2018 - 'The Fourteenth'

Well now. What to do? Crossroads.

"Certainly any one who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices." - Voltaire.

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." - Friedrich Nietzsche.

"I always felt that a scientist owes the world only one thing, and that is the truth as he sees it. If the truth contradicts deeply held beliefs, that is too bad. Tact and diplomacy are fine in international relations, in politics, perhaps even in business; in science only one thing matters, and that is the facts." - Hans Eysenck.

KingfisherJAA's Diary for...

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should be old ledger weights...coffin...(and back to the top of the page) should be old ledger weights...barrel... should be old ledger weights...coffin... should be old ledger weights...barrel... should be old ledger weights...coffin... should be old ledger weights...barrel...

2018 ''Crossroads'' 1st January 2018. Shortly before realising I wasn't watching comedy, but a stylised diatribe, a 'comedian' declared with the utterly erroneous belief of the fleeting-famous, "You can't change an old person's mind". Point of fact you can, as I've decided that particular funny-man is no longer funny, so will in future avoid the twit. There. Two birds etc.

"It's not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren't doing it." Sir Terry Pratchett, of course.

Happy New Year.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 7th January 2018. The Saxon Ponds. A slash and burn party, bank clearing and bonfires of previous clearings. All good fun, even the charred potatoes.

The Saxon Ponds The smaller of the two bonfires, nearing its nadir. The Saxon Ponds The large land drain in the corner of the Lower Pond The Saxon Ponds The view across the drained Lower Pond, the dam wall, the sluice and the other bonfire.
The Saxon PondsLooking up the pond on the north side of the island

2018 ''Crossroads'' 10th January 2018. "The Navy Lark; Johnson's Diet". Sub-Lt. Phillips speaking of Wren Chasen;
"She's making a fuss about her pom-pom."
Which is funny, but not nearly as funny as Heather Chasen then corpsing and Jon Pertwee 'in character' pulling her leg. Still great.
"Left hand down a bit..."

2018 ''Crossroads'' 14th January 2018. The Saxon Ponds. One of several work parties, as we prepare the ponds for dedging and some landscaping. I was helping Pete clearing a patch of rhododendrons where the ground was boggy and the path, defined by a fallen tree on the uphill side, is a quagmire even with two drains run under and a timber'd walkway.

After some lopping, it was clear that there was one primary source of water, a spring perhaps, and that the fallen tree, in form, but in reality a loose collection of rotten wood held together by a shell of bark, had simply dammed the natural path of the water and turned the area behind into a small bog. It was immensely satisfying to cut a new channel from the welling spring next' the fence, to the pipe sunk under one of the paths' timbers. This involved, variously, pulling out rooted rhododendrons, clumps of matted roots, digging out some grey-and-greenish clay and finally cutting a gap in the fallen tree, achieved with only a shovel, so loosely was the rotten wood bound by its bark.

The 'bog' drained before our eyes and two further trickles of water, under sleepers and through gravel, dwindled to nothing in less than an hour. A slick of silt drifted down the shallow water left in the pond itself, but the spring-water, after the initial rush, ran clear. Why this was all quite so satisfying I can't tell you. But it was. It's an engineer thing. It's been fixed, that's what it is.

The Saxon Ponds and its meadowThe view across the meadow on the south side of the Lower Pond

On the way home, rattling along the top road, I was flashed at by a man in white van who was making 'slow down' gestures. I assumed, assigning low integrity to said driver, a speed-trap, primed by the 'white van' and its popular notoriety. Around the bend was a lady struggling with a horse. I wasn't exactly pelting along, so slowed, stopped, to give her time to get the fairly panicky mount under control and off the road, achieved in the end, by dismounting and leading it off. This is how assumptions can get you into trouble...

The Saxon Ponds' cowsThe resident livestock, and although I for one do not like cows, I've grown used to these woolly faces watching me wrestle with wellingtons, and to the warn sweet smell of the silage and hay.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 16th January 2018. The 'MK III'; Part I.

A tube arrived today with a cane rod-blank in it...I've always wanted an actual 'MK III'. That is, the Richard Walker double-built cane carp rod, a 10 foot two-piece compound of two straight tapers. In his own words "Of course it was designed for fish of 10lb and upwards..." ('Drop Me A Line' p.198). I always fancied, notwithstanding 'the narrative', that this rod was the more likely conqueror of the 44lb record, although I can't substantiate that. But it has always intrigued and over the course of a long set of sporadic emails, the idea was born and an offer was made. The tapers for this rod are on Page 27 of Drop Me a Line, and these technically, make the rod a compound taper, the top and bottom sections having different tapers. On the opposite page (p.26) there is a ring spacing, which I may or may not use. Here it is:

The Richard Walker MKIII Carp RodThe whole blank in the string
The Richard Walker MKIII Carp Rod The thick end of the butt section, show casing the double-built cane The Richard Walker MKIII Carp Rod The Tapers The Richard Walker MKIII Carp Rod The thin end of the butt section and the thick end of the tip section, the double-built cane clearly visible.
The Richard Walker MKIII Carp Rod A wider shot of the blank's ends The Richard Walker MKIII Carp Rod A wider shot of the blank's ends

The blank itself has a slightest odour of charring, perhaps a slight smell of treacle, and on the ends the double-build can clearly be seen. The tip section has been left a trifle longer than 60" to allow for the fitting of a tip ring. The first order of the day is to lay it on a flat surface to work out which face the rings will end up on. Once marked (pencil), I'll then varnish it once to seal the cane, while I seek out a good quality reinforced ferrule. Once the ferrule is on, and a little time has passed, then I will give the whole thing a waggle or two and consider my next move. I have no set date for completion - it will be built bit by bit and if it's not ready until September, then it's not. But where to try it out? Now that is a question.

All tench are good tenchAll tench are good tench...(and back to the top of the page) There are no bad tenchThere are no bad tench All tench are good tenchAll tench are good tench There are no bad tenchThere are no bad tench All tench are good tenchTinca tinca little star...

2018 ''Crossroads'' 1st February 2018. I've been occupied of late with the search for gainful employment. Nothing wrong with that of course. There is however, a problem; it is almost impossible to find potential employers. Leaving aside the unnecessary details regarding the type of post I am looking for, it is the case that typing "job title" and "county" into google generates literally scores of pages of advertised positions that apparently match my criteria. However, all of said positions or posts are being advertised by employment agencies.

"Oho," I thought to myself, "what I need to do is create a custom search string which excludes all those result that are listed by agencies." My next discovery was that google allow a maximum of 32 words in a search string. OK. So after some diligent cutting-and-pasting, I arrived at a search string that excluded the first 29 employment agencies that appeared in my original search. Even then, the first five pages yielded a lone 'No Agency' web-site and one direct vacancy advertisement. The other several hundred results were, you've guessed it, 'agencies'.

Working from my own data, the first twenty-odd agencies were all advertising duplicate positions. Any employer trying to maintain a sensible working relationship with twenty agencies would find themselves rapidly swamped by the process and keeping those twenty on, e.g., a retainer is barely worth discussing.

I suspect potential employers may be frustrated by this; their own vacancies on their own websites are virtually invisible to the job-seeker. Unless the job-seeker already knows of the company, they simply won't be able to find the advertisement. In consequence only agencies are able to provide a steady stream of potential candidates, which costs said potential employer, a handsome four-figure sum of money for each candidate they employ. They barely have a choice.

