those two shops there, so we would appreciate it if you left them to us.

Oh were not fishing the lad replied weve just come away for a weekend of peace and quiet
.
They looked to be in their late teens, the lad was short and stocky, but it was the girl who made us look twice; she was gorgeous, tall slim and blond although she had a, startled, wary look and she reminded me of a Deer caught in a pair of headlights.

I said hello and she tucked her head into her shoulder and mumbled something which may, or may not have been hello.

Dont worry about him me duck said Ken if he bothers you, just let me know and I will smack his earhole for you

All this attention was too much for the poor girl; she blushed scarlet and fled into their caravan.

Youll have to excuse her said the lad, shes very shy and he disappeared into the van after her.

When Ken and I arrived back from the pub, there were no lights on in the caravan next door and we assumed that they must have gone out.
Ken made a pot of tea and we sat in the gloom drinking and chatting about our chances the next morning.

It was then that a slow creaking started in the caravan, wheek, wheek, wheek it went, in a slow but steady rhythm. It was obvious what was happening but Ken and I studiously ignored it and carried on our conversation; I must point out that Ken in those days was a bit of a prude and sex was a taboo subject.

The squeaking of the caravan got louder and louder, the squeaks got closer together but we still ignored it. The pace of the creaks increased, faster and faster and we ceased our conversation and looked anywhere in order to avoid eye contact.

The noise, which had lasted about five minutes built up to a crescendo and then stopped dead, silence reigned, only to be broken by that prim and proper, shy young girl uttering the immortal words.
Is that f*****g it!!

That was too much for Ken and I, we both fell about laughing, I had tears in my eyes and Ken was frantically trying to shush me in case they heard us.

We were still laughing when we decided to go to bed half an hour later.

Im off to the loo Ken I said and with a roll of toilet paper in one hand and the Angling Times in the other I set off in the direction of the shower/toilet block.

This campsite was marginally better than the one in my previous story and had mown paths leading around the lake and although there were no platforms, the swims were cleared and level.

I turned a corner and stopped dead in my tracks, my blood ran cold and I thought I was having a sixties flashback, then I realised that I was too young to have enjoyed the sixties in a psychedelic way and, therefore, the six foot, blue and white rabbit that faced me must be real. I am not sure, but I think I actually screamed.

Dont be a wuss Dave I said to myself and gathering my courage I forced myself to calm down. The bunny didnt move and, as I crept forward, I noticed that it was smiling. At that point the moon emerged from behind a cloud and illuminated the scene. I saw that the nightmare image was actually a large plastic waste bin in the form of a giant Rabbit. Heaving a huge sigh of relief I realised that I no longer needed the loo, although finding a laundrette was now high on my, to do, list for tomorrow.

I went back to the tent and told Ken what had happened,

Oh you found a bunny bin did you he laughed there are quite a few of them dotted around the lake.

You could have warned me I said indignantly.

Scare you, did it? teased Ken

No I said, a little too vehemently.

Whats that smell laughed Ken.

I got in the single bed whilst Ken took the double, I switched off the battery light and we settled down to sleep.

In my dreams I was being chased by a giant Rabbit, the paths around the lake were overgrown with huge orange mushrooms and tall palm trees held birds singing Lucy in the sky with diamonds. I ran through what felt like a sea of mud, my legs burned and the bunny got ever closer. I fell and rolled over on to my back, the Rabbit loomed over me growling, louder and louder until I jolted awake, terrified, in a bog of sweat. The growling, however, continued and I frantically looked around to see what was doing it. Ken laid totally oblivious, mouth wide open and snoring like a pneumatic road drill. Fortunately there was a bank stick on the floor, within reach, I picked it up and pushed him in the back with the ferrule end, Ken grunted, turned over and silence reigned.

I mentally admonished myself, for once more, being a wuss and turned over and shut my eyes. No sooner had I started to drift off, the snoring started again. After several more prods with the bank stick I could stand it no longer, it was either use the sharp end or sleep in the car.

About 5:00am I awoke to a beautiful morning with the hand brake lever of Kens Vauxhall victor sticking in my ribs. Groaning, I pushed myself up and got out of the car. Ken was already up and talking to two fellow anglers who were on their way to the shower blocks.

Morning they said to me,

Morning I replied have you mashed Ken?

Ken passed me a mug of tea,

he slept in the car because of my snoring explained Ken to the two chaps.

Oh my god exclaimed one of them was that you? We could hear you and we are camped on the other side of the lake.

Ken had the good grace to look sheepish sorry Dave he said.

The next hour was taken up with cooking breakfast and assembling our tackle, by 6:00 am we were at our swims, raring and ready to go.

Fish you for a pint tonight asked Ken hopefully.

