Tuesday, 3 October 2017


I'd forgotten how organised you need to be when beach fishing in the dark. I figured I could rock up with two rods, a bucketful of bait and a rig or two somewhere in the box and just catch fish. It had not entered my mind that it might be dark on a beach at 4.30 in the morning without reading glasses to see with or how difficult threading lug worm onto a baiting needle can be in those circumstances.


It was my birthday - a big one - so I decided to get up very early to catch the seven o'clock low tide and start the day off watching the sun rise and feel that glow of early morning sun to offset the iridescence of smugness one attains for crawling out of bed that early. 

I'd had a bit of a panic in the preceding days, as my Conoflex rod wouldn't fit together and after a mad week or so using wire wool on the ferrule, rubbing like a mad Aladdin trying to summon a recalcitrant Genie, I switched to fine emery paper and sorted it in less than five minutes. It slipped together with ease after that. 

Then I realised that after 20 or so years without use, my rod tip lights and headlights would probably be unfit for purpose and I was right, so I needed to buy new tip lights and new batteries for everything. My fishing clothes were OK so I assumed I was ready.....

Tuesday was calm and clear so with a fresh coffee and some healthy, sustaining, rich tea biscuits I grabbed the gear and walked the 100 yards or so to the water's edge. I set up the Zziplex, struggled like mad to bait the hooks ( no glasses you see) and cast out the first rig. The Conoflex slipped together easily but the reel was a bit loose and the coasters were rusted up but I eventually managed to bait those hooks and cast out. 

I sat back to relax but the Zziplex was bouncing around so I picked it up, struck and reeled in. A small whiting was wriggling for freedom and within a minute or two (no glasses) I returned it and eventually baited the hooks again (!)

Time to bring in the Conoflex - difficult because the reel had fallen off completely now. But I struggled on after the appliance of gaffer tape - not easy in the dark without glasses - well, you know...

The sun appears...

I was grateful for the dawn - my smug iridescence had long since dissipated - and eventually I just fished with the one rod, but at least the Conoflex came apart easily...! I had 7 or so small whiting and a big reminder about fishing in the dark, but I have to say, minor issues apart it was a good start to the day and my smug glow returned eventually. 
I realise I have a lot to learn all over again, especially seeing the professional looking anglers around me on the beach; sorting my gear will help, but all the time I still get excited about catching fish, any fish - and while my enthusiasm still carries me along - I shall carrying on.....

Sunday, 24 September 2017


All that is needed for a busy day...

It's been 27 years since I last lived in Deal. Twenty seven years is a long time. Just under half my lifetime - in fact I've lived more of my entire life elsewhere than in Deal. Yet it really is my hometown. 

My Dad was in the army when I was a kid so although I have many memories of actually growing up in Deal, between my birth and about 12 years old much of my actual childhood was spent in Germany. I remember staying in Godwyn Road and Canute Road with my Nanna and Grandad, I remember growing up with my aunties and uncles - some of whom weren't that much older than me, and I can recall the birth of my brother in 1963. I also remember living in The Bund, a seafront property during a really, really cold Winter - again, possibly '63, but most of my early life was spent elsewhere. 

I recall watching Fireball XL5 and Doctor Who in Canute Road, playing with my Thunderbirds toys (how much would they be worth now?) in the front garden and I remember running wild over the golf course and on the beach. At the top of Godwyn Road the beach was about 12 feet lower than the road, it's level with it now. We used to pick up starfish on that beach and slurp Walls ice creams by the dozen...

The Golf Course - a playground for many years...

In 1971 we moved back to Deal for good and I went to what was then Deal Secondary School with all that that entailed but my memories are all of fishing, playing guitar and walking or cycling for miles rather than school. 

The town has changed but my love of the seafront has not. I have been on the beach everyday since I came back - every day, sometimes a dozen times over. My courtyard garden is littered with beach "finds" - I have become a beach magpie - a Gollum of "precious" things thrown up by the tide. I have sunglasses, goggles, toys and fishing tackle as well as the usual pieces of driftwood, shells and "unusual" pebbles. I have just taken out of my pocket a limpet shell, wondering what was so uncomfortable underneath me when I moved. 

I love to watch the sun rise, to see what will arrive with it...seals, seagulls, leaping fish and - once - a pair of harbour porpoises - a truly wild sight to see. 

One of the many sunrises...

I have meandered through streets I played in - past bus stops I knew well and I have remembered shops long gone. Timothy Whites, Hepworths where I bought my first suit and Goulden and Wind (to rhyme with grind not with binned) where I bought my first, finger crippling guitar. Places I worked in and the church where I married the first time. I have cycled to Kingsdown where I fished for hours and where my brother and I went shrimping.

I hope there are many more memories to make - with my grand children, my parents and my friends but above all I hope for peace of mind and a chance to slow down - just a little, just a very little. 

I hope for more memories..

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Home Again

I have a new place to live - my Cottage By The Sea. I feel lucky, blessed and cursed all at exactly the same time. A dichotomy of feelings - guilt and expectation but also the extreme sensation of stepping off a precipice into space - a step of faith, self belief or self deception - I don't know. One moment I feel brave, the next - well, scared senseless. I can't blame anybody else for being where I am, as if blame were the placebo of choice for the illness I have self inflicted, but the outcome is nevertheless the same - I have come home. 

Home is the place where we feel - sorry but - most at home. Deal is that place. I love Scotland, and sometimes it feels like I belong there as does driving into County Cork, Ireland, but Deal IS home.. Deal WAS home and now IS again. 
Fry on the beach...spangles of silver
So, I bought a bicycle and went for a ride the first Saturday in August and saw - fish! Mackerel chasing the baitfish onto the beach, the shingle sparkling with spangles of silver, flipping in the sun. Tiny sprats that later in the year will be worthy of our attention, yet now are chased by one of my favourite eating fish. 
Naturally, I was unable to fish and, equally naturally, the following week when I was able to grab my gear and hit the beach, the water was coloured and weedy. Still, I hadn't cast the Zziplex for many years, the CT6500 ran as smooth as silk and I didn't get a single bird's nest. And I can still cast well. 
Fishing gear sees the light of day after 20 + years...
Oh, but it was so good. The smell of the sea, the sea weed and the salty air. The scudding clouds dancing shadows on the surface as the light skipped across the Channel. The gulls swooping and crying, the grey seal's head popping up unexpectedly and the cormorants diving in a silent glissander of movement. 
I caught nothing, but it really didn't matter, I soaked up the minutes, I sat still, I lay back and closed my eyes. It felt like home - it IS home. 
Fishing again...