In addition, and I am in a position to know, the front-line employment agency staff barely understand the roles they are collecting CV's for. I've yet to have any dealings with somone with the professional qualifications or experience that aligns with the roles I'm seeking. Yet, these folk are gate-keeping CV's, that they'd barely understand even if they read them. One might have more respect for such an agency if it, e.g., carried out some kind of psychometric testing, or in fact any objective selection process at all, as justification for its four-figure fee.

Some might consider this the 'blind leading the sighted'. It's certainly hard to see how the prospective employer benefits, never mind the beleaguered professional who would like to discuss a role with someone who understands it, even a bit would be nice, before passing on their CV.

This situation and process has the outward appearance of a group of apparently independent suppliers, whose goal is to increase collective profits by means of limiting supply or by other restrictions.

This is a cartel, is it not?

2018 ''Crossroads'' 7th February 2018. Phew, finished. There's a few small tweaks to do and 'all the pagesIt's a site-map.' are listed here. I need to spend some time riffling through the entries and standardising variable names. Plus a bit of editing, something I've resisted while coding.

In other news (I swear this is true), an employment agent who had sent my CV into a potential employer called me to give me some feedback - this in itself is welcome, if rare, but I'd not got an interview, "...but it was probably because your CV didn't read very well. But I did change it a bit before I sent it to the client."

JAA; "Pity, these things happen, I would have liked a shot at that role."
JAA (inside voice); "So, in summary, you changed my CV without discussing it with me, fecked up the opportunity and are blaming me? You utter dipstick."

2018 ''Crossroads'' February 2018. De-Flashing.

One of my bug-bears is the incredible shininess of some items of fishing tackle and have a particular dislike of very shiny rod-rings and other rod fittings. I've sorted out a way of dealing with chromed surfaces that doesn't do a bad job. Firstly, you rough up the surface of the metal. Use '000' grade wet'n'dry perhaps, although or toothpaste or wire wool might work. Once mildly roughed up, colour over the offending metal with a dark grey indelible pen, more than once if you like. Black works well also, but green tends to produce a finish that's a smidge too Christmassy for me. This is surprisingly durable, and can be easily re-applied. However if you really wish, varnish over the colour, matt varnish obviously.

You can remove most indelible pen using nail varnish remover on a piece of kitchen-roll, but take care not to get it on the rod itself or glue, varnish, etc. As with all fettles, it's wise to do a tiny experiment somewhere where it won't show, otherwise you can end up with a tip-ring that looks like a Christmas-tree bauble, to give a random example.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 15th February 2018. A Beautiful Game by Mark Nicholas.  star rating 

Nothing to do with fishing of course, but still worth mentioning. I've had this book sitting on the 'to read' stack for a year or so. Finally, yesterday, I picked it up, started reading, then pretty much read it through, barring coffee collection intervals. Well written cricket book are not as rare as (say) well written fishing books, but are still uncommon. 'A Beautiful Game' is a joy to read, and author's love for the game radiates from every page. If you like cricket, you'll like this, if you love cricket, you'll love this.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 17th February 2018. Mappowder. Three halves of an afternoon. It was too nice a day to resist, so I rooted through the fly-fishing bag to transfer over those bits that are part of both kits then nabbed some frozen bread and cockles. You can almost guarantee having Mappowder to yourself winter-time, plus being in the middle of nowhere it's good for the wildlife. Thus it proved.

I ambled over to 'Pheasant', walked the lake, annoying the voluble geese, then set up in a casual way, float-banding a quill, tying on a hook, pinning a cockle, and lobbing the whole into the margin while I thought about fishing. I watched the geese then turned my bag out to see what was inside. Meanwhile, the flat-float twitched twice but otherwise didn't move. I located the relevant bits, removed the 'porcy', slipped on float-stops and a mini-swivel. I located some fine 8lb hook-link braid and threaded on what looked like a size '10'. I loosely furled the last two inches of the braid, then combi-knotted it to the mono., so the hook-link was about 3" of looped furled braid. I clipped on a blue pole-float, a fettled foundling, 2 × no.4 shot then fished bread-flake for a time. As the rucksack-rifle had turned up the thermometer, I checked the water temperature. I didn't really need the thermometer to tell me the air was 7°C warmer than the water and that the ripple-patch on the opposite bank was a better bet. So, de-camped.

Mappowder LakesThe thinking pitch and the distant and more productive ripples Mappowder LakesThe flat-float Mappowder LakesFishing properly now Mappowder LakesThe second pitch
Mappowder LakesThe view of the afternoon's first half

The bank was too steep for the chair, so I sat on the un-hooking mat. I cheerfully fished laid-on bread, the little blue float pleasingly set at the same angle as the waves. The sun was warm, the wind necessitated a coat-zipper and carp came along at respectable intervals, not so often it was a nuisance but often enough to keep you watching the float. I was glad of the decision to fish the MKIV 'G' with 8lb on the 'pin, the 2-3lb fish could be removed smartly, although several 5-6lb fish bent the rod somewhat. I re-resolved to make a long handled disgorger, so I can poke the hook out without faffing about with the net. A raven appeared in a tree behind me, and ran through the oddest sequence of guttural utterances along with clicks and glottal stops. Fun though this was, I slithered down the bank to check out the interesting pool in the stream, made some mental notes, then re-decamped.

Mappowder Lakes The blue float in the waves Mappowder Lakes The MKIV 'G', the Kingpin and the tiny float-box Mappowder Lakes The largest carp. It was dark, looked feral and frankly, underfed.

I squelched back to, then around Spring Lake and reconnoitred the pond at the bottom of the spinney. I cut the loop of braid near the knot and carefully retrieving the hook from the wet grass, snell'd on a new hook that looked like a '14' and clipped on a little orange cork-ball bobber. For information purposes I fished for an hour using a few pills of bread and a couple of cockles and though the water twice moved in an interesting way, nothing came of it. I'll be back when it warms, there's something in this pool.

Mappowder Lakes The pool behind the spinney Mappowder Lakes The little orange float next to the rotting rushes

I'd planned to head home, but passing one of the last swims in 'Spring', I recalled several brown goldfish caught during a cold evening a few years ago. Hm. I flicked a few bread pellets in and carefully plumbed the depth, setting one no.6 at the top of the hook-link and the other 1" from the hook. A robin arrived to beg bread. I gave it a piece and while I waited, used a wooden ruler to flick crusts into the middle of the lake, to see if the carp would come up to play; which they did, but merely toyed with said bread. The little float sunk 1" then rose 1½". I struck, untangled the hook-and-line from a hazel branch, and re-cast. Some time passed and there was much dithering then a gentle submergence and the result was, disappointingly, a slender honey-coloured common of 3lb of so. I knelt on the wet ground, drew it to the edge and tweaked out the hook, saving the net. I recast and listened to a pheasant's short surprised squawk, followed by the sound of a thudding wing-beat slowly fading with its owner; whether a fox, mink or stoat got the bird I couldn't say. See, 'good for wildlife'. Blackbirds cautiously picked up their evening song and the float bobbled a bit and went under. This was a small humpy common also about 3lb, so I spared the net again, and decided that was good enough. Plus I couldn't feel my finger-tips.