OK I replied, but I was not optimistic, Ken had forgotten more than I knew about fishing and I wondered how many pints I would end up paying for over the next week.

My swim had a small bed of lilies to my left, dense reeds to my right and about three rods out and to my right was a curious floating structure; I found out later that it was a duck house. I had baited, the previous night, with several balls of groundbait stuffed with maggot, castor and corn. I had fed two lines, one against the duck house and the other against the lilies. I tackled up with my usual starting set up; small, home-made antennae float, 3lb mainline, 1.7lb bottom and an 18 hook with a single bronze maggot.

There was a slight breeze blowing from left to right and by casting beyond the duck house and not sinking the line, I was able to drift the float behind the 'house' and then by submersing my rod tip and gently winding in, my float dipped under the house and reappeared, tight against it, with the line sunk.

I catapulted out a few maggots, put the rod in the rests and relaxed; the trauma of the night before already leaving me.

My float dipped slightly before sailing away, a quick strike and a few seconds later my first fish, a rudd of about 4oz was in my net.

This continued and over the next hour I put together a net of about twenty of similar sized rudd and roach. I went to the tent and put the kettle on before sauntering over to Ken. I could not see him from my swim, due to the reeds and I had no idea how he was getting on. I walked up behind him just as he was slipping the net under a bream of about 3lbs.

Nice fish Ken I said,

Thats my fifth he replied, all about the same size, have you done owt he asked.

Just bits I replied what are you on?

Piece of flake said Ken I was only getting little roach on maggot

I went back to my swim, determined to catch him up and I was rummaging through my tackle box for a bigger hook when the owner materialised from the bushes.

Any good lad? he asked and I explained that I was just changing baits, to try and deter the small stuff.

Whereabouts are you fishing? he asked.

Tight to the duck house I replied.

Thats the mistake everyone makes on this swim he said knowingly, all the small stuff shoal up under there, you want to be fishing there he said, throwing a small pebble against the lilies at my feet thats where the tench are.

What bait are you on he asked.

Maggot I replied

Try a piece of sweetcorn he said knowingly and walked off towards Kens swim.

Now, I have always listened to advice, especially when it was from a local. I, therefore opened a tin of corn, shallowed off to about three feet, having plumbed up at the start, and cast, gently underarm, to the lilies.

I did not have to wait long before my float slowly ran along the edge of the lily bed and sank. I struck into a powerful fish which bored off towards the centre of the lake and after a spirited fight I put the net under a tench of about 4lbs, this was more like it.

Over the next couple of hours I had a great time catching these beautiful fish and was just netting another when Ken surprised me with;

I got sick of waiting for my tea

I turned around and he stood there with two mugs in his hands.

Oh sorry I said, I had forgotten that I had put the kettle on and was supposed to be making tea.

Too used to having your mam carry you about laughed Ken.

Youve got that right I laughed

I had moved out about a year previously but I still missed the mornings at home, sat by the open fire, the warmth in the kitchen and Vi (my mother) singing there was an old lady who swallowed a fly as she made breakfast for us all. Come to think of it I still miss it now, forty years later.

How many have you got asked Ken, jolting me back to reality.

Not sure I replied but it must be at least a dozen.

Ken went back to his swim and I recast, however, with the sun now high in the sky sport had come almost to a standstill and at about 1:00pm we decided to call it a day.

I was packing my gear away when the young girl from the caravan emerged, towel and toilet bag in her hands, obviously on her way for a shower. I couldnt resist it and giving her a knowing grin I said Hello, sleep well?

She looked up, startled and without answering fled towards the showers, I had never seen anyone move so fast without actually running.

You evil sod grinned Ken leave the poor girl alone.

We finished packing up and jumped in the car to fetch fish and chips and to have a look round for any other interesting waters.

We returned at about 6:00pm, after finding several venues which looked interesting, including a beautiful small stream which screamed chub at me. I grabbed a towel and made for the showers, stopping to say hello to Lennon, the name I had given to the big Bunny, he didnt seem scary at all in daylight and I chided myself for being such a girl the night before. When I got back Ken was dressed and ready for a pint.

Cmon he said I owe you a pint for today.

I realised then that it was probably the first time I had beaten Ken off adjacent pegs, but I wouldnt have done it without the owners advice.

And make sure you bring the crib board, I only intend buying you the one said Ken.



Blueys, Stolen Days and Lessons Learned



“Dave, Dave, wake up”; I opened my sleepy eyes and gazed lovingly at Sandie, “C’mon Dave wake up” said Sandie with that beautiful smile. Sandie was the absolute love of my life and I would do anything for her, including waking up when it was still dark and my bedroom was so cold I could see my breath hanging in clouds around my pillow. As my sleep fogged brain came to life I realised that Sandie Shaw could not be talking to me, she was a poster on my bedroom wall!

