Paul's Diary

  • Tuesday 23rd April 2013

    Taking books to Munich wasn't a great success - except, of course, for the beer, the food and the company. But for books - no. Lots of happy punters browsed my stock before asking whether I had the same books in German, then going off empty-handed. Almost 2000 miles of driving and little to see en route except the occasional hare and roe deer, a few storks and some black kites.
    Website and database problems are still not solved and this is now slowing down our book cataloguing seriously. Nevertheless Luke and Matthew are adding good stuff every day.
    I will return to winter tomorrow when I fly to Alta to try to catch a world record dab. A by-catch of halibut would be welcome, but I'm setting my sights low for a start.

  • Monday 8th April 2013

    I have been neglecting this - sorry! No sport and cold, cold weather, so not much to write about. I took advantage of the never-ending winter to do something about our garden hedge. The house is five hundred years old and the hedge looks as though it has been there at least that long, with thick gnarled trunks and spiky antlers on top - useless to keep stock out. At last I realised that the only answer was to coppice the lot, cutting it down to ground-level, and replanting the gaps. I've added two new species to the existing twelve - field maple and hornbeam - and gone a long way towards solving next winter's wood problem. We've got a great view now, but it's pretty draughty.
    The Danish Fly Festival was fun, but too cold for sea-trout fishing. This week I'm off to the EWF at Munich - not staying at Fawlty Towers this time, but on site at the monastery at Furstenfeld where there will be no reason not to indulge myself with pints (or litres) of the local produce.

  • Wednesday 21st March 2012

    Barcelona could do with a gamekeeper and a few Larsen traps; even the Botanic Gardens were devoid of wildlife except for magpies, feral cats and feral pigeons. I had a look at the mullet, but left them for the fish restaurants of Barcelonetta; spoots and deep-fried sea-anemones had to be sampled. So - home with a suitcase full of olives and salted pig's feet.
    Today we have yet another forty-foot shipping container being delivered - that makes four. Hopefully it will quickly swallow up a dozen or so of our recent pallets of bargain books and make room for a serious attempt at sorting out hundreds of boxes of second-hand fishing books.

  • Wednesday 6th March 2013

    Well, my van passed its MOT test, and the grayling cooperated nicely. Since then things have gone downhill with my book database misbehaving and the likelihood of having to renew the book database as well as rebuilding this website. What fun!
    I found relief reading the catalogue for the forthcoming Mullocks sale. I'll have to leave a bid for the Skues item that I haven't seen before - Nymph Fishing for Short Stream Trout. I won't be there myself - with any luck I'll be chucking a fly at Baltic sea-trout.
    Before that I'm off to the West Country to try to sell books in a cattle shed.

  • Friday 1st March 2013

    February fill-dyke, eh? Not this year, thank goodness. Two or three weeks without rain means that we can step outside without wellington boots - at last. I have used the opportunity to move the chickens to some fresh clean grass, and to lose two of my three boats, thus reclaiming the paved area where will be able to eat outside all through the coming glorious summer. I have to take the van to Newtown for its M.O.T. today, so I might just take along a grayling rod, just in case. (Leaving instructions for the gardener about which areas of the garden she is to dig first).

  • Thursday 7th February 2013

    The shooting season wasn't out of the ordinary - shooting or picking up once or twice a week, and plenty of game to deal with. I managed a few flights on the estuary but only once had a nice mixed bag of teal, wigeon and mallard. Rough shooting suffered a bit this year, and wasn't helped by the fact that both I and Jess were lame for the last couple of weeks of January, and had to pick our days carefully. It's not quite over, though - coastal fowling goes on for another couple of weeks so, given hard weather, I'll be out again next week. In the meantime I'm busy loading van and trailer with books on guns and shooting ready for the big Shooting Show at Stoneleigh this weekend.

  • Monday 14th January 2013

    One tragedy of 2012 was the loss of my wonderful row of celery - killed by frost while I was baking in Africa. I had bought the plants in Holland - or was it France? - after one of the flyfairs in the spring. Fed daily from a brew of chicken manure, the plants were luxuriant; destined to season soups and casseroles throughout the winter - or so I thought. So we are having to buy celeriac and celery instead. I have just eaten a roast woodcock with celeriac mash that almost made up for my loss. It was wonderful!
    January is my shooting month and I have kept the larder pretty full; Jess has lost all her excess weight, but unfortunately I can't say the same for myself! I spent this afternoon on the estuary, reminding myself what hard work it is, trudging for miles in ankle-deep mud. Lots of birds about; teal, wigeon, mallards and canadas, but I failed to make the most of my few opportunities and came home empty-handed.

  • Tuesday 18th December 2012

    Back from the desert! Storms in Angola had put the Kunene in a raging flood, so I couldn't do much with my five-weight and nymphs. Total bag was one silver labeo - a mini-mahseer. My aim had been to drive along the Kunene from Ruacana to to Epupa Falls and I managed this, though I wouldn't recommend the hundred miles in first gear, alternating between bone-shaking rocky hills and rather worrying river crossings. No game there - just occasional Himba with their goats and cattle.
    Game aplenty in Etosha, of course, including lots of rhino, both black and white. The western deserts are stunning and, heart in mouth, I returned to drive the Ugab River, once again meeting the desert elephants. Finally I had a look at the peak of the pupping at the Cape Cross seal colony on the cold Atlantic coast. Next day a wheel bearing went and I was rescued just in time for my plane. If that had happened at Epupa I would certainly still be there.
    Home to find my staff inundated with orders for books but I'm afraid I must leave them to it - I'm picking-up at Llynlloed today.

  • Wednesday 24th October 2012

    Sunday's grayling fishing on the upper Wye was delightful: a proper Autumn day for a change. I caught a few on bugs in the morning, then one or two on dry flies when it warmed up. Another angler, fishing really heavy bugs, caught lots, including some good ones. Yesterday I had an early start, sailing out of Liverpool Marina at 7am. Fished hard but couldn't find a Mersey cod, so had to make do with a dozen fat dabs and a sackful of whiting. Today I got my catalogue off to the printer, but I've still got a week of office work to catch up.

  • Thursday 8th November 2012

    Ben and I had our first rough shoot of the season this week - earlier than usual and the leaves on the trees made it harder to get onto the few birds we saw. We finished up with two fine cock pheasants, which pleased farmer Tom, who always enjoys a bird.
    Don't bother trying to phone me between now and the end of the year. Today I'm off to Galway for the Flyfair, next weekend I have a few days of sport (including the delayed first shoot at Llanbrynmair) but have also got to get to Redditch to the tackle fair, then straight off to Belgium for their Fly Happening, then Namibia to hunt for nembwe on the Kunene River, and then it will be Christmas!
    Catalogues will be mailed this weekend so my staff will have something to occupy them while I'm off enjoying myself.

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