Mappowder Lakes The view from Peg 1 at 'blackbird' time Mappowder Lakes The little orange float waiting in vain for a brown goldfish.

It occurs to me that the two 'lakes' are 'ponds' and the 'pond' is really a lake. Heh. Cool day.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 19th February 2018. Fossils. Being something of a collector of unconsidered trifles, it's singular that a decade after I last picked up a fossilised echinoid or sea urchin, I find two in the space of a week. Consider these are at least 70 million years old and that the one on the right, the 'poorer' of the two specimens, has been deformed after its initial deposition by forces as unimaginable as its age.

Fossilised Echoids The first and more complete, found in a field. Fossilised Echoids The second, crushed by pressures beyond belief, found in my front garden of all places.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 20th February 2018. Milton Abbey. Gone. On the way to Mappowder a few days back, on a whim I was taken with the idea of fishing at Milton AbbeyAll JAA's Milton Abbey days. However, there was a sign on the gate that said the 'day-ticket fishery' was closed. I've since found out that's a permanent closure, which is a damn shame. There are few enough places where one doesn't have to continually second-guess for carp. I shall miss it, although not enough to consider the annual fee for the syndicate. Ah well.

Carp? What addiction?I am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page) Carp? What addiction?a very subtil fish Carp? What addiction?Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders. Carp? What addiction?if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience Carp? What addiction?I am content to wait. I am well used to it.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 2nd March 2018. Snow. I ignored the snow and went for my constitutional anyway, and it was of course a glorious day to be out and if I could have driven somewhere I don't doubt I'd have fished. In any event, here is my proxy for said fishing.

Anderson Parish under the snow Across the field to the one-horse town Anderson Parish under the snow up the track onto the down Anderson Parish under the snow up the track onto the down
Anderson Parish under the snowThe track to the north down Anderson Parish under the snowThe track to the north down Anderson Parish under the snowThe track to the north down Anderson Parish under the snowThe lee-side bank with its sheltering birds.

On the 'lee' side of the hollow track, where it sinks below a steep bank, for every three of my steps some bird whirred out of the dry grass and ivy, blackbirds, robins, thrushes and fieldfares, all no doubt tucked in out of the wind and driven-snow - and a set of fox-paws bordered the bank with occasional forays into the bank itself, for presumably, the same birds.

Anderson Parish under the snowLife goes on... Anderson Parish under the snowOnly the pheasant wanders about the place eschewing shelter. Anderson Parish under the snowDown the up-track Anderson Parish under the snowThe view acorss the fields from almost the top.
Anderson Parish under the snow One end of one Winterbourne holding pond... Anderson Parish under the snow ...and the other end Anderson Parish under the snow The Winterbourne itself, cold clear and here.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 10th March 2018. The Half Drain-pipe method. I’ve mentioned this from time to time. This is it. Get a piece of plastic 35mm (o/d) pipe about 5-6" long. Cut it in half lengthways. Smooth off all the edges and round the corners.

To smooth any round cork handle, one simply puts a few wraps of sand-paper around it, following the curve of the plastic inside and out and then use it as a 'sanding block’. The technique is to rest the handle on some firm surface, simply to make a stroke (stop it) then turn the handle with the other hand. The idea is to keep the sanding even and light. Good quality P60 sandpaper will remove cork so fast it’s alarming. P100/120 is about right for the 'coarse cut', unless you're removing a LOT of cork. P180 is fine for the final rub down and then move onto a finer grade for finishing.

You can do surprisingly good jobs using this simple technique. As with everything, practise is never wasted, and it's as well to remember that it's easier to take a bit more off than to put some back...so if you are, for example, fitting reel bands, try them every 'once around the rod'. Remember that if they are a very tight fit, you've still to smooth with the finer grade papers. There is no rule that say the cork's finish must be super smooth, but a smoother surface picks up less grime and dirt and is easier to clean.

This is an 'outside job', the dust is horrible, and also, it's worth using a sheet of newspaper to collect a decent quantity of the dust up and keep it in a handy container. It's perfect for mixing cork filler - this works best with small amount of cascamite by volume, mix 6:1 or a bit more. The more cork you mix in, the better the dried result will be. Below is the 'tool' - note the chamfered corners; this is so they don't gouge your corks. The other picture just shows the paper around the pipe.

If sanding a section of cork with nothing at the end, e.g. a fore-grip, to avoid tapering the end of the cork, cut a strip of sand-paper about 1½" wide and wrap that around the pipe - this will ensure that only the section of cork under your hand is being sanded. Otherwise, there's a tendency to cut away the end more than the middle, as the back-end of the half-pipe will bear harder on the end of the cork. If working a section to a high accuracy, for a specific reel-band say, it's worth adding sacrificial cork rings at both ends of the section. These are then removed when the job is completed.

That's it.

The half-pipe The half-pipe with sandpaper

2018 ''Crossroads'' 12th March 2018. The Adaptable Fly-Fisher (Wild Trout and Coarse Fish on Fly) by Lou Stevens.  star rating 

I picked up this little gem last week in the back-room of a Beverly mini-arcade. It's down-to-earth and full of practical advice on: casting, what fly patterns one actually needs, tying them, when and where they are needed and sound advice on fly-fishing for wild trout and coarse fish. I thoroughly recommend it.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 23rd March 2018. The 'MK III'; Part II. Post. Two things arrived in the post today. Firstly, a set of finest bronzed reinforced barrel ferrules for the MKIII project. These, after some too-ing and fro-ing with the always helpful Ted Oliver, turned out to be a spot-on fit. Item two, my Harlow Reel number two. Yeah...

The MKIII rod's ferrulesThe perfectly proper bronzed reinforced barrel ferrule for the MKIII.
Harlow Center PinMy second Harlow...now I need a spacer for the reelseat...
Another Crucian Carpcrucian...(and back to the top of the page) Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carp againCrucial crucian Another Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carpcrucian Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carp againCrucial crucian Crucian Carpcrucian Another Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian CarpCrucial crucian Crucian CarpCrucial crucian Another Crucian Carpcrucian Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carp againCrucial crucian

2018 ''Crossroads'' 15th April 2018. Some thing worth bearing in mind when rod building. As much as anything, this is to remind me not to 'make that mistake again'...

2018 ''Crossroads'' 28th April 2018. Hiatus. My regular readers, all half-a-dozen of you, may be wandering whether I've given up the rod, left the country or gone into hiding to avoid: the wrath of traditional fishermen, sundry other folk who believe in the validity of an appeal to ignorance, or those who don't see the point of falsifiability. mldAnd don't get me started on those who conflate "It's possible!" with "Hah, I'm right!". Everything is possible. But everything isn't likely. For instance, the odds of a J.J.Cale song featuring a laid back instrumental style are roughly speaking 'one'. In comparison the odds of a large hairy new-to-science anthropoid living in the wilds of North America are roughly 'feck-all'. I'll concede the latter is marginally more likely that all the molecules in the hostess's underwear simultaneously jumping three feet to the right.  Well, it's none of those, although my chances of a 'Good Conduct Medal' are rapidly diminishing. I've just been back at work and being an apprentice codger, I've been too bolloxed by Friday to go fishing...which reminds me I must book the 16th June as a holiday. Pip Pip!