I sat up and saw Ken (my Dad) standing at the door, “what day is it” I asked sleepily.

“A fishing day” whispered Ken, “now hurry up and get ready, Colin’s coming round in a minute; and don’t wake your Mam or she will send you to school”.

I didn’t need telling twice and with a huge grin on my face I crept out of bed and picked up yesterdays’ clothes off my bedroom floor. I pulled on the clothes over my pyjamas, it was too cold to take them off; not many people had central heating in 1965 and double glazing was still in the realms of science fiction. I blew a kiss to Sandie and crept downstairs, my excitement mounting, as I pondered a day off school to go fishing. Ken often did this, much to Vi’s (my Mother) annoyance and he knew he would get a rollicking when we got home.

Downstairs there was a huge coal fire roaring in the grate and I sat down by the side of it basking in the warm glow, Ken passed me a cup of tea and I sipped in bliss, there was no better start to a day than a cup of tea, a warm fire and the knowledge that Ken and I were off on an adventure. The fact that Ken’s mate Colin was coming as well made it even better. Colin was a little stocky fella with an incredibly loud voice, what you would call a ‘gobby’ so and so nowadays, but a heart of gold and he always gave me advice when we were fishing. In fact, all of Ken’s mates acted like my appointed guardians and I was, therefore, brought up by a motley crew of anglers, poachers and foragers.

Ken was just finishing making a pile of sandwiches for us when in walked Colin, Ken immediately put a finger to his lips to shush him before he even opened his mouth, “don’t wake Vi up or she will make him go to school” he whispered pointing at me.

“Can’t have that David can we” Colin, just like my mother always used my full name.

“No” I grinned back.

“I’ll show you how to catch some chub today and if you manage to beat your Dad I will give you half a crown”

“Brilliant, thank you” I replied, half a crown was a full week’s spending money, but I knew it was unlikely to come my way as Ken was the best angler I knew.

We crept down the garden path and silently loaded the gear into the car; Ken had gone from motorbikes to cars about 6 months previously and was the proud owner of a Standard Vanguard which had already taken us on many adventures. I sat between Ken and Colin on the big bench front seat and we pulled out of the, still sleeping, council estate on which we lived.

On the drive Ken and Colin had me in stitches with tales of their fishing escapades, in Stickney, fishing the Hob Hole and Bellwater. One tale that still makes me chuckle is when Ken had an attic room at the Duke of Wellington, where they used to stay, and all of his mates were coming up to his room to use the chamber pot; claiming that they didn’t have one in their rooms. The reason they were really doing it was that Ken’s pot did not have any handles, a fact that they had soon latched on to, and they ensured that it was full to the brim by morning so that the poor landlady had to dip her thumbs in it to carry it downstairs. Any way I digress.



After about an hour’s drive, under Colin’s direction, Ken pulled off the road onto a bumpy farm track, we bounced down the path, pulled over under some bushes and parked up.

“Here you are David” said Colin handing me a penknife “you will need this”

“What for” I asked, taking the knife and putting it in my pocket

“To cut some Bluey’s” replied Colin.

“They’re like blue mushrooms” said Ken “Colin will show you”

We walked into a field and Colin picked a mushroom out of the grass, “what’s this David”

“A mushroom” I replied

“Almost” he said; turning it over he showed me the blue veins on the underside of the cap and the bluish tinge on the stalk. “This is a Bluebutton” he told me “much nicer than mushrooms and more valuable”

In those days they would often sell surplus stuff in the pub on a Sunday lunch time; you could invariably obtain Rabbits, Hares, Mushrooms and Blueys from most of the pubs around our estate.

Within a couple of hours we had filled a pillow case each with Blueys and we headed back to the car, “let’s go and get some chub now” said Colin rubbing his hands together in anticipation.

“Here’s your knife back” I said holding out the pen knife he had given me. Colin looked to see if Ken was watching and said with a wink “you can keep that, but don’t tell your Dad I’ve given it to you”

“OK” I replied with a grin “thank you”. I was elated, my very own knife; it had a 4 inch blade, a horn handle and I still have it to this day, although it is in a toolbox in Kens’ shed.

We got back in the car and drove back up the dirt track to the road, 20 minutes later we were on the banks of the river. I am not sure which river it was, I assumed it was the Trent but, thinking back, I suspect it was the Witham at Claypole. It was fairly fast flowing and judging by the reeds along the edge being almost died off, I would assume it was October/November time.

“Are you going to tackle up yourself or do you want some help” asked Ken.

“I’ll do it myself” I replied, I might have been only 10 years old but I considered myself a ‘proper’ fisherman and as such I could tackle myself up.