'BB'it's lead free, honest...(and back to the top of the page) 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p

2018 ''Crossroads'' 9th May 2018. The 'MK III'; Part III. So, after making the counter a good working fit to the cane, some inertia crept in. Or work related ennui after long office days for which I am out of practise. Or something. I've opted to seal the blank in its tube with a 250g bag of silica gel to draw any residual moisture out after the long damp spring. Once it's been in there a few days, I'll remove it and give both sections a quick coat of varnish to seal the cane and then I'll start gluing on the brass bits. Must order some fittings...

(I'll scrape the varnish back where the ferrules and handle are glued on).

2018 ''Crossroads'' 26th May 2018. The 'MK III'; Part IV. Decisions, decisions...I've dithered on the matter of the fittings for and the fitting of the MKIII. I'm not sure why, I've had a couple of notions then put them aside, something about spoiling a dream with a less-than-perfect reality, or not being able to get EXACTLY what I wanted. I can get titanium intermediate rings in grey but only if I order from Pacbay directly and I can get a titanium tip-ring but only if it's very shiny (why are so many fittings so damned garish?) and I wanted to fit the really good Bruce & Walker sliding reel-bands as they seemed fitting, but don't quite trust myself to do that job with only half a piece of plastic drainpipe and a lathe is an investment I'm unwilling to make at present.

And so on and so forth. The thing is, the rod is perfect right up until the moment I put something, anything, on the cane, which has stayed swaying on hooks since I varnished it a month ago and then varnished again today. My prevarications are defended by desires for unattainable perfection, although fears of splintered bamboo and sad sets haunt like the shapeless terrors of M. R. James.

I gave myself a stern talking to; after all the rod is there to be used, I can dream while it's in hand. Even a self-declared rational-empiricist cannot always vie against human nature, so I shall feed my inner archetypes in short spells, while hunched over a mythical rod, while next an intimate, old and deep pool. All you Jungians out there can make what you like of that.

So; I'd fitted regular Pacbay TT4XGs to a previous cane 'project' and they looked fine, admitted further defeat and got a Fuji BCMNAT tip as it was about the only one readily available with a 4.5mm tube and with a gun-smoke finish (although I'll swap it out for a lighter one when such are back in stock), then further marred perfection with a 30mm Seymo 243S-BC for the butt-ring, as the alternatives are either black or look wrong. I'll dull down the stupidly flashy chrome before I whip it on. I'm going to fit a screw-lock reel seat, as plastic would be against nature, so a matt 'gun-smoke' ALPS reel-seat. There, all decided and ordered before I change my mind. Again. I'll use black thread, then build it just like this:

The Richard Walker MKIII Carp RodYep. Just like this.

Finally, one traditionally inscribes on some aphoristic Latin motto, but I'll go with "Oh Whistle and I'll Come for You...". What's the worst that can happen?

2018 ''Crossroads'' 27th May 2018. The 'MK III'; Part V. The Day of the Ferrule. The counter is closed-end, so I bored a 0.8mm hole through to vent any trapped air during gluing. The inside of the ferrule and the cane were cleaned with white spirit then dried for quarter-of-an-hour in a patch of sun. The ferrule was then fitted 'to the hilt' and, with a pencil, the cane was marked at the point the ferrule 'ended'.

I mixed some 'regular' Araldite (top tip; weigh it out in the right ratio for best results) and applied it generously to the inside of the ferrule. I did the same with the cane and then put the ferrule on the cane and pushed if firmly into pace, right up to the marked line. The excess adhesive on the bottom of the ferrule was removed, then, using the string the blank came tied with, the tangs of the ferrule were bound firmly into place and the whole hung up to set. The female is a tad loose on the butt-section, so I smeared a little left-over araldite onto the cane and left that to set also. I'll glue the female on tomorrow.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 29th May 2018. The 'MK III'; Part VI. The Day of the Other Ferrule. The coat of araldite applied yesterday had reduced the slight play in the ferrule, although it was still there. I bound the tag-ends of the ferrule to see if that would stabilise it, but unconvinced, I opted for another thin coat of epoxy first...

...a treadmill-day later, epoxy generously spread on cane, placed a large blob on the end of the cane before putting the ferrule on and then drop a little into the top of the tube to run into any gaps, plus provide a seal against water ingress at a later date. This was my plan. As previously, I'd carefully marked on the cane where the bottom of the ferrule should end up, by comparing it with the length of the counter. Once in place, I bound the ferrule tangs down and the ferrule in place with the remaining delivery string and stood it vertically to set. Cunningly cunOne of my best line-managers used to say, after any particularly snide piece of politicking, "He is a man of much cun, that's for sure." We knew what he meant. , I shone a torch inside the ferrule and, using a piece of cane dowel, dropped a blob of epoxy right on the end of the cane before leaving it to go off. I shall now wait a whole week before doing anything else. I can use this time to admire the fittings and to worry about the ferrules not being on straight or the rod breaking.

should be old ledger weights...coffin...(and back to the top of the page) should be old ledger weights...barrel... should be old ledger weights...coffin... should be old ledger weights...barrel... should be old ledger weights...coffin... should be old ledger weights...barrel...

2018 ''Crossroads'' 5th June 2018. The 'MK III'; Part VII (a). The Next Stage. Below are the ferrules with their black thread whippings applied since the last entry, then given two coats of best 'yacht'. Below is the picture of the piece of cork 'cascamited' to the bottom of the butt-section and rubbed down (using the 'half section of 32mm plastic pipe' method) to accept the pictured half-composite cork-butt which will also be 'cascamited' on. When that's set, I'll trim it back flush and offer up the next 6" of cork handle to ensure I get a good join between the two - inevitably, nothing 'off the shelf' is perfectly true .

The Richard Walker MKIII The counter The Richard Walker MKIII The female
The Richard Walker MKIII The rubbed-down cork The Richard Walker MKIII The butt-end

Before more handle-fitting, the next step will be; polish the ferrule to fit and give the blank a proper waggle...I admit to being a tad apprehensive.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 6th June 2018. The 'MK III'; Part VII (b). The Waggle. I polished the counter and took the rod up the garden and gave it a serious serious waggle, getting it into a full quarter circle and whipping it back t'other way for a few minutes. Mrs. AA held the tip for me (stop it) and I pulled the rod into a quarter circle on all the six planes and nothing went 'crack', 'creak' or 'ping'. As a result it has the slightest of 'sets' in the tip section, but that was expected and in fact wanted, as I need to know where the rings will be mounted. Phew. And yay.

The rest of the handle goes on now and a ring or two. Exciting.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 8th June 2018. The 'MK III'; Part VIII. Rings. I decided to put a few rings on the tip section; it’s a good job for tired eyes on a Friday. I marked off the measurements shown in the diagram and using rubber bands, placed the rings. Hm. You know, it didn't look right. Odd. I went back to the measurements:

T ¦––– 8" ––– 8½" ––– 10½" ––– 11" ––– 13" ––– 6" –––¦ F

So, the first thing, is that doesn't add up to 60", but 57", making the ferrule three inches. The other thing, which you notice after a moment of really looking at this spacing, is that the differences between the rings' spacings are:

1 <–––> 2 = ½"
2 <–––> 3 = 2"
3 <–––> 4 = ½"
4 <–––> 5 = 2"

See? Odd. With a linear taper you'd expect the rings to be spaced in a linear pattern. Well I would. It struck me that if I made the '2 <–––> 3' spacing 9½" it would give:

1 <–––> 2 = ½"
2 <–––> 3 = 1"
3 <–––> 4 = 1½"
4 <–––> 5 = 2"
5 <–––¦ F = 10" (end of ferrule)

...making the ring spacing:

T ¦––– 8" ––– 8½" ––– 9½" ––– 11" ––– 13" ––– 10" –––¦ F

That seems better. The whole rod then:

T ¦––– 8" ––– 8½" ––– 9½" ––– 11" ––– 13" ––– 10" ––F –– 5½" ––– 18½" ––– ¦B

A mistake by Mr. Walker? He did say it didn't much matter where the rings were, which is more-or-less the case. Nevertheless, I whipped the rings on using these modified spacings. Once one half of the whippings were done I assembled the rod and gave it another waggle. Steely. Has heft. Hmmm...*potters off and orders single malt's*

2018 ''Crossroads'' 10th June 2018. The Wetland. A trip put off for diverse reasons, 'rain' comes to mind. An old fashioned fishing for fun and bites kind of thing and Pete suggested I try Pond '1' for a while and he headed off for Pond '3'. My bait failed to entice a roving shoal of tench, crucians and small chub to get their heads down. After a while, Pete came by and there was obligingly, a scuffle of silt and a tench fell victim to some white-sliced. It was a lively and 14oz kind of fish and the entertainment put paid to any potential hemp-frenzy. Still, a fish is a fish. A short time later a chub, one of the score that had been edging nearer and nearer the bait, nabbed another piece of flake and did what chub do, which is bolt hard and then kind of give up a bit. Stunning fish mind.

The WetlandPond '1'... The Wetland...and its float The WetlandThe Pond 1 tench The WetlandThe chub

This final hurrah saw the fish cowering in the far corner of the gin-clear pond. Hm. I went to the 'swim' on Pond '2'. I say 'swim', it's a less narrow spot in the narrow path. I flung some bait, to add to some of Pete's previous, then settled down to hardly catch anything; one small tench plus a sly fishless bite.

By this time, Pete had several small tench and many rudd to his credit, the rudd were to be moved to Pond '4'. Pete pottered off for a bit and in passing suggested fishing further out and I took the opportunity to keep his maggot stock rotated by using a few. This turned on a figurative tap and I spent the next couple of hours catching three varieties of tench, broadly speaking 2oz, 4oz and 8oz, 'on the drop' as often as not. A few rudd joined in and one crucian. I pricked rather too many fish plus the swim was doing cruciany things , so became suspicious of the hook. Despite a few careful touches with a stone, matters didn't completely improve and like a lazy angler, I didn't put on a fresh one. This didn't stop me landing well over a score of small tench which was fine fun.

The Wetland Pond '2'... The Wetland ...and its float
The WetlandTiny tinca The WetlandMore tiny tincas The WetlandOne of the numerous golden rudd The WetlandThe lone crucian

1pm was a long as either of us, both preferring to freeze to death than roast to the same, could stand. We pottered off, a pity for me what I mistook for hay-fever amongst the long lush grass, was, dammit, a nasty three day cold. Pah.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 16th June 2018. The Saxon Ponds. At 4am, I wasn't overly mithered, but did it anyway. Coffee (pre-loaded pot), eggs (fried) and toast, front-door, car-door. I wasn't first, Garry was already tackling up on the north bank and we quietly shouted greetings. I tackled up with my lucky crucian float and the soft-tipped GTI float rod, built a twelve-month back and racked since. I caught a crucian ten minutes later, then a couple more, this burst of auspiciousness correctly predicting the day's course and I continued to catch steadily in the grey light, mud-coloured water and occasional patches of bubbles. The first four fish helped me to understand I'd missed a ring on the top section, so I was obliged to unclip the float, re-thread...you know the drill.

The Saxon Ponds The Upper Pond in the grey dawn light (5:19am) The Saxon Ponds The Upper Pond in the grey dawn light The Saxon Ponds The lucky crucian float, gathering itself for the long day ahead

A very solid crucian in the 'a bit less than 2lb' category came to hand, really testing the rod's fine tip. Ten minutes later one of the long lean 2½lb swim trashing machines came out, not without some entertaining moments. I nipped out another small one, watched the apologetic sun rise then had another nerve and weed-shredding big crucian. I opted to amble around, via a fine foxglove, to see how Garry was faring.

The Saxon Ponds One of the big crucians The Saxon Ponds One of the Upper Pond's long lean hard-fighting tench The Saxon Ponds Another of the big crucians
The Saxon PondsIt's just a nice tree The Saxon Ponds'The Pitch' in the early sunlight The Saxon PondsThe sun comes up... The Saxon PondsThe fine foxglove

Garry was good enough to lend me his 'guest seat' and while he'd had activity, even a bite as I watched, his day was thus far slower than mine. Jim turned up at 8:45am (ish) and was rebuked for his sloth. Hands were shaken, Jim went off to fish and I left Garry to it shortly thereafter and returned to my seat. Sport remained steady, with two large tench mid-morning and another thumping crucian, perhaps a shade larger than the previous. 'Steady'; that is, as I said to Pete when he arrived with a bucket for any spare roach and small crus; "The right rate to ensure you become tired from fishing before you are tired of the fish." Peter went on, pausing only to move a few crus and roach to the bottom pond (sprat-sized roach were ever-present).

The Saxon Ponds Many crucians The Saxon Ponds Many many crucians The Saxon Ponds Many more cucians
The Saxon Ponds Tinca tinca two The Saxon Ponds Tinca tinca three

At noon (ish) Jim called 'lunch-time' and he, Garry and I drank kettle-tea and munched shortbread biscuits. We quickly worked out Garry's cunning scheme, to wit, bringing a 'half-kettle' capacity mug, so to ensure tea for all, his cup was filled last...all had caught so all was well and good.

I pondered calling it a day, grimy eyes, the hay-fever medication wearing off, 4am is feckin' early. However, despite looking less active the swim produced another string of crucians, another large one, then another, the last arriving as Jim came by, pour encourager les pécheurs.

The Saxon Ponds A very fine crucian The Saxon Ponds Another very fine crucian
The Saxon Ponds Perfect crucians The Saxon Ponds Perfect crucians The Saxon Ponds Perfect crucians

This last 'biggun', determined to visit all four corners at full pelt, trashed the swim somewhat, so I wandered up to chat with Jim and we fixed many of the world's problems (you should see some improvement by Tuesday lunch-time). Garry went on around that time and although I fished for a little longer, my concentration had fled. So I bade Jim farewell and pottered off for an apposite fish-finger sandwich and a Talisker. And sleep.

Fine place, fine company, fine day. Very fine.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 24th June 2018. The Saxon Ponds. Back Upper for the evening. I cannot be mithered with sitting in the midday sun, mad dogs and Englishmen notwithstanding. So I arrived in the late afternoon and having the place to myself, choose the opening day swim as it's (a) handy and (b) well coloured.