“Good lad David” said Colin

I picked my swim and Ken put a piece of rope round my waist and tied it to a small tree so that I could not fall in. I tackled up with a small porcupine quill; my Sundridge split cane rod, Speedia centerpin and 18 hook. My first cast revealed that the flow was much faster than I thought and I saw the sense in the rope around my waist. My float was no sooner in the water before it was at the end of my swim. I persevered, to no avail, for about half an hour and Colin came over to see how I was doing.

“Any good David” he asked.

“No, it’s too fast” I replied

Colin watched my next trot and sat down at my side. “You’re fishing too light” he said “pass me your float wallet”

I passed my float case over to him and after a quick rummage he said “here, this one’s perfect” handing me a short, stubby, balsa float which I had never even been tempted to use. He removed the ‘porky’ and put the balsa on and started placing shot. I was horrified; I had never had so many weights on my line. Colin kept dropping the float in and adding weights until he was satisfied, then, passing the rod back to me he explained the reason for the position of the shot.

I cast in and had to admit that the extra weight made casting much easier, my float immediately sank, I struck but there was nothing there. This was repeated about 3 times before Colin said “take your bait off and try with a bare hook”. I thought this was a strange request but didn’t argue, Colin was a very good angler (a couple of years after this adventure he made headlines in the local paper for catching 100lb of bream from Wollaton Park lake) and I would be silly not to take his advice, plus, there was half a crown at stake!

I cast in with a bare hook and exactly the same thing happened, “is it bottom?” I asked

“No” replied Colin “I’ve put more weight on than you need”

“How do I fish it then” I asked

Colin took my rod, baited up and cast in; the float didn’t sink straight away but trotted beautifully through the swim before darting under. Colin struck and a small chub was soon in my keep net.

“The idea, David, is that you want your bait to go through slower than the current so you have to hold it back. Putting too much weight on means that you have to fish it properly or your float sinks, plus, the extra weight stops the bait being wafted up over the heads of the fish”.

I digested this information and tried again, under the watchful eye of Colin. It took several trots before I got the hang of it but once I did, it seemed easy.

“Ken, come and have a look at this lad of yours” shouted Colin

Ken came over and I showed him my new found skill, casting in I trotted the float slowly through the swim, it dipped, I struck and hooked into a much bigger fish which ploughed off downstream. I slowly managed to get it back and Ken slipped the landing net under a chub of about a pound.

“Well done son” said Ken proudly “Does this beat going to school?”

“Certainly does” I grinned thinking of my mates who would be sat in class hardly daring to breathe in case they incurred the wrath of Mr Hutchinson, our teacher.

“He’s gonna be good if he sticks at it Ken” stated Colin

“I think he will Col, it’s in his blood” replied Ken.

They went back to their swims and I carried on, honing my new trotting skills and picking up small chub, with the occasional bigger one, on a regular basis.

At the end of the day we weighed my fish “just over 11lb” shouted Colin “that’s a great weight David”

“Have I beaten you Ken?” I asked hopefully.

“We’ll see” said Ken.

Colin was next, he pulled out his keepnet and I was amazed at how many fish he had caught,

“23lb mate” said Ken “well done”

“I think I’ve done him David” said Colin delightedly.

We got to Kens swim and he pulled out his net, Colin and I stood opened mouthed looking at Kens keep net, it was bulging with chub, some of which must have been approaching 4lb. The 25lb scales bottomed out and rather than doing multiple weighs, we were only pleasure fishing, Ken and Colin agreed on an estimate of 40 odd pound.

I had been beaten out of my half crown, but, I had a pen knife and a memory of a great day out.

We packed away our gear and made our way back to the car, “we’ll do him next time David won’t we” stated Colin.

“Yeah, we’ll get you next time Ken” I said.

Ken laughed “you’ve got a few years yet before you start winning but you did really well son”

We arrived home to be met with Vi standing in the kitchen holding the note that I had left;

GONE FISHING WITH KEN

Love David

Colin cracked up; “at least he let you know Vi” he spluttered.

“You can’t keep letting him miss school Ken, he needs his education” stormed Vi

“He learns more with us than he ever will at school” replied Ken, although a bit sheepishly, I think he was scared of her.

“Ok” replied Vi “what have you learned today?”

“How to trot properly” I said excitedly and; I ran back to the car and retrieved one of the pillow cases,

“I learned how to pick these as well; can we have some for tea?” I asked

Vi was cracking and a hint of a smile played around the corners of her mouth.

“I suppose so” she said resignedly; she knew when she was beat.
No apologies needed Dave ,fantastic read 👏, ken will live forever in your heart ♥ and mind . Im sure Ken has a great big smile reading this 😊, im a big believer in God and heaven . Keep those wonderful stories coming .🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰
 
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