I opted for the hollow tip on Sunday's rod, reasoning that the tench pushed me rather hard. The lucky crucian float was swapped for a cork-ball special with the tiniest of pre-loadings, a wrap of solder wire, then fished lift-style. I nabbed a couple of roach, then the orange-tip darted under with no warning, providing me with one of the good ones. Heh. I had another shortly after, same 'bite' and the stouter rod-tip made sense. There was a flurry of small crus, some more roach, then an hour had passed and the low sun had sunk far enough to pull me into shade, for which I was thankful. Then came another brace of very fine fish, followed by Pete and Pam.

The Saxon Ponds One of the finer fish The Saxon Ponds The fine pitch on a fine warm day The Saxon Ponds Another of the finer fish

The Manager and the Manager's Manager moved into the next swim along and I was immediately promoted to 'stock catcher' and fortunately had a flurry, a dozen or so, of small crus plus more small roach which the Manager re-homed. Presently, another syndicate member arrived and was immediately challenged for his permit. One cannot be too careful, but on this occasion the bona fides were in order. The confirmed non-poacher announced his intention to fish for tench and took the next pitch along from the Managers'.

Thing settled down and for a couple of hours, fishing went on in amiable cool calm, punctuated by occasional fish, bucketed and otherwise, and one allegedly monstrous tench. Despite the midday heat, the lengthening evening brought the slightest of chills and Pete'n'Pam departed leaving the pair of us in the settling dusk. I remembered my flask of black tea, EG and Assam, so I reached for it.

The Saxon PondsAnother of the finer fish The Saxon PondsA constellation of some crucians The Saxon PondsAnother of the finer fish The Saxon PondsAnother of the finer fish

It's been some time since I fished the evening and it was heartening to be sat in the cool damp air laced with the smell of the pond and its water mint. I listened to the sluice water's white noise and worked through a couple of cups while I sat and thought, but without the thought. Thereafter the swim's activity steadily increased, but the number of bites decreased in counterpoint, so after a time I sat with the tench-fisher while we swapped fishing titbits and reviewed the notion that his rod-in-use was 'the same rod' despite being basically new, although built on the original 1950's handle. So, much like my university cricket bat which went through two new handles and three blades; or the 'ship of Theseus' for the philosophically inclined. We further agreed this would make would make a fine spot for watching the Perseids in August.

The Saxon Ponds The green path by the water The Saxon Ponds The moon and a planet The Saxon Ponds Another of the finer fish

I slipped back to my chair, changed the float for a small hollow-tipped quill, put a collimator on an LED torch, and then fished the dark. This worked, in so much as I caught several small crucians, but bites were infrequent, despite crucians wilfully cavorting over my landing net. At some point it was too dark to fish, at least for those of us with a Monday a.m. day-job; so we made farewells and ambled off, although I tarried to try and capture the moon, stupidly forgetting that the Small Technology's idiot-proof camera makes a better job of this kind of thing. I cast about for a while try to find some of the hoped for glow-worms, alas not this time, leaving me with the dust and the quietness of the cows.

There is a simple pleasure to be had from driving up the track, so much of the year it's rutted, muddy, slick and wet, traps all. Tonight it's dry, hard, with tall moon-lit straw-coloured grass and the open gate at the top of the field is another small pleasure at the end of a fine evening.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 29th June 2018. The Saxon Ponds for the evening. Steve was set up on the south bank, it was good to see him again after an interval of three years or so. I intended to try for a tench and in place of the usual Elysian waffle, I'll just say it was a fine evening with a few crucians, but no intended tench.

The Saxon Ponds The view from the north bank The Saxon Ponds Another angler The Saxon Ponds A quill dancing among the bubbles
The Saxon Ponds One of the finer fish, another was 'involuntarily released into the wild' The Saxon Ponds The rod, the reel, the bag The Saxon Ponds One of a clutch of suicidal small crus that somehow managed three cockles on a size 8
Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook (and return to the top of the page) Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook

2018 ''Crossroads'' 6th July 2018. The 'MK III'; Part IX. Seat. Having thrown myself at the mercy of the panel'The Path by Water', it was suggested by the maker of the cane that I glue cork sheet to the cane and then sand it down to round. Of course...*slaps own head*

Pausing only to completely fail to buy the epoxy recommend by the same panel, I duly mixed some Araldite, painted the cork sheet and the cane with it, then carefully wrapped (carefully measured and cut) cork sheet around the cane and bound it on with good old fashioned string. The following day I trimmed off the excess epoxy with the VSSK and then using the 'half-drainpipe' method and some P60 sandpaper, cut the cork back down to a tight working fit for the Alps reel seat. I did the whole job with the coarse grit, reasoning this would leave a better surface for the glue to 'key' onto. At this point I had to put on a reel and give the rod another waggle...

The Richard Walker MKIII The cork sheet, glued and rubbed down... The Richard Walker MKIII ...with the reel seat fitted over it.

My first thought was to put the reel-seat right against the already fitted corks, but on reflection, I’ll leave a gap of about 3mm and glue a strip of cork-sheet in the hole and then carefully whip over it in green enamelled wire, just for funsies.

I glued the tip-ring on the top section with the leftover epoxy. Irritatingly, the tip-ring's frame is not quite aligned with the eye, so I've ended up with a slight misalignment; by 'slight', I mean "I know it's there but you'd never notice". Annoying, but not so annoying that I'll take it off and glue it on again.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 7th July 2018. The Saxon Ponds. My plan was to spend three hours or so catching small fish for relocation in the lower pond then with the shadows lengthening, switch to tench fishing. During three hours at 27°C, I managed seven small roach, one of which got dropped into the water...so I put the remainder in the rather sad looking lower pond and returned to my pitch to see it fizzing. Aha. I put on a grain of corn and after a bit the float bobbled off leftwards. I struck, pulled the tackle out of the tree, cut off the scored mono, re-tied the hook-link and recast. The float repeated itself, as did I. As did the tree. With a mere suggestion of peevishness, I retied the cast etc., etc....

Next time I remembered to strike upwards and found myself on the interesting end of a circling olive thunderbolt. Heh. I recast and only a few minutes later took a larger tench which gave little quarter and hard stretched the long float rod. I had brief visions of a figurative net of tench, but that was that and despite occasional bobbles, bubbles and increasing crucian signs, that was all I took for my troubles. I didn't get another bite.

The Saxon Ponds The Upper Pond pitch, chosen for its shade The Saxon Ponds The hopeful roach float The Saxon Ponds The lonesome pine. It's a nice tree and I was sat under it in fine light.
The Saxon Ponds The meadow behind the pond and its tree The Saxon Ponds ...returned to my pitch to see it fizzing
The Saxon Ponds The first and smaller of the two tench The Saxon Ponds The second tench

The church sounded ten o'clock; chiming away, the moments that round off a fine day. I put on 'Nightwish' for the home run through the lamp-lit sun-bleached lanes. Music for epic battles at the end of time, although one must lighten the right foot when driving to such a soundtrack.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 14th July 2018. The Saxon Ponds. Not for the first time the plan was to spend three hours or so catching small fish for relocation in the lower pond. I nabbed a small roach or two, then a very large one, then three fine crucians. "Oho!", I thought to myself, but then for ninety long minutes the swim died utterly and after scratching out five small roach, I transferred them to the lower pond. I stowed the bucket then recommenced...

The Saxon Ponds The Upper Pond pitch, chosen for its shade The Saxon Ponds The bobbing cork-ball bobber. The Saxon Ponds The very fine roach. I picked out a few small roach for the bucket and the next bite turned out to be this chap, one of the finer roach.
The Saxon PondsA fine crucian The Saxon PondsAnother fine crucian The Saxon PondsYet another fine crucian The Saxon PondsAnd another fine crucian
The Saxon PondsA fine crucian The Saxon PondsAnother fine crucian The Saxon PondsYet another fine crucian The Saxon PondsAnd another fine crucian
The Saxon Ponds Just another fine crucian The Saxon Ponds Just another fine crucian The Saxon Ponds Just another fine crucian
The Saxon Ponds A very fine crucian The Saxon Ponds Another very fine crucian. This came to the net (grudgingly) a little after the clock chimed for nine. The next bite resulted in the end tackle becoming neatly tied around the rod-tip; I took the opportunity to reflect for a moment and decided to call it a day as the fish shown here plus a score of smaller crucians, was surely enough for anyone.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 16th July 2018. The 'MK III'; Part X. Glue. The MKIII has taken some time to complete. This is in part due to each thread and cork representing some delta away from perfection, but is also in part due to evening weariness brought on by the day-job. Nietzsche says; "What destroys a man more quickly than to work, think and feel without inner necessity, without any deep personal desire, without pleasure - as a mere automaton of duty?"

He wasn't wrong. Nevertheless the rod has a handle and the butt section has rings. I modified the original spacing slightly to increase the distance between the reel and the butt-ring, not that any distance casting is in the rod's stars.

On Friday last, I was cross with myself for an elementary error. I fitted the fore-grip with epoxy and carefully cling-filmed the corks and the reel-seat thread to prevent excess glue running off. The original plan had been to recess the reel-seat a little into the fore-grip, but the relative difference in outer diameters would have left a thin shell of cork indeed, so I opted simply to chamfer the inside of the shive and so epoxy'd the cane and the cork and slid the fore-grip into place.

One of the issues with using pre-formed corks on a hexagonal rod is that in general, one is left with a gap between the rod's 'flats' and the cork's inner surface. Thus, I stood the rod on its handle-end, used a rubber band around the angle-poise clamped to the side of the desk to hold the butt-section vertical and then over a period, I gently prodded and worked surplus epoxy into these gaps using a fine broach.

Once as much air as was going to rise out of the glue had risen, I detached the rod then, using a cleaning cloth, wiped the surplus glue off and then using a second clean cloth dipped in nail-varnish remover, I carefully wiped off all traces of the epoxy. The top end of the fore-grip now, of course, looked perfect.

I then removed the cling-film and repeated this simple cleaning exercise at the reel seat end…except that I forgot, the elementary error, and naturally glue got under the film...despite my best efforts with a 240 grit custom nail-board to remove epoxy and then filling in several small cracks caused by removing said epoxy, it just isn't perfect. Another crack between perfection and reality, through which, more and more light is seeping. Dammit.

Stupidity aside, I'd planned to make a winding check from a fine copper washer, but in the end opted to double whip the last inch of cane in front of the fore-grip and add a decorative wire whipping, probably in garnet.

This is, as they say, to be continued...

2018 ''Crossroads'' 20th July 2018. On the way to the treadmill this morning, the slightest shred of cool air produced in my early morning mind a vision of a cool wind down a long lake; I saw myself pull my long coat around my shirt then breath in the September breeze, with its promise of one proper carp.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 21st July 2018. It's 2am; not a great deal keeps me awake and I put tonight down to a surfeit of chilli and/or its generous measure of spices. I open the front door and listen to the first real rain for weeks patter through the red acer, the sole cricket’s chirp and the gentle bleating of the sheep in the next field. It's cool, and the smell of the warm damp earth is a fine night-cap, so after ten minutes or so, I give it another go.

Wainsford Lake then: I sat on the dam for three hot hours of 'fishing for bites', managing a carp and a surfeit of rudd, perch, roach and bream. So far, so hoopy. At six-ish, I decided to lie back and put my hat over my face before I poured the tea. I swear this was only for ten minutes...but when I took off the hat, it was a different sky. The first cup of tea couldn't have hit the spot better than it did and I resumed, but now there was clooping on my left. I can barely fish without flicking bits of bread into likely places and while continuing to harass the hordes, I flicked bread and drew a fish into view, its presence inferred from the radiating rings emanating from unseen overhangs. This fish rose vertically from the depths and pecked at the offerings, signs of caution. I carefully retrieved my line, removed the shot and put on a piece of bread, then laid it over a piece of reed. The carp, obligingly, eventually, picked off two other pieces before snatching at mine, coming short and...then something happened, I'm not sure exactly what, the rod tip banged over, the fish vanished, the hook was jerked slightly open-gape and I was left contemplating a rolling boil of water. Huh.

I re-tied a stouter hook and re-tried. This time, with much cunning I laid a large piece of flake on the bed alongside the bushes and waited...

...something took a run-up at bait, flickered the float out of sight and I struck purely on instinct. The MKIV S/U doubled over, ‘something’ headed up the lake for thirty yards, burning my finger on the spool rim, causing me to reach for the clutch with the other hand…then the line slackened, jerked hard and that was that. But for the two scales the size of a matchbox left impaled on the hook. OK then. Now I have to come back: and I'm going to need a bigger rod.

Wainsford Lake I sat on the dam for three hot hours... Wainsford Lake The careless carp Wainsford Lake 'Hordes'. Sort of.
Wainsford Lake ...and there it was, a different sky. Wainsford Lake The finest cup of tea known to mankind. At least it was this afternoon.
Wainsford Lake Weird, alien and quite fascinating Wainsford Lake The quill, on the loll.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 31st July 2018. The Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment (HSSRE), Part the Third. The 'MK III'; Part XI. Bodges. I thought to do two things last night: (1) I'd glue a strip of cork sheet in the gap I optimistically left in the Mk III handle, for wire decoration, and (2) use the left-over epoxy to put a couple of reinforced whipping on the HSSRE top section, using 6lb green dyneema. Simples.

Dawn light (OK, 7 am then) showed me the cork sheet was too friable a material for this job and also that the epoxy on the dyneema was still tacky so I concluded this dyneema has something about it that messes with the epoxy, as that's the second two-part resin that won't go off on the stuff. Grouchy way to start the day. I've left the terrible cork filler, as I know from experience, that leaving a mistake a decent interval, gives one a clearer head when dealing with it. This evening I stripped the tacky whippings off and scraped back the epoxy and will do it again, with 'something else'. But not today. The HSSRE is proving to be a bit of a bu88er.

Another Crucian Carpcrucian...(and back to the top of the page) Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carp againCrucial crucian Another Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carpcrucian Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carp againCrucial crucian Crucian Carpcrucian Another Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian CarpCrucial crucian Crucian CarpCrucial crucian Another Crucian Carpcrucian Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carp againCrucial crucian

2018 ''Crossroads'' 1st August 2018. There seemed to be a tinge of autumn in the air this morning, although I know it isn't yet. On the other hand, the swallows didn't seem certain.

August swallowsSuch a chattering as well. You'd swear they were having a conversation (51, in shot, there were at least twice that number).

2018 ''Crossroads'' 2nd August 2018. The Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment (HSSRE), Part the Forth. Bl**dy nuisance, the shower packed in today. Clonk and then 'not quite right'. I 'flexed' off after a moment’s thought, and set-to descaling the boiler unit, and you can infer what you like from my detestation of all things DIY and my willingness to dismantle a shower unit. Apart from the discovery that the plumbers that fitted it did a rank job with two of the wall screws not fully home and a blanking plug missing...and the strong suggestion they not so much 'fitted a new shower' as 'fitted the boiler from the new unit in the old unit', this left me with 30 minutes gaps in my day while things descaled and dried. What to do? The fence panels were 'out' as they're too wet to lift, so I took the half-drainpipe to the HSSRE and its wonky reel seat arbours. It came out OK - I cling-filmed the corks and used a piece of 180 grit about 1½" wide, so that I didn't end up with a taper at the open end of the arbours. The reel seat is a 'working fit' and I'll glue it on. When I've fitted a new damned shower unit...

All smoothed off, the glue left between the arbour can be seen, pattterned by the cling-film I used to stop it running all over the place. The reel-seat in situ, I've added a locking band to this reel-seat. I expect to be hanging onto the rod for grim death, so I don't want to find it a bit loose at any point.

Graphite arbors? I’ll give them a miss in future. They’re so friable that without a lathe it’s nearly impossible to ream them out centrally and the dust they give off is quite foul. I’ll stick to cork sheet next time or duct-tape and plastic melt. Random Fish

2018 ''Crossroads'' 11th August 2018. "Always Summer" by Peter Rolfe & Michael Pickford. Old friends Peter Rolfe and Michael Pickford fished together for many years, then Michael emigrated to New Zealand. Occasionally, he re-visited the UK and they yarned and fished again, but their main contact was through correspondence, first by long-distance letters, and then by e-mail. Their fishing is very different. Peter's is mostly confined to the small local ponds and lakes he restored and managed, tiny environments from which he has learned so much. In contrast, Michael usually fishes for big trout in the wild waters of New Zealand, including legendary Lake Taupo; but, against all odds, he has discovered coarse fishing of high quality close to his home in the North Island.

This delightful book is the result of a friendship lasting 55 years but is focused on just 12 months, covering a fishing year in two very different places - where summer can be found all year round!

A book launch will be held at Shaftesbury Arts Centre, SP7 8AR, Saturday 25th August, 11am to 2pm. All are welcome. Please let Peter knowThe Crucian Crusader himself if you are coming to the event - books can be paid for in advance and signed and picked up on the day. Refreshments available.

'Always Summer' by Peter Rolfe and Michael Pickford This delightful book is the result of a friendship lasting 55 years but is focused on just 12 months, covering a fishing year in two very different places - where summer can be found all year round! 'Always Summer' by Peter Rolfe and Michael Pickford This delightful book is the result of a friendship lasting 55 years but is focused on just 12 months, covering a fishing year in two very different places - where summer can be found all year round!

It'll be convivial event, so do please pop along. You can buy a copy on the day or order a copy from the Medlar PressPurveyors of fine fishing books..

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2018 ''Crossroads'' 9th September 2018. The Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment (HSSRE), Part the Fifth. I had, in the course of putting on some rings, noticed two nicks in the top section, one minor, one not so minor. If I'd seen them when the rod arrived I'd have sent it back, but there you are. I'd resolved to add some reinforcing whippings using braid and epoxy. However, it took several sticky aborted attempts to get the methodology right.

The final method was this; I used some old Drennan feeder braid for the whipping after first removing as much of the coating as I could using nail varnish remover and a piece of cleaning cloth. I pulled a length of the braid through the cloth soaked with a little nail-varnish remover until no green colour was left on the cloth. When the braid was dry I tested its strength...

All good. I mixed two-part epoxy (using digital scales to get it exactly right) and worked a thin coat into the surface of the rod with a cheap plastic brush. The coat needs to be very thin - you want enough resin to stick the thread and get into the fibres, but not so much that a bead of epoxy builds up under the whipping as it progresses, obscuring the whipping – if this occurs, gaps and crossed threads result.

Once cast off (use fine coated braid for this and tie it in a loop, it needs pulling through quite hard), use the brush to stipple more epoxy into the whipping and brush it smooth(ish) and leave it for 15 minutes or so. Repeat. Remove the excess with a finger (wear a glove if you wish) and ensure there’s a little epoxy against the ends of the whippings. There. Let it set, obviously. I did two of these on the butt section and a group of them just above the ferrule on the top section. The painted was quite chipped there and a lot of strain is thrown onto that section. Just a 'peace of mind' fix, probably.

To splint the nicks I cut a section of tubular carbon fibre to the right length (from an old rod section) and scraped off the paint. I flattened it with a rubber hammer, breaking it into several pieces, then hit the pieces until I had 'splints' of the right width. I rubbed the concave side of said 'splints' on fine emery until they was completely flat, pointed the ends and chamfered the top, to assist with whipping over them. More epoxy used to glue the splints to the flats of the rod, then roughly whipped over them until set. Twenty-four hours later I removed the braid, carefully scraped off the excess epoxy and then rubbed the top surface down with more 000 grade stuck to a lolly stick. The whole thing was then whipped over with braid and epoxy as above. Yay.

But would it take the strain? See the bottom picture. Now I believe it won't break. Whether it's a good fishing rod remains to be seen.

The Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment (HSSRE)Splint 1 The Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment (HSSRE)Splint 1 The Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment (HSSRE)Splint 2 The Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment (HSSRE)Splint 2
The Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment (HSSRE)Probably past it's 'test curve'. I took it to very nearly a half circle.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 15th September 2018. Barton's Court Drive-By. My plan was based on an early start from the return leg of the annual migration of the eldest to academe. It all went to plan until I arrived. The lake was low, green and packed. I plodded to the only quiet corner, rendered less quiet by the overnighter who’d taken his children. I was bothered further by the chap who took two lots of gear past me, dumping the first batch directly behind me and then doing it again. Why there? Literally anywhere else on the lake would have been better. There were two folk over the lake from my first pitch, they knew each other, and I swear for an hour neither of them sat and fished for more than about two minutes. Up, down, up, down, shout, shout, up, down... When the wind sprang up and blew towards the car park, I followed it after a twitch-less hour, and essayed a hopeful bait into 6 feet of water which was developing an undertow. The chap in the next swim recast his float every five minutes during this time, which was just bearable, but when he switched to a big swim-feeder (ba-doosh, ba-doosh…) and the third load was nearer me than him, I gave up. I can take ‘no fish’ and ‘peace’ and ‘peace’ and no fish’ but both at once erodes one’s enthusiasm. I swung by Vale Farm, barely out of my way, and seeing a dozen cars along the fence, circled the NDTNew Driving Technology’s nose around and set it into a fast lope home, which is what I should have done when I first saw the low green water.

Barton's Court ennui Barton's Court ennui Barton's Court ennui Barton's Court ennui Barton's Court ennui Barton's Court ennui - and a nice orange hollow-tipped quill flaot.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 19th September 2018. Bill Hicks. "Well, you know, some people believe that they're Napoleon. That's fine. Beliefs are neat. Cherish them, but don't share them like they're the truth." - Bill Hicks ('True', 2002, p. 44.)

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09:39am on 2018-09-21 JAA